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and the wheat. They are found among them in the same sinfulness, and in the same misery, and are alike partakers of original corruption. They are among them in being destitute of any thing in them that is good in enmity against God, in being in bondage to Satan, in condemnation to eternal destruction, and in being without righteousness. So that there is no distinction between them prior to that which the election makes, there is no respect wherein the elect are not among the common multitude of mankind. 1 Cor. iv. 7. “ For who maketh thee to differ from another ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" 1 Cor. vi. 11. "" And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God.” And, therefore,
Secondly. No foreseen excellency in the elected is the motive that influences God to choose them. Election is only from his good pleasure. God's election being the first thing that causes any distinction, there can be no distinction already existing, the foresight of which influences God to choose them. It is not the seeing of any amiableness in them above others, that causes God to choose them rather than the rest. God does not choose men, because they are excellent; but he makes them excellent, and because he has chosen them. It is not because God considers them as holy, that he chooses them ; but he chooses them, that they might be holy. Eph. i. 4, 5. “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.” God does not choose them, from the foresight of any respect they will have towards him more than others. God does not choose men and set his care upon them because they love him, for he hath first loved us. 1 John. iv. 10. “ Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins;" verse 19. “ We love him, because he first loved us."
It is not from any foresight of good works, that men do before or after conversion ; but on the contrary, men do good works, because God hath chosen them. John xv. 16. ^ Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." Nor did God choose men, because he foresaw that they would believe and come to Christ. Faith is the consequence of election, and not the cause of it. Acts
xiii. 48. "And when the Gentiles heard this they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” It is because God hath chosen men, that he calls them to Christ, and causes them to come to him. To suppose that election is from the foresiyht of faith, is to place calling before election, which is contrary to the order in which the scripture represents things. Rom. viii. 30. “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.” It is not from the foresight of any, either moral or natural qualifications, that God chooses men, nor because he sees that some men are of a more amiable make, and better natural temper, or genius, nor because he foresees that some men will have better abilities, and will have more wisdom than others, and so will be able to do more service for God than others; nor because he foresces that they will be great and rich, and so possessed of greater advantages to serve him. 1 Cor. j. 27, 28. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and things despised, bath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.” Nor is it from any foresight of men's endeavours after conversion, because he sees that some whom he chooses will do much more than others to obtain heaven; but God chooses them, and therefore awakens them, and prompts them to strive for conversion. Rom. ix. 16. 6 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” Election in scripture is every where referred to God's own good pleasure. Matth. xi. 26. “Even so Father ; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” 2 Tim. i. 9. “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 was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.".
Thirdly. True Christians are chosen of God from all eternity; not only before they were born, but before the world was created. They were foreknown of God, and chosen by him out of the world. Eph. i. 4. “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.” 2 Tim. . 9. “According to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began."
Fourthly. God in election set his love upon those whom he elected. Rom. ix. 13. “ Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Jer. xxxi. 3. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love ;
therefore with loring kindness have I drawn thee." 1 John iv. 19. “We love him, because he first loved us.” A God of infinite goodness and benevolence loves those that have no excellency to move or attract it: the love of men is consequent upon some loveliness in the object, but the love of God is antecedent to, and the cause of it. Believers were from all eternity beloved both by the Father and the Son. The eternal love of the Father appears in that he from all eternity contrived a way for their salvation, and chose Jesus Christ to be their Redeemer, and laid help upon him. It is a fruit of this electing love that God sent his Son into the world to die, it was to redeem those whom he so loved. 1 John iv. 10. “Ilerein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." It is a fruit of the eternal, electing love of Jesus Christ, that he was willing to come into the world, and die for sinners, and that he actually came and died Gal. ii. 20. “I am crucified with Christ : nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” And so conversion, and glorification, and all that is done for a believer from the first to the last, is a fruit of electing love.
