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must consequently suppose the said principles to have existed with God previously to their effects or productions, as before signified, that is, before any actual creation; as St. James also observed in one of the first and most interesting councils that are said to have been held in the church. Known unto God (said he) are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts xv. 18.) So that whatever may happen successively in the world every where and throughout all ages was virtually present at once and before its occurrence, in the mind of the Creator, -a forthcoming effect of his predestination and providence; as the working of a machine might be present to the mind of its ingenious contriver before such working, or even the machine itself, begins; but with this advantage on the part of God, that he foresees, and is able to control, every possible contingency by which his mechanism and its effect is liable to be influenced ; so that all that ever happens must, considering his omnipotence together with that other attribute of foreknowledge which I have mentioned, be either of his doing or permission, as it happens, and eventually of a piece, notwithstanding contingencies and exceptions as far within his direction as they are beyond our comprehension. At the same time it cannot be necessary with God, as it is with the author of any common or mechanical contrivance, that he should predestinate any particular, in order to foreknow how it will bappen. He may predestinate a free agent, and foresee all the consequences of such freedom even in thought, which is considered as free a province as any. So David says, “O Lord, thou hast searched me out and known me : thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine up-rising; thou understandest my thoughts long before.” (Ps. cxxxix. 1.) He sees in a moment all that shall ever happen, if there can be a moment for that perception which has no beginning : and that one can hardly imagine.
Neither, indeed, can it be any part or duty for us, to consider how these things may be : it seems enough for us to know, that things must begin before they begin to fail, —that nature must precede dissolution,—that the regular ordering of the world, in short, is both anterior and subsequent to its disturbance; this intermediate part,—the disturbance by those who are free to make it in God's beau. tiful workmanship, being that which makes room for his new dispensation, or what some have called A SECOND CREATION. But, whether we consider it distinct or progressive, such is the glorious part of salvation and redemption from certainly a second chaos of the objects predestined to this favour by God, willing, perhaps, as the apostle supposes, to shew the importance of his protection by leaving numbers to the fate they had drawn upon themselves, after having“ endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory; even us (followers of Messiah) whom he bath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the gentiles.” (Rom. ix. 2224.)
The first part or stage, therefore, in the way of salvation is this, in which God appears alone, or which may be said, humanly speaking, to pass within his own breast; making good the apostle's imputation, “ It is God that justifieth :" (Rom. viii. 33 :) for so he does effectually by that new dispensation. He is the Lord: “the First, and with the last.” (Isai. xli. 4.) And if he be with the last, he still is First alone in the way of salvation with our Lord, Jesus Christ: “who (says St. Paul) is the image of the Invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by him were all things created that are in Heaven, and that are in earth ; visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him ; and he is before all things; and by bim all things consist :” (Col. i. 15, &c.:) “ who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.” (Cor. I. i. 30.)
2. The second part or stage of this great work, salvation, including the several degrees before mentioned; whether more incidental, as calling and election, pardon or redemption, and OFFICIAL justification ; or more essential, as healing, restoration or resuscitation, reformation, regeneration, and NATURAL justification, I have named Salvation continued in man: being that in which a man is supposed to be first acquainted, and subsequently connected, with the gracious proceedings of the Lord, his Saviour, Redeemer, and general Benefactor; being called openly by him, and that not in a complimentary way, but to be chosen if he like, adopted if he be willing, regenerated if he agree to it, and all in his own person; that he may, as the apostle says, “ have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Gal. vi. 4.) And from this continual selection it would appear, that the great Author of our salvation must foreknow more objects than he predestinates, and predestinate more than he calls, and call more than he chooses, and choose more than choose him-or his terms, “the bond of the covenant,” that they might be adopted by God, and regenerated with his Firstborn by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and continually renewed in every good part, progressing continually from such new birth or beginning to a perfect regeneration.
It may also be worth while to observe herefrom, the slenderness and conditionality belonging to this state of salvation, as of every other state upon earth, to a certain point, -namely, from the number of Ifs which occur in its progress : as for example, 1, If among the works of God, which are all known and foreknown likewise to their Author, such and such persons should be marked out or predestinated for salvation,—that is, be kept for the kingdom ; 2, If being among those who were so predestinated, they should also be some of the called ; 3, If being among the called, they should also be some of the chosen ; 4, If being among the chosen, they should also like the means of salvation, and choose to observe their profession, " the covenant of peace” which God has given us in his Son Jesus Christ; that, 5, They might be thoroughly regenerated : beyond which, it will not be necessary to suppose any more contingencies in the way of their deliverance or salvation. For the goodness of God has so ordered the process, that for those who have attained so far, namely, as to observe his covenant, or act up to their profession, by which they are sure to be thoroughly regenerated—there shall be no danger of final perdition : as St. John says, “ We know, that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not;" (John I. v. 18;) also the Psalmist, “Know this also, that the Lord hath chosen to himself the man that is godly:" (Ps. iv. 3 :) and again,“ Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle, or who shall rest upon thy holy hill? Even he that leadeth an uncorrupt life, and doeth the thing which is right, and speakeih the truth from his heart.” (Ib. xv. 1, 2.)
There is nothing irresistible nor even compulsory in the furtherance of this great work which is begun before we are, and continued in us, or in our doing for salvation. No man can come to God without invitation certainly, but he may without compulsion and as it rests with God to invite whom he will, so generally with those whom he invites either to come or not. As the human species is singled out from all this earthly mass for God's peculiar service, and endowed for the same with peculiar qualifications; so likewise from this favoured species some are born to a still higher privilege, even to that of becoming the sons of God: but as all men do not come up to the end of their creation, so neither do all come up to the end of their birth or particular existence: and as angels have fallen below the dignity of human nature, so may men below the insignificance of the brute, and also by the same means of quitting, or at least of not keeping, their first estate. (Jude 6.) By salvation, as by creation, its subjects are all put on a footing, or in one slate, that
is in a state of salvation : but they are not all obliged to keep to it, any more than they are obliged to live, or to keep to their calling, election, or justification.
No doubt, there are those who would reverse, if they could, the order of salvation which I am endeavouring to explain, and make it begin with their predestinating God to be their saviour; then calling, electing and choosing him to this divine office: but they should recollect how he tells us in Christ, “ Ye have not chosen me; but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain : that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name he may give it you.” (John xv. 16.) And it is very clear, that we must be so chosen, if we be not rejected: there is no mean or alternative between election or choosing and rejection or reprobation—no attaining of salvation nor obtaining either originally of ourselves, whatever share we may please to take or decline for ourselves therein. “If by any means I might attain,” (Phil. iii. 11;) so let me, I say; as St. Paul said once, while“ pressing forward toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Ib. 14.) And one might think one's self highly favoured if one be allowed to succeed after one's utmost exertion to that end, or to be finally accepted, as one might say, after many an anxious and persevering effort to please.
It does not follow of necessity, that God must choose us, and will consequently have us, because we have chosen him; though our choosing him sincerely may yield an agreeable presumption of his previously choosing us. For God says according to Hosea, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him :" (Hos. xi. 1 :) no wonder therefore if the true Israel should love God, as St. John remarks, “ We love him because he first loved us." (John I. iy. 19.) So it is thought decent, indeed it even may be thought a matter of duty, only for the weaker sex in our species to wait on the choice of the stronger : “And thy desire shall