By Richard Watson
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
So far, then, we have advanced in this discussion as to show, that while no passage of Scripture can be adduced, or is even pretended to exist, which declares that Christ did not die equally for all men, there are numerous passages which explicitly, and in terms which cannot, by any fair interpretation, be wrested from that meaning, declare the contrary; and that there are others, as numerous, which contain the doctrine by necessary implication and inference. To implication and inference the Calvinist divines also resort, and the more so, as they have not a direct text in favour of their scheme. It is necessary, therefore, in order to obtain a comprehensive view of this controversy, compressed into as narrow limits as possible, to examine those parts of Scripture which, according to their inferential interpretations, limit not merely the actual, but the intentional efficacy of the death of Christ to the elect only.
The first are those passages which treat of persons, said to lie elected, foreknown, and predestinated to the spiritual and celestial blessings of the new dispensation; and the argument from the texts in which these distinctions occur, is, that the persons so called, elected, foreknown, and predestinated, are, by that very distinction, marked out as the only per sons to whom the death of Christ intentionally extends.
We reserve it to another place to state the systematic views which the followers of Calvin, in their different shades of opinion, take of the doctrines of election, &c, lest our more simple inquiry into the sense of Scripture should be disturbed by extraneous topics; and we are now, therefore, merely called to consider, how far this argument, which is professedly drawn from Scripture and not from metaphysical principles, is supported or refuted, by an examination of those portions of Holy Writ on which it is usually built: and it will not prove a difficult task to show, that, when fairly interpreted, they contain nothing which obliges us to narrow our interpretation of those passages which extend the benefit of the death of Christ to all mankind; and that, in some views, they strongly corroborate their most extended meaning. Of a Divine election, or choosing and separation from others, we have three kinds mentioned in the Scriptures.
The FIRST is the election of individuals to perform some particular and special service. Cyrus was "elected" to rebuild the temple; the twelve apostles were "chosen," elected, to their office by Christ; St. Paul was a "chosen," or elected, "vessel," to be the apostle of the Gen. tiles. This kind of election to special office and service has, however, manifestly no relation to the limitation of eternal salvation, either in respect of tine persons themselves so chosen, or of others. With respect to themselves, it did not confer upon them an absolute security. One of the twelve elected apostles was Judas, who fell and was lost; and St. Paul confesses his own personal liability to become "a castaway," after all his zeal and abundant labours. With respect to others, the twelve apostles, and St. Paul afterward, were "elected" to preach the Gospel in order to the salvation of all to whom they had access.
The SECOND kind of election which we find in Scripture, is the election of nations, or bodies of people, to eminent religious privileges, and in order to accomplish, by their superior illumination, the merciful purposes of God, in benefitting other nations or bodies of people. Thus the descendants of Abraham, the Jews, were chosen to receive special revelations of truth; and to be "the people of God," to be his visible Church, and publicly to observe and uphold his worship. "The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." "The Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and be chose their seed after them, even you, above all people." It was especially on account of the application of the terms ELECT, CHOSEN, and Peculiar, to the Jewish people, that they were so familiarly used by the apostles in their epistles ad. dressed to the believing Jews and Gentiles, then constituting the Church of Christ in various places. For Christians were the subjects, also, of this second kind of election; the election of bodies of men to be the visible people and Church of God in the world, and to be endowed with peculiar privileges. Thus they became, though in a more special and exalted sense, the chosen people, the elect of GOD. We say in a more special sense, because as the entrance into the Jewish Church was by natural birth, and the entrance into the Christian Church, properly so called, is by faith and a spiritual birth, these terms, although many became Christians by mere profession, and enjoyed various privileges in consequence of their people or nation being chosen to receive the Gospel, have generally respect, in the New Testament, to bodies of true believers, or to the whole body of true believers as such. They are not, therefore, to be interpreted, according to the scheme of Dr. Taylor, of Norwich, by the constitution of the Jewish, but by the constitution of the Christian Church.
