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Jew had two talents committed unto him, so he had twofold more responsibility than the Gentile, who had only one talent. This truth is plainly taught by Christ himself, in Luke xii, 47, 48. “And that servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not bimself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, [i. e. as the other knew-not who was absolutely ignorant, for God never expects to gather where he has not strewed-he that, in this sense, knew not] and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” This is the principle upon which every reasonable, unprejudiced mind would suppose God would proceed. And upon this principle he does proceed in all his dispensations. The Gentile who hides or squanders his one talent will receive a punishment answerable to his guilt; the Jew who abuses his two talents will receive a punishment correspondent to his guilt, which is twice as great as that of the Gentile; and the Christian who abuses his five talents will receive a greater punishment than the Jew, having had greater privileges than he, and five times as much punishment as the Gentile ; because the privileges of the Christian, and his guilt in abusing them, are five times as great as those of the Gentile. If all the parties improve their talents, and this they all may do, they will all be received into the same heaven, and be all perfectly happy, according to their respective mental and moral capacities. Here is the true notion of the divine sovereignty, somewhat different from that theory which represents God dispensing unmingled wrath to such as never deserved it more than those to whom he dispenses unmingled love! This, indeed, makes God a sovereign! with cruelty enough to excite our dread, and caprice enough to excite our contempt; but surely not a single quality to excite our veneration and our love !
Secondly. But God designed, in the election of the Israelites, through them to perpetuate the true religion in the world, and thus to confer a real blessing upon mankind at large. It would be an easy and a profitable task to illustrate these points; but they are apparent, and our limits forbid enlargement.
Thirdly. But the grand design in making the Israelites a peculiar people was, that through them might come the promised “ seed," is in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed.” That the Messiah could have sprung from any other branch of Adam's race, if God had so decreed, need not be called in question. But God determined otherwise, for what reasons, it does not so greatly concern us to inquire. Probably, it better displays the wisdom of God, or stamps the mission of Christ with a character of greater importance; and probably there are other reasons, which are among those "secret things, which belong unto the Lord our God.”
Another event which took place according to the determinate counsel of God, was the vocation of the Gentiles.
The opening of the kingdom of heaven- the Christian churchto the Gentile world, by the instrumentality of the Apostle Peter, was by no means a fortuitous circumstance. “God had chosen them from the beginning" to "this grace," and had given intimations
of his purpose concerning them to the prophets; as the apostle proves by divers quotations. Take, for instance, that remarkable one from the Prophet Isaiah, “I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me,” Isa. Ixv, 1; Rom. x, 20. But this gracious purpose of God concerning the Gentiles was not clearly revealed until the fulness of time was come. Thus the apostle, writing to the Ephesians, chap. iii
, tells them that their vocation was the mystery of Christ; which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,” ver. 4, 5. And being, emphatically, the apostle of the Gentiles, he goes on to describe and to magnify his office--"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see, what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ,” ver. 8, 9. We thus perceive that the election of the Gentiles to equal church privileges with the Jews, under the Christian dispensation, was not a precarious event, but one which transpired, to use the apostle's language, in “the wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” ver. 10, 11.
And here we would especially remark, that the Gentiles were not chosen to the exclusion of the Jews. This is manifest from the fact that the first offer of the gospel was made to the latter ; but they rejected it, as they had rejected its divine Author-they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, and therefore the apostles went directly to the Gentiles, and made them the gracious offer. And thus, as one has it, “ The calling of the Gentiles, which existed in the original purpose of God, became in a certain way accelerated by the unbelief of the Jews, through which they forfeited all their privileges, and fell from that state of glory and dignity in which they had been long placed as the peculiar people of God.” And this is, doubtless, the meaning of the apostle, in Rom. xi, 11, “I say then, have they stumbled, that they should fall for ever? [iva méowol ;] by no means : but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to emulation.”
The apostle pursues the same subject, in the beautiful metaphor of the olive tree, contained in the same chapter. He likens the visible church to a good olive tree, one that had received the attentions of the gardener. The root of this tree—denoting the pious ancestry of the Jews—was holy ; but many of the branches--the Jews of the apostle's age--became unfruitful, and, in consequence, were broken off. Whereupon the branches of a wild olive tree-the Gentiles--were, contrary to nature, grafted into the good olive tree-admitted to a covenant relation, and invested with church privileges. He thus represents the Gentile as stating, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” To which he replies, “ Well; because of unbelief they were broken off; and thou standest by faith.” As if he had said, True ; the natural branches have been broken off, and, as a consequence, ye wild branches have been grafted in their place; but mark the reason why they were broken off-why the Jews have been rejected-it was
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their own infidelity ; and ye Gentiles shall also be rejected if ye prove unfaithful. It is thus manifest from the scope of the apostle's discourse, that although the Gentiles were sooner put in possession of gospel privileges in consequence of the rejection of the unbelieving Jews, yet the rejection of the Jewish nation was not necessary to the election of the Gentiles. Nor does the final reprobation of the former follow as a consequence from the election of the latter. If every one of the natural descendants of Abraham had been obedient to the faith, upon the first promulgation of the gospel, yet Zion would have obeyed the prophetical command, “ Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations : spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes : for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited,” Isa. liv, 2, 3. That the excision of the Jews is not final, is plain from the apostle's argument: “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness?" "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead ?" “And they also, if they bide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again," Rom. xi, 12, 15, 23.
