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The Elect of God

TEXT.-- "Who is on the Lord's side?" -- Exodus 32.vs 26.

This question was addressed by Moses to the professed people of God, immediately after their great departure from God while Moses was in the Mount, when they went and worshipped a golden calf which had been cast for them by Aaron. After expostulating with the guilty nation, he called out, "Who is on the Lord's side?" It is not my intention to dwell on the history of this case particularly, but to come at once to the main design I have in view in this essay, which is to show that there are

Three Classes of Professing Christians.

I. The true friends of God and man.

II. Those who are actuated by hope and fear, or in other words, by self-love or by selfishness.

III. Those who are actuated by public opinion.

These three classes may be known by attending to the characteristic developments which show what is the leading design in their religion. It needs not be proved, that persons may set out in religion from very different motives, some from real love to religion, and some from other motives. The differences may be arranged in these three classes, and by attending to the development of their real design in becoming religious, you learn their characters.

They all profess to be servants of God, and yet by observing the lives of many, it becomes manifest that instead of their being God's servants they are only trying to make God their servant. Their leading aim and object is to secure their own salvation, or some other advantage for themselves, through the medium of the favor of God. They are seeking to make God their friend, that they may make use of him to serve their own turn.

I. There is a class of professed Christians who are the true friends of God and man.

If you attend to those things which develop the true design and aim, of their religion, you will see it to be such. They are truly and sincerely benevolent.

1. They will make it manifest that this is their character, by their carefulness in avoiding sin.

They will show that they hate it in themselves, and they hate it in others. They will not justify it in themselves, and they will not justify it in others. They will not seek to cover up or to excuse their own sins, neither will they try to cover up or to excuse the sins of others. In short, they aim at PERFECT HOLINESS. This course of conduct makes it evident that they are the true friends of God.

I do not mean to say that every true friend of God is perfect, no more than I would say that every truly affectionate and obedient child is perfect, or never fails in duty to his parent. But if he is an affectionate and obedient child, his aim is to obey always, and if he fails in any respect, he by no means justifies it, or pleads for it, or aims to cover it up, but as soon as he comes to think of the matter, is dissatisfied with himself, and condemns his conduct.

So these persons who are the true friends of God and man, are ever ready to complain of themselves, and to blame and condemn themselves for what is wrong. But you never see them finding fault with God. You never hear them excusing themselves and throwing off the blame upon their Maker, by telling of their inability to obey God, or speaking as if God had required impossibilities of his creatures. They always speak as if they felt that what God has required is right and reasonable, and themselves only to blame for their disobedience.

2. They manifest a deep abhorrence of the sins of other people.

They do not cover up the sins of others, or plead for them and excuse them, or smooth them over by "perhaps" this, or "perhaps" that. You never hear them apologizing for sin. As they are indignant at sin in themselves, they are just as much so when they see it in others. They know its horrible nature, and abhor it always.

3. Another thing in which this spirit manifests itself, is zeal for the honor and glory of God.

They show the same ardor to promote God's honour and interest, that the true patriot does to promote the honor and interest of his country. If he greatly loves his country, its government and its interest, he sets his heart upon promoting its advancement and benefit. He is never so happy as when he is doing something for the honour and advancement of his country.

So a child that truly loves his father, is never so happy as when he is advancing his father's honor and interest. And he never feels more indignant grief, than when he sees his father abused or injured. If he sees his father disobeyed or abused by those who ought to obey and love and honor him, his heart breaks forth with indignant grief.

There are multitudes of professing Christians, and even ministers, who are very zealous to defend their own character and their own honor. But this one class feel more engaged, and their hearts beat higher when defending or advancing God's honor. These are the true friends of God and man.

4. They show that they sympathize with God in His feelings towards man.

They have the same kind of friendship for souls that God feels. I do not mean that they feel in the same degree, but that they have the same kind of feelings. There is such a thing as loving the souls of men and hating their conduct too.

There is such a thing as constitutional sympathy, which persons feel for those who are in distress. This is natural. You always feel this for a person in distress, unless you have some selfish reason for feeling malevolent. If you saw a murderer hung, you would feel compassion for him. The wicked have this natural sympathy for those that suffer.

There is another peculiar kind of sympathy which the real child of God feels and manifests towards sinners. It is a mingled feeling of abhorrence and compassion, of indignation against his sins, and pity for his person. It is possible to feel this deep abhorrence of sin mingled with deep compassion for souls capable of such endless happiness, and yet bound to eternal misery.

I will explain myself. There are two kinds of love. One is the love of benevolence. This has no respect to the character of the person loved, but merely views the individual as exposed to suffering and misery. This God feels towards all men.

The other kind includes esteem or approbation of character. God feels this only towards the righteous. He never feels this love towards sinners. He infinitely abhors them. He has an infinitely strong exercise of compassion and abhorrence at the same time.

