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Jew arrived, in the character of a preacher of the christian religion, and that he appeared to be a man of education. Many of them determined to go to hear him. This they did repeatedly. The consequence was, they became believers in this religion, and were saved. This made their election sure. They were chosen in Christ be. fore the foundation of the world; but while they knew nothing of their election, nor could know it, means were used with them, to bring them to repentance. Before they were brought to repentance, they did not obediently use the means, still their attendance on divine worship and a preached gospel, was intimately connected with their salvation; as the event proved.
I know it is said by some, that the greatest profiigates are most frequently taken hold of by divine grace. This is quite far from being true, though God sees fit to suffer some of his elect to go great lengths in sinning, before he brings them into his fold. The conversion of one of these attracts much attention, which leads many to think that such conversions are more frequent than any others. But as a more common thing, God keeps his elect, whom he designs to save, even while in their unrenewed state, from grosser sins, and especially from falling into a habit of sinning without restraint. It is a general remark, that an babitual drunkard is rarely known to become a reformed man. I believe this remark will apply to an habitual liar, or a man of no truth. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, speaks of habitual debauchery, especially in women, as a vice from which few escape. This is as much as to
say, That the Watchman of Israel almost always keeps those, whom he designs to lead into the path of life, from these paths of the destroyer, All the elect, we know, are kept from blasphem. ing against the Holy Ghost.
It is quite evident, that more persons appear to become subjects of the grace of God in the first, than in the last part of life. From this we learn, that the Father of mercies gathers in the greater part of his elect, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, in which they shall say, We have no pleasure in them. This is a solemn caution against passing the morning of life in the pursuits of pleasure. It enforces the exhortation, “ Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.”
The view, which has been given of the doc. trine of election, has nothing in it, to discourage parents from the most faithful attention to the religious education of their children. If chil, dren are trained up in the way they should go, they are more likely to be saved, than they are if trained up in the way they should not go. The purposes of God are not against his promises. If the Lord enables any of his people to give their children to him in faith, and to nurse them for him, as he requires, he will bless their offspring with them. He who gives them this spirit of faith and fidelity, does it, that they may obtain blessings for their seed, whom he chose in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. God makes one part of his scheme suit the other. When he designed to bless Abraham's household, by inclining them to keep the way of the Lord, he designed to impart a spirit of faithfulness to him, to enable hin, by precept, example and government, to guide them in that way. Thus, we see, that the purpose of election is not an encouragement to sin, or a discouragement to the use of means of instruction,
It is objected by many, that this doctrine is, at least, useless, and had therefore better never be brought into the pulpit. It is said to be a secret thing which belongs to the Lord, with whom we should leave it. We know that it be. longs to him to choose his vessels of mercy; and to know, without any mistake, them that are his. It is not the object of this sermon to point out the persons, whom God has delighted to honor with a gracious election, but to show that there are such persons; even such as he has loved with an everlasting love, whom therefore with loving kindness he will draw unto himself. If the scripture reveals the doctrine, and also bids us preach the word, and declare the whole counsel of God, how can we avoid preaching it? How do we know but that the Almighty can make use of it to do good ? seeing he hath said, “ ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine ; for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness : that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Surely if it is truth, and does not do us good, it is our own fault.
These things might satisfy us; but since this doctrine is by many considered as not useful to be preached, it is proposed to show some of the
important uses of the doctrine of election ; which shall serve as
THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE DISCOURSE. Use 1. A belief in the doctrine of election, serves to keep up the spirits of the people of God in the darkest times. When the number of be. lievers is small, and things wear a very discouraging aspect, as it respects the conversion of sinners, this comes in as a reviving thought, The elect will all of them be saved. It appears that our Saviour himself made this use of the doctrine. He had very little success during his personal ministry. But in the midst of all his discouragements, he comforted himself with this thought, " All that the Father giveth me shall come to me."
Infinite wisdom and goodness were employed, in fixing upon the number, and persons of the elect; so that it could not be increased, or diminished, without making it worse. Is not this a supporting and comforting doctrine, which assures us, that Satan, with all his malice and sub. tilty, will not be able to prevent the conversion of one of those whom the Father gave to his Son. The word of God will not return void. It will issue in the conversion, and final salvation of all whom God sees it best to save. Surely, in a dark time, this is a more comforting doctrine to those who love the kingdom of truth, than to suppose the Captain of salvation is not a match for the prince of darkness. It is infinitely more consoling to us, if we place perfect confidence in the Redeemer, to suppose, that in the work of saving sinners, he does all his pleasure, and brings
to pass what he chooses, than to suppose he is frustrated and disappointed. If we are friendly to the kingdom of Christ, why should we not be comforted, with being assured, that he will have in his kingdom just as many, and just such subjects, as he sees will be most calculated to pra. mote the highest perfection, blessedness and glo. ry of it? In this view of matters, the doctrine be. fore us has a tendency to calm our troubled breasts ; and to make us look through the darkness, and exclaim, " His unsuffering kingdom yet will come.” “ He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” “ Alleluia : for the Lord God om. nipotent reigneth !"
Use 2. The doctrine of election is of great use, to encourage ministers to preach the gospel to sinners, who are totally depraved. With the doctrine of total depravity, and without that of election, there would not be the least encourage. ment of success. The hearts of men are by nature utterly opposed to gospel salvation. « They all with one consent begin," and continue “ to make excuse." No arguments that can be used will persuade rebels to submit, and sue for mer. cy upon the self-denying terms of the gospel, The ablest preacher is as unable to persuade a sinner to repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, as the weakest. Knowing that this is the character of all mankind, in every age and country, the heralds of peace could not have the most distant prospect of reconciling one of their fellow men to HIM, from whom they have all reyolted, if they did not believe that God had de