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posely selected, as being at once the most conspicuous, and the most important on the present question. For here we have not only the name of the thing, to predestinate ; but we have also the whole order and progress of this Divine work : the origin and foundation of it, the Purpose of God; the Means adopted for carrying it into effect, Calling and Justification ; and the End, and crown of all, our Glorification. So that our text furnishes us with three tests, by which to try the truth and genuineness of Calvin's doctrine of Predestination :
J. The Purpose of God, respecting which the
Decree of Predestination was made:
2. The Means adopted by Divine Wisdom, for
carrying that Decree into effect:
3. The End proposed, viz. our Glorification.
And since of these three, the first and greatest is the Divine Purpose ; (the others not only originating in that, but being ruled by it as to their nature and object) I will proceed to examine by that first, Whether Calvin's. Predesti
nation be the same with that which is delivered by St. Paul.
1. We have all heard of a tremendous Purpose *, according to which God decreed, from all eternity, to elect a small number out of the great mass of mankind, and to draw them to himself by irresistible grace; but to reprobate all the rest, i. e. the far greater number, and to consign them to eternal perdition; without any regard whatever to any foreseen merits, or demerits, either of the elect or of the reprobate : This, according to Calvin, is the Divine Purpose in Predestination.
But there is another Purpose of God, of a far different sound from this now mentioned, spoken of by St. Paul, in several places, (Rom. xvi. 25: Eph. i. 9; iii. 3. 5. 9; Col. i. 26, 27.) under the title of a Mystery ; hid from ages and generations, in the unfathomable depths of the Divine Counsels; but now in the Gospel-times made manifest, and revealed unto the holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit ;--the Purpose of God, namely, to take in the Gentiles to be his people,
* See Note (A.)
together with the believing Jews;
" that (to use St. Paul's words) the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel.” (Eph. iii. 6.)
Now this Purpose of God it is my
intention to place in opposition to that of Calvin, and to prove that it is the very Purpose spoken of by St. Paul in the passage of the text.
1. And first, if it were possible in a Discourse of this nature, to enter into any thing like a Critical examination of passages, I should not despair of convincing you, even from the argument of language alone *, that the Purpose of God intended in the text, was his Purpose to call the Gentiles to the hope of salvation. Indeed one single passage, to which I will request your attention, might almost seem sufficient to this end : It is taken from the 1st Chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians :(Ver. 3—11.) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will; to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the Mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him : in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
* See Note (B.)
That the Purpose of God mentioned in this passage, is the same with the Purpose of God mentioned in the passage of the text; any one, I think, would at first hearing, be inclined to judge, from the very sound of those remarkable words Purpose, and Predestinated, (npo Sedic and a pooplo Jevtes) occurring, as they do, in conjunction in each of the passages.
But now, that the passage cited from the first Chapter of Ephesians, relates to the Purpose of God to take in the Gentiles to be his people through Christ, we may be assured beyond the possibility of doubt, by another passage taken from the 3d Chapter of the same Epistle; to which also I must solicit your attention : “ For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles; if
have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward : How that by revelation he made known unto me the Mystery; as I wrote afore in few words; whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the Mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel.” (Ver. 1–6.)
HERE you perceive, the Apostle plainly refers to the Mystery of the Divine Will, mentioned