Christians have the same feelings, only not in the same degree, but they have them at the same time. Probably they never feel right unless they have both these feelings in exercise at the same time. The Christian does not feel as God feels towards individuals, nor feel according to the true character of the individuals, unless both these feelings exist in his mind at the same time.

You see this by one striking characteristic. The Christian will rebuke most pointedly and frequently those for whom he feels the deepest compassion. Did you never see this? Did you never see a parent yearning with compassion over a child, and reprove him with tears, and yet with a pungency that would make the little offender quail under his rebuke.

Jesus Christ often manifested strongly these two emotions. He wept over Jerusalem, and yet he tells the reason, in a manner that shows his burning indignation against their conduct. "O Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee!" Ah! what a full view he had of their wickedness, at the moment that he wept with compassion for the doom that hung over them.

It is just so with this class of Christians. You never find one of them addressing a sinner so as merely to make him weep because somebody is weeping for him. But his most tender appeals are accompanied with strong rebuke for sin.

I wish you to remember this point, that the true friend of God and man never takes the sinner's part, because he never acts through mere compassion. And at the same time, he is never seen to denounce the sinner, without at the same time manifesting compassion for his soul, and a strong desire to save him from death.

5. It is a prominent object with such Christians, in all their intercourse with men, to make them friends of God.

Whether they converse, or pray, or attend to the duties of life, it is their prominent object to recommend religion and to lead everybody to glorify God. It is very natural they should do this, if they are the true friends of God. A true friend of the government wishes every body to be a friend of the government.

A true and affectionate child wishes every body to love and respect his father. And if any one is at enmity, it is his constant aim and effort to bring him to reconciliation. The same you would expect from a true friend of God, as a leading feature of his character, that he would make it a PROMINENT object of his life to reconcile sinners to God.

Now, mark my word! If this is not the leading feature of your character, if it is not the absorbing topic of thought and effort to reconcile men to God, you have not the root of the matter in you.

Whatever appearance of religion you may have, you lack the leading and fundamental characteristic of true piety. It wants the leading feature of the character and aims of Jesus Christ, and of his apostles and prophets. Look at them, and see how this feature stands out in strong and eternal relief, as the leading characteristic, the prominent design and object of their lives.

Now let me ask you, what is the leading object of your life, as appears in your daily walk? Is it to bring all God's enemies to submit to him? If not, away with your pretensions to religion. Whatever else you have, you have not the true love of God in you.

6. Where there are persons of this class, you will see them scrupulously avoid every thing that in their estimation is calculated to defeat their great end.

They always wish to avoid every thing calculated to prevent the salvation of souls, every thing calculated to divert attention, or in any way to hinder the conversion of souls.

It is not the natural question with them, when any thing is proposed which is doubtful, to ask, "Is this something which God expressly forbids?" The first question that naturally suggests itself to their minds is, "What will be the bearing of this upon religion?

Will it have a tendency to prevent the conversion of sinners, to hinder the progress of revivals, to roll back the wheels of salvation?" If so, they do not need the thunders of Sinai to be pealed in their ears, to forbid their doing it.

If they see it contrary to the spirit of holiness, and contrary to the main object they have in view, that is enough.

Look at the temperance reformation for an illustration of this. Here let me say, that it was the influence of intemperance in hindering the conversion and salvation of sinners that first turned the attention of the benevolent men who commenced the reformation, to inquire on the subject.

And the same class of persons are still carrying it on. Such men do not stand and cavil at every step of the way, and say "Drinking rum is no where prohibited in the Bible and I do not feel bound to give it up." They find that it hinders the great object for which they live, and that is enough for them, they give it up of course.

They avoid whatever they see would hinder revival, as a matter of course, just as a merchant would avoid any thing that had a tendency to impair his credit, and defeat his object of making money by his business.

Suppose a merchant was about to do something that you knew would injuriously affect his credit, and you go to him in the spirit of friendship and advise him not to do it, would he turn round and say, "Show me the passage where God has prohibited this in the Bible?" No. He don't ask you to show him any thing more than this, that it is inconsistent with his main design.

Mark this, all of you. A person who is strongly desirous of the conversion of sinners does not need an express prohibition to prevent his doing that which he sees is calculated to prevent this. There is no danger of his doing that which will defeat the very object of his life.

7. This class of professing Christians are always distressed, unless they see the work of converting sinners going on.

They call it a lamentable state of things in the church, if no sinners are converted. No matter what else is true, no matter how rich the congregation grows, nor how popular their minister, nor how many come to hear him, their panting hearts are uneasy unless they see the work of conversion actually going on. They see that all the rest is nothing without this and that even the means of grace are doing more hurt than good, unless sinners are converted.

Such professors as these are a great trouble to those who are religious from other motives, and who therefore wish to keep all quiet and have every thing go on regularly in the good old way. They are often called "uneasy spirits in the church."

