« PreviousContinue »
gospel, which they sensibly hate. As they continually grow more and more sinful, and more and more displeasing io God, so long as they continue in their totally corrupt state, just like the non-elect, so they have no more evidence of ever being saved than the non-elect. I know that they are often encouraged to expect saving grace before it is granted. But they are encouraged upon a false supposition. It is supposed that they are growing better, or may grow better, by doing things more pleasing to God, while their hearts are far from him. This would not be supposed if the true state of sinners before conversion were rightly understood. As soon as the elect become acquainted with the plague of their own hearts, and find themselves in a state of condemnation, and realize the wrath of God abiding upon them, they do not see, and cannot easily be made to believe, that they have any more evidence of being renewed, sanctified and saved, than any other persons in the world. They are apt to think that they are not elected.
4. It appears from the state and character of the elect before conversion, that they are in as much danger of not being converted, as they are of not being saved after they are converted. Some deny that there is any certainty that those who are converted will finally be saved. And they deny this because the scripture represents saints as being in danger of falling away. And it is true that the scripture does represent saints as exposed to the allurements of the world, the errors of deceivers, and the subtile devices of the great adversary, which renders their state dangerous. But they are in no more danger after they are converted, than they were in of not being converted. They were then exposed to the undue love of the world, to the delusions of errorists, to a deceitful and desperately wicked heart. In a word, they were exposed to all the dangers to which the nonelect were exposed. How dangerous was the state of Paul until the very day he was converted! How little reason had the apostles and primitive christians to expect that Saul of Tarsus, who rejected and blasphemed the gospel, and breathed out threatenings and slaughter against all who embraced it, would ever become converted to the gospel which he so much hated and opposed, or cordially embrace the crucified Saviour whom he despised and rejected as a vile imposter! He certainly was in as great danger of never embracing the gospel, before he embraced it, as he was in of not enduring to the end, and of becoming a castaway.
And this is true of all the elect, before they are converted. The truth is, that the elect are in danger of not being converted, and of not being saved after they are converted. But this is no evidence that any of the elect will fail of being converted, or fail of being saved after they are converted. For they are the people of Christ, both before and after they are converted. And the promise of God to Christ in the covenant of redemption absolutely secures both their conversion and salvation. The awakening, conviction, conversion, and final salvation of the elect, stand upon the immutable ground of the covenant of redemption, which can no more fail than the faithfulness of God can fail; and that can no more fail than God can cease to exist.
5. It appears from the state of the elect before conversion, that their election gives them no more power to embrace the gospel than the non-elect have. The non-elect have all the natural power they need, in order to embrace the gospel. They have a capacity to understand the gospel when they read or hear it, and to feel their obligations to embrace it, but have no heart or disposition to embrace it. They want nothing but moral power, or a disposition to embrace it. Their not being elected, or if you will, their being reprobated, affords no obstacle in the way of their embracing it. On the other hand, the elect before conversion have natural power to embrace the gospel, but have no more heart or disposition to embrace it than the non-elect. Their being elected gives them no natural or moral power to embrace it. The elect before conversion are under precisely the same moral inability to repent and believe the gospel that the non-elect are. The elect before conversion, as well as the non-elect, often plead that they cannot embrace the gospel, because they do not know that they are elected. But there is no truth nor weight in this excuse, in respect to either. Their not knowing whether they are elected or not, is no reason or cause why they are not willing to embrace the gospel. The real cause is, that they are so totally depraved that they would not be willing to embrace it, if they knew that they were elected to eternal life.
6. It appears, from the state and character of the elect before conversion, that no sinner has ground to despair of salvation. When unrenewed sinners realize their true state and character, they are not unfrequently driven to the borders of despair. They appear too sinful and too obstinate to themselves, to hope for mercy. But they cannot know but they are elected and shall certainly be saved. What if they appear to themselves as vile as reprobates? The elect are often as vile as the non-elect before conversion. Some of Christ's people in Corinth were as vile as reprobates, before they were converted. The apostle, having described these vile, and guilty, and odious characters, expressly tells them," and such were some of you.” And Paul says that he was, before his conversion, one of the chief of sinners, though a chosen vessel; and that he was converted after a long course of impenitence, and unbelief, and persecution as an example to prevent any sinners from despairing of being finally converted and saved. It is the character of the elect to live in sin until they are converted, whether they are converted in an earlier or later stage of life. There is no room for sinners to despair of salvation previous to their last breath. It is their duty to believe and be saved.
