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as in the destruction of the non-elect. And it is owing to mere mercy, that the elect are not thus cut down and destroyed before they embrace the gospel.
3. All that the elect do, before they are converted, is altogether criminal and displeasing to God. They all possess a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. The elect are in the flesh, so long as they continue unconverted, and are under the entire. dominion of a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, and the source of nothing but disobedience. Whether they do, or do not conform externally to the divine law, they always internally break it. They live to themselves, and not unto God. They always act from mercenary motives, which the divine law condemns. They do, indeed, act very differently. Some live easy and secure, cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God; they break over all restraints, and indulge all the corruptions of their hearts. Some form habits of sobriety, decency, and industry, become useful members of civil society, and do a great deal of good in the world. Some read the word of God, regard the sabbath as holy time, attend public worship, and seek and strive to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And some cherish a hope that God is reconciled to them, and they are reconciled to him, and are walking in the strait and narrow path to eternal life. But notwithstanding this great diversity in the outward conduct and inward views and feelings of sinners, they are all essentially the same, enemies to God and to all righteousness. This is the representation which Christ gives of sinners in his sermon on the mount, in his parable of the Pharisee and the publican, in his parable of the prodigal and his brother, and in the account of the young man who professed so well, appeared so amiable, and went away sorrowful. The scripture represents the best services of the best sinners as altogether displeasing to God. And Paul acknowledged and condemned his best services, before his conversion, as extremely sinful and detestable. "If any man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more. Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church;_touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." Such was the character and conduct
of Paul, before his conversion, though he was a chosen vessel, and ordained to eternal life before the foundation of the world. Nor does it appear that he was then either externally or internally better than Judas, the son of perdition. Taking all the elect together, there is no ground to suppose that they are any better, before their conversion, than the non-elect. They do the same things that the non-elect do, and act from the same selfish and mercenary motives. They do nothing but sin, until their hearts are renewed.
4. While the elect continue in the state of nature, they as heartily hate and oppose the gospel, as the non-elect. They have the same evil heart of unbelief. They have the same moral blindness to the supreme glory of God, and to the divine beauty and excellency of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have the same hard thoughts of the precepts and penalty of the divine law. They have the same aversion to selfabasement and unconditional submission. And they have the same aversion to the holiness and happiness of heaven. This they feel and often express. They complain of God as a hard master, in requiring them to exercise that love which they have no heart to exercise, and in threatening them with a greater punishment than they deserve. They complain of God for choosing one and not another to eternal life, and for giving one and not another a new heart. They complain of God for disregarding their selfish desires, and rejecting their selfish prayers for future and eternal happiness. They dislike and oppose the whole plan of salvation as far as they understand it, and absolutely refuse to accept the terms of mercy proposed in the gospel. Hence Christ says to all sinners, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." This Christ saw verified from time to time. Though he spake as never man spake, and preached the gospel better than any other man ever preached it, yet sinners generally refused to embrace it. He severely reproved and condemned them for their unbelief. The Evange list says, "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 sack-cloth and ashes." And he denounced the same wo upon Capernaum, for the same rejection of the gospel. When the Jews saw the saving effects of the preaching of Paul and Barnabas, they spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Upon which the apostles left them, and gave them up, as judging themselves unworthy of eternal life. We have the same account of the conduct of sin
ners in Corinth. After they had heard Paul preach Christ, they opposed and blasphemed the gospel. And among these opposers were some of the elect, whom Christ claimed as his people, and whom he assured Paul that he should be instrumental in converting. These elect persons were as much opposed to the gospel before they were converted, as the non-elect. They stood out and resisted the terms of the gospel, until the very time that the enmity of their hearts was slain. And this is true of all the elect previously to their experiencing a saving change. So long as they continue in the state of nature, they are enemies to the cross of Christ, even as others. Paul himself was a striking instance. He certainly heard Stephen, if not Christ, preach the gospel, and opposed and rejected it. He says, he was "born out of due time." He rejected the gospel much longer than many others, and until Christ met him on his way to Damascus; when in a moment his heart was changed. Thus the elect always do before their conversion.
