Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

complied with the request : yet it appears, by the issue, that the Lord had deterinined to give his country to Israel for a possession, and, therefore, gave him up to hardness of heart, by which it was accomplished.*

If the days of man are determined, and his bounds appointed that he cannot pass them, it must have been determined, that that generation of the Israelites which went out of Egypt should die in the wilderness : yet it was their duty to have believed God, and to have gone up to possess the land ; and their sin to disbelieve him, and turn back in their hearts to Egypt. And it deserves particular notice, that this their sin is held up, both by David and Paul, as an example for others to shun, and that in spiritual concerns.† It was the determination of God, that Ahab should fall in his expedition against Ramoth-gilead, as was plainly intimated to him by Micaiah : yet it was his duty to have hearkened to the counsel that was given him, and to have desisted from his purpose. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans was determined of God, and frequently foretold by the prophets : yet the inhabitants were as frequently counselled to return from their evil ways, that they might avoid it. Jeremiah particularly entreated Zedekiah to follow his counsel, that he might save the city and himself from ruin.

However such things may grate upon the minds of some, yet there are cases in which we ourselves are in the habit of using similar language, and that without any idea of attributing to God any thing inconsistent with the greatest perfection of moral character. If a wicked man be set on mischievous pursuits, and all the advices and warnings of his friends be lost upon him, we do not scruple to say, · It seems as if God had determined to destroy him, and, therefore, has given him up to infatuation. In the use of such language, we have no idea of the determination of God being unjust, or capricious. On the contrary, we suppose he may have wise and just reasons for doing as he does; and, as such, notwithstanding our compassion towards the party, we acquiesce in it. Whenever we speak of God as having determined to destroy

* Deut. ii. 26-30.
# 1 Kings xxii. 15–22.

† 1 Cor. x. 6–12.
$ Jer. xxxviii. 20.

a person, or a people, we feel the subject too profound for our comprehension ; and well indeed we may. Even an inspired Apostle, when discoursing of God's rejection of the Jewish nation, though he glances at the merciful aspect which this awful event wore towards the Gentiles, and traces some great and wise designs that should be answered by it; yet feels himself lost in his subject. Standing as on the brink of an unfathomable abyss, he exclaims, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !* He believed the doctrine of divine decrees, or, that God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will : but he had no idea of making these things any part of the rule of duty ; either so as to excuse his countrymen from the sin of unbelief, or himself from using every possible mean that might accomplish their salvation. On the one hand, he quoted the words of David as applicable to them, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them. On the other, he declares, I speak to you, Gentiles if by ANY MEANS I may provoke to emulation them which zre my flesh, and might suve some of them.t

There were those in that day, as well as in this, who objected, If things be as God hath purposed, Why doth he yel find fault ; for who hath resisted his will ?

This was no other than suggesting, that the doctrine of decrees must needs operate to the setting aside of the fault of sinners; and this is the substance of what has been alleged from that day to this. Some, because they cannot conceive of the doctrine but as drawing after it the consequence assigned to it by this replyer against God, reject it: others appear to have no objection to the consequence itself, stamped as it is with infamy by the manner in which the Apostle repelled it, and, therefore, admit the doctrine as connected with it! But so did not Paul. He held fast the doctrine of decrees, and held it as comporting with the fault of sinners. After all that he had written upon God's electing some, and rejecting others, he, in the same chapter, assigns the failure of those that failed to their

* Rom. xi, 33.

* Rom. xi. 9. x: 1. xi. 13, 14,

not seeking justification by faith in Christ ; but as it were by the works of the law, stumbling at that stumbling stone.*

“ God's word,” says Mr. Brine, “and not his secret pur. pose, is the rule of our conduct.”+ “ We must exactly distinguish,” says Dr. Owen, “ between man's duty and God's purpose ; there being no connexion between them. The purpose and decree of God is not the rule of our duty; neither is the performance of our duty, in doing what we are commandec, any declaration of what is God's purpose to do, or his decrec that it should be done. Especially is this to be seen and con. sidered in the duty of the ministers of the gospel ; in the dis. pensing of the word, in exhortations, invitations, precepts, and threatenings, committed unto them : all which are perpetual declaratives of our duty, and do manifest the approbation of the thing exhorted and invited to, with the truth of the connexion between one thing and another; but not of the counsel or purpose of God, in respect of individual persons, in the minis. try of the word. A minister is not to make inquiry after, nor to trouble himself about, those secrets of the eternal mind of God, viz, whom he purposeth to save, and whom he hath sent Christ to die for in particular: it is enough for them to search his revealed will, and thence take their directions, from whence they have their commissions. Wherefore, there is no conclusion from the universal precepts of the word, concern. ing the things, unto God's purpose in himself concerning persons; they command and invite all to repent and believe ; bui they know not in particular on whom God will bestow repent. ance unto salvation, nor in whom he will effect the work of faith with power.”+

ON PARTICULAR REDEMPTION.

