« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
15, 16. I know that he had previously told us why his sin was not unpardonable, namely, that when he was a blasphemer and persecutor, he did it ignorantly in unbelief. But though he had not committed the sin unto death, which could not be forgiven; yet he viewed himself as the chief of sinners. And it is very manifest, that he considered himself as having obtained mercy, that Jesus Christ might in him, as in a mirror, make a most striking display of his long-suffering, and the exceeding abundance of his grace, not as an encouragement to others to continue in sin, but as an encouragement to the very chief of sinners to fly for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before them. In this view of the subject, I cannot see that it is a false or dangerous sentiment, to say, that the greatness of Paul's sin, was one reason why he obtained mercy, that he might be a pattern of great grace.
V. Mr. B. objects to Acts xiii. 48; And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed; as contributing any thing to the support of our views of election. Instead of reading the text, ordained to eternal life, he would read it disposed, or well disposed for eternal life. To support this reading, he quotes the French translation. To this it may be replied, that the New Testament was not first written in the French language. He has a lengthy quotation from Dr. A. Clark, who labors to do away the force of the Greek word which is translated ordained. And it undoubtedly needs much labor to make tetagmenci signify the good disposition of the mind.
VI. Mr. B. objects against the doctiine of personal election; That it makes God partial and a respecter of persons. He says, "It is not possible, sir, to rescue your doctrine from the charge of partiality." p. 142. Those who can have access to the Sermons are referred to what they will there find on the subject from the 67th to the 69th page.
Respecting, regarding, and accepting of persons, are scriptural phrases of similar import, and intend the same thing which is now more commonly expressed by partiality. Let us now look at the text where these phrases occur, as applied to the Divine Being, and it will help us to understand what God himself intends,
when he declares that he is no respecter of persons. In 2 Chron. xix. 7, it is said; "For there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts" This is given as a reason why the judges should judge impartially, and not take any bribe to blind their eyes; for the supreme Judge was impartial, and took no bribe or gift to blind his eyes. God, acting as a judge, decides according to character, and according to this alone. "Who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work." 1 Pet. i. 17. Jews and Gentiles, as it respects mere national distinction, stand on equal ground before his judgmentseat. This is proved by Acts x. 34, 35, and Rom. ii. 10, 11; "Of a truth I perceive, that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” "But glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile for there is no respect of persons with God." "A great or small intellect will not turn the balance with God; for it is written; "He respecteth not any that are wise of heart." Job xxxvi. 24. There is, in this world, much difference between the condition of masters and their servants; but before the bar of the supreme Judge, this difference vanishes. This is urged with masters as a motive to do their duty to servants: "And ye mas ters do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening; knowing that your master also is in heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him." Eph. vi. 9. It is also used as a motive with servants, to be sincerely obedient unto their masters. "Servants, obey in all things your masters, according to the flesh; not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God and there is no respect of per sons." Col. iii. 22-25.
In Deut. x. 17, 18, it is declared that God regardeth not persons, nor taketh rewards, and then it is added, He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow. In Job xxxiv. 19, the phrases regarding, and accepting of persons, both occur, and are evidently of the same import as respecting of persons: "How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor." Before
the impartial tribunal of the great Judge of quick and dead, the prince will stand on a level with his subjects, and the rich will have no pre-eminence above the poor.
Another thing implied in God's accepting no man's person, is this, that he condemns all which is wrong in his own children, and even in those who have had the most distinguished place in his family. When Paul was about to speak of the dissimulation of Peter and of others, who seemed to be pillars, he introduces it by saying, that God accepteth no man's person. Gal. ii. 6.