To understand the nature of this "election," as applied sometimes to particular bodies of Christians, as when St. Peter says, "the Church which is at Babylon, elected together with you," and sometimes to the whole body of believers every where; and also the reason of the frequent use of the term election, and of the occurrence of allusions to the fact, it is to be remembered, that a great religious revolution, so to speak, had occurred in the age of the apostles; with the full import of which we cannot, without calling in the aid of a little reflection, be adequately impressed. This was no other than the abrogation of the Church STATE of the Jews, which had continued for so many ages. They had been the only visible acknowledged people of God in all the nations of the earth; for whatever pious people might have existed in other nations, they were not, in the sight of men, and collectively, acknowledged as "the people of Jehovah." They had no written revelations, no appointed ministry, no forms of authorized initiation into his Church and covenant, no appointed holy days, no sanctioned ritual. All these were peculiar to the Jews, who were, therefore, an elected and peculiar people. This distinguished honour they were about to lose. They might have retained it, had they, by believing the Gospel, admitted the believing Gentiles of all nations to share it with them; but the great reason of their peculiarity and election, as a nation, was terminated by the coming of the Messiah, who was to be "a light to lighten the Gen. tiles," as well as "the glory of his people Israel." Their pride and consequent unbelief resented this, which will explain their enmity to the believing part of the Gentiles, who, when that which St. Paul calls "the fellowship of the mystery" was fully explained, chiefly by the glorious ministry of that apostle himself, were called into this Church relation and state of visible acknowledgment as the people of God, which the Jews had formerly enjoyed, and that with even a higher degree of glory, in proportion to the superior spirituality of the new dispensation. It was this doctrine which excited that strong irritation in the minds of the un believing Jews, and in some partially Christianized ones, to which so many references are made in the New Testament. They were "provoked," were made "jealous;" and were often roused to the madness of persecuting opposition by it. There was then a NEW ELECTION of a NEW PEOPLE of God, to be composed of Jews, not by virtue of their NATURAL DESCENT, but of their faith in Christ, and of Gentiles of all nations, also believing, and put, as believers, on equal ground with the believing Jews; and there was also a REJECTION, a reprobation, if the term please army one better; but not an absolute one: for THE ELECTION was offered to the Jews first, in every place, by offering them the Gospel. Some embraced it, and submitted to be the elect people of God, on the new ground of faith, instead of the old one of natural descent; and therefore the apostle, Rom. xi, 7, calls the believing part of the Jews, "the election," in opposition to those who opposed this "election of grace," and still clung to their former and now repealed election as Jews and lice descendants of Abraham ;-" but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." The offer had been made to the whole nation; all might have joined the one body of believing Jews and believing Gentiles; but the major part of them refused: they would not "come in to the supper;" they made "light of it;" light of an election founded on faith, and which placed the relation of "the people of Cod" upon spiritual attainments, and offered to them only spiritual blessings. They were, therefore, deprived pf election and Church relationship of every kind :-their temple was burned; their political state abolished; their genealogies confounded; their worship annihilated; and all visible acknowledgment of them by God as a Church withdrawn, and transferred to a Church henceforward to be composed chiefly of Gentiles: and thus, says St. Paul, Rom. x, 19, "were fulfilled the words of Moses, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish (ignorant and idolatrous) people I will anger you."
It is easy now to see what is the import of the "calling" and "election" of the Christian Church, as spoken of in the New Testament. It was not the calling and the electing of one nation in particular to succeed the Jews; but it was the calling and the electing of believers in all nations, wherever the Gospel should be preached, to be in reality what the Jews had been but typically, and, therefore, in an inferior degree, the visible Church of God, "his people," under Christ "the Head;" with an authenticated revelation; with an appointed ministry, never to be lost; with authorized worship; with holy days and festivals; with instituted forms of initiation; and with special protection and favour.
This second kind of election being thus explained, we may inquire, whether any thing arises out of it, either as it respects the Jewish Church, or the Christian Church, which obliges us in any degree to limit the explicit declarations of Scripture, as to the universal extent of the intentional benefit of the atonement of Christ.
With respect to the ancient election of the Jews to be the peculiar people and visible Church of GOD, we may observe,
1. That it did not argue such a limitation of the saving mercy of God to them, as that their election secured the salvation of every Jew individually. This will be acknowledged by all; for, as the foundation of 'their Church state was their natural relation to Abraham, and our Lord, with allusion to this, says to Nicodemus, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," none of them could be saved by virtue of being "Jews outwardly."
