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the text naturally suggests to our consideration. And the words appear to lead us,
I. To enquire whether God has decreed that a certain part of mankind shall be saved.
In the text, Christ speaks as if some persons were given him by the Father. He says all those persons shall come to him.
shall come to him. And he also says that no one, who comes to him, shall in any wise be cast out. If what Christ said in the text be true, there appears to be some reason to believe that God has decreed that a part of mankind shall be saved. Whether God has formed such a purpose, is the subject of the present enquiry. That we may know the truth on this important subject, let us,
1. Consider whether God can be indifferent respecting the salvation of immortal souls. There is reason to believe that God is greatly interested in the present and future character and condition of every human being. Men aré his creatures. They were created
for his pleasure. They are his property. He knows their importance. He knows what happiness can be enjoyed, and what misery can be suffered, by an human soul in eternity. Can God then be indifferent respecting the salvation of immortal souls ? He has often shown his concern not only for men, but even for inferior creatures. As one reason, why he should spare Nineveh, he told Jonah that there were in that great city“ much cattle.”
" much cattle." He said to
the children of Israel, “ If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way, in any tree or on the ground, whether there be young ones or eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young. But thou shalt in any wise let the dum go, and take the young to thyself, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.” The Psalmist says of God, “He giveth to the beast his food and to the young ravens which cry.”
” (Christ said to his disciples, " Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.") Can it be supposed that God has such a concern for cattle, and for birds as he has expressed ; (can it be supposed that he numbers the very hairs of our heads ; ) and yet is indifferent respecting the eternal character and condition of his rational creatures ? Is God wholly indifferent whether any of the human race be saved ? Or is he indifferent as to the number and the persons that shall be saved ? If he has a choice respecting the salvation of immortal souls, why has he not formed a pur. pose respecting their salvation, according to his good pleasure ?
2. Is not the salvation of immortal souls of too much importance to be left in uncertainty ? Men think their houses are too important to be exposed to the devouring fire. They think their goods are too valuable to be left without
being secured against thieves. They are not willing their fields and fruits should be exposed to the trespasses of bad neighbors. When a small sum of money is due, men are not willing it should be uncertain whether they shall obtain what is owed. They choose to have the highest certainty respecting the affairs of the present life. And can God be willing that the salvation of immortal souls should be wholly uncertain ? He thinks the salvation of one soul of greater importance than all the possessions and enjoyments of the present world. Christ said, “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?” The endless happiness of one soul, that is saved, will be far greater than all the happiness which has yet been enjoyed by all the creatures God has caused to exist. Since such is the importance of salvation, there is reason to believe that God is not willing that the number and the persons, who are saved, shall be wholly uncertain. But, ,
3. The salvation of immortal souls must be in a state of uncertainty, unless God has formed a purpose respecting their salvation. There is no reason to suppose that God ever acts, without designing to act.
When God created the heavens and the earth, the sun to rule by day, and the moon to give light by night, and the stars also, he no doubt designed that they should be created. Nor was it ever uncertain, whether God would effect the work of creation. When Adam sinned, and involved himself and
all his posterity in sin and woe, if God had not designed that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, it must have been uncertain whether it would have been done. If God had not decreed that Abel should believe and be saved, that Enoch should walk with God and be translated, that Noah and his family should be saved from the flood, that Abraham should be called, and that his seed should be the peculiar people of God, that the coming of Christ should be foretold by the prophets, that he should appear in the fulness of time, that he should die on the cross to make an atonement for sin, that he should commission his apostles to preach the gospel, and that the Holy Spirit should be given to convince and convert sinners; and if God had not decreed what number and what persons, should be convicted and converted; then all these important events must have been wholly uncertain. Yet who can believe that the existence of these important events was ever un. certain ? The most of these events were predicted. But it is impossible to predict what is wholly uncertain. As these events, which relate to the redemption of sinners, if they had not been decreed, must have been uncertain ; so if God has formed no purpose respecting the salvation of immortal souls, then their salva. tion is in a state of total uncertainty. Rather,
4. It is certain that none would be saved, un, less God had decreed that a part of mankind should be saved. The salvation of sinners
must be, in its origin and execution, the work of Jehovah. Neither men nor angels, could ever have imagined, unless they were informed of God, that there could be an atonement for sin; so that God could forgive and save sinners who deserve his wrath, and whom he threatens with eternal death. The possibility of an atonement for sin was hidden in the divine mind, until God was pleased to reveal the great mystery of godliness,“ God manifest in the
flesh.” This mystery, when revealed, astonished the angels, and will astonish, not only the angels, but men and devils through eternity. But God never would have provided an atonement for sin, unless he had designed to do it. And if the Lord Jesus Christ had not died on the cross, the whole human race must have perished in their sins. But though Christ has died, and made an atonement for the sins of the world, there is no reason to hope that one sinner will be saved, unless God has decreed that some sinners shall come to Jesus and accept salvation. For every sinner naturally refuses to come to him for eternal life. Although a Saviour be given, and salvation be offered to sinners, it depends entirely upon the sovereign pleasure of God, whether sinners be made willing to be saved. There is then no more reason to hope that one sinner will be saved, than there is reason to believe, that God has decreed to save a certain part of mankind. If God has formed no such purpose, it is certain that all mankind must be lost. But,