Page images

but now,

people; but although it be so, yet at the same time, I believe that there is a measure of the grace of God given to every man to profit withal; and I believe that the foreknowledge of God makes no difference at all to my election by grace; for it appears to me that it neither brings me into election, neither doth it cast me out, but yet I will acknowledge that the design of God is to bring me into election, if I will obey; but if not, then I must be cast out; and I will take it upon myself and say as much as this, and that is, I believe that the Lord hath blessed me with a day of grace, and that I have experienced and enjoyed and embraced his heavenly calling, and if I always do embrace it, so that I hold on and out to the end through Christ, then I believe that my election by grace will be sure, and that I shall be eternally saved; and then if it be so with me, I believe that God foresaw that my election by his grace was sure from the foundation of the world, as much as to say, I was his elect from the foundation of the world;

if on the other hand, I despise the day of his grace, even the day of his heavenly calling, and so by my sinful nature give way for temptations, and the allurements of this sinful world, and so fall away to sin, and die in the same, then if it be so, then I believe that God foresaw that I made not my calling or election sure, and that I was not his real elect from the, or before, the creation of the world; but perhaps some may say, but if God foresaw that some was not sure elected, who then can the charge be laid against, God or themselves, concerning the loss of their soul? O surely it must be laid against themselves, because on God's part they were chosen and elected from the beginning as well as others, and would have been saved as well as others if they had not despised their blessing; but they say, depart from us for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways, and he that departs from God, casteth away his calling and election. And again, although God forseeth that election is not sure to them that always despise it, yet at the same time, the Lord never designed it according to the will of his love; therefore we see that the sinner despiseth his election, which is of grace, and so loveth his election, that is of grace, or how is it that the sinner is to be cast into everlasting misery, if he hath not brought all this upon himself; therefore he must be the cause of the loss of his election, that is of grace, for God is love, and willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he would turn from his wicked ways and be saved; and this is very clear to be seen in

many places in the word of God. (see Ezek. xviii. 22, 23.chap. xxxiii. 11.) See my Books, Exhortation, and the Goodness of God, and the Sufferings of Christ, And that he died for all, and then one would think that my readers would be satisfied upon this subject; but still some people think that because God foresees his elect from che beginning, and by that they think that he decrees such a number to be saved, and such a number to be lost; but they do err, my beloved brethren, for it is not so with God, for he will surely first give them a possibility of being saved; for in time that is past I have been tried concerning all such things, and I have searched into the word of God by prayers, and with tears day and night, and that for a right understanding in all things; and now I cannot find from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Revelations, that God hath decreed any man to be lost except he first giveth him a possibility of being saved; but some think that because God knows these things he designs, them to be 80, but it is not so altogether ; but to that man that thinks that it is so, I will put one plain question to him, and that is this :-Now suppose that you may have two sons, and that you had foreknowledge enough to see their end, and you foresaw their end, and that one would die righteous and happy, but the other would die sinful and miserable; now could any one think that it was your desire for one of your children to die sinful and miserable, because that you foresaw that he would die in his sins? No, I shculd think that you would grieve more for him that died in his sins, than you would for him that was gone to heaven; and so in like manner it is with our Heavenly Father; and do not you think that the love of God is as great towards all of us, as our love is towards our children; and as there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than there is over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance. (Luke xv. 7.) Therefore it plainly appears that God delighteth in all our salvation and preservation from danger and misery; but still some men will say, that the Scriptures speak of an elect people; yes, and God hath a right so to do, because he knoweth them from the beginning; but then at the same time he is willing that they all should be elect, for he will not cast out any that come unto him through Christ; but yet he sees that they will not come unto him that they may have life, and if some will not repent and turn to the Lord, then they must perish in their sins : and I say again, that God hath a right to speak of

[ocr errors]

his elect, but this doth not make the

of God of


less effect to others, but it still seems to stagger some, because that the Scriptures hold out election, but that need not to stagger you, for that shall hold out for all to be elected, if they love and serve God aright, and there is a possibility for you to do this, but he that doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, and there is no respect of persons. (Col. iii. 25.) Therefore if you do evil, and live and die in your sins, then I believe that God foresaw that you made not your calling nor election sure; no, not from the creation of the world. (Rev. xvii. 8.) But yet you had a day of grace, and may have been saved as well as others, but you would not come to Christ for life eternal. But again, perhaps some poor

sinner may say, but how can I be elected, if God foresaw that I never was elected ? O poor sinner, do not despair, but embrace the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that with a lowly, humble, and penitent heart, and hang upon the promises of Christ, for eternal life and salvation, even upon Christ himself, and thou shall be saved; for look at the

