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wrath of the Jewish synagogue against the person of Jesus, but for preaching this doctrine? It is said that they heard the Lord, not only with temper but delight, while in his sermon he spake in general terms, that he came to heal the sick, and preach the gospel to the poor; “ all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” But when this divine preacher, “who spake as never man spake," directed his discourse to the special and personal acts of election, and instanced the doctrine in the case of Naaman the Syrian, and the widow of Zidon, the whole congregation "were filled with wrath, ” Luke iv. 16-30.
And no less God the Holy Ghost, hath all along, from the first founding of the church, been uniformly preaching, and still is preaching by the ministry of his word, and the influences of his grace, the doctrine of election. Indeed, the sovereignty of that act of the Lord the Spirit, in setting apart Israel by ordinances, and in those ordinances signifying the special grace
in Christ, (see Heb. ix. 8.) thereby proving to the church, that the whole was his own personal appointment, becomes an everlasting testimony to this great truth. He it was, who all along ordained services, consecrated ministers, appointed their stations, sent the gospel to one city, and forbade the preaching of it in another; confirmed the testimony of his sent servants, and shewed his marked disapprobation to those who ran unsent; Jerem. i. throughout; Jerem. xxviii. throughout; Acts xiii. 2, 4.-xvi. 6, 7.-xviii. 9, 10. i Thes. i. 4, 5. Hence the whole persons of the Godhead have all preached, and are unceasingly preaching the doctrine of election to the church.
If I might venture, in a parenthesis, to make a short observation in this place, I would say, if it be so, as I venture to think I have fully shewn, that the glorious persons in the Godhead have thus preached, and do preach election; can that ministry be sent of God, or founded on the divine pattern, or in the end owned of God, which preacheth it not? Is the doctrine so esteemed in God's sight, and shall it be disesteemed in our's? Have all the persons of the Godhead deemed it essential to the health and welfare of souls; and will any who profess to minister to the health and welfare of souls in preaching, venture to think otherwise; keep it back, yea, deny it? Let the reader pause over these solemn questions, for they are very solemn: then advance one step further.
Did the Son of God make this one doctrine the very bottom of all others in his gifts to men, when he declared, that the object for which all power was given unto him over all flesh was, that he should give eternal life “ to as many as the Father had given him!” John xvii. 2. And are there any who profess to be moved by the Holy Ghost, to take upon them the office of ministers in the church, that disbelieve this truth themselves, and would teach others to disbelieve it also? Oh! the blindness and ignorance of the unhumbled heart of man in an unregenerate state! What an awful condition must that man be in, who thus lightly esteems the sovereignty of God! What a still more awful state must that man be in, who comes forward with unblushing confidence to preach or write against it, who must have subscribed to it before he could have first entered the ministry, and now takes pains to publish his shame, in openly denying what he then subscribed! Such a man, of whatever rank or station he may move in among men, must be beheld in the greatest abomination in the sight of God.
But to return to the view of the doctrine itself. The preaching this leading truth by the Lord himself in his Trinity of Persons, not only gives the most absolute decision to its importance, but is in the place of a thousand arguments to manifest its imperative claim, that it should be preached in all the churches. And indeed, under the sanction of that high authority, it strikes my mind moreover, that such is the nature of it in its own principles, that but for God's choice of the church, and the preservation of the church in that choice, the church itself would have wanted support, neither could have had an adequate support to have rested upon,
either for the time state upon earth, or the eternal state in heaven. As this view of the subject may not be very generally considered, I will thank the reader for the indulgence, while I state it a little more particularly.
When God was pleased to go forth in acts of creation, and called into being our nature in the person of the first earthly man Adam, we are taught in scripture, that he was created holy before God, Gen. i. 27. And indeed, coming out of the hands of an infinitely wise and holy Creator, he could not be otherwise than holy. But then it should be remembered, that holy as his nature then was by creation, it was an holiness liable to change, from the very mutability of his nature; for consistent with the creatureship of man, he could be no other than a changeable creature; because, unchangeableness belongs only to God. It is one of his distinguishing attributes. Hence, therefore, it must follow, that this very changeableness of man's nature, made him liable to fall; and fall he did, as scripture relates soon after his creation.
Now it is plain, from the scriptures of truth, that God had great purposes in view in the creation of man. His fall led to some vast designs in the scheme of grace. To carry on those designs, and to accomplish those great purposes, which from everlasting had occupied the mind of God towards his church; besides this created holiness which God had formed man in, he had, by election grace, given him another, and by far an infinitely greater holiness, in an union holiness in Christ; which, from being Christ's holiness, and to be enjoyed only in Christ, and from an union with Christ, became subject to no change from man's mutable nature; and being placed in safer hands than his own, was liable neither to loss or alteration. This doctrine is blessedly taught the church, in many places in the word of God; but in none more plain and gracious, than in that sweet scripture, in which God is said to have “ chosen the church in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that it should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Eph. i. 4. See also Rom. viii. 29, 30. Hence, therefore, though by the fall the whole race of men, (and consequently the whole church included) lost all their created holiness, yet the church, from her everlasting union with Christ, her head in election, had remaining an holiness in Christ, which no sin in them could touch, nor Satan destroy. Being in Christ himself, as the head of his body, the church, the members had it only derived from him: and thus it was placed beyond their own power to lose, or devils to take away. The mutability of their nature could have no effect in this instance. Their election in Christ formed a security of preservation in Christ. All safety being found in Him, and from Him, and by Him; and who is therefore, and on this very account, commanded to be called the “ Lord our righteousness;” and being both in himself, and to all his people, " the same yesterday, today, and for ever!" Jerem. xxiii. 6. Heb. xiii. 8.
It is in my esteem a very high proof this, of the great blessedness of election; and whatever other mercies besides this, may be included in it, I do not presume to say; but thus far, through grace, we discern that our security in holiness is founded on it. We have holiness only in Christ. He is our holiness, yea, all our holiness ; and well is it for the church it is so: for, by virtue of it, both our holiness and our happiness are placed beyond the reach of Satan, and all danger from our own mutability.
And although it is not immediately connected with our présent subject to consider, yet it may be observed, that the preservation of angels, and therefore called elect angels, ariseth from a similar cause.
For their nature, however higher than our nature in the scale of intellect it may be, yet, being creatures as ourselves, they necessarily are liable to change, and fall, as well as man; yea, and not only might change and fall, but certainly would do both, unless upheld by a power superior to their own. There can be indeed nothing in creatures, simply as creatures, which could preserve from it: for, of the highest order of created beings, it is said, “ behold! he putteth no trust in his servants, and his angels he chargeth with folly;" that is, with weakness. Job iv. 18. Hence, we read of some that fell, and of whom it is said, “ that they kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” Jude 6. And we read also of others, which are called elect angels, 1 Tim. v. 21; that is, preserved from falling by election grace; being kept from the mutability of their own will, in their own nature, by the sovereignty of God's will in electing and preserving grace.
But it should be observed at the same time, according to the scripture statement, that elect angels and elect men, differ very materially in the nature of that grace manifested to them. Elect angels are made so, by the sovereignty of God's power in dominion over them. Elect men, from grace union with Christ. Elect angels are said “ to excel in strength, to do God's commandments, and to hearken to the voice of his word.” Psalm ciji. 20. The church elect in Christ, is chosen in Christ, " to be holy and without blame before God in love." The former are kept by dominion; the latter by union. Angels are upheld by divine strength; the church is upheld by oneness with her Lord. The one is made faithful as a servant; the other is interested as a wife. Hence the difference is incalculably great, and the blessedness and security in proportion also. While God is