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on all occasions: and this is to be considered as opposed to anger, envy, malice, revenge, selfishness; all which are directly opposite to the grace of holiness and this, I fear, is not considered as it ought to be; for it is too common for men to plead highly for the imitation of God, and, in almost all they do, give a full representation of the Devil. Would we then be like our heavenly Father, would we represent him to the world, it must be by this frame of spirit, and suitable actings. Much of our holiness consists herein. Many distempered passions must be subdued; strong inclinations to comply with provocations must be corrected; many duties be constantly attended to, and sundry graces kept up to their exercise. The whole drove of temptations, all whose force consists in a pretence for care for self, must be resisted. When men live to themselves, and are satisfied because they do no harm, though they do no good;-are secure, selfish, angry, peevish; confine their kindness to their relations; -do little good but what they are pressed to;-esteem all lost that is done for the relief of others; and think it wise to be cautious, and disbelieve the necessities of men: in a word, that make SELF the end of their lives;-whatever their profession be, they very little represent or glorify God in the world: but, on the contrary, a man whose nature is rectified by grace ;-thence useful, helpful, free from guile, envy, and selfishness, is the best representation we can have of God on earth.
This frame of heart is peculiarly requisite with respect to the saints. Even God himself exercises his kindness in a peculiar manner towards them. He is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe.' We are also commanded to do good to all men, but especially to them who are of the household of faith.' We are to be conformed to God, not only as he is the God of nature, but as he is our Heavenly Father, and is good, in a special manner, to the whole family of his children. I confess, when I see men apt to retain a sense of old differences, ready to receive impressions of new ones, incredulous of the sincerity of others who profess a readiness for love and peace, apt to take every thing in the worst sense, morose and severe towards this or that sort of believers, I cannot but look upon it as a very great stain to their profession, whatever else it be.
Truth is another grace of the same nature; I mean, truth and sincerity in words. This is an effect of the renovation of the image of God, and a representation of him to the world. No duty is more frequently pressed upon us : 'Put away false speaking; lie not to one another; speak the truth in love :-and the consideration hereof is very necessary to all persons engaged in trade; and that both because of the disreputation cast thereon by the evil practices of many,—and because failures in truth are apt to insinuate themselves a thousand ways, when tradesmen are not aware. It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer; but when he goeth away, he boasteth :' and, it is good, it is good,' saith the seller; but when he hath sold it, he boasteth of the advantage he hath made by his words. These things have the image of Satan upon them and are most opposite to the God of truth. I must say, that where truth is not universally observed, according to the utmost watchfulness of sincerity and love, there all other marks of the image of God are not only sullied, but defaced; and the representation of Satan is most prevalent. And these things I could not but add, as naturally consequential to that first principal argument for the necessity of holiness, which we have proposed.
Eternal Election, a Cause of and Motive to
It is the eternal and immutable purpose of God that all whom he designs to bring to glory, shall previously thereto be made holy. This purpose he has declared to us, that we may take no wrong measures of our condition, nor build our hopes on sandy foundations. Whatever else we are, in profession, moral honesty, or reputation in the Church, if we are not personally, spiritually, evangelically holy, we have no interest in that decree of God, whereby any persons are designed to salvation and glory. And this we shall briefly confirm. He hath chosen us in Christ,
before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and unblameable before him in love.' Eph. i. 4. God intends, as his end in the decree of election, our eternal salvation; and he chuses us, that we should be holy, as the indispensable means of attaining that end. So God hath chosen you from the beginning unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit.' 2 Thes ii. 13. The force of this argument consists in these two things :-(1.) That such is the nature of God's decree, that no person can ever attain the end of glory and happiness, without the means of grace and holiness. The same eternal decree respects both; he has ordained none to salvation, but through the sactification of the Spirit. (1.) It arises from hence, that we can have no evidence of our interest in God's decree of election, without holiness. The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth who are his.' 2 Tim ii. 19. It is the decree of election which the apostle intends; and he proposes it as that alone which will give security against apostacy in a time of great temptations. How then may we know our interest in this only security against final apostacy? Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.' There is no other way to come to an evidence thereof, but by a departure from all iniquity, by universal holiness. So we are directed to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure.' It is eternally sure in itself: but it is our duty to make it sure to ourselves; and this is to be done only by finding in ourselves, and duly exercising, that train of Gospel graces and duties which the apostle enumerates. 2 Pet. i. 5-10.