2. That it did not argue, that sufficient, though not equal means of salvation, were not left to the non-elected Gentile nations. These were still a "law unto themselves;" and "in every nation," says St. Peter, "he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
3. That, so far from the election of the Jewish nation arguing that the mercy of God was restrained from the Gentile nations, it is manifest that, great reason as the Almighty had to be provoked by their idolatries the election of the Jews was intended for their benefit also; that it was not only designed to preserve truth, but to diffuse it, 'and to counteract the spread of superstition and idolatry. The miracles wrought from age to age among them, exalted "Jehovah" above the gods of the heathen; rays of light from their sacred books and institutions spread far beyond themselves; the temple of Solomon had its court of the Gentiles, and the "stranger" from "a far country" had access to it, and enjoyed his right of praying to the true God; their captivities and dispersions wondrously fulfilled the purposes of justice as to them, and of mercy as to the nations into which they were carried; and their whole history bore an illustrious part in that series of the Divine dispensations by which the Gentile world was prepared for the coming of Christ, and the establishment of his religion. This subject has already been adverted to and illustrated in the first part of this work. Jerusalem was, in an inferior sense, literally "the joy of the whole earth;" and "in the seed of Abraham," all the nations of the earth have, in all ages, in some degree, been blessed.
With respect to the "election" of the Christian Church, we also observe,
1. That neither does its election suppose such a special grace of God, as secures infallibly the salvation of every one of its members; that is, in other words, of every elected person. For to pass over the case of those who are Christians but in name, even true Christians are exhorted to give diligence to make their "calling and election sure;" and are warned against "turning back to perdition." We have also seen, in the case of the apostates mentioned in- the Epistle to the Hebrews, that, in point of fact, some of those who had thus been actually elected, and brought into a state of salvation, had fallen away into a condition of extreme hazard, or of utter hopelessness.
2. That the election of Christians, as members of the Church of Christ, concludes nothing against the saving mercy of God being still exercised as to those who are not of the Church. Even the Calvinists cannot deny this; for many who are not now of the body of the visible and true Church of Christ, may, according to their scheme, be yet called and chosen into that body, and thus partake of an election which, while they are notoriously wicked and alien from the Church of Christ, they do not actually partake of, whatever may be the secret purposes of God concerning them.
3. That Christians are thus elected, and made the Church of God, not in consequence of others being excluded from the compassions and redeeming mercy of Christ; but for their benefit and salvation, that they also may be called into the fellowship of the Gospel. "Ye are the light of the world;" "ye are the salt of the earth." But in what sense could the Church be "the light of the world," were there no capacity in the world to receive the same light with which it is itself enlightened? or "the salt of the 'earth," if it did not exist for the purifying of the mass beyond itself, with the same purity? Yet if such a capacity exists in "the world," it is from the grace of God alone that it derives it, and not from nature; a grace which could be imparted to the world only in consequence of the death of Christ. Thus nothing is to be argued from the actual election of the Christian Church, as God's visible and acknowledged people on earth, in favour of the doctrine that election limits the benefits of our Lord's atonement: but, on the contrary, this election of the Church has, for one of its final causes, the illumination of the world. But as Calvinistic commentators have so generally confounded this collective election with personal election, (a doctrine to which, in its proper place, we shall presently advert,) and have, in consequence, misunderstood and misinterpreted the argument of St. Paul, in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of his Epistle to the Romans; this celebrated discourse of the apostle requires to be briefly examined.
Let the reader, then, take the epistle in his hand, and follow the argument in these chapters, with reference to the determining of the two main questions at issue, namely, whether personal or collective election be the subject of the apostle's discourse; and whether the election, of which he speaks, of whatever kind it may be, is, in the sense of the Calvinists, unconditional.
Let us examine the discourse, first, with reference to the question of personal or collective election.
It is acknowledged by all, that, whatever other subjects the apostle may or may not connect with it, he treats of the casting off of the Jews, as the visible Church of GOD, and the calling of the Gentiles into that relation. For the case of the Jews he expresses great "sorrow of heart;" not indeed because God had now determined to compose his visible Church upon a new principle, that of faith, arid to constitute it no longer upon that of natural descent from Abraham; for to announce this doctrine St. Paul was chosen to be an apostle, and to call, by earnest and extensive labours, not only the Gentiles, but the Jews thankfully to submit to it, by receiving the Gospel: but he had great "sorrow of heart," both on account of their having rejected this gracious offer, and of the calamities which the approaching destruction of their nation would bring upon them, verses 1, 2. The enumeration which he makes in verses 4 and 5, of the religious honours and privileges of the Jewish nation, while it remained a Church accomplishing the purposes of God, shows that he did not intend, by proclaiming the new foundation on which God would now construct his Church, and elect to himself a people out of all nations, to detract at all from the Divinity or glory of the Mosaic dispensation.
