« AnteriorContinuar »
with power from on high, and to render it effectual for the salvation of your souls. You should bear in mind, that, “ though Paul should plant, and Apollos water, it is God alone that can give the increase ;” and you should judge of your profiting, not by the pleasure with which you heard, but by the insight which you have gained into the evils of your own heart, and the ability that has been imparted to rectify your errors. As God in the appointment of ordinances seeks the conversion of your souls, so should you in attending on them; “ receiving with meekness the engrafted word," and praying that, as it is able, so also it may be effectual, to save your souls alived.]
3. What should be the one object of your whole lives
(What is there of any importance, compared with the salvation of the soul? I do not hesitate to say, that the care of the soul is the "one thing needful.” If there were no future state, men might go on in their own ways without much concern. But, when there is an eternity awaiting us,—an eternity, either of happiness in heaven, or of misery in hell; when our destination to the one or other of these depends entirely on our conduct in this present life; and when no man knows that he has another day to live; I see not how any doubt can exist in the mind of a rational being, that the care of his soul should infinitely outweigh all the concerns of time and sense. True it is, that when men act according to this truth, they are derided as enthusiasts: but there is no man who, in his deliberate judgment, does not see, that “ the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom." Regard not then the scoffs of foolish and ungodly men; all of whom, if not in this life, yet in the next at least, will applaud your wisdom. As for the angels, they, though in the very presence of their God, will not be so occupied with the glories of heaven, but they will have their joys augmented when they shall behold you turning into wisdom's ways. I pray you then to be in earnest about the salvation of your souls. If God has appointed an order of men on purpose to promote your welfare, and has suspended their salvation on their fidelity to you, and has taught them to consider success in one single instance as a rich recompence for the labour of their whole lives, surely it does not become you to be careless and indifferent. I pray you, awake to a sense of your condition: think how great a work you have to do, and how short and uncertain is the time wherein you have to do it: and now, ere it be too late, “turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel?"]
d Jam. i. 21. VOL. xx.
1 P ET E R.
OFFICES OF THE HOLY TRINITY. 1 Pet. i. 1, 2. Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, 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.
CONTEMPTIBLE as Christians often appear in the eyes of men, they are of high estimation in the sight of God. Many glorious descriptions are given of them in the inspired volume: but in no part of it have we more exalted views of them than in the words before us; where, at the same time that they are represented as treated by man with all manner of cruelties and indignities, they are spoken of as most dear to every person in the Godhead, having been elected by God the Father, redeemed by the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the operations of the Holy Ghost. This is a great mystery,—the union of the Sacred Three in the redemption and salvation of fallen man. But the consideration of this mystery is of peculiar importance; not only as establishing the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, but as shewing the connexion of that doctrine with every part of our salvation; which originates with God the Father, is carried on by God the Son, and is perfected by God the Holy Ghost.
Let us, under a deep sense of our own ignorance, and with a humble dependence upon God for his guidance and direction, proceed to a calm, dispassionate, and candid consideration of this all-important subject. I. The Father elects—
The doctrine of election is here, as in many other passages, plainly asserted—
[Christians are “elect, according to the foreknowledge of God." By " the foreknowledge of God” I understand, God's infallible discernment of future things, how contingent soever they may appear to us. That he possesses this perfection is unquestionable: for if he did not, how could he ever have inspired his prophets to foretell such distant and improbable events? It is not possible to read the life of our Lord, and to compare the predictions concerning him with the events by which they were fulfilled, and not to say, “ Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the worlda.” Indeed a man who denies this truth must “ think God to be even such an one as himself," ignorant of the future, and made wiser by the occurrences of every succeeding day ;-a supposition from which the mind revolts with utter abhorrence.
Considering then the foreknowledge of God as comprising every thing relating to the salvation of man, we are constrained to view all that relates to man's salvation as ordained of God. For though we may easily distinguish in idea between foreknowledge and fore-ordination, we cannot separate them in fact; since if God foreknow every thing, he foreknows it, not as probable, but as certain ; and therefore certain, because it has been fore-ordained by him “ before the foundation of the world,” and is “wrought by him in time according to the counsel of his own will b.".
