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Some have thought, that the doctrine is in itself so ill-calculated, to induce any effects of godliness, that it throws to the ground, the whole system of religion, and morality. And others have gone so far, as to insist upon it, that an attention to the means of grace, is superseded thereby, and become unnecessary. You will hear men of this complexion, not unfrequently demanding, to what use, can be the practice of any religious, or moral obligation? For if a man be chosen in Christ, he is eternally safe, let him do what he may: If he be not, he is sure to be lost, let him do what he
But these are rather the sayings, of light and inconsiderate persons, than the sober and pious reflections, of the wise and serious. I venture to believe, that of all subjects tending under God's grace, to induce the greatest attainments in piety and virtue; the doctrine of being chosen in Christ to salvation and happiness, is the highest and the best. And I venture moreover to hope, that before I have finished the subject, I shall prove to the clearest de monstration, that no possible argument, is of equal persuasion, like this, to form the mind to the exercise of all those christian graces, which unquestionably are among the truest evidences of the renewed life.
A few observations, on this branch of our subject, will set the matter in a clear point of view.
The Apostle Paul, after directing an animated discourse to the church at Philippi, in which he had been insisting, with great earnestness, on some of the leading doctrines of the gospel, makes this as the immediate and unavoidable inference of the whole. Finally brethren whatsoever things are true whatsosver things are honest whatsoever things are just whatsoever things are pure whatsoever things are lovely whatsoever things are of good report if there be any virtue and if there be any praise think on these things* From hence nothing can be more evident than that, the apostle considered, a clear apprehension of the great blessings of redemption, and a consious sense of being personally interested in them, became the most powerful of all arguments, to an holy life and conversation. And indeed, if it can be supposed, that such motives should fail, every lesser consideration must prove ineffectual.
Let us examine this claim, under each of the great branches of duty, which constitute the devout, and social obligations: either as it concerns our deportment towards God, our Neighbour, or ourselves.
As it concerns our duty towards God. No appeal to the heart surely can be equal to this. For if a conscious sense, of having become
the * Philip. 4: 86
the distinguished object of divine favor, when every thing on our part, justly made us the object of divine vengeance: if amidst the shipwreck of human nature, you my Brother, behold yourself as one, brought to shore, by an Omnipotent arm, while the carcases of thousands, are floating before you : if, in direct opposition, to all your rebellion, ingratitude, and disobedience, God hath saved you, and called you with an holy calling : — what shall I say? if, while God says, I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously and wast called a transgressor from the womb † and yet notwithstanding all this, for his great love wherewith he hath loved you even when you were dead in sin hath quickened you together with Christ I can the imagination form to itself, any one argument like this, to stimulate to godliness and virtue? And will any one venture to suppose, that the mind, which is dead and insensible to such a claim as this, would be alive to any other?
Consider the subject also in another relation, as it concerns the duty we owe our neighbour. That the Apostle Paul thought the distinguishing mercy of God, to be the strongest persuasive in the mind, to lead to the practice of all the obligations, between man and man, is evident; for upon a remarkable occasion,
+ Isaiah 48. 8
* Ephes. 2. 5.
while exhorting the Colossians, to such duties, he enforces their observance from this very cause : Put on (says he) as the elect of God bowels of mercies kindness humbleness of mind meekness longsuffering. As if the consciousness of being so chosen, and so distinguished, by divine mercy, impelled the heart, to the observa ance of all tenderness and compassion. And the Apostle urges yet further, that in the unavoidable offences of life, which from the frailty of our poor fallen nature, after all endeavours to the contrary, will come; believers of all men are called upon, to forbear one another and to forgive one another even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven them. And who is there, that can arise from before the mercy seat, under a deep sense of being remitted ten thousand talents, and can go forth and take a fellow sinner by the throat, for the payment of an hundred pence? Surely, the unanswerable appeal of the Apostle, can never cease to vibrate in the ear of every one, who hath heard, and knows the joyful sound ; beloved if God so loved us how ought we also to love one another ! +
And in respect to the blessed effects, which a just sense of being chosen in Christ is calculated to produce in the heart in the duty we owe ourselves, it is a well known character, and in fact the truest evidence that the work of grace is begun in the soul, that they that
C * Coloss. 3. 12. 13.
1. John. 4. 11.
are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. For if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.
I challenge the whole world therefore, to bring forward such motives as these, and which naturally (or rather I should have said graciously) spring out of this doctrine, for reforming the heart, and regulating the morals of mankind.
But though I contend, that these considerations, are superior to every other, to induce such a train of conduct in the heart of man, yet I am free to confess that neither these considerations, or any other, are in themselves, of sufficient influence, to give a new tide, and current to the affections. It must be God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. All our sufficiency is from Him. But herein lieth the excellency of our present doctrine. For it is a circumstance intimately connected with our subject, and which I particularly beg none will overlook, that the exercise of those christian graces, do not depend upon the fickle purposes in man, but in the unchangeable love of God. Remember the text. He that chooseth his people, ordaineth them also, to bring forth fruit. And the same grace which appoints, affords power to perform. The charter of grace runs in these