And mark it! if a church has a few such spirits in it, the minister will be made uneasy unless his preaching is such as to convert sinners.

You sometimes hear of these men reproving the church, and pouring out their expostulations for living so cold and worldly, and the church reply, "O, we are doing well enough, do you not see how we flourish, it is only because you are always uneasy."

When in fact their hearts are grieved and their souls in agony because sinners are not converted and souls are pressing down to hell.

8. You will see them when manifesting a spirit of prayer, praying not for themselves but for sinners.

If you know the habitual tenor of people's prayers, it will show which way the tide of their feelings sets. If a man is actuated in religion mainly by a desire to save himself, you will hear him praying chiefly for himself and that he may have his sins pardoned and enjoy much of the Spirit of God, and the like.

But if he is truly the friend of God and man, you will find that the burden of his prayers is for the glory of God in the salvation of sinners, and he is never so copious and powerful in prayer, as when he gets upon his favorite topic, which is the conversion of sinners.

Go into the prayer meeting where such Christians pray, and instead of seeing them all shut up in the nutshell of their own interests, spending their whole prayer upon themselves, and just closing with a flourish about the kingdom of Christ, you will hear them pouring out their souls in prayer for the salvation of sinners.

I believe there have been cases of such Christians who were so much absorbed in their desires for the salvation of sinners, that for weeks together they did not even pray for their own salvation. Or if they pray for themselves at all, it is that they may be clothed with the Spirit of God, so that they can go out and be mighty through God in pulling souls out of the fire.

You that is reading this essay can tell how it is with your prayers, whether you feel most and pray most for yourself or for sinners. If you know nothing about the spirit of prayer for sinners, you are not the true friend of God and man.

What! no heart to feel, when sinners are going to hell by your side! No sympathy with the Son of God, who gave his life to save sinners! Away with all such professions of religion.

"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Don't tell me men are truly pious, when their prayers are droned over, as much a matter of form as when the poor Popish priest counts over his beads. Such a man deceives himself, if he talks about being the true friend of God and man.

9. These persons do not want to ask what are the things they are required to do for the conversion of sinners.

When any thing is presented to them that promises success in converting sinners, they do not wait to be commanded to do it, on pains and penalties if they do not. They only want the evidence that it is calculated to advance the object on which their hearts are set, and they will engage in it with all their soul.

The question is not with them all the while, "What am I expressly commanded to do?" but, "In what way can I do most for the salvation of souls, and the conversion of the world to God?" They do not wait for an express command in the Bible, before they will engage in the work of missions, or Sabbath schools, or any other enterprise that promises to save souls; but they are ready to every good word and work.

10. Another characteristic of such Christians is a disposition to deny themselves to do good to others.

God has established throughout all the universe the principle of giving. Even in the natural world, the rivers, the ocean, the clouds, all give. It is so throughout the whole kingdom of nature and of grace. This diffusive principle is every where recognized.

This is the very spirit of Christ. He sought not to please himself, but to do good to others. He found his highest happiness in denying himself to do good to others.

So it is with this class of persons, they are ever ready to deny themselves of enjoyments and comforts, and even of necessaries, when by so doing they can do more good to others.

11. They are continually devising new means and new measures for doing good.

This is what would be expected from their continual desire to do good. Instead of being satisfied with what does not succeed, they are continually devising new ways and means to effect their object.

They are not like those persons who make themselves satisfied with doing what they call their DUTY. Where an individual is aiming mainly at his own salvation, he may think if he does his duty he is discharged from responsibility, and so he is satisfied as he thinks he has escaped from divine wrath and gained heaven for himself, by doing what God required him to do, and he cannot help it, whether sinners are saved or lost.

But with the other class, it is not so much their object to gain heaven and avoid wrath, but their leading object is to save souls and to honor God. And if this object is not advanced, they are in pain. Such a man is the one whose soul is all the while devising liberal things, and trying new things, and if one fails, trying another and another, and cannot rest till he has found something that will succeed in the salvation of souls.

12. They always manifest great grief when they see the church asleep and doing nothing for the salvation of sinners.

They know the difficulty and the impossibility of doing anything considerable for the salvation of sinners while the church are asleep. Go into a church where the great mass are doing nothing for the conversion of sinners, and floating along on the current of the world, and you will find that the true friends of God and man are grieved at such a state of things.

Those who have other objects in view in being religious, may think they are going on very well. They are not grieved when they see the professed people of God going after show and folly. But if there are any of this class, you will find them grieved and distressed at heart, because the church is in such a state.

13. They are grieved if they see reason to think their minister temporizes, or does not reprove the church pointedly and faithfully for their sins.

The other classes of professors are willing to be rocked to sleep, and willing their minister should preach smooth, flowery and eloquent sermons, and flattering sermons, with no point and no power.