Hence to God's electing love we refer all the grace and mercy that we have ever experienced; and thankfully acknowledge, that “ by the grace of God we are what we arec:" and that, if ever we be saved at all, it will be,“ not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace which were given us in Christ Jesus before the world began d. "]
The objections which are usually brought against this doctrine, by no means disprove its truth
(Many affirm, that, if the doctrine of election be true, that of reprobation, of absolute reprobation, must be true also. In a Acts xv. 8.
Eph. i. 4, 11. c 1 Cor. xv. 10.
d 2 Tim. i. 9.
answer to this, I would say, that we know nothing, either of the one or of the other, but from the revelation which God has given us; and that, if that revelation affirm the one and deny the other, we must receive that which it affirms, and reject that which it denies. That it does deny the doctrine of absolute reprobation, I think is clear as the light itself. If when Almighty God swears by his own life and immortal perfections, that “ he has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live;" and then founds on that oath this gracious invitation, “ Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israele ?" I am constrained to say, that the doctrine of absolute reprobation, that is, of God's forming any persons with an express determination to destroy them, irrespectively of any works of theirs, cannot be true. But must I therefore deny the doctrine of election, which the whole Scriptures uniformly assert, merely because I know not how to reconcile the two opinions ? Surely not. My sentiments are formed on Scripture, and not on the fallible deductions of human reason : and if I cannot reconcile the two, it is no reason that God cannot. I cannot reconcile the existence of sin with the holiness of God: but do I therefore deny, or doubt, either the one or the other? Certainly not; so neither do I doubt God's exercise of sovereign grace towards his elect, because my weak and fallible reason would be ready to connect with it an arbitrary decree against the non-elect. Sure I am, that the Judge of all the earth will do right; and that, whilst all the saved will ascribe their salvation simply and solely to the grace of God, there will not be found one amongst those who perish, who will not confirm God's sentence of condemnation upon him, saying, “ Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments f.”
Another objection against this doctrine is, That the elect will be saved, though they never should strive at all; and the nonelect will perish, however earnestly they may strive. But God has united the end with the means: and to attempt to separate them will be in vain. Who the elect are, we know not, till they themselves discover it by the effects produced upon them: nor will it ever be known who the non-elect are, till the day of judgment shall reveal it. But this we know,—and this we affirm for the comfort of all,—that “every one who asketh, receiveth; and every one that seeketh, findeth ; and that to every one that knocketh, shall the gate of heaven be opened &." What can the most determined opposer of the doctrine of election say more than this, or wish for more than this?
Some will yet further urge, That, if this doctrine be true,
e Ezek. xxxiii. 11.
" Rev. xvi. 7.
& Matt. vii. 7, 8.
men may be saved without any regard to holiness. This objection is of the same kind with the former: and that there is no just ground for it, our text itself sufficiently declares : for we are “elect unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ;"-elect, not to salvation only, but to obedience also ;to the one as the means, and to the other as the end.]
What is spoken respecting our being elect “ to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” will lead me to shew, that whom the Father has elected, II. Christ redeems
On the subject of obedience being an end to which we are elect, we shall speak under the next head : at present, we confine ourselves to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
That the elect are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ, is certain
[Moses, when he confirmed the covenant which the Israelites entered into with their God, sprinkled both the altar and the people with the blood of the sacrifices h: and in like manner we, when we embrace the covenant of grace, are sprinkled with the blood of our Great Sacrifice, which purges us from the guilt of all our former sins, and sanctifies us as an holy people unto the Lord: “We come to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abeli."
And here it is particularly to be noticed, that it is not by the shedding of the Redeemer's blood that any are saved, but by the application of it to their souls. Millions “perish for whom Christ died*:" but no one ever perished, whose “heart had been sprinkled from an evil conscience,” and “ purged from dead works to serve the living God!."]
To this they are elected, as to the necessary means of their acceptance with God
[None, however elect by God the Father, could come to God, unless a sacrifice were provided for them. All are sinners: all need pardon for their multiplied iniquities: no man could make satisfaction for his own sins. One sacrifice was provided of God for the whole world, even the sacrifice of God's only-begotten Son. Through that, God determined from all eternity to accept them; and in due time he reveals it to them, as the way opened for their access to him. Thus they are brought to see Christ, as “ the way, the truth, and the
h Exod. xxiv. 6, 8.
i Heb. xii. 24.