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bedience to the command. What can be imagined more absurd than a necessity which does not necessitate, and a will without volition ?
The tenor of the decree in its promulgation (which was the other point to be proved) is uniformly conditional. Gen. ii. 17. thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,' -which is the same as if God had said, I will that thou shalt not eat of it; I have not therefore decreed that thou shalt eat of it; for if thou eat, thou shalt die ; if thou eat not, thou shalt live. Thus the decree itself was conditional before the fall; which from numberless other passages appears to have been also the case after the fall. Gen. iv. 7. if thou doest well, shalt thou not be excepted ? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door,' or, the punishment of sin watcheth for thee.' Exod. xxxii. 32, 33. blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written......whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.' Such was the love of Moses for his nation, that he either did not remember that believers, so long as they continued such, could not be blotted out, or the expression must be understood in a modified sense, as in Rom. ix. 1, &c. • I could wish, if it were possible:' but the answer of God, although metaphorical, explains with sufficient clearness that the principle of predestination is founded upon a condition,— whosoever hath sinned, him will I blot out. This is announced more fully in the enforcement of the legal covenant, Deut. vii. 6—8. where God particularly declares his choice and love of his people to have been gratuitous ; and in v. 9. where he desires to be known as 'a faithful God which keepeth his covenant and mercy,' he yet adds as a condition, with them that love him and keep his commandments. Again, it is said still more clearly, v. 12. it shall come to pass, if ye hearken, to these judgements, and keep and do them, that Jehovah thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers. Though these and similar passages seem chiefly to refer either to the universal election of a nation to the service of God, or of a particular individual or family to some office (for in the Old Testament it is perhaps difficult to trace even a single expression which refers to election properly so called, that is, election to eternal life,) yet the principle of the divine decree is in all cases the same. Thus it is said of Solomon, as of another Christ, 1 Chron. xxviii. 6, 7, 9. “I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.' But what are the terms of the covenant ; if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgements, as at this day ...... if thou seek him, he will be found of thee ; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever.' The election of his posterity also depended on the same stipulation. 2 Chron. vi. 16. so that thy children take heed to their way, to walk in my law.' See also xxxiii. 8. and xv. 2. the Lord is with you, while ye be with him.......but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you ;' whence Isaiah does not scruple to say, xiv. 1, 'the Lord will yet choose Israel.' See also Zech. i. 16. Isaiah also shows who are the elect; Ixv. 9, 10. mine elect shall inherit it..... and Sharon shall be......for my people that have sought me.' Jer. xxii. 24. though Coniah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence.'
The same thing must be observed in the covenant of grace, wherever the condition is not added. This however seldom happens. Mark xvi. 16. he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved : but he that believeth not shall be damned.' If we could conceive God originally predestinating mankind on such conditional terms as these, endless controversies might be decided by this single sentence, or by John iii. 16. • God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' xv. 6. if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch.' v. 10. • if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandment.' xvii. 20. "neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.' Such therefore were those who were predestinated by the Father. So also, Luke vii. 30. the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him ;' whence it appears that even they might previously have been predestinated, if they would have believed. Who was more certainly chosen than Peter ? and yet a condition is expressly interposed, John xiii. 8. •if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.' What then ensued ? Peter readily complied, and consequently had part with his Lord: had he not complied, he would have had no part with him. For though Judas is not only said to have been chosen, which may refer to his apostleship, but even to have been given to Christ by the Father, he
But as many
yet attained not salvation. John xvii. 12. those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition ; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. i. 11, 12. • he came unto his own, and his own received him not. as received him, to them gave he power,' &c., that is, to those who believed in his name ; to whom he did not give power before they had received and believed in him, not even to those who were specially called his own. So St. Paul, Eph. i. 13. ' in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise.' Undoubtedly those whom in the beginning of his epistle he calls holy, who were not sealed till after that they had believed, were not individually predestinated before that period. 2 Cor. vi. 1. we beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.' Rev. iji. 5. " he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. On the other hand it is said, xxii. 19. if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.
Again, if God have predestinated us in Christ,' as has been proved already, it certainly must be on the condition of faith in Christ. 2 Thess. ii. 13. • God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.' Therefore it is only future · believers' who are chosen. Tit. i. 1. “ according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness. Heb. xi. 6. • without faith it is impossible to please God,'--and thus become one of the elect; whence I conclude that believers are the same as the elect, and that the terms are used indiscriminately. So Matt. xx. 16. ‘many be called, but few chosen,' only signifies that they which believe are few. Rom. viii. 33. who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?' that is, of believers : otherwise by separating election from faith, and therefore from Christ, we should be entangled in hard, not to say, detestable and absurd doctrines, So also, Rom. xi. 7. “ the election have obtained it ;' that is, believers, as is clear from the twentieth verse, thou,' that is, thou that art elect, “standest by faith ;' and v. 22. “if thou continue in his goodness ; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.' Such is St. Paul's interpretation of the doctrine in his own case;' 1 Cor. ix. 27. lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.' Philip. iii. 12. not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect ; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.' 2 Tim. ii. 10, 12. 'I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,' &c. yet it is said in the next verse, if we believe not, yet he abideth,' &c.
Two difficult texts remain to be explained from analogy by the aid of so many plainer passages; for what is obscure must be illustrated by what is clear, not what is clear by what is obscure. The first passage occurs Acts xiii. 48. the other Rom. viii. 28–30. which, as being in my judgement the least difficult of the two, I shall discuss first. The words are as follow : we know that all things work together for