We have another remark to offer under this head. The election of the Gentiles was not to eternal life. We speak now of the act of election in the abstract. We do not say that God did not design that they should inherit eternal life. This he did design; and he designed it before they were elected into the visible church. We do not say that he did not design that they should be saved by that gospel to whose privileges they were elected. Nor do we say that if, with the gainsaying Jews, they had put these privileges from them, they would not have counted themselves unworthy of eternal life, and, like the disobedient Jews, have been debarred from its enjoyment. But we do say that eternal life was not a necessary consequence upon their election. This we are prepared to prove
First, By analogy. The Jews were elected to superior privileges, as the visible church of God, under the old dispensation, and yet we have seen that this election was not followed by their final salvation, as a necessary consequence; and why may we not conclude that it is even so with the Gentiles under the Christian dispensation? That their eternal salvation does not necessarily follow from their election, is suggested,
Secondly, By common sense. If it should be granted that the privileges to which the Gentiles were elected were superior to those to which the Jews were elected under the old dispensation, yet it will remain to be proved that this election to superior privileges necessarily implied that every individual thus elected would pursue such a course as would make his calling and election sure. Some addition, say effectual calling and necessitating grace, of which, however, the Scriptures are silent, must be made to the premises before the conclusion will logically follow. But let us appeal,
Thirdly, To matter of fact. Did all the Gentiles to whom the apostles preached receive the truth in the love thereof? Were
there none like the contumacious Jews, who rejected the counsel of God against themselves? What then does the apostle mean when he says to the Philippians, “Many walk of whom I have told you before, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things ?" chap. iii, 18, 19. What then does our Lord mean when he addresses himself to the once flourishing, but then decayed, and now demolished church at Ephesus: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen; and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent ?" Does the state of the Ephesian church, as here depicted, or the threatening here denounced, and which, by the way, has long since been executed upon them, favor the notion that election to church privileges is inseparably connected with the improvement of those privileges and consequent salvation ? Or is it not similar to an example recorded by Jeremiah, xxii, 24: “As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence ?" Indeed, every baptized heathen that has ever existed throughout Christendom, is an irrefragable proof of the correctness of our position. But if any farther witness be necessary, we appeal,
Fourthly, To the plain letter of the word of God. Here the apostle is found addressing the Gentile church, in the following awful terms: “ Thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness; if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off,” Rom. xi, 20, 22. What language can be more explicit? What arguments can be more conclusive? And who does not see that individuals or communities may be “exalted to heaven” by privileges, and afterward “be brought down to hell” for not improving them!
If any should ask, Have the purposes of God respect to no acts of election and reprobation which determine irreversibly the eternal states of men ? I answer, They have respect to such acts of election and reprobation; and their consideration shall constitute the concluding portion of our discourse.
There are two other events which take place according to the determinate counsel of God, and by his appointment; to wit : The final salvation of the righteous and the damnation of the wicked. The decree of God, with respect to these events, is irreversible. " He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark xvi, 16. That this predestination is absolute and irrevocable, is just as manifest as that it is not unconditional. All who have that faith which worketh by love and purifieth the heart—all who espouse the cause of Christ and confess him before men--continuing faithful to the end-shall as surely be saved with the power of an endless life, as that Christ hath said, "Because I live ye shall live also," and, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that keepeth my saying shall never see death." And all who refuse to believe on the name of the only begotten Soa
of God, and that consequently die in their sins, shall as surely be damned, as that the Scripture saith; “ The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ : who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power: when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe,” 2 Thess. i, 7-10. And as the Bible abounds with passages like these, I must first call in question a man's regard for inspiration, or his mental capacity to understand its plainest declarations, before I can stop to prove that this election to life, and this reprobation to death eternal, are not unconditional.
In conclusion, we cannot but remark, from what has been said, the difference between the God of the Bible and the gods of the heathen mythology. With what triumph do the inspired penmen proclaim the glory of the portion of Jacob! And with what contempt do they speak of the gods of the heathen! Indeed, “their rock is not like our rock, our enemies themselves being judges." They never arrogated for their deities such peerless perfections as belong to Jehovah.
Such knowledge as embraces at once the past, the present, and the future-every action or event, whether contingent or necessarysuch wisdom as is profitable to direct in the government of the whole universe of intellectual and rational, irrational and inanimate beings; to permit or control, prevent or appoint, all possible events, in such a manner as not to invade the liberty of moral agents and accountable beings;- such power as, when exalted, is effectual in working all things, according to the counsel of his own will—and which never fails in accomplishing his purposes—those purposes which are framed in conformity with the character of those to whom they relate, with his own most gloricus attributes, and with the principles of his government;- and such other perfections as are necessarily and inseparably connected with his infinite knowledge, wisdom, and power, as his inviolate truth and faithfulness, which are manifest in the accomplishment of his purposes; and his justice and benevolence, which are strikingly displayed in the moral bearing of those purposes, their actual development, and their practical adaptation. In view of this subject, we may well ask, with the prophet, “ To whom then will ye liken God ?" Verily he is scarcely less unlike the deity of certain systems of Christian theology, than the Jove of the heathen. For those systems represent him as being, in common with all his creatures, bound in the adamantine chains of eternal necessity; or, else, as being himself superior to all extraneous influence, he is represented as binding, by an absolute decree, all creatures of every gradeangelic or human, irrational or inanimate with the fetters of fatality, as having foreordained all things-whatsoever cometh to pass; and then, with singular duplicity, pretending to govern them as though they were free moral agents, capable of unconstrained volition and voluntary action, and, consequently, of praise or blame. And this is not all; for he is represented as capricious and insincere, unjust and cruel. As capricious, in electing some men