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“ ing what we are commanded, any declaration of “ what is God's purpose to do, or his decree that it “ should be done. Especially is this to be seen " and considered in the duty of the ministers of “ the gospel ; in the dispensing of the word, in ex“ hortations, invitations, precepts, and threaten“ings, committed unto them ; all which are per" petual declaratives of our duty; and do manifest " the approbation of the thing exhorted and invited “ to, with the truth of the connexion between one " thing and another; but not of the counsel or pur“ pose of God, in respect of individual persons, in “ the ministry of the word. A minister is not to “ make inquiry after, nor to trouble himself about, 66 those secrets of the eternal mind of God, viz. “ whom he purposeth to save, and whom he hath 6 sent Christ to die for in particular: it is enough “ for them to search his revealed will; and thence “ take their directions, from whence they have their “ commissions. Wherefore, there is no conclusion “ from the universal precepts of the word, concern“ing the things, unto God's purpose in himself “ concerning persons: they command and invite all “ to repent and believe : but they know not in par“ ticular on whom God will bestow repentance unto " salvation, nor in whom he will effect the work of “ faith with power.” *
ON PARTICULAR REDEMPTION.
OBJECTIONs to the foregoing principles from the doctrine of election are generally united with those
* Death of Death, Book IV. Chap. i.
from particular redemption : and indeed they are so connected that the validity of the one stands or falls with that of the other.
• To ascertain the force of the objection, it is proper to enquire, Wherein the peculiarity of redemption consists? If the atonement of Christ were considered as the literal payment of a debt; if the measure of his sufferings were according to the number of those for whom he died, and to the des gree of their guilt, in such a manner as that if more had been saved, or if those who are saved had been more guilty, his sorrows must have been proportionably encreased, it might, for aught I know, be inconsistent with indefinite invitations. But it would be equally inconsistent with the free forgiveness of sin, and with sinners being directed to apply for mercy as supplicants, rather than as claimants. I conclude, therefore, that an hypothesis which in so many important points is manifestly inconsistent with the scriptures, cannot be true.
On the other hand, If the atonement of Christ proceed not on the principle of commercial, but of moral justice, or justice as it relates to crime ; if its grand object were to express the divine displeasure against sin,* and so to render the exer. cise of mercy, in all the ways wherein sovereign wisdom should determine to apply it, consistent with righteousness;t if it be in itself equal to the
salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to embrace it; and if the peculiarity which attends it, consist not in its insufficiency to save more than are saved, but in the sovereignty of its application, no such inconsistency can justly be ascribed to it.
If the atonement of Christ excluded a part of mankind in the same sense as it excludes fallen, angels, Why is the gospel addressed to the one, any more than to the other? The message of wisdom is addressed to men, and not to devils. T'he former are invited to the gospel supper, but the latter are not. These facts afford proof that Christ by his death opened a door of hope to sinners of the human race as sinners; affording a ground for their being invited without distinction to believe and be saved.
But as God might send his Son into the world to save men, rather than angels ; so he may apply his sacrifice to the salvation of some men, and not of others. It is a fact that a great part of the world have never heard the gospel; that the greater part of those who have heard it, disregard it; and that those who believe are taught to ascribe not only their salvation, but faith itself, through which it is obtained, to the free gift of God. And as the application of redemption is solely directed by sovereign wisdom; so, like every other event, it is the result of previous design. That which is actually done was intended to be done. Hence the
salvation of those that are saved is described as the end which the Saviour had in view: He gave him. self for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.* Herein, it is apprehended, consists the peculiarity of redemption.
There is no contradiction between this peculiarity of design in the death of Christ, and a universal obligation on those who hear the gospel, to believe in him, or a universal invitation being addressed to them. If God through the death of his Son have promised salvation to all who comply with the gos. pel; and if there be no natural impossibility as to a compliance, nor any obstruction but that which arises from aversion of heart; exhortations and invitations to believe and be saved, are consistent : And our duty as preachers of the gospel is to administer them, without any more regard to particular redemption than to election ; both being secret things which belong to the Lord our God, and which, however they be a rule to him, are none to us. If that which sinners are called upon to believe respected the particular design of Christ to save them, it would then be inconsistent: but they are neither exhorted nor invited to believe any thing but what is revealed, and what will prove true, whether they believe it or not. He that believeth in Jesus Christ, must believe in him as he is revealed in the gospel ; and that is as the
* Tit. ii. 14.
Saviour of sinners. It is only as a sinner, exposed to the righteous displeasure of God, that he must approach him. If he think of coming to him as a favourite of heaven, or as possessed of any good qualities which may recommend him before other sinners, he deceives his soul: such notions are the bar to believing. “He that will know his own “ particular redemption, before he will believe, " says a well-known writer, begins at the wrong “ end of his work, and is very unlikely to come “ that way to the knowledge of it.-Any man that “ owns himself a sinner, hath as fair a ground for “ his faith as any one in the world that hath not yet “ believed; nor may any person on any account s exclude himself from redemption, unless by his 6 obstinate and resolved continuance in unbelief, "' he hath marked out himself.” *
“ The preachers of the gospel, in their particular “ congregations, says another, being utterly unac“ quainted with the purpose, and secret counsel of “ God, being also forbidden to pray or search " into it, (Deut. xxix. 29.) may justifiably call upon “ every man to believe, with assurance of salvation “ to every one in particular upon his so doing ; “ knowing, and being fully persuaded of this, that “ there is enough in the death of Christ to save “ every one that shall do so: leaving the purpose " and counsel of God, on whom he will bestow « faith, and for whom in particular Christ died,
* Elisha Coles on God's Sovereignty, on Redemption.