« PreviousContinue »
the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Sion, which he loved, &c. He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds, from following the ewes great with young; he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance." 1 Sam. xvi. 7-10. "The Lord hath not chosen this, neither hath the Lord chosen this; the Lord hath not chosen these." Christ is the chosen of God, both as to his divine and human nature. As to his divine nature, he was chosen of God, though not to any addition to his essential glory or real happiness, which is infinite; yet to great declarative glory. As he is man, he is chosen of God to the highest degree of real glory and happiness of all creatures. As to both, he is chosen of God to the office and glory of the mediator between God and men, and the head of all the elect creation. His election, as it respects his divine nature, was for his worthiness and excellency and infinite amiableness in the sight of God, and perfect fitness for that which God chose him to; and his worthiness was the ground of his election. But his election, as it respects his human nature, was free and sovereign, not being for any worthiness; but his election was the foundation of his worthiness. God had determined to exalt one of the creatures so high, that he should be one person with God, and should have communion with God, and should have glory in all respects answerable; and so should be the head of all other elect creatures, that they might be united to God, and glorified in him. And his sovereignty appears in the election of the man Jesus, various ways. It appears in choosing the species of creatures of which he should be, viz. the race of mankind, and not the angels, the superior species. God's sovereignty also appears in choosing this creature of the seed of fallen creatures, that were become enemies and rebels, abominable, miserable creatures. It appears, in choosing that he should be of such a branch of mankind, in selecting the posterity of David, a mean person originally, and the youngest of the family. And as he was the seed of the woman, so his sovereignty appears in his being the seed of such particular woman; as of Leah, the uncomely wife of Jacob, whom her husband had not chosen, &c. And his sovereignty appears in the choice of that indi vidual female of whom Christ was born.
§ 31. It was owing to this election of God, that the man Jesus was not one of the corrupt race of mankind; so that his freedom from sin is owing to the free, sovereign, electing love of God in him, as well as in the rest of elect All holiness, all obedience and good works, and perseverance in him, was owing to the electing love of God, as
well as in his elect members. For if he had failed; if his courage, resolution, and love, had been conquered by his sufferings, he never could have been delivered from them; for then he would have failed in his obedience to God; and his love to God failing, and being overcome by sufferings, these sufferings would have failed of the nature of an acceptable sacrifice to God; and the infinite value of his sufferings would have failed, and so must be made up in infinite duration, to atone for his own deficiency. But God having chosen Christ, he could not fail in this work, and so was delivered from his sufferings, from the eternity of them, by the electing love of God. Justification and glorification were fruits of God's foreknowledge and predestination in him, as well as in his elect members. So Christ's election is the foundation of ours, as much as his justification and glorification are the foundation of ours.
§ 32. 2 Thess. ii. 13. "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Concerning this scripture, I observe the following things:-1. The word translated chosen, is a word that signifies to choose or pick out from many others. 2. That this choosing is given as a reason, why those differ from others, that believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness, as an instance of the distinguishing grace of God; and therefore the apostle mentions their being chosen, their election, as the ground of their sanctification by the Spirit and belief of the truth. 3. The apostle speaks of their being chosen to salvation, as a ground of their perseverance, or the reason why they never shall fall away, as others spoken of before, whereby they failed of salvation. See the preceding verses. Compare Heb. vi. 9-14. They are spoken of as thus chosen from the beginning. And that place, Matt. xx. 21, 22, 23. "Grant that these my two sons may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom;-it shall be given to them, for whom it is prepared of my Father;" affords an invincible argument for particular personal predestination.
§ 33. There were many absolute promises of old, that salvation should actually be accomplished, and that it should be of great extent, or extended to great multitudes of mankind; as, that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." "In thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Psalm cx. "Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power:" and innu
merable others. And if there were absolute promises of this, then there were absolute purposes of it; for that which is sincerely absolutely promised, is with an absolute purpose of fulfilling the promise. But how can it be devised, that there should be an absolute, determinate, infallible, unchangeable purpose, that Christ should actually save vast multitudes of mankind; and yet it be not absolutely purposed that he should save any one single person, but that, with regard to every individual soul, this was left to be determined by man's contingent will, which might determine for salvation, or against it, there being nothing to render it impossible, concerning any one, that his will would not finally determine against it? Observe, these prophecies are not merely predictions, but are of the nature of promises, and are often so called:-" which he hath promised by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began," &c. God takes care to fulfil his own promises; but, according to this scheme, it is not God that fulfils these promises; but men, left to themselves, to their contingent wills, fulfil them. Man's will, which God does not determine, determines itself in exclusion of God.
§ 34. Concerning that grand objection, that this doctrine supposes partiality in God, and is very dishonourable to him, being quite contrary to God's extensive and universal benevo lence to his creatures: it may be shewn, that the Arminian notions and principles in this matter lead directly to Deism; and that, on these principles, it is utterly impossible to answer Tindal's objections against revealed religion, especially in his 14th chapter. Besides, unjustifiable partiality is not imputable to a sovereign distribution of his favours, though ever so unequally, unless it be done unwisely, and so as to infringe the common good. God has regard to conditions in his decrees, as he has regard to a wise order and connection of things. Such is his wisdom in his decrees, and all his acts and operations, that, if it were not for wise connection that is regarded, many things would not be decreed. One part of the wise system of events would not have been decreed, unless the other parts had been decreed also.
