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infinitely wise and good; who has a right, and to whom it belongs to decide the state of every man, whether he shall be saved or not, and that he has done it by an unalterable decree.
III. It is certain from the Scripture, that God has determined not to save all mankind, but only a part, and a particular number of them. The Redeemer himself has declared this expressly, and it is abundantly asserted in the Old Testament and in the New. A number are to go away into everlasting punishment, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is unquenchable: and the smoke of their torment shall ascend up forever and ever, etc.* Had not God revealed this, it could not have been known what would be the event of redemption, whether all will be saved, or not. But God has made it known.
We are not told in the Scripture the precise number that shall be saved, nor what proportion of mankind will be of this number; but from what is revealed respecting this matter, it is reasonable to suppose, that many more will be saved than lost, perhaps some thousands to one.f But, be this as it may, we are certain that the number that shall be saved is fixed by infinite wisdom and goodness, and every one of these is known unto God, and their names are written in the book of life, before the foundation of the world. We are also certain, that it is not owing to the want of goodness in God, or the insuffi. ciency of the atonement and merit of Christ, that all mankind are not saved, for the latter is as sufficient to save the whole human race as part of them, or one individual; and the only reason why all are not saved is, because it is inconsistent with infinite wisdom and goodness; that is, it is not for the greatest general good. Infinite goodness, in all cases, and forever, opposes and forbids that to take place which is not for the greatest general good, be that what it may; and approves and effects that which will answer the best ends, and produce the greatest good in all cases. We are as certain of this as we can be that there is an infinitely wise, good, and omnipotent Being. Therefore, since God has declared that he has determined not to save all mankind, we know that this is not consistent with his goodness; that is, that it is not wisest and best, or, which is the same, it is not for the greatest good of the whole that all should be saved. God does not delight in
This has been particularly considered and proved, by a number of authors. See Dr. Edwards against Dr. Chauncy, and an Inquiry concerning the future state of those who die in their sins.
+ See Dr. Bellamy, on the Millennium. And the fore-mentioned Inquiry, p. 135, etc.
the destruction of sinners, in itself considered, or for its own sake; and not one would be suffered to perish, if it were consistent with wisdom and goodness to save them all, or if this were consistent with the glory of God, or the greatest good of the universe. Nothing can be more certain, than that all will be saved that can be saved by Omnipotence, clothed with infinite wisdom and goodness; that is, that can be saved consistent with these. What is inconsistent with infinite wisdom and goodness, cannot be done by a Being infinitely wise and good, though omnipotent. It is morally impossible : for he cannot deny himself and act contrary to wisdom and goodness. Any man may be absolutely sure that he shall be saved, if it be not inconsistent with the goodness of God to save him, and in this sense impossible; or if it be consistent with the greatest glory of God, or the general good. And who, in his senses, that is, who that is wise and benevolent, would desire to be saved, or could ask for the salvation of any of his fellowmen, unless this might be consistent with the glory of God, and the greatest good of the universe ?
As we know not what number of mankind can be saved, consistent with infinite wisdom and goodness, so we are utterly incapable of judging what particular persons can be saved, consistent with these. But God has determined this, without a possibility of any mistake. He knows what indi. viduals of the human race can be saved, consistent with his glory and the greatest good of his eternal kingdom, and who cannot be saved consistent with this, and has determined and does act accordingly. In this he acts as a sovereign, as being under obligation to none, or not to one more than to another, but not arbitrarily, without any wisdom or reason. There is a good reason why one should be saved rather than another. There is a good reason why every one of those should be saved, who are, or shall be saved, and why every one of the rest should not be saved; from the different natural formation or capacity, or the different circumstances to us unknown and undescribable, which render it wisest and best, most for the glory of God, and the good of his kingdom, that the former should be saved, and the latter lost. This difference in cir. cumstances, etc., originates in the divine decree, and is ordered by God according to the infinitely wise counsel of his own will; but it is as real a difference as if it had not this origin.
IV. We learn from the Holy Scriptures that a particular number of individuals are chosen from among mankind, on whom the divine love and sovereign grace are to be displayed in their salvation.