The objection made, in the minds of the Jews, to this doctrine of the abolition of the Jewish visible Church as founded upon descent from Abraham, in the line of Isaac, was, as we may collect from verse 6, that it was contrary to the word and promise of God made to Abraham. This objection St. Paul first refutes :-" Not as though the word of God bath taken none effect," literally "has fallen," or "fallen to the ground," that is, has not been accomplished; or as though this election of a new Church, composed only of believing Jews and Gentiles, was contrary to the promises made to Abraham, Gen. xvii, 7, 8, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." This he proves, from several events, which the Jews could not deny, as being in the records of their own history. By these facts he shows, that the exclusion of a part of the seed of Abraham, at various times, from being the visible Church of God, was not, as the Jews themselves must allow, any violation of the covenant with Abraham. He first instances the case of the descendants of Jacob himself; although he was the son of Isaac. "All are not Israel, (God's visible Church and acknowledged people,) who are of Israel," or Jacob; for a great part of the ten tribes who had been carried into captivity before the Babylonian invasion of Judah, had never returned, had never been again collected into a people, and had, for ages, been cast out of their ancient Church state and relation, though, by natural descent, they were "of Israel," that is, descendants of Jacob.
From Jacob he ascends to Abraham, verse 7: "Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children," that is Abraham's "seed" in the sense of the promise; "but in Isaac" not in Ishmael, "shall thy SEED be called;" "that is, they which are the children of the flesh," Ishmael by Hagar, and his descendants, "these are not the children of God. But the children of the promise," Isaac, born of Sarah, and his descendants "are counted for the seed," meaning, obviously, for that seed to whom the promise refers. He gives a third instance of this election and exclusion taken from the children of Isaac, ver. 10-13, "And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (for the children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election," the election of one in preference to the other, "might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." On this last passage, so often perverted to serve the system of Calvinian election and reprobation, a few remarks more at large may be allowed.
1. The argument of the apostle, of which this instance is in continuance requires us to understand that he is still speaking of "the seed" intended in the promise, which did not comprise all the descendants either of Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, for he brings instances of exclusion from each; but such as God elected to be his visible Church: he is not therefore speaking of the personal election or rejection of Isaac, or Ishmael, or Jacob, or Esau; but of their descendants in certain lines, as elected to be the acknowledged Church of God.
2. This is proved, also, from those passages in the history of Moses, which furnish the facts on which the apostle reasons, and which he quotes briefly as being well known to the Jews. "As it is written, The elder shall serve the younger." Now this is written, Gen. xxv, 23, "Two NATIONS are in thy womb and two manner of PEOPLE shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one PEOPLE shall be stronger than the other PEOPLE; and the elder," the descendants of the elder, "shall serve the younger." So far, indeed, was this prophecy from being in tended of Esau personally, that he himself did never serve his brother Jacob, although he wantonly surrendered to him his birthright. Another passage is found in the Prophet Malachi i, 2, 3, and expresses God's dealings, not with the individuals Jacob and Esau; but with their descendants, who, according to frequent usage in Scripture, are called by the names of their first ancestors. "Was not Esau Jacob's brother yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains a id his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness!" judgments which fell not upon Esau personally, but upon the Edomites his descendants.
3. If the apostle, in this instance of Jacob and Esau, speaks of the rejection or reprobation of individuals, he says nothing at all to his purpose, because he is discoursing of the rejection of the Jews, as A NATION, from being any longer the visible and acknowledged Church of God in the world; so that instances of individual reprobation would have been impertinent to his purpose. But to proceed with the apostle's discourse.
Having shown, by these instances, that God had limited the covenant to a part of the descendants of Abraham, at different periods, he puts it to the objecting Jews to say, whether, on that account, there was a failure of his covenant with Abraham; "What shall we say then, Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." The word unrighteousness is usually taken in the sense of injustice, but is sometimes used in the sense of falsehood and unfaithfulness, by the writers of the New Testament, as well as by the LXX; and in this sense it well agrees with the apostle's reasoning; "Is there then unfaithfulness with God," because he has so frequently limited the promise made to the seed of Abraham, to particular branches of that seed? The apostle denies that in this there was any unfaithfulness, or, in the sense of injustice, which perhaps is to be preferred, any "unrighteousness in God;" and the Jews themselves are bound to agree with him, since, as the apostle adds, it was a general principle laid down in their own law, by the Lawgiver himself when speaking to Moses, and by which, therefore, all such promises of special favour must be interpreted,-" I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." The connection of these words as they stand in Exodus xxxiii, 1 9, shows that the mercy and Grace here spoken of, refer not, as Beza would have it, to that mercy exercised to individuals which supposes misery, and consists in the exercise of pardon; but to the granting of special favours and privileges. For the words are spoken to Moses, in answer to his prayer, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." To him God had before said, verse 17, "Thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by thy name." He was not, therefore, in the case of a guilty, miserable man. Nor do the words refer to the forgiveness of the people at his intercession. This had been done; the transaction, as to them, had been finished, as the history shows; and then Moses, encouraged by the success of his intercessions for them, makes a bold but wholly personal request for himself. "And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious," in showing these great condescensions, "to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." God has a right to select whom he pleases to enjoy special privileges; in this there is no "unrighteousness," and, therefore, in limiting those favours to such branches of Abraham's seed, as he chose to elect, neither his justice nor his truth was impeached. This is obvious, when the words are interpreted of the election of collective bodies of men, and of the individuals which compose them, to peculiar favours and religious privileges; while yet all others have still the means of salvation. The onus lies only upon them who interpret this part of Scripture of personal, unconditional election and reprobation, to show how it can be a "righteous" proceeding to punish men for not availing themselves of means of salvation which are never afforded them. This is manifestly "unrighteous;" but in the election and rejection spoken of by the apostle, he expressly denies that there is "unrighteousness with God;" he does this in a solemn manner, "God forbid:" and, therefore, the kind of election and rejection of which he speaks is not the unconditional election and reprobation of individuals to or from eternal salvation.
