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13. And who are they that are thus called of God, but those whom he had before predestinated, or decreed to "conform to the image of his Son ?" This decree (still speaking after the manner of men) precedes every man's calling: every believer was predestinated before he was called
For God calls none, but " according to the counsel of his will,” according to this #po fois, or plan of acting, which he had laid down before the foundation of the world.
14. Once more: as all that are called were predestinated, so all whom God has predestinated he foreknew. He knew, he saw them as believers, and as such predestinated them to salvation, according to his eternal decree:-"He that believeth shall be saved.” Thus we see the whole process of the work of God, from the end to the beginning. Who are glorified ? None but those who were first sanctified. Who are sanctified ? None but those who were first justified. Who are justified ? None but those who were first predestinated. Who are predestinated ? None but those whom God foreknew as believers. Thus the purpose and word of God stand unshaken as the pillars of heaven :-" He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” And thus God is clear from the blood of all men; since whoever perishes, perishes by his own act and deed." They will not come unto me, says the Saviour of men; and “there is no salvation in any other.” They “will not believe;" and there is no other way either to present or eternal salvation. Therefore their blood is upon their own head; and God is still "justified in his saying,” that he willeth all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of his truth.”
15. The sum of all is this: the almighty, all wise God, sees and knows, from everlasting to everlasting, all that is, that was, and that is to come, through one eternal now. With him nothing is either past or future, but all things equally present. He has, therefore, if we speak according to the truth of things, no foreknowledge, no after knowledge. This would be ill consistent with the apostle's words, “With him is no variableness or shadow of turning;" and with the account he gives of himself by the prophet, “I the Lord change not." Yet when he speaks to us, knowing whereof we are made, knowing the scantiness of our understanding, he lets himself down to our capacity, and speaks of himself after the manner of men. Thus, in condescension to our weakness, he speaks of his own purpose, counsel, plan, foreknowledge. Not that God has any need of counsel, of purpose, or of planning his work beforehand. Far be it from us to impute these to the Most High; to measure him by ourselves! It is merely in compassion to us, that he speaks thus of himself, as foreknowing the things in heaven or earth, and as predestinating or foreordaining them. But can we posssibly imagine that these expressions are to be taken literally? To one who Was so gross in his conceptions, might he not say,
“ Thinkest thou I am such a one as thyself?" Not so: as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than thy ways. I know, decree, work, in such a manner as it is not possible for thee to conceive: but to give thee some faint, glimmering knowledge of my ways, I use the language of men, and suit myself to thy apprehensions, in this thy infant state of existence.
16. What is it then that we learn from this whole account? It is this, and no more: 1, God knows all believers ; 2,. wills that they
should be saved from sin; 3, to that end justifies them; 4, sanctifies; and 5, takes them to glory.
Oh that men would praise the Lord for this his goodness; and that they would be content with this plain account of it, and not endeavour to wade into those mysteries which are too deep for angels to fathom!
SERMON LXIV.-God's Love to Fallen Man.
“Not as the offence, so also is the free gift," Romans v, 15.
1. How exceeding common, and how bitter, is the outcry against our first parent, for the mischief which he not only brought upon himself, but entailed upon his latest posterity! It was by his wilful rebellion against God, “ that sin entered into the world.” “ By one man's disobedience,” as the apostle observes, the many, 01 TO1201, as many as were then in the loins of their forefather, were made,” or constituted, “sinners :" not only deprived of the favour of God, but also of his image, of all virtue, righteousness, and true holiness; and sunk, partly into the image of the devil, -in pride, malice, and all other diabolical tempers, partly into the image of the brute, being fallen under the dontinion of brutal passions and grovelling appetites. Hence also death entered into the world, with all his forerunners and attendants; pain, sickness, and a whole train of uneasy, as well as unholy passions and tempers.
