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faithful; he cannot deny himself. It seems then that there is no particular predestination or election, but only general,-or in other words, that the privilege belongs to all who heartily believe and continue in their belief,—that none are predestinated or elected irrespectively, e. g. that Peter is not elected as Peter, or John as John, but inasmuch as they are believers, and continue in their belief, -and that thus the general decree of election becomes personally applicable to each particular believer, and is ratified to all who remain stedfast in the faith.
This is most explicitly declared by the whole of Scripture, which offers salvation and eternal life equally to all, under the condition of obedience in the Old Testament, and of faith in the New. There can be no doubt that the tenor of the decree in its promulgation was in conformity with the decree itself,—otherwise the integrity of God would be impugned, as expressing one intention, and concealing another within his breast. Such a charge is in effect made by the scholastic distinction which ascribes a two-fold will to God; his revealed will, whereby he prescribes the way in which he desires us to act, and his hidden will, whereby he decrees that we shall never so act :* which is much the same as to attribute
** Voluntas Dei in varias species distingui solet, ut absolutam et conditionatam; antecedentem et consequentem ; signi et beneplaciti, &o. ..... Voluntas signi dicitur cum Deus verbo suo significat quid velit aut nolit ab hominibus fieri, et mandatis ejus continetur ; beneplaciti vero, qua Deus apnd se premit et occultat id quod vult facere. Curcellæi Institutio, ii. 9. 6, 7. "Thomas Aquinas and his disciples frame another distinction to elude the text in Timothy (1 Tim. ii. 4.) and tell us of a will revealed, and of another hidden, which is, many times at least, contrary to that revealed.....a distinction rejected by our 17th Article, VOL. I.
to the Deity two distinct wills, whereof one is in direct contradiction to the other. It is, however, asserted that the Scriptures contain two opposite statements respecting the same thing ; it was the will of God that Pharaoh should let the people go, for such was the divine command,-but it was also not his will, for he hardened Pharaoh's heart. The truth however is, that it was God alone who willed their departure, and Pharaoh alone who was unwilling ; and that he might be the more unwilling, God hardened his heart,* and himself deferred the execution of his own pleasure, which was in opposition to that of Pharaoh, that he might afflict him with heavier punishment on account of the reluctance of his will. Neither in his mode of dealing with our common father Adam, nor with those whom he calls and invites to accept of grace, can God be charged with commanding righteousness, while he decrees our disobedience to the command. What can be imagined more absurd than a necessity which does not necessitate, and a will without volition ?
which directs us to follow, not this supposed hidden will of God, but that which is expressly declared in his word.' Glocester Ridley's Sixth Sermon on the Divinity and Operations of the Holy Ghost.
* This my long sufferance, and my day of grace
They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste ;
Paradise Lost, III. 198.
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 duest 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