The conclusion of the apostle's answer to the objection of the Jews, that the easting off a part of the Jewish nation, even all who did not believe in Christ, was contrary to the promises made to Abraham, is, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." He grants special favours, as the term "showing mercy," in the preceding verse, has been already proved to mean; and in granting these special favours he often acts contrary to the designs and efforts of men, and frustrates both. The allusion contained in these words, to the case of Isaac and Esau, is, therefore, highly beautiful and appropriate,-" it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth." Isaac willed that Esau, the first born, should have the blessing; and Esau ran for the venison as the means of obtaining it; but still Jacob obtained it. The blessing was not, however, a personal one, but referred to the people of whom Jacob was to be the progenitor, as the history given by Moses will show. Thus this case also affords no example of personal election.
The apostle having proved that there was neither unfaithfulness nor unrighteousness in God, in selecting from his own good pleasure, from his sovereignty if the term please better, the persons to be endowed with special religious honours and privileges, proceeds to show, with reference, not only to the exclusion of the Jews, as a nation, from the visible Church, but also to the terrible judgments which our Lord himself had predicted, and which were about to come upon them, that he exercises also the prerogative of making some notorious sinners, and especially when they set themselves to oppose his purposes, the eminent and un equivocal objects of his displeasure. Here again he uses for illustration an example taken from the Jewish Scriptures. But let the example be marked. Had it been his intention to show, that the personal election of Isaac and Jacob necessarily implied the personal reprobation of Ishmael and Esau; and that their not receiving special privileges necessarily cut them off from salvation, so that being left to themselves they became objects of wrath, then would he have selected them as his illustrative examples, for this would have been required by his argument. But he selects Pharaoh, not a descendant of Abraham; a person not involved in the cases of non-election which had taken place in Abraham's family but a notoriously wicked prince, and one who resolved to oppose himself to the designs of GOD in the deliverance of Israel from bondage. His doctrine, then, manifestly is, that when these two characters meet in individuals, or in nations, notorious vice and flagrant opposition to GOD's plans and purposes, he often makes them the objects of his special displeasure; giving them up to the hardness of their hearts, and postponing their destruction to make it more impressively manifest to the world. In every respect Pharaoh was a most appropriate example to illustrate the case of the body of the unbelieving Jews, who, when the apostle wrote, were under the sentence of a terrible excision. Pharaoh had several times hardened his own heart; now God hardens it, that is, in Scripture language, withdraws his all gracious interposition, and gives him up. So the Jews had hardened their hearts against repeated calls of Christ and his apostles; now God was about to give them up, as a nation, to destruction. Pharaoh was not suddenly cut off, but was spared; "for this same purpose have I raised thee up" from the effect of so many plagues; that is, I have not destroyed thee outright. The LXX translate, "thou hast been preserved;" for the Hebrew word rendered by us, "raised up," never signifies to bring a person or thing into being, but to preserve, support, establish, or make to stand. Thus, also, the Jews bad not been instantly cut off; but had been "endured with much long suffering," to give them an opportunity of repentance, of which many availed themselves; and the remainder were still endured, though they were filling up the measure of their iniquities, and would, in the end, but by their own fault, display more eminently, the justice and severity of GOD. Pharaoh's crowning offence was his rebellious opposition to the designs of God in taking Israel out of Egypt, and establishing them in Canaan as an independent nation, and as the Church of God; the Jews filled up the measure of their iniquities by endeavouring to withstand the purpose of God as to the Gentiles; his purpose to elect a Church, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, only on the ground of faith, and this made the cases parallel. Therefore, says the apostle, it follows from all these examples, that "he bath mercy on whom he will have mercy," gives special religious advantages to those whom he wills to elect for this purpose; "and whom he will," whom he chooses to select as examples from among notorious sinners who rebelliously oppose his designs, "he hardeneth," or gives up to a hardness which they themselves have cherished. In verse 19, the Jew is again introduced as an