I have been particular in bringing these scriptures into view, because I know that our doctrine is very commonly said to be in opposition to the impartially of the Divine Being. I do not believe in the doctrine of election,' says one, and another, because I believe that God is no respecter of persons.' This we also believe, and yet believe in election. And now I would ask my candid reader,-Is there any thing in these texts, all of which are so express in declaring, that God is no respecter of persons, and that he regardeth not, and accepteth not persons; which asserts, or even intimates, that he has not chosen some sinners, to be made monuments of his grace, in distinction from their fellow-sinners? What does the Most High mean to express, when he says, "I will be gracious to whom 1 will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy?" Exod. xxxii. 19. Would this language become him, when seated on the judgment seat?" I will be just to whom I will be just ?" In the treatment of characters already formed, the Supreme Judge is as much bound to go by a prescribed rule, as a subordinate judge and because he always does go by rule, and by the same rule, in judging both princes and their subjects, masters and their servants, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, Jews and Gentiles, therefore he is said to be impartial, and to be no respecter of persons. His impartiality leads him to go as exactly according to the gospel, in pardoning; as according to the law, in accepting of those who have a law-righteousness. He does not say among penitent sinners, I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. He has bound himself by a gracious promise to show mercy to all such.
The sovereignty of God does not appear so properly, in his treatment of the prince and the peasant, as in making the one a prince, and the other a peasant; it does not appear so properly, in his treatment of the rich and the poor, as in making one rich, and the other poor. My opponent, I believe, will not deny but that God's sovereignty is displayed in placing men in the different conditions, in which they are seen in this world. "The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all." Yea, "The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich." And does not the scrip ture ascribe to God the forming of the character, as much as the appointing of the condition of men? And is not this the place where his sovereignty is most remarkably displayed? "Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor; and another unto dishonor?" The sovereignty of God is displayed in making such a choice as he does, of the the vessels of mercy. Mr. B. acknowledges the sovereignty of God, in choosing the nation of Israel to their distinguished privileges. This he must suppose consistent with the declaration, That God is no respecter of persons. If he can tell how the universal Father can place such distinguished privileges in the hands of one nation, and leave the other nations to the gross darkness of paganism, it will not be very difficult for me to show how he can choose some individuals in such a fa
vored nation, to become real subjects of his grace.
VII. Another objection which I shall notice, is this; That the doctrine of particular election does not har> monize with the doctrine of a general atonement.' In page 148, Mr. B. says, "Did Christ make atonement for those for whom God the Father never had any thoughts of mercy? Does not this scheme of yours set God the Father, and God the Son at variance ?”
To this it may be replied, that if an atonement for all mankind, implied an intention that all should become actually interested in it, then it would not be in harmony with the doctrine of particular clection. It was the intention of Christ to make a full atonement for the sin of the world; and the Father intended the same. The Father designed to apply the benefits of the atonement to the elect only; and with this the Son
was perfectly satisfied. God designed that all the angels and also the first parents of mankind, should have an opportunity to be everlastingly blessed on the foot of the covenant of works; but he did not design that they should all improve that opportunity, and never fall. So God has designed to give all the race of Adam a new and gracious probation, by means of the atonement; but he has not designed that all should actually improve their probationary state, so as to be saved. God designed by the atonement to declare his righteousness, and put a stigma upon the transgression of his law, so that he could be just, and the justifier of him that be-. lieveth in Jesus. By this means he designed to set open the door of mercy before this fallen world, so that he could say to us all," Return unto me, and I will return unto you." But this does nothing towards deternining how many are chosen to salvation. The supper was made for all who are invited to it; but it does not follow hence, that all who are invited will taste of the supper. To give appetite for this supper is another favor, over and above that of making the provision. The first favor does not bind to the bestowment of the second. Our antagonists, tho' they believe in a general atonement, do not believe it will be universally applied; why might we not say, Here is a want of harmony in their sentiments? If they say, It is the fault of those who are not benefitted by the atonement; so say we. If they say, God would receive them to favor, if they would come to him through Christ; so say we. If they should say, ' But you hold, that God provided an atonement for creatures whom he never designed should reap the benefit of it, we can say the same of them. If they should proceed to say,But God could not make them to partake of the benefits of the atonement, without destroying their moral freedom;' to this we should not agree. For we fully believe, that the hearts of those who are never saved, are in the hand of the Lord, and that he could make them also willing, if he saw this would be for the general good. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." But all the world was not chosen in him, that they should be made holy; if so, they would