Some persons apprehend that these things are quite otherwise; for they say, that a supposition of God's decree of personal election is a discouragement to holiness; and, under this pretence, the doctrine is evil spoken of. For," say they, if God from eternity has chosen men to salvation, why need they be holy? They may live securely in their sins, and be sure not to fail of Heaven at last; for God's decree cannot be frustrated; and if men be not elected, whatever they attempt in the ways of holy obedience, will be utterly lost; for eternally saved they cannot, they shall not be,'
Now this objection must be removed, if not for the sake of those who make it as a cavil against the truth, yet of
those who may feel the force of it as a temptation. I answer, then, that This persuasion is not of him that calleth us :'-this way of arguing is not learned from the Scripture, for that fully declares the doctrine of God's electing love-proposes it as the fountain of all holiness, and makes it a great motive thereto. Is it not safer then for us to adhere to the plain testimonies of Scripture, confirmed by the experience of believers in general, than hearken to such proud and perverse cavils as would possess our minds with a dislike of God and his ways?
Besides, we are not only obliged to believe all divine revelations, but also in the order and method in which they are proposed to us. Observe then, (1.) The decree of election absolutely considered, or without respect to its effects, is no part of God's revealed will; that is, it is not revealed that this or that man is, or is not, elected: This, therefore, can be neither argument nor objection about any thing in which faith and obedience are concerned; for we know it not, we cannot know it, it is our sin to inquire into it. It may seem to some, like the tree of knowledge to Eve, good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and much to be desired to make one wise, as all forbidden things seem to carnal minds; but men gather no fruit from it but death. Whatever exceptions, therefore, are laid against this decree, as it is in itself,-whatever inferences are made on 'supposition of this or that man's being or not being elected, they are all unjust and unreasonable: yea, contending with God, who has appointed another way for the discovery hereof, as we shall see afterwards.
(2.) God sends the Gospel to men in pursuit of his decree of election, and in order to its effectual accomplishment: wherefore, in the preaching of it, our apostle af firms, that he endured all things for the elect's sake, that they might obtain the salvation which is in Jesus Christ, with eternal glory.' 2 Tim. ii. 10. So God beforehand commanded him to stay and preach at Corinth, because he had much people in that city;' namely, in his purpose of grace.
(3.) Wherever the Gospel comes, it proposes salvation by Jesus Christ to all who shall believe, repent, and yield obedience to him. It plainly declares to men their duty, and as plainly proposes their reward. In this state of things, no man without the highest pride and unbelief, can
oppose the secret decree of God to his known duty, and say, I will neither repent, nor believe, nor obey, till I know whether I am elected or not; for all will depend upon that at last.' If this be a man's resolution, he may go about his other occasions; the Gospel has nothing to say or to offer to him.
(4.) The only way of God's appointment, whereby we may come to know our election, is by the fruits of it in our own souls: nor is it lawful for us to enquire into it any other way. The obligation which the Gospel puts upon us to believe any thing, respects the order of the things themselves to be believed, and the order of our obedience for instance, when it is declared that Christ died for sinners,' no man is immediately obliged to believe that Christ died for him in particular, but only that he died to save sinners, to procure a way of salvation for them,-among whom he finds himself to be. Hereon the Gospel requires of men faith and obedience : this they are obliged to comply with; and till this be done, no man is obliged to believe that Christ died for him in particular. So it is in this matter of election: a man is obliged to believe the doctrine of it, because it is plainly revealed; but as for his own personal election, he cannot believe it any otherwise than as God reveals it by its effects; nor can a man justly question or disbelieve his own election, till he be in such a condition wherein it is impossible that the effects of election should ever be wrought in him (if such a condition there be in the world). For as a man, while he is unholy, can have no evidence that he is elected, -so he can have none that he is not elected, while it is possible that ever he may be holy. Wherefore, all the strength of this objection lies in the pride of men's minds, refusing to submit to the order of God in the dispensation of his grace, and his prescription of their duty: and there we must leave it.
To return. The doctrine of Election is every where in the Scripture proposed for the encouragement and consolation of believers, and to further them in their course of obedience and holiness, Eph. i. 3—10. Rom. viii. 28, &c.
1. The sovereign and adorable grace and love of God herein, is a most powerful motive to holiness; for we have no way to express our thankfulness for it, but by our holy obedience. Let us, therefore, inquire what obligation this puts upon us, that God from all eternity, out