objector. "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will ?" and to this St. Paul answers, "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" verse 20. The usual way in which the objection is explained, by non-Calvinistic commentators, is; -if the continuance of the Jews in a state of disobedience, was the consequence of the determination of God to leave them to themselves, why should God still find fault? If they had become obdurate by the judicial withholding of his grace, why should the Jews still be blamed, since his will had not been resisted, but accomplished? If this be the sense of the objection, then the import of the apostle's answer will be, that it is both perverse and wicked for a nation justly given up to obduracy, "to reply against God," or "debate" the case with him; and that it ought silently at least to submit to its penal dereliction, recollecting that God has an absolute power over nations, not only to raise them to peculiar honours and privileges, and to take them away, as "the potter has power over the clay to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour;" but to leave them to fill up the measure of their sins, that his judgments may be the more conspicuous. That this is a better and more consistent sense than that forced upon these words by Calvinistic commentators, may be freely admitted; but it is not wholly satisfactory.
For, 1. One sees not what can be expected from a people judicially given up, but a "replying against God;" or what end is to be answered by taking any pains to teach a people, in this hopeless case, not "to reply against God," but to suffer his judgments in silence.
2. As little discoverable, if this be the meaning, is the appropriateness of the apostle's allusion to the parable of the potter in Jeremiah, chap. xviii. There almighty God declares his absolute power over nations to give them what form and condition be pleases; but still under these rules, that he repents of the evil which he threatens against wicked nations, when they repent, and withdraws his blessings from them when they are abused. But this illustration is surely not appropriate to the case of a nation given up to final obduracy, because the parable of the potter supposes the time of trial, as to such nations, not yet passed. "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." There is here no allusion to nations being kept in a state of judicial dereliction and obduracy, in order to make their punishment more conspicuous.
3. When the apostle speaks of the potter making of the "same lump, one vessel to honour and another to dishonour," the last term does not fully apply to the state of a people devoted to inevitable destruction. It is true, that in a following verse he speaks of" vessels of wrath fitted to destruction;" but that is in another view of the case of the Jews, as we shall immediately show; nor does he affirm that they were "fitted to destruction" by God. There he speaks of what men fit themselves for; or that fitness for the infliction of the Divine wrath upon them, which they themselves, by their perverseness, create.- Here he speaks of an act of God, using the figure of a potter forming some vessels "to honour, others to dishonour." But dishonour is not destruction. No potter makes vessels to destroy them; and we may be certain, that when Jeremiah went down to the potter's house, to see him work the clay upon "the wheel," that the potter was not employed in forming vessels to destroy them. On the contrary, says the prophet, when the lump of clay was "marred in his hand;" so that not for want of skill in himself, but of proper quality in the clay, it took not the form he designed, of the same lump he made "another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it ;"-a meaner vessel, as the inferior quality or temper of the clay admitted, instead of that finer and more ornamental form which it would not take. The application of this was natural and easy to the house of Israel. It had become a lump of marred clay in the hands of the potter, which answered not to his design, and yielded not to his will. This illustrated the case of the Jews previous to the captivity of Babylon: they were marred in his hand, they were not answering the design for which he made them a people; but then the potter gave the stubborn clay another, though a baser form, and did not cast it away from him: he put the Jews into the condition of slaves and captives in a strange land, and reduced them from their honourable rank among the nations. This might have been averted by their repentance; but when the clay became utterly "marred," it was turned into this inferior and less honourable form and state. But all this was not excision; not destruction. The proceeding was corrective, as well as punitive; it brought them to repentance in Babylon; and God "repented him of the evil." The potter took even that vessel which had been made unto dishonour for seventy years, and made of it again "a vessel unto honour," by restoring the polity and Church relation of the Jews.