Reason teaches us that this must be so, as has been ob
served; for it must be determined by God, and he makes the distinction between those who are saved and those who are lost, as it cannot be done by any one else; and if it were possible not to be determined by infinite wisdom and goodness, it would be infinitely disagreeable and dreadful to all the wise and good : and God determines all his works, all he will do, from eternity. Accordingly, the Scripture asserts this most expressly and abundantly in the following passages, and in many others which it will be needless to mention. The Redeemer often speaks of those who were given to him by the Father, to be redeemed and saved, as being a number selected from the rest of mankind, and says they shall come to him, and he will keep and save them; and his words strongly imply that they only shall be saved; and that there never was a design to save any but those who are thus selected and chosen, and given to him, to be saved by him. Therefore he declares that he does not pray for the salvation of any, except these elect ones who were given to him. He says, • All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John vi. 37, 39.) “I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” (John X. 15, 16, 27-29.) “Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee; as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine; and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me, where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” (John xvii. 1, 2, 9-11, 21.) Could
, the doctrine of election be expressed more fully and in a stronger manner by any words whatever ? That a particular number of mankind, with every individual of that number, are chosen and selected from the rest, and in the covenant
of redemption given to Christ, to be redeemed and saved by him, and that these alone are to be saved. Agreeably to this, Christ repeatedly speaks of the elect, whose salvation is secured, and for whose sake he orders the great events in the world, “ And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the very elect. And then he shall send his angels, and shall gather together his elect, from the four winds." (Mark xiii. 20, 22, 27.)
The apostle Paul represents the salvation of the redeemed as originating in the eternal purpose of God, by which they are selected from others, and who, in consequence choice and appointment, are saved. “ 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, (that is, whom he fixed upon, and chose to salvation, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called ; and whom he called, them he also justified ; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect : it is God that justifi. eth.” (Rom. viii. 28-30, 33.) “For the children not being yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the pur. pose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Rom. ix. 11, 15, 18.)
The doctrine of election, as stated above, is implied in these last words, and they are sufficient to prove it, were there nothing more said of it in the Bible; for if the will of God determines who shall be the subjects of divine mercy and be saved, and who shall not, as is here asserted, then God determined from eternity whom he would save, and whom he would not save, and fixed upon and chose a particular number of persons to be the subjects of his mercy in their salvation, exclusive of the rest of mankind; for what God wills to do, he does not begin to will to do it in time; but his determinations and will respecting all his works are without beginning. His will is unchangeable. “He is of one mind, and none can turn him."
This apostle brings the doctrine of election again into view, and most expressly asserts it in the following words: “ God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Even so, then, at this present time also, there is a remnant, according to the election of grace. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." (Rom. xi. 2, 5, 7.) And in his letter to the saints at Ephesus, he considers their election, or being chosen by God before the foundation of the world, that is, from eternity, by his eternal purpose and decree, as the source and cause of their becoming Christians, and of their salvation. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph. i. 3–5.) He speaks the same language in his letter to Timothy: " Who hath saved us, and called us, with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.” (2 Tim. i. 9.) He also says, “ Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Chap. ii. 10.)
The apostle had no expectation or desire of the salvation of any but the elect, whom God hath chosen to salvation from eternity. Therefore, when he had evidence that any person was a true believer and made holy, he considered it as the consequence and fruit of election, of his being chosen by God from the beginning, that is, from eternity. This is his language to the Christians at Thessalonica : “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 salvotion, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” (2 Thess. ii. 13.)
The apostle Peter sets this matter in the same light with Paul, and considers true Christians as elected to this privilege, and to eternal life, by the counsel and purpose of God, as the
The foreknowledge of God is mentioned here, and in other places, as implying his purpose and decree of election. (See Acts ii. 23; xv. 18. Rom. viii. 29. I Peter i. 2.) The reason why this word is used to denote the divine determination, is because the foreknowledge of God does necessarily imply his purpose or decree with respect to the thing foreknown ; for God foreknows what will be only by determining what shall be. Therefore foreknowledge and decrees cannot be separated; for they imply each other, if they be not one and the sime. “Grotius, as well as Beza, observes that nooyrwais must here signify decree; and Elsner has shown it has that signification in approved Greek writers.” — Doddridge's note on Acts ii. 23.