But these are not satisfied unless he preaches powerfully and pointedly, and boldly, and rebukes and entreats and exhorts, with all long-suffering and doctrine.

Their souls are not fed, or edified, or satisfied with any thing that does not take hold, and do the work for which the ministry was appointed by Jesus Christ.

14. This class of persons will always stand by a faithful minister, who preaches the truth boldly and pointedly.

No matter if the truth he preaches hits them, they like it, and say, Let the righteous smite me, and it shall be an excellent oil. When the truth is poured forth with power, their souls are fed, and grow strong in grace.

They can pray for such a minister. They can weep in their closet, and pour out their souls in prayer for him, that he may have the Spirit of God always with him.

While others scold and cavil at him and talk about his being extravagant, and all that, you will find Christians of this sort will stand by him, and would go to the stake with him for the testimony of Jesus. And this they do for the best of all reasons and such preaching falls in with the great design for which these Christians live.

15. This sort of Christians are especially distressed when ministers preach sermons not adapted to convert sinners.

I mean when the sermon is not specially addressed to the church, to stir them up. Others may approve the sermon, and praise it, and tell what a great sermon it is, or how eloquent, or lucid or grand or sublime, but it does not suit them if it lacks this one characteristic; a tendency to convert sinners.

You will find some people that are great sticklers for the doctrine of election, and they will not believe it is a gospel sermon unless it has the doctrine of election in it, but if the doctrine of election is in it they are suited whether it is adapted to convert sinners or not.

But where a man has his heart set on the conversion of sinners, if he hears a sermon not calculated to do this, he feels as if it lacked the great thing that constitutes a gospel sermon. But if they hear a sermon calculated to save souls, then they are fed and their souls rejoice.

Hence you see the ground for the astonishing difference you often find in the judgment which people pass upon preaching. There is in fact no better test of character than this. It is easy to see who they are that are filled with the love of God and of souls, by the judgment which they pass upon preaching.

The true friends of God and man, when they hear a sermon that is not particularly designed to probe and rouse the church and bring them to action, if it is not such as to bear down on sinners and does not tend to convert sinners, it is not the sermon for them.

16. You will always find this class of persons speaking in terms of dissatisfaction with themselves, that they do no more for the conversion of sinners.

However much they may really do for this object, it seems that the more they do the more they long to do. They are never satisfied. Instead of being satisfied with the present degree of their success, there is no end of their longing for the conversion of sinners.

I recollect a good man, who used to pray till he was exhausted with praying for individuals and for places and for the world's conversion. Once when he was quite exhausted with praying, he exclaimed "Oh! my longing, aching heart! There is no such thing as satisfying my unutterable desires for the conversion of sinners. My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath."

That man, though he had been useful beyond almost any other man of his age, yet he saw so much to do, and he so longed to see the work go forward and sinners saved, that his mortal frame could not sustain it. "I find," said he one day, "that I am dying for want of strength to do more to save the souls of men; Oh, how much I want strength, that I may save souls."

17. If you wish to move this class of persons, you must make use of motives drawn from their great and leading object.

If you wish to move them, you must hold up the situation of sinners, and show how they dishonor God, and you will find this will move their souls and set them on fire sooner than any appeal to their hopes and fears.

Roll on them this great object. Show them how they can convert sinners, and their longing hearts beat and wrestle with God in prayer, and travail for souls, until they see them converted and Christ formed in them the hope of glory.

Now, do you belong to this class, or not? I have mentioned certain great fundamental facts, which when they exist, indicate the true character of individuals, by showing what is their main design and object in life. You can tell whether this is your character.

And now, beloved, I ask you before God, have you these characteristics of a child of God? Do you know they belong to you? Can you say, "O Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee, and that these are the features of my character!"

The Doctrine of Election

EPHESIANS i. 45. "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."

The subject of the discourse on the doctrine of election, is thus divided to discuss the following:

I. What is not intended by this doctrine.
II. What is intended by it.
III. That it is a doctrine of the Bible.
IV. That it is the doctrine of reason.
V. Why they are elected.
VI. When they were elected.
VII. That it is not a partial election.
VIII. That there is no injustice in it.
IX. That it opposes no obstacle to the salvation of the non-elect.
X. That it is the best that could be done for the world.
XI. That it does not supersede the use of means for the salvation of the elect.
XII. That it is the only ground of encouragement for using means.
XIII. How it may be known who are elected.

I. I am to show what is not intended by this doctrine.

1. Not that a part of mankind are to be saved irrespective of their moral character. We are not to suppose that the elect will be saved, do what they may, without regard to their conduct.

2. Nor are we to understand by it, that the elect will be forced to heaven against their will.

3. Nor that there is any particular provision made in the atonement for their salvation, more than for the salvation of the non-elect.

