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festation of divine grace and mercy which God designed as the ultimate purpose of predestination, presupposes the existence of sin and misery in man, originating from himself alone. It is universally admitted that the fall of man was not necessary ; but if on the other hand the nature of the divine decree was such, that his fall became really inevitable,-which contradictory opinions are sometimes held in conjunction by the same persons,—then the restoration of man, who had fallen of necessity, became no longer a matter of grace, but of simple justice on the part of God. For if it be granted that he lapsed, though not against his own will, yet of necessity, it will be impossible not to think that the admitted necessity must have overruled or influenced his will by some secret force or guidance. But if God foresaw that man would fall of his own free will, there was no occasion for any decree relative to the fall itself, but only relative to the provision to be made for man, whose future fall was foreseen. Since then the apostacy of the first man was not decreed, but only foreknown by the infinite wisdom of God, it follows that predestination was not an absolute decree before the fall of man ; and even after his fall, it ought always to be considered and defined as arising, not so much from a decree itself, as from the immutable conditions of a decree.
Predestinated ; that is, designated, elected ; proposed to himself the salvation of man as the scope and end of his counsel. Hence may be refuted the notion of an abandonment and desertion from all eternity, in direct opposition to which God explicitly and frequently declares, as has been quoted above, that he
desires not the death of any one, but the salvation of all; that he hates nothing that he has made ; and that he has omitted nothing which might suffice for universal salvation.
For a manifestation of the glory of his mercy, grace,
and wisdom. This is the chief end of predestination. Rom. ix. 23. that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy.' 1 Cor. ii. 7. we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.' Eph. i. 6. 'to the praise of the glory of his grace.
According to his purpose in Christ. Eph. iii. 10, 11. the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.' i. 4, 5, he hath chosen us in him ; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.' v. 11. 'in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to his purpose.' This is the source of that love of God, declared to us in Christ. John iii. 16. • God so loved the world, that he gave his only be
Eph. ii. 4, 5. •for his great love wherewith he loved us....by grace ye are saved.' 1 John iv. 9, 10. in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world,' &c. Wherefore there was no grace decreed for man who was to fall, no mode of reconciliation with God, independently of the foreknown sacrifice of Christ ;* and since God
Paradise Lost, III. 287.
has so plainly declared that predestination is the effect of his mercy, and love, and grace, and wisdom in Christ, it is to these qualities that we ought to attribute it, and not, as is generally done, to his absolute and secret will, even in those passages where mention is made of his will only. Exod. xxxiii. 19. • I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,' that is, not to enter more largely into the causes of this graciousness at present, Rom. ix. 18. he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy,' by that method, namely, which he had appointed in Christ. Or it will appear on an examination of the particular texts, that in passages of this kind God is generally speaking of some extraordinary manifestation of his grace and mercy. Thus Luke xii. 32. it is your Father's good pleasure.' Eph. i. 5, 11. •by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will ; in whom also we have obtained an inheritance...... after the counsel of his own will.' James i. 18. of his own will,'—that is, in Christ, who is the word and truth of God, — begat he us with the word of truth.'
Those who should believe, and continue in the faith. This condition is immutably attached to the decree; it attributes no mutability, either to God or to his decrees; 2 Tim. ii. 19. the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his :' or according to the explanation in the same verse, all who 'name the name of Christ, and depart from iniquity ;' that is, whoever believes: the mutability is entirely on the side of them who renounce their faith, as it is said, 2 Tim. ii. 13. if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.' It seems then that there is no particular predestination or election, but only general,—or in other words, that the privilege belongs to all who heartily believe and continue in their belief,—that none are predestinated or elected irrespectively, e. g. that Peter is not elected as Peter, or John as John, but inasmuch as they are beJievers, and continue in their belief, and that thus the general decree of election becomes personally applicable to each particular believer, and is ratified to all who remain stedfast in the faith.
This is most explicitly declared by the whole of Scripture, which offers salvation and eternal life equally to all, under the condition of obedience in the Old Testament, and of faith in the New. There can be no doubt that the tenor of the decree in its promulgation was in conformity with the decree itself,—otherwise the integrity of God would be impugned, as expressing one intention, and concealing another within his breast. Such a charge is in effect made by the scholastic distinction which ascribes a two-fold will to God; his revealed will, whereby he prescribes the way in which he desires us to act, and his hidden will, whereby he decrees that we shall never so act :* which is much the same as to attribute
*•Voluntas Dei in varias species distingui solet, ut absolutam et conditionatam; antecedentem et consequentem; signi et beneplaciti, &c. .....Voluntas signi dicitur cum Deus verbo suo significat quid velit aut polit ab hominibus fieri, et mandatis ejus continetur; beneplaciti vero, qua Deus apud se premit et occultat id quod vult facere. Curcellæi Institutio, ii. 9. 6, 7. Thomas Aquinas and his disciples frame another distinction to elude the text in Timothy (1 Tim. ii. 4.) and tell us of a will revealed, and of another hidden, which is, many times at least, con, trary to that revealed.....a distinction rejected by our 17th Article, VOL. 1.
to the Deity two distinct wills, whereof one is in direct contradiction to the other. It is, however, asserted that the Scriptures contain two opposite statements respecting the same thing ; it was the will of God that Pharaoh should let the people go, for such was the divine command,-but it was also not his will, for he hardened Pharaoh's heart. The truth however is, that it was God alone who willed their departure, and Pharaoh alone who was unwilling ; and that he might be the more unwilling, God hardened his heart,* and himself deferred the execution of his own pleasure, which was in opposition to that of Pharaoh, that he might afflict him with heavier punishment on account of the reluctance of his will. Neither in his mode of dealing with our common father Adam, nor with those whom he calls and invites to accept of grace, can God be charged with commanding righteousness, while he decrees our diso
which directs us to follow, not this supposed hidden will of God, but that which is expressly declared in his word.' Glocester Ridley's Sixth Sermon on the Divinity and Operations of the Holy Ghost.
* This my long sufferance, and my day of grace
They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste ;
Paradise Lost, III. 198.