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verts ;) 'and are here called " being chosen unto 'salvation."'—The apostle says," God hath chosen "you to salvation, through sanctification of the "Spirit and belief of the truth:" and his Lordship asserts, that this sanctification and belief were 'denominated being chosen unto salvation.' Are then the act of God in choosing, and their act in believing, precisely the same? Surely these things are mentioned as the intermediate predetermined steps, so to speak, between election and final salvation, indispensably necessary to that event, and included in that election, or purpose. 'That is,' says his Lordship, 'the Thessalonians by em'bracing Christianity were enabled to obtain sal'vation.' Now, any man who hears the gospel, is 'enabled to obtain salvation,' except as human depravity constitutes a moral inability. 'It is ac'knowledgcd, that man has not the disposition, 'and consequently not the ability, to do what in 'the sight of God is good, till he is influenced by 'the Spirit of God.''—' But that this salvation 'was not certain and infallible,' &c. Let each clause be well considered, and especially the concluding clause, " to the obtaining of the salvation "of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and then let every impartial man determine, whether the apostle did not consider the final salvation of those who were thus " chosen and called" as effectually secured. Is there any thing in the passage like an election of collective bodies to external privileges? Would the apostle, if now living, use this decided language concerning the members of our national church; or of any other church, in which each 1 Ref. 61.
individual was not, at least in the judgment of charity, a genuine believer in Christ, shewing his faith by his works? Was any thing like this spoken by the prophets concerning the national election of Israel? I am more decided in opposing this exposition of the passage, because it subverts all the determined rules by which the scripture can be soberly interpreted; and makes words, "the words of the living God," to mean whatever best suits the expositor's system; than because it militates against the doctrine of personal election, which I firmly believe, but which many more spiritual and holy men cannot receive. By thus endeavouring to explain testimonies of holy writ, to support a favourite sentiment, in a sense which the obvious grammatical meaning will not bear, we open a door to those who " wrest the scrip"tures," in the most awful manner, to the destruction of themselves and others: and, when this is done by eminent persons, no tongue can express the evils which may arise from it, though wholly undesigned by those who inadvertently gave the example. Let us, at least, adhere to the plain grammatical construction, even of those texts which seem to militate against our own sentiments. — The subject of exhortations has been repeatedly considered; and Calvinists in general find no difficulty in using them, consistently with their principles, whether those principles be well grounded or not. Especially the exhortation to " abound more and more" is a favourite topic with many of us, even in respect of those concerning whose final salvation we have little or no doubt: because, by " abounding more
"and more" in every good work, Christians may silence accusers, conciliate prejudiced persons, win souls, glorify God, and do good to men, in a proportionable, and almost incalculable, degree.
'St. Paul was also under apprehension " lest 'by some means the tempter should have tempted 'them, and his labour be in vain;" which could 'not have been the case if their election was a 'proof of their salvation being irreversibly de'creed. It appears from the second Epistle to 'the Thessalonians, that some of them did " walk 'disorderly," and that St. Paul doubted whether 'they would obey his precepts, that is, whether 'they would be saved; and consequently the being 'from the beginning chosen by God to salvation, 'the sanctification of the Spirit, and the belief of 'the gospel, did not prevent disorderly behaviour, 'or necessarily cause obedience to the commands 'of an inspired apostle.'l
The apostle, in fact, wrote the epistle after his apprehensions in respect of the Thessalonians had been fully removed, and when "Timothy had "brought him good tidings of their faith and "love."2 Whatever made him doubt of their faith most certainly made him doubt of their election; which could only be known, to men by "the work of faith, and labour of love, and pa"tience of hope." 'Their election' was not mentioned as a proof of their salvation being irreversibly decreed; but their holy conduct was mentioned as the evidence of their " election of "God." If their works evidenced that they were 'Ref. 210, 211. '1 Thess. iii. 5—7.
true believers, they proved also that " God had "not appointed them to wrath, but to obtain sal"vation by our Lord Jesus Christ."' The grand matter was to prove their effectual calling, which could only be done by their holy conduct: this shewed their election; and that implied that their salvation was irreversibly decreed.—How perfectly natural and easy is all this way of writing, in our view of the subject! The conduct of the great mass of them was such as to require the apostle, in the judgment of charity, to think them true believers, and, of course, according to our views, to conclude them "elected of God," and consequently destined to salvation. In general therefore he speaks of them in that way. But then he was not sure of their faith being genuine, consequently not sure of their election and salvation; much less would he have them take this for granted. Hence exhortations to " make their calling "and election sure," addressed even to those of whom he at other times, in a charitable judgment, spoke confidently, were quite natural. But, as he was not absolutely sure of any, so there were some mixed with them of whom he felt much less satisfied: when therefore his thoughts and discourse turned towards them, how natural that it should become such as we sometimes find it, the language of jealous fear; and that perhaps without particularly excepting from it the majority, of whom he hoped well: even as in addressing the latter he had not expressly excepted those of whom he had much less confidence.—But his Lordship speaks all the way as if the existence of election, and the
- '1 Thess. v. 9.
certain knowledge of our election, were the same thing. Let it be here observed, that I only state what our sentiments are; without going out of my way to establish them, except as the texts commented on do this. My grand object is not to proselyte men to Calvinism, but to exonerate Calvinists from a load of calumny, which they now bear because their sentiments are misunderstood. —Some of the Thessalonians might walk disorderly; and, if they persisted in disobeying the words of Christ by his 'inspired apostle,' this would prove that they were hypocrites, and consequently had " not been chosen unto salvation, "through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief "of the truth." For, " the sanctification of the "Spirit" is "unto obedience;" and must be wholly inconsistent with wilful, deliberate, obstinate disobedience.
'St. Paul, in speaking of the Jews, says that, as 'amidst the idolatry of former times there were 'seven thousand men who did not bow the knee 'to the image of Baal, " even so at this present 'time also there is a remnant according to the 'election of grace;" by which expression he 'means the body of Jewish Christians, as appears 'from a following verse; "Israel hath not ob'tained that which he seeketh for, but the election 'hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded:" '" the election" therefore denotes those of the 'Jews who embraced the gospel, and " the rest" 'are those who rejected it.'l
The passage here referred to 2 has been repeat1 Ref. 211. "Rom. xi. 1—7.