4. The interpretation to which these objections are made, also sup. poses that the body of the Jewish nation had arrived at a state of dereliction already. But this epistle was written several years before the destruction of Jerusalem; and although the threatening had gone forth, as to the dereliction and "hardening" of the perseveringly impenitent, it is plain, from the labours of the apostle himself to convert the Jews every where, and from his "prayers, that Israel might be saved," chap. x, 1; that he did not consider them, as yet at least, in this condition; though most of them, and especially those in Judea, were hastening to it.
Let us then take a view of this part of the apostle's discourse, in some respects different. The objecting Jew, upon the apostle having stated that God shows mercy, or special favour to whom he will, and selects out of the mass of sinners whom he pleases, for marked and eminent punishment, says, "Why doth he yet find fault?" "Why does he, by you, his messenger, allowing you your apostolic commission, continue to reprove and blame the Jews? for who hath resisted his will ?" According to your own doctrine, he chooses the Gentiles and rejects us; his will is accomplished, not resisted: "why then doth he still find fault 9" We may grant that the objection of the Jew goes upon the Calvinistic view of sovereignty and predestination, and the shutting out of all conditions; but then it is to be remembered, that it is the objection of a perverse and unbelieving Jew; and that it is refuted, not conceded, by the apostle; for he proceeds wholly to cut off all ground and pretence of "replying against God," by his reference to the parable of the potter in Jeremiah. This reference, according to the view we have already given of that parable, shows, 1. That "the vessel" was not made "unto dishonour," until the clay of which it was formed, had been "marred in the hand of the potter;" that is, not until trial being made, it did not conform to his design; did not work according to the pattern in his mind. This is immediately explained by the prophet; the nation did not "repent," and "turn from its wickedness," and therefore God dealt with them "as seemed good" to him. Thus, in the time of the apostle, the Jewish nation was the clay marred in the hands of God.- From its stubbornness and want of temper, it had not conformed to his design of bringing it to the honourable form of a Christian Church, in association with the Gentile. It was therefore made "a vessel unto dishonour," unchurched, and disowned of God, as its forefathers had been in Babylon. This was the dishonoured, degraded condition, of all the unbelieving Jews in the apostle's day, although the destruction of their city, and temple, and polity, had not taken place. They were rejected from being the visible Church of God from the rending of the veil of the temple, or at least, from the day of pentecost, when God visibly took possession of his new spiritual Church, by the descent of the Holy Ghost. But all this was their own "fault;" and therefore, notwithstanding the objection of the perverse Jew, "fault" might be found with them who refused the glory of a higher Church estate than that which their circumcision formerly gave; and which had been so long and so affectionately offered to them; with men who, not only would not enter "the kingdom of God" themselves, but attempted to hinder even the Gentiles from entering in, as far as lay in their power.
2. The reference to the parable of the potter served to silence their "replying against God" also; because, in the interpretation which Jeremiah gives of that parable, he represents even the vessel formed unto dishonour, out of the mass which was "marred in the hand of the potter," as still within the reach of the Divine favour, upon repentance; and so the conduct of God to the Jews, instead of proceeding as the Jew in his objection supposes, upon rigid predestinarian and unconditional grounds, left their state still in their own hands: they had no need to remain vessels of dishonour, since the Christian Church was still open to them, with its higher than Jewish honours. The word of the Lord, by his prophet, immediately on his having visited the potter's house, declares that if a nation "repent," he will repent of the evil designed against, or brought upon it. The Jews in Babylon, although they were there in the form of dishonoured vessels, did repent; and of that dishonoured mass "vessels of honour" were again made, at their restoration to their own land. Instead of replying against God, they bowed to his judgments in silence; and, as we read in the prayer of Daniel, confessed them just. Every Jew had this option when the apostle wrote, and has it now; and therefore St. Paul does not here call upon the Jews, as persons hardened and derelict of God, to be silent, and own the justice of God; but as persons whose silent submission would be the first step to their recovery. Nor will they always, even as a people, remain vessels of dishonour; but be formed again on the potter's wheel as vessels of honour and glory, of which the return from Babylon was probably a type. The object of the apostle was, therefore, to silence a rebellious and perverse replying against God, by producing a conviction, both of his sovereign right to dispense his favours as he pleases, and of his justice in inflicting punishments upon those who set themselves against his designs; and thus to bring the Jews to repentance.