2. “ For all this we may thank Adam," has echoed down from generation to generation. The self-same charge has been repeated in every age and every nation, where the oracles of God are known; in which alone this grand and important event has been discovered to the children of men. Has not your heart, and probably your lips too, joined in the general charge? How few are there of those who believe the scriptural relation of the fall of man, that have not entertained the same thought concerning our first parent ? Severely condemning him that, through wilful disobedience to the sole command of his Creator,
“ Brought death into the world, and all our wo.” 3. Nay, it were well if the charge rested here: but it is certain it does not. It cannot be denied, that it frequently glances from Adam to his Creator. Have not thousands, even of those that are called Christians, taken the liberty to call his mercy, if not his justice also, into question, on this very account? Some indeed have done this a little more modestly, in an oblique and indirect manner; but others have thrown aside the mask, and asked, “Did not God foresee that Adam would abuse his liberty ? And did he not know the baneful consequences which this must naturally have on all his posterity? And why then did he permit that disobedience? Was it not easy for the Almighty to have prevented it ?”—He certainly did foresee the whole. This cannot be denied. For “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world :" rather from all eternity, as the words and alunos properly signify. And it was undoubtedly in his power to prevent it; for he hath all power both in heaven and earth. But it was known to him at the same time, that it was best upon the whole not to prevent it. He knew, that not as the transgression, so is the free gift;" that the evil resulting from the former was not as the good resulting from the latter,-not worthy to be compared with it. He saw that to permit the fall of the first man was far best for mankind in general ; that abundantly more good than evil would accrue to the posterity of Adam by his fall; that if “ sin abounded” thereby, over all the earth, yet grace “ would much more abound ;” yea, and that to every individual of the human race, unless it was his own choice.
4. It is exceeding strange that hardly any thing has been written, or at least published on this subject; nay, that it has been so little weighed or understood by the generality of Christians ; especially considering, that it is not a matter of mere curiosity, but a truth of the deepest importance ; it being impossible, on any other principle,
" To assert a gracious providence,
And justify the ways of God with men;" and considering withal, how plain this important truth is, to all sensible and candid inquirers. May the Lover of men open the eyes of our understanding, to perceive clearly, that by the fall of Adam mankind in general have gained a capacity,
First, of being more holy and happy on earth; and,
Secondly, of being more happy in heaven, than otherwise they could have been.
1. And, first, Mankind in general have gained by the fall of Adam, a capacity of attaining more holiness and happiness on earth, than it would have been possible for them to attain if Adam had not fallen. For if Adam had not fallen, Christ had not died. Nothing can be more clear than this; nothing more undeniable: the more thoroughly we consider the point, the more deeply shall we be convinced of it. Unless all the partakers of human nature had received that deadly wound in Adam, it would not have been needful for the Son of God to take our nature upon him. Do you not see that this was the very ground of his coming into the world ? By one 'man sin entered into the world, and death by sin : and thus death passed upon all,” through him in whom all men sinned, Rom. v, 12. Was it not to remedy this very thing, that “the Word was made flesh,” that “as in Adam all died, so in Christ all (might] be made alive?” Unless then many had been made sinners by the disobedience of one; by the obedience of one, many would not have been made righteous; ver. 19: so there would have been no room for that amazing display of the Son of God's love to mankind: there would have been no occasion for his being "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” It could not then have been said, to the astonishment of all the hosts of heaven, “ God so loved the world,” yea the ungodly world, which had no thought or desire of returning to him," that he gave his Son” out of his bosom, his only-begotten Son, " to the end that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Neither could we then have said, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself;" or that he “made him to be sin,” that is, a sin offering, "for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God through him." There would have been no such occasion for such “ an Advocate with the Father,'' as “ Jesus Christ the Righteous ;” neither for his appearing " at the right hand of God, to make intercession for us."
2. What is the necessary consequence of this? It is this: There could then have been no such thing as faith in God thus loving the world, giving his only Son for us men, and for our salvation. There could have been no such thing as faith in the Son of God, as “loving us and giving himself for us. There could have been no faith in the Spirit of God, as renewing the image of God in our hearts, as raising us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness. Indeed the whole privilege of justification by faith could have had no existence; there could have been no redemption in the blood of Christ; neither could Christ have been “made of God unto us,'' either“ wisdom, righteousness, sanctification," or "redemption."