4. Nor that the unconverted elect are any better than the non-elect.

5. Nor that the unconverted elect are any more beloved of God, than the non-elect.

6. Nor that the non-elect are created for damnation, and cannot be saved do what they may.

II. What is intended by the doctrine

By the doctrine of election, is intended, that a part of the human family are chosen to eternal salvation; that not only are they chosen as a whole, but as individuals; every one of whom will finally be saved.

III. The Doctrine is taught in the Bibel

This doctrine is taught in the Bible. It is plainly taught in the text. Peter directs his first epistle "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last times."

In 2d Timothy i. 9.--The apostle says, "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 were given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."

I will not take up your time in multiplying passages of Scripture; scarcely any doctrine of the Bible is more abundantly and unequivocally taught than this. Much ingenuity has been exercised in explaining these passages so as to show that they do not teach election as I have stated it.

But the manner in which the attempts to explain this doctrine away have uniformly terminated, has fully demonstrated that it cannot be explained away, and that the doctrine as it lies upon the face of the Scriptures is that contained in the proposition I have stated, viz. that a part of mankind are chosen to eternal life and salvation.

IV. The Doctrine is logical and reasonable

It is the doctrine of reason. This will follow, first, from the foreknowledge of God. God must have foreknown who would and who would not be saved.

Dr. Adam Clark attempts to evade the inference of election from the omniscience of God. He says, that God's being omniscient is no more evidence that he actually knows all things that are knowable, than that his being omnipotent proves that he does all things that are doable.

His omnipotence, he observes, is under the control of his wisdom, so that he actually does nothing but what his wisdom directs; and that his omnipotence is never exerted only in those cases where wisdom calls it to act; so he maintains, that the omniscience of God, is in like manner under the control of infinite wisdom, and that although he might know every possible thing, yet he actually does know only such things as it is wise for him to know.

This argument, if it can be called an argument, hardly deserves an answer. But as it is often relied upon and brought forward as sound and conclusive reasoning, I would only ask in answer to it, How could God know whether a particular thing was best to be known, without a previous knowledge of that thing? It is plain that he must first have a perfect knowledge of it before he could know whether it was wise or unwise to know it.

Peter asserts the foreknowledge of God, by addressing Christians as elect according to the foreknowledge of God. Paul, in the eighth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, says, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren; 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.

Again. If God foreknew whom he would save, he must have had some design about it. He must have designed that they should be saved, or should not be, or that he would have no design about it. It is unreasonable to suppose that he could have had either of the last two; he must therefore have had the first, to wit, that they should be saved.

Again. If any are to be saved, God must save them. Now if he saves them, he either chooses to save them, or chooses not to save them, or chooses to have no choice about it. But it is impossible that he should have no choice about it. It is a contradiction to say that he knew what would occur, and that he had no choice in relation to the matter.

Again. The doctrine of election may be inferred from the unchangeableness of God. Suppose ourselves all gathered around the judgment seat; suppose all his saints to be gathered at his right hand, and now the final sentence is to be passed, and God designs to take all his saints to heaven. But when did God first form this design? Has he any new light on the subject? Has he changed his mind? "He is of one mind, and who can turn him?"

Again. The doctrine of election may be inferred from the fact that with God there is no past or future time, but that all eternity is present time to him. The beginning and the end of time, all the events of time and eternity, past to us, the judgment day and eternity beyond, with all their events, are present to his mind.

The name and character and eternal destiny of every creature are present to him; and that is a very unworthy view of God, which exhibits him as having no definite plan in relation to all the concerns of his vast empire: indeed, it is virtually denying God, and robbing him of the essential attributes of his nature.

Again. If God does not know the individuals that will be saved, it is impossible that he should know that any will be saved. If he has designed to save his saints as a body, he must have designed to save them as individuals, for they are made up of individuals.

V. I am to show why they are elected.

1. I remark, that it is not because the elect are any better by nature than others. Paul says, "we are called with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which he had in Christ Jesus before the world began."

2. Nor because God more strongly desires the salvation of the elect, than of the non-elect.

3. Nor because Christ agreed to purchase a part of mankind of the Father, and paid down so much suffering for so much sin, and took his choice from among them, as we should from among a flock of sheep.

4. Nor because he felt any particular partiality for the elect, more than for the non-elect. In short, it was nothing in the nature or character of men, that led him to make this distinction, and to choose some in preference to others.

Nor are we to suppose, that God acted in the selection of the elect, without motives. He must have had some good and substantial reasons for choosing one man in preference to another.

Some speak of election in such a manner as to leave the impression on the mind that God acted arbitrarily, and that the whole turned upon an inscrutable sovereignty, the reasons for which we can in no wise understand.

But certainly I have not so learned the doctrine of election. For although he has not told us why he has selected one in preference to another, yet he has told us certain things from which we may justly infer what the reasons are which led him to this selection.