§ 35. God, in the decree of election, is justly to be considered as decreeing the creature's eternal happiness, antecedently to any foresight of good works, in a sense wherein he does not in reprobation decree the creature's eternal misery, antecedently to any foresight of sin; because the being of sin is supposed, in the first place, in order in the decree of reprobation, which is, that God will glorify his vindictive justice; and the very notion of revenging justice, simply considered, supposes a fault to be revenged. But faith and
good works are not supposed in the first place in order to the decree of election. The first things in order in this decree are, that God will communicate his happiness, and glorify his grace; (for these two seem to be co-ordinate.) But in neither of these are faith and good works supposed. For, when God decrees, and seeks to communicate his own happiness in the creature's happiness, the notion of this, simply considered, supposes or implies nothing of faith or good works; nor does the notion of grace, in itself, suppose any such thing. It does not necessarily follow, from the very nature of grace, or God's communicativeness of his own happiness, that there must be faith and good works.
§ 36. What divines intend by prior and posterior in the affair of God's decrees, is, not that one is before another in the order of time; for all are from eternity; but that we must conceive the view or consideration of one decree to be before another, inasmuch as God decrees one thing out of respect to another decree, so that one decree must be conceived of as in some sort to be the ground of another; or that God decrees one because of another; or that he would not have decreed one, had he not decreed that other. Now, there are two ways in which divine decrees may be said to be in this sense prior one to another. 1. When one thing decreed is the end of another, this must in some respect be conceived of as prior to that other. The good to be obtained is in some respect prior in the consideration of him who decrees and disposes, to the means of obtaining it. 2. When one thing decreed is the ground on which the disposer goes, in seeking such an end by another thing decreed, as being the foundation of the capableness or fitness that there is in that other thing decreed, to obtain such an end. Thus, the sinfulness of the reprobate is the ground on which God goes in determining to glorify his justice in the punishment of his sinfulness; because his sinfulness is the foundation of the possibility of obtaining that end by such means. His having sin, is the foundation of both the fitness and possibility of justice being glorified in the punishment of his sin; and therefore, the consideration of the being of sin in the subject, must in some respect be prior in the mind of the disposer, to the determination to glorify his justice in the punishment of sin. For the disposer must first consider the capableness and aptness of such means for such an end, before he determines them to such an end. Thus God must be conceived of, as first considering Adonibezek's cruelty in cutting off the thumbs and great toes of threescore and ten kings, as that which was to be, before he decreed to glorify his justice in punishing that cruelty, by the cutting off his thumbs and great toes. But this aptness depends on the
nature of that sin that was punished. Therefore the disposer, in fixing on those means for this end, must be conceived of as having that sin in view. Because sinfulness is necessarily supposed as already existing in the decree of punishing sinfulness. That which stands in the place of the ultimate end in a decree, i. e. that which is a mere end, and not a means to any thing further or higher, viz. the shining forth of God's glory, and the communication of his goodness, must indeed be considered as prior, in the consideration of the Supreme Disposer, to every thing, excepting the mere possibility of it. But this must in some respects be conceived of as prior to that, because possibility is necessarily supposed in his decree. But if we descend lower than the highest end; if we come down to other events decreed, that be not mere ends, but means to obtain that end; then we must necessarily bring in more things, as in some respect prior, in the same manner as mere possibility is in this highest decree. The vindictive justice of God is not to be considered as a mere or ultimate end, but as a means to an end. Indeed, God's glorifying his justice, or rather his glorifying his holiness and greatness, has the place of a mere and ultimate end. But his glorifying his justice in punishing sin, (or in exercising vindictive justice, which is the same,) is not to be considered as a mere end, but a certain way or means of obtaining an end. Vindictive justice is not to be considered as a certain distinct attribute to be glorified, but as a certain way and means for the glorifying an attribute. Every distinct way of God's glorifying or exercising an attribute, might as well be called a distinct attribute as this. It is but giving a distinct name to it, and so we might multiply attributes without end. The considering of the glorifying of vindictive justice as a mere end, has led to great misrepresentations, and undue and unhappy expressions, about the decree of reprobation. Hence the glorifying of God's vindictive justice on such particular persons, has been considered as altogether prior in the decree to their sinfulness, yea to their very beings. Whereas it being only a means to an end, those things that are necessarily presupposed, in order to the fitness and possibility of this means of obtaining the end, must be conceived of as prior to it.
$37. Hence God's decree of the eternal damnation of the reprobate, is not to be conceived of as prior to the fall, yea, and to the very being of the persons, as the decree of the eternal glory of the elect is. For God's glorifying his love, and communicating his goodness, stands in the place of a mere or ultimate end; and therefore is prior in the mind of the eternal disposer to the very being of the subject, and to every thing but mere possibility. The goodness of God gives