3. And the same grand blank which was in our faith, must likewise have been in our love. We might have loved the Author of our being, the Father of angels and men, as our Creator and Preserver: we might have said, “Oh Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the earth ?”—but we could not have loved him under the nearest and dearest relation, as delivering up his Son for us all.” We might have loved the Son of God, as being “the brightness of his Father's glory, the express image of his Person;" (although this ground seems to be long rather to the inhabitants of heaven than earth ;) but we could not have loved him as bearing our sins in his own body on the tree," and " by that one oblation of himself once offered, making a full sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." We could not have been “made conformable to his death,” nor have known "the power of his resurrection.” We could not have loved the Holy Ghost, as revealing to us the Father and the Son; as opening the eyes understanding ; bringing us out of darkness into his marvellous light; renewing the image of God in our soul, and sealing us unto the day of redemption. So that, in truth, what is now " in the sight of God even the Father," not of fallible men, pure religion and undefiled,” would then have had no being ; inasmuch as it wholly depends on those grand principles ;-"By grace ye are saved through faith ;” and “Jesus Christ is of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
4. We see then what unspeakable advantage we derive from the fall of our first parent, with regard to faith ;-faith both in God the Father, who spared not his own Son, his only Son, but "wounded him for our transgressions,” and “ bruised him for our iniquities ;” and in God the Son, who poured out his soul for us transgressors, and washed us in his own blood. We see what advantage we derive therefrom, with regard to the love of God; both of God the Father and God the Son. The chief ground of this love, as long as we remain in the body, is plainly declared by the apostle : “ We love him, because he first loved us." But the greatest instance of his love had never been given, if Adam had not fallen.
5. And as our faith, both in God the Father and the Son, receives an unspeakable increase, if not its very being, from this grand event, as does also our love both of the Father and the Son; so does the love of our neighbour also, our benevolence to all mankind, which cannot but increase in the same proportion with our faith and love of God. For who does not apprehend the force of that inference drawn by the loving apostle : “ Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one ano
ther.” If God so loved us :-observe, the stress of the argument lies on this very point; so loved us, as to deliver up his only Son to die a cursed death for our salvation. Beloved, what manner of love is this, wherewith God hath loved us; so as to give his only Son, in glory equal with the Father, in majesty co-eternal ? What manner of love is this wherewith the only-begotten Son of God hath loved us, as to empty himself, as far as possible, of his eternal Godhead; as to divest himself of that glory, which he had with the Father before the world began; as to take upon him the form of a servant, being found in fashion as a man; and then to humble himself still farther, “ being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross !" If God SO loved us, how ought we to love one another ? But this motive to brotherly love had been totally wanting, if Adam had not fallen. Consequently we could not then have loved one another in so high a degree as we may now. Nor could there have been that height and depth in the command of our blessed Lord, “ As I have loved you, so love one another.”
6. Such gainers may we be by Adam's fall, with regard both to the love of God and of our neighbour. But there is another grand point, which, though little adverted to, deserves our deepest consideration. By that one act of our first parent, not only “sin entered into the world," but pain also, and was alike entailed on his whole posterity. And herein appeared, not only the justice, but the unspeakable goodness of God. For how much good does he continually bring out of this evil! How much holiness and happiness out of pain !
7. How innumerable are the benefits which God conveys to the children of men through the channel of sufferings !--so that it might well be said, “ What are termed afflictions in the language of men, are in the language of God styled blessings.” Indeed had there been no suffering in the world, a considerable part of religion, yea, and in some respects, the most excellent part, could have had no place therein ; since the very existence of it depends on our suffering ; so that had there been no pain, it could have had no being. Upon this foundation, even our suffering, it is evident all our passive graces are built ; yea, the noblest of all Christian graces, Love enduring all things. Here is the ground for resignation to God, enabling us to say from the heart, in every trying hour, “It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good :" “Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil ?" And what'a glorious spectacle is this ! Did it not constrain even a heathen to cry out, “ Ecce spectaculum Deo dignum!" ' See a sight worthy of God; a good man struggling with adversity, and superior to it. Here is the ground for confidence in God, both with regard to what we feel, and with regard to what we should fear, were it not that our soul is calmly stayed on him. What room could there be for trust in God, if there was no such thing as pain or danger ? Who might not say then, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ?" It is by sufferings that our faith is tried, and, therefore, made more acceptable to God. It is in the day of trouble that we have occasion to say, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." And this is well pleasing to God, that we should own him in the face of danger; in defiance of sorrow, sickness, pain, or death.
8. Again : Had there been neither natural nor moral evil in the world, what must have become of patience, meekness, gentleness, long suffer