The Scriptures inform us that God is good, certainly, infinitely good, and that he does good; and from the fact that he is infinitely good, we are bound to infer that he does all the good he can.

Moreover, he asks, What more could I have done for my vineyard, that I have not done? If God does not save all men, it must be because all cannot consistently be saved, since the salvation of all men would require such a change in the administration of his government as would, upon the whole, do more hurt than good in the universe.

For if the salvation of all men would, upon the whole, be wise, most for the glory of God, and for the best interests of his kingdom, we may rest assured that all men would be saved. But it is a matter of fact, that the conversion of all men would require a very different arrangement and administration of the divine government from that which we now experience, in order to bring sufficient moral influence to bear upon this world, to turn all men to God.

It is easy to see, also, that this change in the administration of the divine government might, in many ways, so disarrange the concerns of the universe, of the worlds that roll around his throne, as, upon the whole, to do more hurt than good. It also follows, that if any part of mankind are saved, it is because God can wisely save them.

That in the best possible administration of his government, he can bring sufficient moral influence to bear upon them to convert them. It is a contradiction to say that the same amount of moral influence can be brought to bear upon every individual of the human family.

It would be the same as to say that every individual could be in circumstances in all respects precisely similar. But this is a natural impossibility. The elect, then, must be those whom God foresaw could be converted under the wisest administration of his government.

That administering it in a way that would be most beneficial to all worlds, exerting such an amount of moral influence on every individual, as would result, upon the whole, in the greatest good to his divine kingdom, he foresaw that certain individuals could, with this wisest amount of moral influence, be reclaimed and sanctified, and for this reason, they were chosen to eternal life.

By this, we are not to understand that he foresaw that some men would be better by nature than others, and that because, on this account, they could be more easily turned to God; but that, upon the whole, they would be so circumstanced that it would be wise in God, in the administration of his government, to bring sufficient moral influence to bear upon them to subdue their opposition, and to save their souls.

VI. I am to show when the election was made.

The apostle says it was before the world began, or from eternity. It must have been when the plan of the divine government was settled in his mind, and the present mode of administration concluded upon.

Some suppose that men are not elected until they are converted, and confound their election with their conversion. But this is neither reasonable nor scriptural. Christ will say to his saints in the judgment day, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;"

and certainly it is unreasonable to suppose that an unchangeable God has changed his mind in regard to an individual, and made a new choice, and elected him to eternal life when he sees that he is converted.

VII. I am to show that this election is not partial.

By partiality, we understand undue bias or favour towards one individual or party, founded upon some interest or prejudice. Some particular liking we have for one individual more than for others. I have already shown that election does not turn upon any thing in the character of the election, or any particular prejudice or partiality which God has in their favour.

The question of their election did not turn upon any thing in them, but upon the best interests of his government. In electing them, God did not look over the human family to see whom he loved best, but upon whom in the wisest administration of his government he could bring sufficient moral influence to bear to save them.

It was no partiality to them, but a high and holy regard to the great interests of his immense kingdom that led to their election.

VIII. I am to show that there is no injustice in this.

God was under obligation to no one and he might in perfect justice have sent all mankind to hell. The doctrine of election will damn no one; by treating the non-elect according to their deserts he does them no injustice. His exercising grace in the salvation of the elect is no act of injustice to the non-elect, and especially will this appear to be true if we take into consideration the fact that the only reason why the non-elect will not be saved is because they pertinaciously refuse salvation.

He offers mercy to all. The atonement is sufficient for all. All may come and are under an obligation to be saved. He strongly desires their salvation, and does all that he wisely can to save them. Why then should the doctrine of election be thought unjust.

IX. Election opposes no obstacle to the salvation of the non-elect.

The choice of some to eternal life, on the ground that they can be converted under the wisest administration of government, is by no means throwing any difficulty in the way of the conversion of the non-elect; for with them God uses all the means that are consistent with wisdom to reclaim and save them.

The conversion of the elect, instead of being an obstacle in the way, is a powerful inducement to the non-elect to turn and live.

The conversion of the elect, sustaining such relations as they do to the multitudes of the non-elect, is among the most powerful motives that could be presented for the conversion of the non-elect.

X. This is the best that could upon the whole be done for the inhabitants of this world.

It is reasonable to infer, from the infinite benevolence of God, that the plan of his government includes the salvation of a greater number than could have been saved under any other mode of administration. This is as certain as that infinite benevolence must prefer a greater to less a good.

To suppose that God would prefer a mode of administration that would accomplish the salvation of a less number than could be saved under some other mode, would manifestly be to accuse him of a want of benevolence.

It is doubtless true that he could so vary the course of events as to save other individuals than he does. To convert more in one particular neighbourhood, or family, or nation, or at one particular time, than he does.

