Imágenes de páginas

accordance with the general terms of the covenant of grace : it will, therefore, be a work of supererogation to discuss others.

Let us now examine a few of those in which predestination or election are mentioned, and see how they are to be understood. In Rom. viii. 29, it is said: "For whom he did. foreknow, he also did predestinate (to be) CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." The original is remarkably strong here: ̔́Οτι οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισε συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ γιοῦ aurou, &c. For (those) whom he foreknew (or afore recognised in his promise), he also afore determined (defined as) conformed with the image of his Son. The predetermination, therefore (or rather predefinition), of God's future servants was, that they should be like Christ,-holy, harmless, without rebuke. The prefiguring or determining spoken of, therefore, was, in this case, rather as to their characters, than as to the end finally to be attained to. And this is confirmed by the context immediately following: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called (i. e. to the means of grace now in these latter times); and whom he called, them he also justified (i. e. those who have obeyed this call, God has pronounced to be pardoned, just, and acceptable in his sight); and whom he justified, them he also glorified (i. e. those who are, by this means, declared to be just, are also declared to be the heirs of glory). The call is, therefore, in this place, mentioned with regard to the means, and not as being unconditional to the end. Again, in Eph. i. 4, &c. : "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; . . . WHEREIN he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. (11.) Being predestinated-(12) that we should be to the praise of his glory-(13) in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, &c." Here predestination comes first, then adoption and belief, and lastly the effects, to give glory to God, and to receive the gift of the Spirit, as a pledge of salvation.

Again, in St. Peter, 1 Ep. i. 2: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of

the Spirit, UNTO OBEDIENCE and SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST." Again, 1 Pet. ii. 9: "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." Again, Rev. xvii. 14: "They that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." Again, 2 Thes. ii. 13: "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation (in order to obtain salvation) through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; WHEREUNTO HE CALLED YOU BY OUR GOSPEL, TO THE OBTAINING OF THE GLORY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST." Again, John, xv. 16: "I have chosen and ordained you, you, that should go ye and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain."

It was not necessary, perhaps, to cite all these passages; but it has been done, in order to impress upon the reader the astonishing care taken by the writers of the New Testament on this subject: because there is a great and important difference in the question, whether we are called or chosen, to the means as instrumental, or whether this be done to the end as absolute and because, to be rightly informed on this subject, cannot but have an immense influence on the character and conduct of believers. That the Jews laboured under great mistakes, in this respect, there can be no doubt; and hence the admonition of the Baptist: "Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree THAT BRINGETH NOT FORTH GOOD FRUIT, is hewn down, and cast into the fire." And it is worthy of remark, that, in all the epistles,-after laying down, and perhaps discussing, the doctrines of the Gospel, the conclusion made is, a most solemn admonition to the observance of every good affection and work; in order, as it should seem, that they may be neither barren nor unfruitful in THE KNOWLEDGE of Christ; or, that an abundant entrance might be ministered unto them into his kingdom.

We may now consider a few other passages, different indeed in form from the preceding, but which are usually appealed to in support of the doctrine of an absolute and particular predestination. The most decisive places, as it is thought, on

this subject are, those which speak of Christ being foreordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter, i. 20);of believers having been chosen before the foundation of the world, as in Eph. i. 4;-of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;-and of the names of those not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world (Rev. xiii. 8): and, perhaps, it may be granted, that if predestination is any where taught on abstract principles, it must be in passages of this class. Let us now consider them separately. In the first, then, it is said, "Christ, as a lamb-who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world; but was manifest in these last times for you." In the phraseology of this passage, we have an obvious opposition, in the expressions foundation of the world, and these last times: and, if we can discover what the last must mean, we shall, perhaps, be enabled, also, to see what the first does. By the last times, then, in this passage, must evidently be meant, those in which the Apostle wrote; for he says these last times: and if we turn to Acts, ii. 16, 17, we shall find this Apostle applying the phrase last days to the same period. And, again, the last time, 1 Peter, i. 5, cannot but relate to the same time. Again, in 2 Timothy, iii. 1, the last days are mentioned with reference to a prophecy uttered by our Lord, which was fulfilled in the destruction of the Jewish polity, &c. (Matthew, xxiv. 3, 6, 14, 29, 34). Now, if we examine this chapter in Matthew, we shall find, ver. 3, that the prophecy is given in answer to the question, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the END OF THE WORLD?" In the Gospel of St. Mark, this prophecy is repeated, and is there given in answer to the question, as to when the Temple should be destroyed (xiii. 4, &c. 30, 31). The prophecy is again repeated in St. Luke (xxi. 6, 32); and this closes, as in the preceding cases, by stating, that heaven and earth should pass away. To this last day, the latter days, &c., frequent allusions are made by the Prophets, insomuch that even the rabbinical Commentators, as well as the Targumists, are unanimous in declaring, that they can mean no other than the days of the Messiah. To their opinion, in this case, may be added, that of most of the writers of the New Testament. In Heb. ix. 26, we have, "But now, once in THE END OF THE WORLD, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of