Objections to the foregoing principles, from the doctrine of election, are generally united with those from particular redemption; and, indeed, they are so connected, that the validity of the one stands or falls with that of the other.

To ascertain the force of the objection, it is proper to inquire, Wherein the peculiarity of redemption consists? If the atonement of Christ were considered as the literal payment

* Rom. ix. 32. + Certain Efficacy, &c. p. 151. # Death of Death, Book IV. Chap. I,

!

of a debt; if the measure of his sufferings were according to the number of those for whom he died, and to the degree of their guilt, in such a manner as that, if more had been saved, or if those who are saved had been more guilty, his sorrows must have been proportionably increased; it might, for aught I know, be inconsistent with indefinite invitations. But it would be equally inconsistent with the free forgiveness of sin, and with sinners being directed to apply for mercy as supplicants, rather than as claimants. I conclude, therefore, that an hypothesis which in so many important points is manifestly inconsistent with the scriptures, cannot be true.

On the other hand, if the atonement of Christ proceed not on the principle of commercial, but of moral justice, or justice as it relates to crime ; if its grand object were to express the divine displeasure against sin,* and so to render the exercise of mercy, in all the ways wherein sovereign wisdom should determine to apply it, consistent with righteousness ;t if it be in itself equal to the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to embrace it; and if the peculiarity which attends it; consist not in its insufficiency to save more than are saved, but in the sovereignty of its application, no such inconsistency can justly be ascribed to it.

If the atonement of Christ excluded a part of mankind in the same sense as it excludes fallen angels, why is the gospel addressed to the one, any more than to the other? The message of wisdom is addressed to men, and not to devils. The former are invited to the gospel-supper, but the latter are not. These facts afford proof, that Christ, by his death, opened a door of hope 10 sinners of the human race as sinners ; affording a ground for their being invited, without distinction, to believe and be saved.

But, as God might send his Son into the world to save men, rather than angels; so he may apply his sacrifice to the salvation of some men, and not of others. It is a fact, that & great part of the world have never heard the gospel; that the greater part of those who have heard it disregard it; and that those who believe are taught to ascribe not only their

* Rom. viii, 3.

† Rom. ii. 25,

VOL. I.

M

salvation, but faith itself, through which it is obtained, to the free gift of God. And, as the application of redemption is solely directed by sovereign wisdom; so, like every other event, it is the result of previous design. That which is actually done was intended to be done. Hence the salvation of those that are saved is described as the end which the Saviour had in view : He gave himself for us, that he might redeem ue from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.* Herein, it is apprehended, consists the peculiarity of redemption.

There is no contradiction between this peculiarity of design in the death of Christ, and a universal obligation on those who hear the gospel to believe in him, or a universal invitation being addressed to them. If God, through the death of his Son, have promised salvation to all who comply with the gospel; and if there be no natural impossibility as to a compliance, nor any obstruction but that which arises froin aversion of heart; exhortations and invitations to believe and be saved are consistent: and our duty, as preachers of the gospel, is to administer them, without any more regard to particular redemption than to election; both being secret things, which belong to the Lord our God, and which, however they be a rule to him, are none to us. If that which sinners are called upon to believe respected the particular design of Christ to save them, it would then be inconsistent: but they are neither exhorted nor invited to believe any thing but what is revealed, and what will prove true, whether they believe it, or not. He that believeth in Jesus Christ, must believe in him as he is revealed in the gospel : and that is as the Saviour of sinners. It is only as a sinner, exposed to the righteous displeasure of God, that he must approach him. If he think of coming to him as a favourite of heaven, or as possessed of any good qualities which may recommend him before other sinners, he deceives his soul: such notions are the bar to believing. “ He that will know his own particular redemption, before he will believe," says a well-known writer, “begins at the wrong end of his work, and is very unlikely to come that way to the knowledge of it.--Any man that owns himself a sinner, hath

* Titus ï. 14.

« AnteriorContinuar »