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it is ordered in all things and sure; everlasting, entered into from all eternity; declared and manifested in time, and comprising in it every blessing of eternity; thus time is, as it were, the link connecting two eternities-an eternity past, and an eternity to come.
Again : it must be an everlasting covenant for many reasons; for instance, God is spoken of, as swearing by his holiness; his holiness is immutable, eternal; so, therefore, must be his covenant.
I would consider,
II. THE GIFTS INDISSOLUBLY AND ETERNALLY CONNECTED WITH THIS CALLING.
I. THE CALLING of God. Now the gospel is addressed to every one who hears it, without one single exception: I prove it by Scripture. “ Many are called, and few are chosen.” Yes, the gospel is addressed to every individual within its sound. If it be not addressed to sinners, why on the day of judgment will they be called to account for rejecting it? Why are impenitence and unbelief spoken of as sin ? The very idea of both, implies rejection of the gospel. The gospel was addressed to the inhabitants of the old world, and their condemnation will be worse, than if they never heard
it. Are any afraid of the doctrine of election ? Oh! dismiss that fear. I was once afraid of it; I would not listen to the discussion of it; but then I understood election to be a very different election from that of the gospel. Nothing but the electing love of God will ensure obedience. Claude or Saurin, French divines, I forget which of them, observes, 'nothing leads men astray, but their wilful sin : their wilful hatred to God.' Sin cannot be traced to any other source than the creature. It is eternally removed from the essence of God. By our own rebellion, we shall oblige God to punish us; this punishment of our sin will flow from his justice, and not from his sovereignty ; that is, it will be due to the satisfaction of his offended attribute of holiness, and will not arise from any sovereign decree of reprobation. The character of God is infinitely and eternally lovely. It would have been so, if the whole of created existence, without one single exception, had perished for ever; and it would have perished, had it not been for the electing love of God, first to angels, and then to men. Man is by nature continually a suicide, but his life is upheld and preserved by the power of God every moment. Oh! my brethren, may we, in honoring one portion of God's word, be preserved from insulting another part of it.
Again : without this view, the doctrine of election will not have its due effect, in all its bearings; how delightful is it to connect this doctrine with the goodness and mercy of God. I dwell thus at large upon the doctrine of election, because a calling is here spoken of; a calling, implying what I have mentioned, the sovereign electing love of God; a calling implying the mighty power of God. Do not let us shrink from anything God has revealed in Scripture. Nothing less than the electing love of God would insure an effectual calling. Were we to behold the Thames, and say it is a noble river, but there is no ocean whither its tides continually flow, or no source whence its waters arise; this would be less absurd than to suppose effectual calling can proceed from anything less than the electing love of God. The fountain being thus rich and copious, the streams must necessarily be rich and copious likewise. Why God has fixed upon some, and not others, we must leave to himself; his own wisdom must determine; doubtless God has a reason for every thing ; but he has been pleased to be silent on this mysterious subject, and it behoves us to be so likewise. He has condescended to say, “ I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy ;” and beyond that declaration, he has withheld his reasons. The streams
that flow from this rich and copious fountain, I said must be rich and copious too; the gifts that flow from this calling are thus rich.
II. This, in the second place, leads me to consider the GIFTS INDISSOLUBLY CONNECTED WITH THIS CALLING. This effectual calling involves a new creation, infinitely more glorious than the first creation of the creature. It arises from the free, discriminating, rich love of God. An eternal fountain must have eternal streams; the eternal love that embraced the angels is very glorious, but that which embraces such poor sinful creatures as you and I are, is far more glorious. This stream of love flows down the rock of ages from heaven to earth, pouring its rich and fertilizing tide of blessings upon the church, not only for time, but for its happiness throughout eternity.
Again : this calling is compared to a resurrection; that is, a new creation, as Lazarus was raised from death to life ; it was not a mere call to the living, but an act of sovereign creating power upon the dead. There is, I think, a lesson taught in this, it may be considered fanciful; it is, however, an innocent fancy ; and when I give the rein to fancy, I am ever careful it shall be at least innocent, it is a pleasing fancy : Lazarus was bound hand and
foot, Christ said, “ Lazarus, come forth.” Had he said, “Can you walk, Lazarus ?' No; but I am alive. So it is with many weak and mourning Christians; they say I am so weak, I can do nothing. Well, be it so ; but you are alive. In the midst of all the complaints and weakness of the people of God, they are, nevertheless, in possession of the life of Christ.
Again : this calling follows them perpetually; all things are provided for the people of God in it. The first of the blessings they have comprised in it, is the righteousness of Christ; this comprises all the glories of eternity; reflecting all the beauties of the divine attributes, all the beauties of vengeance, as well as of love. This righteousness is called the everlasting righteousness, and Christ died to procure it everlastingly, because it necessarily comprises eternity: God does nothing by halves. This is the robe we are to wear for ever and ever.
Again : another blessing is the image of God: it is called into existence by God the Holy Spirit. This image of the divine nature in man is the most glorious image of God, except the humanity of Christ. All the truths of Scripture harmonize ; each implies each; all necessary to each other; one cannot live without another. It would have been inconsistent with the character of Deity, in providing a