Suppose there is a man in this city, who has so strongly entrenched himself in error, that there is but one man in all the land who is so acquainted with his refuges of lies as to be able to answer his objections and rout him from his hiding-places.

Now it is possible that if this individual could be brought in contact with him, he might be converted; yet if he is employed in some distant part of the vineyard, his removal from that field of labour to this city, might not, upon the whole, be most for the interest of God's kingdom; and more might fail of salvation through his removal here, than would be converted here by such removal.

God has in view the good of his whole kingdom. He works upon a vast and comprehensive scale. He has no partialities for individuals, but moves forward in the administration of his government with his eye upon the general good, designing to convert the greatest number, and produce the greatest amount of happiness within his kingdom.

XI. Election does not supersede the use of means for the salvation of the elect.

Election does not supersede the necessity of means for the conversion of the elect. They are chosen to salvation through the sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.

They must then hear, believe, and obey the truth. If the end is to be accomplished, the necessary means must be used: would a farmer, because he knew that God had settled it in his own mind whether he should have a crop or not, say that if he was to have a crop he would have it, whether he sowed his land or not?

Would a sick man neglect to use means for the recovery of his health, because he knows that God has numbered his days, and that it was settled in the divine mind whether he would die or not? Certainly not.

If the farmer is to have a crop, he must sow his field and use the necessary means. So if the sick man is to live, the means requisite for his recovery must be used. So in the cure of sinners, if means be not used, not even the elect can be saved, and those that neglect the means, will never make their calling and election sure.

XII. The doctrine of election affords the only ground for encouragement in the use of means for the salvation of sinners.

Knowing as I do, that the carnal mind is enmity against God, that men are utterly opposed to the way of salvation; that they hate the Gospel, and all the efforts that are made to save them.

What encouragement should I have to preach the Gospel, were it not that I know that God has chosen some to eternal life, and that many or all my readers may be of this number, and that his providence has collected you to be on this site, with a design to reach you with the arrows of his truth. It is this consideration alone that can afford any ground for encouragement to hold forth in your hearing the word of life.

XIII. I am to show how it may be known who are elected.

Those of the elect that are already converted are known by their character and conduct. They demonstrate the reality of their election by their obedience to God.

Those that are unconverted may settle the question each one for himself, whether he is elected or not, so as to have the most satisfactory evidence whether he is of that happy number.

If you will now submit yourselves to God, you many know that you are elected. But every hour you put off submission, increases the evidence that you are not elected.


I. Foreknowledge and election are not inconsistent with free agency, but are founded upon it. The elect were chosen to eternal life, because God foresaw that in perfect exercise of their freedom, they could be induced to repent and embrace the Gospel.

II. You see why many persons are opposed to the doctrine of election, and try to explain it away;
1st: they misunderstand it, and
2d: they deduce unwarrantable inferences from it.

They suppose it to mean, that the elect will be saved at all events, whatever their conduct may be; and again they infer from the doctrine that there is no possibility of the salvation of the non-elect.

Their understanding of the doctrine would be an encouragement to the elect to persevere in sin, knowing that their salvation was sure, and their inference would drive the non-elect to desperation, on the ground that for them to make efforts to be saved would be of no avail.

But both the doctrine, as they understand it, and the inference are false. For election does not secure the salvation of the elect irrespective of their character and conduct; nor, as we have seen, does it throw any obstacle in the way of the salvation of the non-elect.

III. This view of the subject affords no ground for presumption on the one hand, nor for despair upon the other. No one can justly say, If I am to be saved, I shall be saved, do what I will, Nor can any one say, if I am to be damned, I shall be damned, do what I will.

But the question is left, so far as they are concerned, as a matter of entire contingency. Sinners, your salvation or damnation is as absolutely suspended upon your own choice, as if God neither knew nor designed any thing about it.

IV. This doctrine lays no foundation for a controversy with God. But on the other hand, it does lay a broad foundation for gratitude, both on the part of the elect and the non-elect.

The elect certainly have great reason for thankfulness that they are thus distinguished. Oh what a thought, to have your name written in the book of life, to be chosen of God an heir of eternal salvation, to be adopted into his family, to be destined to enjoy his presence, and to bathe your soul in the boundless ocean of his love forever and ever.

Nor are the non-elect without obligations of thankfulness. You ought to be grateful if any of your brethren of the human family are saved. If all were lost, God would be just. And if any of your neighbours or friends, or any of this dying world receive the gift of eternal life, you ought to be grateful and render everlasting thanks to God.

V. The non-elect often enjoy as great or greater privileges than the elect. Many men have lived and died under the sound of the Gospel, have enjoyed all the means of salvation during a long life, and have at last died in their sins, while others have been converted upon their first hearing the Gospel of God.

