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name of many. They who are in the visible church, and partake of external vocation, are but like a large list of names (as in civil elections is usual) out of which a small number is chosen to the dignity of true Christians, and invested into their privilege. Some men, in nomination to offices or employments, think it a worse disappointment and disgrace to have been in the list, and yet not chosen, than if their names had not been mentioned at all. Certainly, it is a greater unhappiness to have been Not far from the kingdom of God (as our Saviour speaks) and miss of it, than still to have remained in the furthest distance; to have been at the mouth of the haven, (the fair havens indeed,) and yet driven back and shipwrecked. Your labour is most preposterous ; you seek to ascertain and make sure things that cannot be made sure, and that which is both more worth, and may be made surer than them all, you will not endeavour to make sure. Hearken to the Apostle's advice, and at length set about this in earnest, to make your calling and election sure. Make sure this election, as it is here, (for that is the order,) your effectual calling sure, and that will bring with it assurance of the other, the eternal election and love of God towards you, which follows to be considered.
According to the foreknowledge of God the Father.] Known unto God are all his works from the beginning, saith the Apostle James. (Acts xv. 18.) He sees all things from the beginning of time to the end of it, and beyond to all eternity, and from all eternity he did foresee them. But this foreknowledge here, relates peculiarly to the elect. Verba sensus in sacra scriptura denotant affectus, as the Rabbins remark. So in man, Psal. lxvi. If I see iniquity; and in God, Psal. i. 6. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, &c. And again, Amos iii. 2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth, &c. And in that speech of our Saviour, relating it as the terrible doom of reprobates at the last day, Depart, &c., I know you not, I never knew you. So St. Paul, Rom. vii. 15. For that which I do, I allow (Gr. know) not. And Beza observes that yiváoxelv is by the Greeks sometimes taken for decernere, judicare ; thus some speak, to cognosce upon a business. So then this foreknowledge is no other than that eternal love of God, or decree of election, by which some are appointed unto life, and being foreknown or elected unto that end, they are predestinate to the way to it. For, whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. (Rom. viii. 29.)
It is most vain to imagine a foresight of faith in men, and that God in the view of that faith, as the condition of election itself, as it is called, has chosen them: for, 1. Nothing at all is futurum, or can have that imagined futurition, but as it is, and because it is decreed by God to be ; and therefore, (as says the Apostle St. James, in the passage before cited,) Known unto God are all his works, because they are his works in time, and his purpose from eternity. 2. It is most absurd to give any reason of Divine will without Himself. 3. This supposition easily solves all that difficulty which the Apostle speaks of ; and yet he never thought of such a solution, but runs high for an answer, not to satisfy cavilling reason, but to silence it, and stop its mouth: for thus the Apostle argues, Rom. ix. 19, 20. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault; for who hath resisted his will? Nay, but, О man, who art thou that repliest against God? Who can conceive whence this should be, that any man should believe, unless it be given him of God? And if given him, then it was His purpose to give it him ; and if so, then it is evident that He had a purpose to save him; and for that end He gives faith; not therefore purposes to save, because man shall believe. 4. This seems cross to these Scriptures, where they speak of the subordination, or rather co-ordination of those two: as here, foreknown and elect, not because of obedience, or sprinkling, or any such thing, but to obedience and sprinkling which is by faith. So God predestinated, not because he foresaw men would be conformed to Christ, but that they might be so Rom. viii. 29. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate. And the same order is observable, Acts ii. 47. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. Also xiii, 48. And as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.
This foreknowledge, then, is His eternal and unchangeable love ; and that thus he chooseth some, and rejecteth others, is for that great end, to manifest and magnify his mercy and justice: but why he appointed this man for the one, and that man for the other, made Peter a vessel of this mercy, and Judas of wrath, this is even so, because it seemed good to Him. This, if it be harsh, yet is Apostolic doctrine. Hath not the potter (saith St. Paul) power over the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour? This deep we must admire, and always fn considering it, close with this: O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.
