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by the gospel, and converted to Christ, may from the very same premises, infer his election. For none but those that were chosen to life and happiness are born of God, or believe in Christ. If, then you espouse the doctrine, you should not be satisfied with merely avowing the sentiment as an article of your belief, but should consider it as a truth according to godliness, and seek the advantage resulting from it. For you will find it of little avail that you have adopted the sentiment into your theological system, if you experience no benefit from it in a way of humility and love, of consolation and joy. Viewed in such a connexion with experimental religion, you should meditate on it; considered as thus important, you should endeavour to vindicate it from the hateful charges of the sons of pride. Are you, on divine authority, not only convinced that the doctrine is true, but also persuaded of your interest in the love it reveals' remember the exalted privileges to which you are chosen. Chosen you are, to a participation of grace, with all its immense donations; to the fruition of glory, with all its eternal felicity. Regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and perseverance in faith; these, Christian, with all that inconceivable bliss which results from the enjoyment of God himself, are the blessings designed for you in the decree of election. Surely, then, with such blessings in hand, and such prospects in view, it is but reasonable that you should be entirely devoted to God and live his obedient servant. If gratitude have any persuasive energy, or if love have any constraining influence, here they should operate with all their force. Henceforth the glory of God and the honour of that adorable Person, by whose mediation you come to enjoy these wonderful favours, should be your main concern, and the end of all your actions. Remember the honourable character conferred upon you in the sacred writings. Among those names of distinction which the people of God bear, that of the elect is none of the least remarkable. Of this character the Spirit of wisdom reminds believers, when he urges upon them the duties to which they are called. Ye are a chosen generation, a peculiar people. Would we know to what end they were chosen, and why they are a people distinguished from others, as God's peculiar property 7 the following words inform us. That ye should show forth the praises of Him, who as a fruit of his electing love, hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Here is the Christians's duty in general, and to perform it should be his constant business: for he was chosen in Christ, that he might be holy and without blame before him in love. Or, is my reader one of those to whom the remark would be applicable—This man entertains high notions in religion, and pretends to sublime attainments in knowledge. Eternal purposes and absolute sovereignty, unchangeable love and distinguishing grace, are his favourite topics: yet he lives in open neglect of the plainest precepts, and of the most important duties; while pride and covetousness, wrath and malice, with various other unsanctified tempers, govern his conduct and render him a scandal to Christianity.’ The very thought of such a reflection is grieving to godly persons: for lamentable is the state of that professor to whom it may be justly applied You may dispute, as long as you please, in vindication of divine sovereignty in the affairs of grace, but it will be to little purpose, as to yourself. Because it is plain that you are an enemy in your heart, and a rebel in your life, against that infinite Sovereign whose rights you pretend to maintain. By such a neglect of his precepts, and such a transgression of his laws, you virtually deny his absolute authority, and renounce his supreme dominion. Sinful appetites are the law you obey, and carnal pleasure the end you pursue, while your Maker and Lord has neither the affection of your heart, nor the service of your hands. May that omnipotent, sovereign grace, of which you talk without any experience, deliver and save your sinking soul! For verily, it would be hard to find a more shocking character out of hell.
Of Grace, as it reigns in our effectual Calling.
WE have seen in the preceding chapter, that Grace presided in the eternal counsels, and reigned as an absolute sovereign in the decree of election. Let us now consider the same glorious grace, as exerting its benign influence, in the regeneration and effectual Calling of all that shall ever be saved. Election makes no alteration in the real state of its objects. For, as they were considered, in that gracious purpose, in a sinful, dying condition, so they continue in that situation till the energy of the Holy Spirit, and the power of evangelical truth reach their hearts. The means being decreed as well as the end, it is absolutely necessary, to accomplish the great design of election, that all the chosen, in their several generations, should be born of the Spirit and converted to Jesus; called of God, and bear his image,
That important change, which takes place in the mind and views of a sinner, when converted to Christ, is frequently signified in the infallible word, by being called of God—called by grace—called by the gospel. In performing this work of heavenly mercy, the eternal Spirit is the grand agent, and evangelical truth the honoured instrument. Are men, in their natural state, considered as asleep in
sin and dead to God; “when they are called, their minds are enlightened, and spiritual life is communicated. The Spirit of God, speaking to the conscience by the truth, quickens the dead sinner; shows him his awful state, and alarms his fears. The dead shall hear the voice of the Son God, and they that hear shall live-–1 wake thou that sleepest. Are they considered as having departed from God, and at a distance from him ; in the way of destruction, yet afraid to return? then the language of the gospel is, Return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon you ; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.—Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. Such a revelation of grace being made in the gospel, and such invitations being addressed to perishing sinners, the Spirit of truth, in effectual calling, gives them encouragement from these declarations to return to God, and enables them to look for salvation from the hand of Him against whom they have sinned, and from whom they have so deeply revolted. Such, in a general view, is the nature of that heavenly blessing which is the subject of our present inquiry. That any sinner is called out of darkness into marvellous light, is entirely owing to divine grace. God called me by his grace, is the language of Paul; nor do the saints ascribe their conversion to any other cause. Man, being by nature dead in sin, unacquainted with its evil, and elated with a sond conceit of his own abilities, looks upon his offences against God, rather as pitiable failings than shocking crimes. He extenuates his faults, and magnifies his duties. He depreciates the work of Christ,