Nor is this difference owing to the fact that the elect always have more of the strivings of the Spirit than the non-elect. Many who die in their sins, appear to have had conviction for a great part of their lives; have often been deeply impressed with a sense of their sins and the value of their souls, but have strongly intrenched themselves under refuges of lies, have loved the world and hated God, and fought their way through all the obstacles that were thrown around them to hedge up their way to death, and have literally forced their passage to the gates of hell.

VI. Why should the doctrine of election be made a stumbling-block in the way of sinners? In nothing else do they make the same use of the purposes and designs of God, as on the subject of religion; and yet, in every thing else, God's purposes and designs are as much settled, and have as absolute an influence.

God as certainly designed the day and circumstances of your death, as whether your soul shall be saved. It is not only expressly declared in the Bible, but is plainly the doctrine of reason. What would you say on going home from meeting, if you should be called in to see a neighbour who was sick; and on inquiry, you should find he would neither eat nor drink, and that he was nearly starved to death.

On expostulating with him upon his conduct, he should calmly reply, that he believed in the sovereignty of God, in foreknowledge, election, and decrees; that his days were numbered, that the time and circumstances of his death were settled, that he could not die before his time, and that all the efforts he could make would not enable him to live a moment beyond his time.

If you attempted to remonstrate against his inference, and such an abuse and perversion of the doctrine of decrees, he should accuse you of being a heretic, of not believing in divine sovereignty. Now, should you see a man on worldly subjects reasoning and acting thus, you would pronounce him crazy. Should farmers, mechanics, and merchants, reason in this way in regard to their worldly business, they would be considered fit subjects for bedlam.

VII. How forcibly the perversion and abuse of this doctrine illustrate the madness of the human heart, and its utter opposition to the terms of salvation.

The fact that God foreknows and has designs in regard to every other event, is not made an excuse for remaining idle, or worse than idle, on these subjects.

But where their duty to God is concerned, and here alone, they seize the Scriptures, and wrest them to their own destruction. How impressively does this fact bring out the demonstration that sinners want an excuse for disobeying God; that they desire an apology for living in sin; that they seek an occasion for making war upon their Maker.

VIII. I have said that the question is as much open for your decision, that you are left as perfectly to the exercise of your freedom, as if God neither knew nor designed any thing in regard to your salvation.

Suppose there was a great famine in this city, and that John Jacob Astor alone had provisions in great abundance; that he was a benevolent and liberal-minded man, and willing to supply the whole city with provisions, free of expense; and suppose there existed a universal and most unreasonable prejudice against him, insomuch that when he advertised in the daily papers that his store-houses were open, that whosoever, would, might come and receive provisions, without money and without price, they all, with one accord, began to make excuse, and obstinately refused to accept the offers.

Now, suppose that he should employ all the cartmen to carry provisions around the city, and stop at every door. But still they strengthened each other's hands, and would rather die than be indebted to him for food. Many had said so much against him that they were utterly ashamed to feel and acknowledge their dependence upon him. Others were so much under their influence, as to be unwilling to offend them; and so strong was the tide of public sentiment, as that no one had the moral courage to break loose from the multitude and accept of life.

Now, suppose that Mr. Astor knew beforehand the state of the public mind, and that all the citizens hated him, and had rather die than be indebted to him for life. Suppose he also knew, from the beginning, that there were certain arguments that he could bring to bear upon certain individuals, that would change their minds, and that he should proceed to press them with these considerations, until they had given up their opposition, had most thankfully accepted his provisions, and were saved from death.

Suppose he used all the arguments and means that he wisely could, to persuade the rest, but that, notwithstanding all his benevolent efforts, they adhered to the resolution, and preferred death to submission to his proposals. Now, suppose he had perfect knowledge from the beginning, of the issue of this whole matter; would not the question of life and death be as entirely open for the decision of every individual as if he knew nothing about it?

IX. Some may ask, why does God use means with the non-elect, provided he is certain they will not accept? I answer, because he designs that they shall be without excuse. He will demonstrate his willingness and their obstinacy, before the universe.

He will rid his garments of their blood; and although he knows that their rejection of the offer will only enhance their guilt, and aggravate their deep damnation, still he will make the offer, as there is no other way in which to illustrate his infinite willingness to save them, and their perverse rejection of his grace.

Lastly. God requires you to give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. In choosing his elect, you must understand that he has thrown the responsibility of their being saved, upon them; that the whole is suspended upon their consent to the terms; you are all perfectly able to give your consent, and this moment to lay hold on eternal life.

Irrespective of your own choice, no election can save you, and no reprobation can damn you. The spirit and the bride say Come; let him that heareth say Come; let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the waters of life freely. The responsibility is yours.

God does all that he wisely can, and challenges you to show what more he could do that he has not done. If you go to hell, you must go stained with your own blood. God is clear, angels are clear. To your own master your stand or fall; mercy waits; the Spirit strives; Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Do not, then, pervert this doctrine, and make it an occasion of stumbling till you are in the depth of hell.



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