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SERMON XVIII.

THE NECESSITY OF DILIGENCE IN OUR CHRISTIAN CALLING:

2 PETER i. 10.

Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.

Is it possible, then, that an election can be absolute, unconditional, and certain, which we are exhorted to secure by our diligence? Is it not evident, on the contrary, that our calling must be a title, through the free grace of God, to particular blessings and privileges which it depends upon ourselves either to secure or to forfeit? Yes, my brethren, the election spoken of in Scripture is an election to spiritual privileges and mercies in the present life. It has no reference, as some sects of Christians in modern times have supposed, to the eternal destiny of mankind.

This election to spiritual privileges in the present life, which, in respect to our eternal existence, are to be secured by the fulfilment of the conditions on which they are suspended, has taken place from the beginning. God chose Abraham and his posterity to be his peculiar people: he called them to the knowledge of bis name, his will, and his worship. The rest of mankind, left to the light of reason, and primeval revelation as handed down by tradition, would be judged by the standard of what they had received ; and since to them less was given, less would be required from them. The Judge of the whole earth will do right.

God chose, of the children of Abraham, the posterity of Isaac, and not of Ishmael, to be his peculiar people; and in like manner he chose the posterity of Jacob, and not of Esau, to receive the knowledge of his will, and to be the subjects in this life of his spiritual mercies. In this sense he is said to have “loved Jacob and hated Esau." But it does not follow, that because the posterity of Jacob and not of Esau were elected to be God's peculiar people on earth, that therefore all the posterity of the one were absolutely elected, by the sovereign decree of God, to everlasting happiness, which they therefore could not fail of obtaining; and all the posterity of the other reprobated, by the same tremendous fiat, to everlasting misery, which they could not fail of incurring. No; they will all stand at the day of judgment on the footing of their works+of what they have done, whether it be good or evil; they will be judged according to the improvement which they have made of the talents committed to them.

In like manner, God in his eternal counsels resolved to call both Jews and Gentiles to the knowledge of the Gospel of his Son Jesus Christ, and to make the conditional offer of salvation to them all: and those who accepted the gracious overture, who obeyed the merciful call, whether they were Jews or Gentiles, and believing on his Son Jesus Christ, were admitted into covenant with him by the sacrament of baptism, became his peculiar people—“the election of grace," as the apostle terms them in the Epistle to the Romans. This election of the believing Jews and Gentiles to the

blessings of the Gospel, was, in the language of the apostle, “through the free grace of God; not of works,” not of any thing which they had previously done, or hereafter could do, to merit absolutely this distinguishing favour of their offended Maker. Indeed, even the final election of faithful and obedient Christians to everlasting life, cannot be, strictly speaking, of works: for it is the obvious sentiment of reason, that man, the creature of God's

power, and the sinner obnoxious to his justice, cannot do any thing which will absolutely merit that everlasting salvation, which so much transcends the most exalted services which he can possibly render. This salvation 'must be the free, unmerited gift of that Almighty Maker and Sovereign of mankind, who, as he could in justice withhold it, in infinite mercy and love only dispenses it.

In calling mankind to the privileges of the Gospel in the present life, God acts as a Sovereign who has a right to dispense his unmerited favours to whom he will. But still the decisions of the last day will be regulated by those eternal and immutable rules of justice, which are the pillars that support the divine throne. God will judge every man according to his works; and the eternal destiny of those whom he hath not called to the kingdom of his Son, he will determine according to the use which they have made of the light and knowledge which he hath vouchsafed to them; they will be judged according to what they have, and not according to what they have not, through the merits of Him who was slain from the foundation of the world, in respect to the efficacy of that propitiation which he made for the sins of the whole world.

The Jews of old were denominated the chosen

people, the elect of God, because he had selected them from the rest of the world, to particular spiritual privileges. In like manner, the whole body of Christians are called the chosen generation, elected and predestinated, because they are called out of the rest of the world, to the blessings and privileges of the Gospel. But as neither the whole body of the Jews, though the elect of God, finally obtained his everlasting favour, neither will the whole body of Christians, though called to the knowledge of the Gospel, to the participations of the means and privileges of salvation, be finally chosen to everlasting life. They may fail to avail themselves of the knowledge which is afforded them-to improve the means of grace which they enjoy—to cherish the privileges extended to them --and thus finally become castaways. Their calling is conditional their final election to glory is uncertain ; awfully important, therefore, the ext hortation-“Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure."

Yes; all those now present, who have been admitted by baptism into the church, the mystical body of Christ--for which he purchased, by his death, the blessings of mercy and life eternal, and which he hath endued with his Holy Spirit, to be the mysterious but powerful agent of the satisfaction of its members—are the called, the elect of God. You are elected to the participation of all the glorious privileges of salvation; to the forgiveness of your sins--to the enlightening and purifying influences of the Holy Spirit

to the gracious guidance and protection of God, your heavenly Father--to everlasting life in his presence. This glorious election is conditional ; its exalted privi

leges you may forfeit; they can be secured only by true repentance and faith, producing holy obedience. The diligent and faithful servant of the Lord only will be rewarded; everlasting glory will be conferred only on those who are prepared by the holy graces which they have acquired to enjoy it. Reflect then on the exalted privileges to which you are called--reflect that your everlasting happiness depends on your securing them everlasting misery is the penalty of your neglecting them. What force then in the exhortation-"Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.”

Do you desire then to secure the glorious salvation to which you are called ?

1. You must devote to it your supreme solicitude, attention, and exertions.

Our redemption from the ignominious bondage of sin; our adoption as the children of God; our attainment of the perfection and felicity of heaven, are objects which, infinitely important, should, above all others, awaken, interest, occupy all the powers and feelings of our souls. The necessity of solicitude and attention arises also from the number and magnitude of the difficulties which we have to encounter, The Christian life is a life of conflict with formidable enemies; with the sinful lusts of the heart—with the ensnaring pleasures of the world-with the temptations of the great adversary. In the work of salvation, therefore, the greatest solicitude and attention are necessary to ensure success,

We must strive with intenseness and with perseverance to enter in at the strait gate, which only opens to the kingdom of heaven: we must direct our most vigorous exertions to the

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