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I will tell you, in all plainness and simplicity. I believe it commonly means one of these two things; first, a divine appointment of some par ticular men, to do some particular work in the world. And this election I believe to be not only personal, but absolute and unconditional.→ Thus Cyrus was elected to rebuild the temple, and St. Paul with the twelve to preach the gospel. But I do not find this to have any necessary connection with eternal happiness. Nay, it is plain it has not; for one who is elected in this sense, may yet be lost eternally. • Have I not chosen (elected) you twelve,' saith our Lord? Yet one of you hath a devil? was elected as well as the rest. with the devil and his angels.
Judás, you see
XVII. I believe election means, secondly, a divine appointment of some men to eternal happiness. But I believe this election to be conditional, as well as the reprobation opposite thereto. I believe the eternal decree concerning both, is expressed in those words, He that believeth shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be damned.' And this decree without doubt God will not change, and man cannot resist. According to this, all true believers are in scripture termed elect, as all who continue in unbelief, are so long properly reprobales, that is, unapproved of God, and without discernment, touching the things of the Spirit.
XVIII. Now God to whom all things are present at once, who sees all eternity at one view, calleth the things that are not as though they were;' the things that are not yet as
though they were now subsisting. Thus he calls Abraham 'the father of many nations,' before even Isaac was born. And thus Christ is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' though he was not slain, in fact, till some thousand years after. In like manner God calleth true believers, 'elect from the foundation of the world:' although they were not actually elect or believers, till many ages after, in their several generations. Then it only was that they were actually elected, when they were made the sons of God by faith.' Then were they in fact, chosen and taken out of the world; elect (saith St. Paul) through belief of the truth' or (as St. Peter expresses it) 'elect, according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit.'
XIX. This election I as firmly believe, as I believe the scripture to be of God. But unconditional election I cannot believe; not only because I cannot find it in scripture, but also (to wave all other considerations) because it necessarily implies, unconditional reprobation. Find out any election which does not imply reprobation, and I will gladly agree to it. But reprobation I can never agree to, while I believe the scripture to be of God: as being utterly irreconcileable to the whole scope and tenor both of the Old and New Testament.
O that God would give me the desire of my heart! That he would grant the thing which f long for! Even that you might now be free and calm, and open to the light of his Spirit! that you would impartially consider, how it is possi
ble to reconcile reprobation with the following scriptures !
Gen. iii. 17. Because thou hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it-In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,'—The curse shall come on thee and thine offspring, not because of any absolute decree of mine, but because of thy sin.
Chap. iv. 7. If thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou dost not well, sin lieth at the door. Sin only, not the decree of reprobation, hinders thy being accepted.
Deut. vii. 9. Know that the Lord thy God, he is the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate him to their face to destroy them.'
Ver. 12. Wherefore if ye hearken to those judgments and keep and do them, the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant which he sware unto thy fathers.'
Chap. xii. v. 26, 27, 28. Behold I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God; and a curse, if you will not obey.'
Chap. xxx. 15, &c. 'See, I have set before thee this day, life and good, and death and evil: in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments-and the Lord thy God shall bless thee. But if thou wilt not hear, I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish. I call heaven and earth to record this
day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore chuse life, that both thou and thy seed may live.'
2 Chron. xv. I, &c. And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah and he said, The Lord is with you while ye be with him: and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.'
Ezra ix. 13, 14. After all that is come upon us, for our evil deeds, and for our great trespasses: should we again break thy commandments, wouldst thou not be angry with us, till thou badst consumed us ?'
Job xxxvi. 5. Behold God is mighty and despiseth not any.' Could he then reprobate any?
Psalm cxlv. 9. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works."
Prov. i. 23, &c. Turn you at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit upon you.'
'Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded-I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.' Why? Because of my decree? No. But because they hated knowledge, and did not chuse the fear of the Lord.'
Isaiah Ixv. 2, &c. 'I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people ;-a people that provoked me to anger continually to my face-Therefore will I measure their former work unto their bosom-Ye shall all bow down
to the slaughter, because when I called, ye did not answer-l'herefore ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord God shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name.'
Ezek. xviii. 20, &c. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear (eternally) the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son-Have I any plea sure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord; and not that he should return from his ways and live?"
Matt. vii. 26. 'Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.' Nay, he could not help it, if he was ordained thereto.
Chap. xi. 20, &c. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.-Wo unto thee, Chorazin, wo unto thee, Bethsaida; for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.' (What? If they were not elected? And if they of Bethsaida had been elected, would they not have repented too?) Therefore I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell. For if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, it shall be more