Fifthly. This electing love of God is singly of every particular person. Some deny a particular election, and say that there is no other election than a general determination, that all that believe and obey shall be saved. Some also own no more than an absolute election of nations. But God did from all eternity, singly and distinctly choose, and set his love upon every particular person,
that ever believes, as is evident by Gal. ii. 20. “Who loved me and gave himself for me." God set bis love from eternity upon this and that person, as particularly as if there were no other chosen than he ; and therefore it is represented, as though they were mentioned by name, that their names are written in the book of life. Luke x. 20. “Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Rev. xiii. 3. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Sixthly. In election, believers were from all eternity given to Jesus Christ. As 'believers were chosen from all eternity, so Christ was from eternity chosen and appointed to be their Redeemer, and he undertook the work of redeeming them. There was a covenant respecting it between the Father and Son. Christ, as we have already observed, loved them before the creation of the world; and then he had their names, as it were, written in a book,
and therefore the book of life is called the Lamb's book. Rev. xxi. 27. “ And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” And he bears their names upon his heart as the high priest of old did the names of the tribes of the children of Israel on his breast-plate. Christ often calls the elect those whom God had given him. John xvii. 2. “ As thou hast given him power over all Aesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” In the 9th verse, “I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” In the 11th verse,
" And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me,
that they may
be one, as we are.
This part of the subject may suggest to us the following Reflections.
First. God's thus electing a certain, definite number from among fallen men from all eternity, is a manifestation of his glory. It shows the glory of the divine sovereignty. God hereby declares himself the absolute disposer of the creature; he shows us how far his sovereignty and dominion extend, in eternally choosing some and passing by others, and leaving them to perish. God here appears in a majesty that is unparalleled. Those who can see no glory of dominion in this act, have not attained to right apprehensions of God, and never have been made sensible of his glorious greatness. And here is especially shown the glory of divine grace, in God's having chosen his people to blessedness and glory long before they are born; in his choosing them out of the mass of mankind, from whom they were not distinguished, and in his love to them being prior to all that they have or do, being uninfluenced by any excellency of theirs, by the light of any labours or endeavours of theirs, or any respect of theirs towards him.
The Doctrine of election shows, that if those who are converted have earnestly sought grace and holiness, and in that way have obtained it, their obtaining it is not owing to their endeavours, but that it was the grace and mercy of God that caused them earnestly to seek conversion, that they might obtain it. It shows also that faith itself is the gift of God, and that the saints' persevering in a way of holiness unto glory, is also the fruit of electing love. Believers' love to God is the fruit of God's love to them, and the giving of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, the appointing of ordinances, are all fruits of the grace of election. All the grace that is shown to any of mankind, either in this world, or in the world to come, is comprised in the electing love of God.
Secondly. If believers are the chosen of God, here is a great argument for their love and gratitude towards him. The cousideration of the miserable condition in which God found you, and in which he left others, should move your hearts. How wonderful that God should take such thought of a poor worm from all eternity! God might have left you as well as many others, but it pleased the Lord to set his love upon you. What cause have you for love and thankfulness, that God should make choice of you, and set you apart for himself, rather than so many thousands of others!
God hath chosen you not merely to be his subjects and servants, but to be bis children, to be his peculiar treasure; he has chosen you to be blessed for ever in the enjoyment of himself, and to dwell with him in his glory. He has given you from all eterpity to his Son, to be united unto him, to become the spouse of Christ. He has chosen you that you might be holy and without blame, that you might have your filth taken away, and that you might have the image of God put upon you, and that your soul might be adorned, to be the bride of his glorious and dear Son. What cause for love is here!
Thirdly. If believers are a chosen generation, let all labour earnestly to make their election sure. If true Christians are chosen of God, this should induce all earnestly to inquire whether they are true Christians. 2 Peter i. 5. 6. 7. “ And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity."
2. True Christians are a distinct race of men; they are of a peculiar descent or pedigree, different from the rest of the world. This is implied in their being called a generation. There are three significations of the word generation in the scriptures. Sometimes it means, as is its meaning in common use, a class of persons among a people, or in the world, that are born together, or so nearly together, that the time of their being in the different stages of the
age of man is the same. They shall be young persons, middle aged, and old together; or they shall be together upon the stage of action. All that are together upon the face of the earth, or the stage of action, are very often accounted as one generation. Thus when God threatened that not one of the Israelites of that generation should see the good land, it is meant, all from twenty years old and upwards.
A second meaning is, those who are born of a common progenitor.