7. It appears from the state and character of the elect before conversion, that there is the same propriety in God's offering salvation to the non-elect as to the elect. This many suppose to be entirely inconsistent. Some deny the doctrine of election, because they find the offers of mercy made to all in the gospel. And some who maintain the doctrine of election suppose it is inconsistent with offering salvation to the non-elect. But where does this inconsistency lie? God has provided a Saviour for the non-elect. Christ died as much for Judas as for Paul. The non-elect are no worse by nature or practice than the elect, before conversion. They have the same natural capacity to read, to hear, to understand, and to embrace the gospel, that the elect have before conversion. Why, then, should not God offer salvation to all, though he has chosen some, and not others, to eternal life? God is willing to accept the non-elect as well as the elect, if they will comply with the terms of salvation. This he declares under the solemnity of an oath. I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?” The invitations of the gospel are all unlimited and universal, and apply to the non-elect, as well as to the elect. And this is perfectly proper, because election does not enable any one to embrace the gospel, and reprobation does not disenable any one to embrace it. The non-elect are under the same indispensable obligations to repent and believe the gospel, that the elect are before conversion, and they deserve to perish for rejecting the counsel of God against themselves.
8. It appears, from the state and character of the elect before conversion, that there is but one way in which any can know that they are elected; and that is, by passing from death unto life, by turning from sin to holiness, by exercising holy love, repentance, faith, and every other gracious affection. To these christian graces the elect are chosen, as well as to salvation. And it is by these fruits of the Spirit that Christ knows his people, and they know that they are his. “ If children, then heirs,” says the apostle; and " if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." The elect must come out of the state of nature into the state of the grace, before they can
know that they are elected. Grace is the only certain evidence of grace; and, therefore, the apostle exhorts christians to live in the exercise of grace in order to gain assurance that they are chosen to salvation. “ Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity." " Wherefore give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” This is the only way in which any can know that they are elected; and they ought not to desire any other way to make their calling and election sure. could know their election in any other way, it would do them hurt rather than good. Let them grow in grace, and they will grow in assurance of their calling and election to eternal life.
9. If all Christ's people are elected, and God knows them as well before as after they are converted, then it is absolutely certain that they will all finally be saved, notwithstanding all the discouraging and unfavorable appearances against it. Though there are only a few of his people who are conformed to his image, and the great mass of mankind are opposed to his little flock, and conspiring to destroy it, yet all that his Father has given him shall come to him. All such that are yet in their sins in this place, in this land, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, shall be renewed, sanctified, and saved. Millions, who are yet to be born in sin, shall be brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace. Christ shall reign till his kingdom shall extend from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, and till all his enemies shall be made his footstool. The Father has promised that his people shall be willing in the day of his power, and his promise cannot fail. The few friends Christ now has in the world, may look forward by an eye of faith, and joyfully anticipate the day when multitudes which no man can number, shall rise from spiritual death to spiritual life, and reign in righteousness from the rising to the setting sun, and there shall be none to hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain. This is a most animating motive to pray to the Father, “ Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
SERMON X XIV.
And in very deed, for this cause have I raised thee up.
- Exodus, ix. 16.
The history of Pharaoh is extremely interesting to all descriptions of men. It always awakens their feelings, and constrains them to take one side or the other, in the controversy between him and his Maker. Though few will presume to justify the character and conduct of Pharaoh, yet many are bold enough to censure the character and conduct of Jehovah. It is therefore a very solemn and important subject, which the words I have read suggest to our serious consideration. God tells Pharaoh to his face, " I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause bave I raised thee up.” This declaration plainly imports that God raised up Pharaoh to fit him for destruction. To vindicate this instance of the divine conduct will be the business of the ensuing discourse. And in order to this, it may be proper to show,
I. That God did destroy Pharaoh.
I. I am to show that God did destroy Pharaoh. The Deity threatened to cut him off from the earth, which plainly implied something more than barely putting an end to his life. Had he permitted him to die by old age, or by sickness, or even by what is commonly called accident, we should have had no right to conclude from the manner of his dying that he was really destroyed. But there were two circumstances attending