1. It appears from the state and character of the elect before conversion, that they were not elected because they were better than others, but that they might be better. Almost every denomination of christians are willing to allow that such a doctrine as election is contained in the Bible; but many suppose that this doctrine means no more than that God chose some to happiness and not to holiness. They suppose that God chose some to be happy, because he foresaw that they would be holy. He elected them, they say, from a foresight of their good works, without determining whether more or less. should be created anew unto good works. They suppose that God foresaw that some sinners would be disposed to love him, repent of their sins, and believe the gospel, while others would neglect, or refuse to perform these duties; and such better disposed persons he elected to eternal life. But it appears that there never were any such well disposed persons, while in the state of nature. They all come into the world in a state of total depravity, and continue in a state of enmity and entire disobedience to God, until they are the subjects of special grace. God could not, therefore, foresee that any of the fallen race of Adam would ever become reconciled to him, and cordially embrace the gospel, unless he had elected them to the sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. If the description which has been given of the state of men by nature be true, then it is absolutely certain that God did not elect any to eternal life from a foresight of their good works. The truth is, God elected
them to holiness in this life, that they might be eternally happy in the next. This we are plainly taught in the Bible. Paul, who perfectly understood the doctrine of election and often preached it, repeatedly defines it, most intelligibly and correctly. He says to the Romans, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son;" that is, he did predestinate to be conformed to the holy image of Christ. Speaking of the election of Jacob in distinction from Esau, he says, "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." This instance of national election he immediately makes use of to illustrate the doctrine of personal election to eternal life; but it would be no illustration of it, if the elect were chosen to salvation from a foresight of their good works. To the same purpose he says to the Thessalonians, "We are bound to give thanks always 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." The elect were chosen, not because they were by nature better than others, but that they might be better by grace. Accordingly they were chosen to grace, to qualify them for heaven. It is contrary to reason as well as scripture, to suppose that the elect were chosen to salvation from a foresight that they would be better than others, and naturally disposed to embrace the gospel; because on this supposition, there was no occasion of their being elected at all. Why should they be elected to salvation, when God knew that they would be saved if they were not elected? Though Arminians, Methodists, and semi-Calvinists, pretend to hold to the doctrine of election, yet they completely explain it away, by supposing that the elect are chosen to salvation from a foresight of their good works.
2. It appears from the state and character of the elect before conversion, that God had no more love of complacency towards the elect than towards the non-elect. He saw all mankind in a state of sin and misery, destitute of every holy and amiable quality, hateful and hating one another, and by nature children of wrath. He had no love of complacency towards either the elect or non-elect. It was a love of benevolence, therefore, and not a love of complacency, which moved him to provide a Saviour for this fallen world, and to elect some, and not others, to eternal life. So Christ told the world, when he was in it. He said, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life." It was this pure love of benevolence towards all mankind, that moved him to choose any to salvation, and that moved him to choose a part, and not the whole of the human race, to eternal life. The love of benevolence is in its own nature impartial; because it equally extends to the evil as well as to the good. It has no respect to any moral excellence in the object of it. God's love of benevolence extends to the beasts of the earth, the fowls of the air, as well as to mankind; and it extends to the worst, as well as to the best of the human race. As God was therefore moved to choose soine and not all, and one and not another, to eternal life by pure benevolence, it was impossible that he should choose the elect from partiality towards the elect. He could see nothing more amiable in the elect than in the non-elect; and consequently he could not exercise any love of complacency towards the elect more than towards the non-elect. Those who object against the doctrine of election as implying partiality towards the elect, would see at once that there is no foundation for this objection, if they would only see the distinction between the love of benevolence and the love of complacency. If the elect are in such a state before conversion as has been represented, then God could not, while viewing them as totally depraved, choose them to life rather than others in the same state, from any partial regard to them. As God did not choose the elect from a foresight of any of their amiable qualities or good works, so he could not exercise any partiality towards them in electing them to salvation. Let it be remembered then, that God's electing love was the love of benevolence, and not the love of complacency. Hence the doctrine of election is perfectly consistent with the doctrine of God's universal benevolence; from which so many argue the doctrine of universal salvation, without the least color of reason.
3. It appears from the state and character of the elect before conversion, that they have no more evidence that they ever shall be converted, than the non-elect have that they shall be converted. The non-elect have no evidence that they shall ever experience a saving change; and the elect by nature are precisely in the same condition. They are dead in trespasses and sins. They do nothing that is acceptable to God, but constantly displease him, even by their selfish desires and prayers to be saved. If they are secure, they have no evidence that they shall be awakened. If they are awakened, they have no evidence that they shall ever have genuine convictions. And if they have genuine convictions, they have no evidence that their hearts will be changed; and they generally give up all hope that they ever shall be reconciled to God, to Christ and to the