himself;" Ib. i. 2, "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." In 2 Peter, iii. 3, the prophecies of our Lord are referred to; and, for their fulfilment, the last days, and those in which the Apostle was then writing, are fixed upon. In 1 John, ii. 18, this prophecy is again alluded to; and then it is added, "Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even Now are there many Antichrists; whereby we KNOW THAT IT IS LAST TIME." And in St. Jude, "But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that-there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they," it is added, "who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit:" where it is impossible to suppose the Apostle is speaking of any other times than those in which he was writing. From all which, it must be too clear to admit of a moment's doubt, that the phrases, the last days, the last time, the end of the world, &c., were used to mark the times, during which the Jewish polity was drawing to a close. Now, if the close of the Jewish polity is here intimated by the end of the world, heaven and earth passing away, or the like; then, by the foundation of the world,unless some restricting clause, or some circumstance in the narration, call for the contrary, the commencement of this polity was probably intended to be meant, and not the period of the creation generally. Now, what does the context in our first passage call for? (1st Peter, i. 19, 20.) "With the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." That either the paschal lamb, or a lamb sacrificed in still earlier times, is here the victim had in view, perhaps there can be no reasonable doubt; and in this sense Christ is termed the Lamb of God (John, i. 29.): and in 1 Cor. v. 7, we are told, with reference to the same appointment, "that Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." The Lamb, therefore, alluded to by St. Peter, cannot, by any possible stretch of reason, be made to apply to any appointment made prior to the creation of the world: for of such we have no direct information; and to speak of what may have lain dormant in the Divine mind abstractedly, is to argue on grounds unknown to Scripture: but, if we apply it to that sacrificed either before, or at the egress from Egypt,

[ocr errors]

we shall refer to an appointment made before the foundation of the world, in this sense of that term, and fully satisfy the words of St. Peter.


The second passage adduced (Eph. i. 4, &c.), commences with thanking God for blessings conferred through Christ, according," it is said, "as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy," &c. From the first terms with which this passage commences, namely, "according as" (xas), we are led to suppose that the blessings mentioned, had been conferred in conformity with something previously mentioned; and, as this relates to a choice said to have been made, it cannot, by scriptural analogy, be carried higher than the times of Abraham; for in him was the first instance of choice on record made, and this had an especial respect to the salvation of both Jew and Gentile. Here, then, was tangible matter to which the Apostle could appeal; and it was such as to allow of no dispute in the estimation of every believer in Scripture. This circumstance did then, in the style of Scripture, precede the foundation of the world; and in that sense must it have been used. In the 9th and 10th verses of this chapter, some additional light is thrown on the subject. "Having" (now), it is said, "made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath (had) purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might (would) gather together in one, all things in Christ, &c." The thing here said to have been purposed for fulfilment, in the fulness of time, and which had now been made known, cannot, by any legitimate mode of reasoning grounded on scriptural truth, be carried higher than the times of the promise or prediction of Christ's coming: an appeal may indeed be made to the omniscience of the Divine mind; but to suppose this was done by the Apostle, is to suppose that for which there is not the least ground in Scripture, and to contend that he argued upon revelation, as if no revelation had actually been made. Besides, the mystery here mentioned, cannot be referred to any other than the mystery of godliness elsewhere urged; namely, that of God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. iii. 16), which, indeed, had been darkly taught since the world began, but had now been made manifest; and by the Scriptures of

« AnteriorContinuar »