III. The connexion of these we are now for our profit to take notice of; that effectual calling is inseparably tied to this eternal foreknowledge or election on the one side, and to salvation on the other. These two links of the chain are up in heaven in God's own hand ; but this middle one is let down to earth, into the hearts of his children, and they laying hold on it, have sure hold on the other two, for no power can sever them. If, therefore, they can read the characters of God's image in their own souls, those are the counter-part of the golden characters of His love, in which their names are written in the book of life. Their believing writes their names under the promises of the revealed book of life—the Scriptures, and so ascertains them, that the same names are in the secret book of life which God hath by himself from eternity. So that finding the stream of grace in their hearts, though they see not the fountain whence it flows, nor the ocean into which it returns, yet they know that it hath its source, and shall return to that ocean which ariseth from their eternal election, and shall empty itself into that eternity of happiness and salvation,
Hence much joy ariseth to the believer; this tie is indissoluble, as the agents are the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: so are election, and vocation, and sanctification, and justification, and glory. Therefore, in all conditions, believers may, from a sense of the working of the Spirit in them, look back to that election, and forward to that salvation; but they that remain unholy and disobedient have as yet no evidence of this love; and therefore cannot, without vain presumption and selfdelusion, judge thus of themselves, that they are within the peculiar love of God. But in this, Let the righteous be glad, and let them shout for joy, all that are upright in heart.
It is one main point of happiness, that he that is happy doth know and judge himself to be so: this being the peculiar good of a reasonable creature, it is to be enjoyed in a reasonable way; it is not as the dull resting of a stone, or any other natural body in its natural place; but the knowledge and consideration of it is the fruition of it, the very relishing and tasting its sweetness.
The perfect blessedness of the saints is awaiting them above; but even their present condition is truly happy, though incompletely, and but a small beginning of that which they expect. And this their present happiness is so much the greater, the more clear knowledge and firm persuasion they have of it. It is one of the pleasant fruits of the godly, to know the things that are freely given them of God. (1 Cor. ii. 12.) Therefore the Apostle, to comfort his dispersed brethren, sets before them a description of that excellent spiritual condition to which they are called
If election, effectual calling, and salvation, be inseparably linked together, then by any one of them a man may lay hold upon all the rest, and may know that his hold is sure; and this is that way wherein we may attain, and ought to seek, that comfortable assurance of the love of God. Therefore make your calling sure, and, by that, your election ; for that being done, this follows of itself. We are not to pry immediately into the decree, but to read it in the performance. Though the mariner sees not the pole-star, yet the needle of the compass which points to it, tells him which way he sails : thus the heart that is touched with the loadstone of Divine love, trembling with godly fear, and yet still looking towards God by fixed believing, points at the love of election, and tells the soul that its course is heavenward, towards the haven of eternal rest. He that loves, may be sure he was loved first; and he that chooses God for his delight and portion, may conclude confidently, that God hath chosen him to be one of those that shall enjoy him, and be happy in him for ever; for that our love, and electing of him is but the return and repercussion of the beams of his love shining upon us.
Find thou but within thee sanctification by the Spirit, and this argues necessarily, both justification by the Son, and the election of God the Father. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (1 John iv. 13.) It is a most strange demonstration, ab effectu reciproco: he called those he hath elected; he elected those he called. Where this sanctifying Spirit is not, there can be no persuasion of this eternal love of God: they that are children of disobedience can conclude no otherwise of themselves but that they are the children of wrath, Although, from present unsanctification, a man cannot infer that he is not elected; for the decree may, for a part of a man's life, run (as it were) under ground; yet this is sure, that the estate leads to death, and upless it be broken, will prove the black line of reprobation. A man hath no portion amongst the children of God, nor can read one word of comfort in all the promises that belong to them, while he remains unholy. Men may please themselves in profane scoffing at the holy Spirit of grace, but let them withal know this, that that holy Spirit whom they mock and despise, is that Spirit who seals men to the day of redemption. (Ephes, iv. 30.)
If any pretend that they have the Spirit, and so turn away from the straight rule of the holy Scriptures, they have a spirit indeed, but it is a fanatical spirit, the spirit of delusion and gid