generations of old, and see did ever any trust in the Lord and was confounded? Or did any abide in his fear and was forsaken, or whom did he ever despise that called upon him. (Apoc. to Eccl. ii. 10.) But again, some may say that they are not elected because they do not enjoy so much of the grace of God in their souls as others; O do not despair, but pray and wait patiently, and if thou doeth well, then thou shall be accepted, and if thou love and serve God aright, then his mercy knows no bounds towards thee; but if thou doeth not well, then sin lieth at thy door. (Gen. iv.7.) For every man shall be rewarded according to his works. (Rev. xx. 12. 13.) Therefore it appears to me that every man is elected according to condition; for thus saith the just God and Saviour, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else. (Isaiah xlv. 21, 22.) But then, as we have seen before, that our election by grace is not sure except we fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Eccl. xii. 13.) But perhaps some would like to see something more of the character of the elect people of God; why my readers, they were once like all others; they were born in sin, and shapen in iniquity, and when they were children, they did as children, but when the grace of God came home to them, sooner or later they embraced it, and so put away childish things. Now, these are his elect-those that despise not the day of his grace, nor his heavenly calling, but embrace it, and by his help repent of their sins, and gladly believe and embrace the Gospel of Christ, and by his help humble their souls before him, and implore his Father's mercy, and trust in him for eternal life and salvation, and walk with him, and pray to him in secret and in public places, and are resigned to his will in all things, and love mercy and righteousness, and hold on and out to the end; and those are they that shall inherit his glory, and their Redeemer shall be their everlasting righteousness,

for they shall ascribe all to the blood of the Lamb. Therefore when the Lord looks upon those blest characters, is not it reasonable then and right that he should say, I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (Exod. xxxiii. 19.) And it is upon these blest characters above mentioned that he will have mercy, because he knew them from the beginning, that they would love him and keep his commandments. But speaking of Pharaoh, St. Paul saith, And whom he will he hardeneth. (Rom. ix. 18.) And these are they that once despised the day of grace; and when once grace is gone then the heart must be hardened. And again, hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ? Yes, he has, because he is wisest, and he himself is the judge. And has not God a right to do so with us whom he hath made ? Yes, surely he has, because he is wise, and foreseeth our ways and actions, and he himself is the judge. Who are they then which he makest unto honour? 0, surely these are they who embrace the day of his grace, even their heavenly calling, and believe, love, and obey, with their hearts unto righteousness. Who are they then which he maketh unto dishonour? O, surely methinks, these are they that once had a day of grace as well as others, but they regarded it not; but they despised it and lived in sin and rebellion against God their Saviour. (see Proverbs i.) Therefore, he will laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh. And these are they that he maketh unto dishonour. What, if God willing to show his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, made up and fitted to destruction—I say then, is God unjust in this? Surely no, not at all, not in the least, because God endureth it, and that with much long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and live. (2 Peter iii. 9.) Again, hath not he a right to make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory? Yes, he has, and that without any injustice whatever, because he foreseeth that such will be for love and mercy, even as he is of love and mercy; and it also declares, and bespeaks, and sets forth the goodness of God, and that to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, according to his foreknowledge, for there is no respect of persons with God. (Rom. ii. 1.) But concerning that which hath been above mentioned, (see Jer. xviii.- Isaiah xlv.9.Rom. iv, 20, 21.)

And again, in another place, by faith, David saith, Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power ; and hath not God a right to say that his people shall be willing in the day of his power? Yes, surely, and that it makes heaven rejoice and ring for joy; Yės, the Lord hath much right to say this, and yet without any exception or limitation on his part whatever. But again, our Lord saith, All that my Father giveth me sh:ll come to me; and who are they? Why they are those blest characters aforesaid, even those which are reconciled to God through Christ; but yet there is no restriction against others whatsoever, for at the same time saith he', and him that cometh to iné I will in no wise cast out. (John vi. 37.) And again, speaking of his elect disciples, I pray for them saith he, 1 pray not for the world, but for theni which thou hast given me, for they are thine. (John xvii. 9.) Now in this there appears to be some restraint, but yet if we look again, there appears to be but little, for observe, neither

pray I for these alone saith Christ, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. (chap. xvii. 20.) But still this seems somewhat like a singular prayer for his elect children; and has not our blessed Redeemer a just right to pray for those blessed ones which believe on his name? Yes, for he foresaw them from the beginning, for thus it is written, Ile shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. (Isaiah liii. 11.) But what doth that mean where Christ saith, I pray not for the world ? Now according to my judgment it means as much as this, that is, this prayer of our blessed Lord, seems to be a prayer for the preservation of his most lovely saints, Church, and people, and that they may be preserved from the power of the prince of this world, which fieth in wickedness, therefore saith he, I pray not for the

« PreviousContinue »