« AnteriorContinuar »
Though, however, it is not necessary for me to assign any motives for the establishment of this process of prayer, mediation and intercession, I shall endeavour to specify some of the reasons, which may have actuated the Divine mind; or at least some of the advantages resulting from it. If, then, prayer have a tendency to direct our thoughts habitually to God, to nourish our faith and piety, to keep our minds pure, fit for converse with the Most High; if supplication have any influence in calming the troubled and distracted mind, consoling the wretched, supporting the feeble, or confirming those who are ready to faint and fall; if our intercessory prayers for others, may contribute to kindle our kind affections, to assuage our angry passions, and to expand our benevolence; then, I say, it is compatible with our most exalted conceptions of Divine wisdom, that these exercises should be enjoined as duties; and that, for our encouragement in the practice of them, God should confer upon us such supernumerary mercies, as we had no right to demand, and as we should not otherwise have received; especially as these exercises have a direct tendency to render us fit objects of Divine bounty, and to qualify us for a due reception of spiritual blessings. Again, if prayer through Christ may conduce to render himself and his religion dearer to our hearts; if the conferring of graces through him, and at his desire, may contribute to his happiness, and to our love and obedience, as a wise
father might contribute to the happiness of a dutiful child, and increase the salutary influence of his example, by conferring favours on the rest of the family, by his means and intercession; then I cannot think, that such appointments can be stumbling blocks to any considerate mind: nay, I think, that such a dispensation, when rightly understood, must enhance our conceptions of the comprehensive wisdom and benevolence of our heavenly Father, who, by every one of his operations, produces a multitude of collateral benefits; not content, as we are, with conferring favours directly, but continually rendering us the means of happiness to each other; making one blessing the cause of many more; binding his whole family together by the most affectionate intercourse; endearing his well-beloved Son to them all, by making him the minister of his grace, and attaching us to himself by this transcendent display of goodness and wisdom.
"Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," through the bounty of God, and the intercession of our Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ.-Amen.
ON PREDESTINATION, ELECTION, AND
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren."
HAVING, on two former occasions, inquired into the doctrine of our Lord, concerning his own nature, and that of his heavenly Father, I of shall now endeavour to ascertain the purport what he taught on other points, which are obstinately contended for by divines, and most assiduously inculcated on their disciples. This may appear to be a matter of no small difficulty, since even the names, by which these doctrines are familiarly known, are in general strangers to the Gospels, and some of them not to be found any book of the Bible. But though the names
ON PREDESTINATION AND ELECTION. 247
be wanting, it is incumbent on us to examine, whether the opinions, which they denote, may not be expressed in other forms of speech, or collected from the general strain of our Lord's discourses. Whether this be the case or not, will best appear, by placing together the doctrines of modern divines, and the language of our blessed Lord.
"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others fore-ordained to. everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind, that are predestinated unto life, God before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him thereunto, and all to the praise of his glorious grace. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, but the elect only. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own
will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to or dain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, (the sin of Adam,) to the praise of his glorious justice."*
It would be equally vain to seek for any approbation of this doctrine, in the language of our Lord; and endless to collect particular expressions in opposition to it; for it is foreign from the spirit and essence of his religion, and contradicts every exhortation to holiness and faith, every dissuasive from sin and infidelity, every conditional promise of everlasting life, and every warning against endless perdition, that we find in his discourses. In fact, if it were true, the mediation, mission, death, and intercession of Christ, would be absolutely nugatory and ineffectual; since they could neither improve the condition or prospects of the elect few, nor redeem the reprobate from that fate, to which they are destined by the eternal and irreversible decree of the Almighty.
How could there be joy in heaven over a penitent, when the elect require no repentance, and the outcasts would repent to no purpose; or to what end would our Lord "call sinners to repentance;" or give a commision to his disciples, to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel
* Westminster Confession, Edin. 1708. III. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.