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Romans ix. 11. For the children being not yet born, neither hauc done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.
IF this ninth chapter of Romans had been found, word for word, in the writings of some Calvinistic Divine, without its being thought to have been taken from the holy writings, would it not have been condemned by some of the Arminians, as rigid predestinarianism? Would they not have said, It is blasphemous, and not fit to be read? But now, because it is found in that book, whose inspiration and authority are estab. lished, it is acknowledged to contain the truth, and nothing but truth; yet every exertion is made, to get rid of the plain and natural meaning of the apostle's words. One writer makes this comment on the 21st verse, “ Hath not the pot. ter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor ?” “ It does not say,” he observes, “ that he will use this power ; it only says, Hath not the potter power over the clay ?" It is a common way to get rid of the force of what is said about Esau and Jacob, in the text, by confining God's
purpose of election altogether to the outward cir. cumstances of themselves, and the different na. tions which were to proceed from their loins. That which is here said of these two brothers, is, no doubt, to be extended to their posterity ; but it is far from being confined to their worldly cir. cumstances. We know that Jacob was pious, and that he had the God of his fathers for his God; and we have great reason to believe that Esau never had any piety. When the apostle to the Hebrews had given a caution to look diligent. ly, lest any man should fail of the grace of God, he enforces his exhortation by the example of profane Esau. And the posterity of Esau were the known enemies of the true religion ; while almost all the subjects of grace, for nearly two thousand years, were taken from the posterity of Jacob. To the posterity of Jacob it is that the Lord says, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” But if there be any thing bad in personal election, there must be something worse in national election. If election and rep. robation appear bad when applied to Jacob and Esau, as individuals, they must appear vastly worse when applied to them, as the heads of two great nations.
The sovereignty of grace, according to the eternal and immutable purpose of God, is the subject which the apostle has immediately in view in this, and several chapters contiguous to it. And as the deep things of God are made plainer by examples, than by mere abstract reasoning, Paul brings into view some particular examples of this doctrine, taken from the scrina
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ture history. We can hardly see how he could have found a more striking case to illustrate his doctrine, than the case of Jacob and Esau. They were brothers---they had the same parents, and, what is not very common, they were both born at a birth. Although in these respects they so much resembled each other ; yet it pleased God, before they were born, when they had done nei. ther good nor evil, to make a great difference between them by his purpose of election, determining the one to be a chosen vessel, prepared unto glory, and the other to be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction ; by which it appears, that the purpose of God is not determined by the works of his creatures, and that therefore it will stand. Let me repeat the text, and then judge ye, if it does not hold forth these ideas : " For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” What can be more evident, than this, that the design of the sacred wri. ter, and of the Holy Spirit who inspired him, was to exclude works from being the original cause of the difference which existed between them? Else, why does the inspired writer no. tice, that the declaration concerning their different states is made while they are “ not yet born,” and while they have " not done any good or evil ;” and why after this does he more explicitly say, “ Not of works, but of him that calleth ?” The purpose of God according to election is put in opposition to works ; and this will invariably stand. It will remove mountains but that it will stand.
The third question in the public debate was this, What is the scripture doctrine of election ? The text is an answer to this question ; and if we have not misapprehended its meaning, it contains this Doctrine,
The purpose of God, in choosing some creatures to enjoy eternal happiness, in distinction from others, is not founded upon their good works, and will therefore invariably stand. This doctrinal proposition will naturally divide itself into two parts, I. To show that election is not founded on works; II. To show that God's pur. pose of election will never, in a single instance, be frustrated, but will always stand.
1. It is to be shown, that election is not foun. ded on works. “Not of works, but of him that calleth.” This shows that the special blessings which Jacob enjoyed, in distinction from his brother, did not originate in his good works, ei. ther done or foreseen, but in the good pleasure of God. We do not mean to say, that God has determined some creatures should be eternally happy, without their being holy; or that he has determined others should be wretched, without including in his plan, that they should be fitted to destruction. Creatures cannot be fitted to destruction, without deserving it ; but they may be saved, without deserving it, though not with. out being prepared for it. All who are chosen to happiness are chosen to holiness. The elect angels are all holy angels; and the reprobate an. gels are, every one of them, become devils. The elect from our world will all be prepared unto glory, and the reprobate will all be fitted to de.
struction. So that it will appear in the final is.
sue of things, that every creature is put in his - own place, for which he was previously fitted. : Every conscience in the universe will be convin
ced, that nothing iniquitous, or improper, has ( been done by the Supreme Judge. - Although the purpose of election does not dis
connect works, and reward, the character, and state of creatures; yet works and character are not the foundation of this purpose. It is not
of works, but of him that calleth.” The sinless - angels were not elected to eternal life for their
works of obedience ; but their works of obedience are the fruit of electing love. They and the fallen angels once possessed the same holy character ; this holy character, therefore, could not be the primary ground of their being elected, in distinction from those who fell. It will be said, that though they all once possessed the same character ; yet the Most High saw, that such a part of the angelic host would remain steadfast in obedience, while such another part would rebel. But this would make the purpose of election, of works, and not of the good pleasure of God. And the elect angels would have whereof to glory, saying, We have made ourselves to differ from those, who were once our equals and our associates in bliss. But such glorying before God is as unsuitable for elect angels, as for the elect among the children of men. It is suitable through the universe, That he that glorieth should glory in the Lord. The rebel angels are doomed to hell for their rebellion : But why did the Lord of angels suffer them to rebel? It will not