3. What follows verse 22 serves farther, and by another view, to silence the objecting Jew. It was true, that the body of the Jewish people in Judea, and their polity would be destroyed: our Lord had predicted it; and the apostles frequently, but tenderly, advert to it. This prediction did not, however, prove that the Jews were, at the time the apostle wrote, generally, in a state of entire and hopeless dereliction; or the apostle would not so earnestly have sought, and so fervently have prayed for their salvation. Nor did that event itself prove, that those who still remained, and to this day remain, were given up entirely by God; for if so, why should the Church have been, in all ages, taught to look for their restoration: no time being fixed, and no signs established, to enable us to conclude that the dereliction had been taken off? The temporal punishment of the Jews of Judea had no connection with the question of their salvability as a people. To this sad national event, however, the apostle adverts, in the next verses.- "What," or beside, "if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had before prepared to glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, who were not my people," &c, ver. 22-25. The apostle does not state his conclusion, but leaves it to be understood. He intended it manifestly, farther to silence the perverse objections of the Jews; and he gives it as a proof, not of sovereignty alone, but of sovereignty and justice, sovereign mercy to the Gentiles; but justice to the Jews: as though he had said, this procedure is also righteous, and leaves no room to reply against God.
The metaphor of" vessels" is still carried on; but by "vessels of dishonour, formed by the potter," and "vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction," he does not mean vessels in the same condition; but in different conditions. This is plain, from the difference of expression adopted: "vessels unto dishonour," and "vessels of wrath ;" but as the apostle's reasoning is evidently influenced by the reference he has made to the parables of the potter, in the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of Jeremiah, we must again refer to that prophecy for illustration. In all the examples which, in this discourse, St. Paul takes out of the Old Testament, it has been justly observed by critics, that he quotes briefly, and only so as to give to the Jews, who were well acquainted with their Scriptures, time key to the whole context in which the passages stand to which lie directs their attention. So in the verses before us, by referring to the potter forming the vessels on the wheel, he directs them to the whole section of prophecy, of which that is the introduction. By examininmg this it will be found, that the prophet, in delivering his message, makes use of the work of the potter for illustration, in two states, and for two purposes. The first we have explained :-the giving to the mass, manarred in the hands of the potter, another form; which expressed that dishonoured, and humbled state, in which the Jews, both for punishment and correction, were placed under captivity in Babylon. But connected with the humbling of this proud people, by rejecting them for seventy years, as God's visible Church, was also the terrible destruction of Jerusalem, and the temple itself. With reference to this, the prophet, in the nineteenth chapter, which is a continuation of the eighteenth. receives this command, "Thus saith the Lord, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and the ancients of the priests; and go forth unto the valley of the sons of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee, amid say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, 0 kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; behold I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his cars shall tingle." And then having delivered his awful message in various forms of malediction, he is thus commanded, in verse 10, "Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, and shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again." As this stands in the same section of prophecy as the parable of the forming of vessels out of clay by the potter, can it be doubted to what the apostle refers when he speaks, not only of " vessels made unto dishonour," but also of "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction?" The potter's earthen bottle, broken by Jeremiah, was "a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction," though not in the intention of the potter who formed it; and the breaking or destruction of it represented, as the prophet himself says, the destruction of the city, temple, and polity of the Jews, by the invasion of the forces of the king of Babylon. The coming destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews by the Romans was thereby fitly represented by the same figure in words, that is, the destruction of an earthen vessel by violent fracture, as the former-calamity had been re presented by it in action. Farther, the circumstances of these two great national punishments signally answer to each other. In the former, the Jews ceased to be the visible Church of God for seventy years; in the latter, they have been also unchurched for many ages. Their temporary rejection as the visible Church of God when they were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, was marked, also, by circumstances of severe and terrible vengeance, by invasion, and the destruction of their political state. Their longer rejection, as God's Church, was also accompanied by judgments of the same kind, and by their more terrible excision and dispersion, as a body politic. As the prophet refers to both circumstances, so, in his usual manner of teaching by action, he illustrates both by symbols. The first, by the work of time potter on the wheels; the second, by taking "an earthen bottle, a vessel out of the house of the potter, and destroying it before the eyes of the ancients of the people and time ancients of the priests." The apostle, in like manner, refers to both events, and makes use of the same symbols verbally. The "dishonoured" state of the Jews, as no longer acknowledged by God as his people, since they would not enter the new Church, the New Jerusalem, by faith, is shown by the vessel formed by the potter unto "dishonour;" the collateral calamities brought upon their city, temple, and nation, arising out of their enormous sins, is shown by allusion to the prophet's breaking another vessel, an earthen bottle. This temporal destruction of the Jews by the Roman invasion, was also figurative of the future and final punishment of all persevering unbelievers. As to the Jews of that day living in Judea, the nation of the Jews, the punishment figured by the broken vessel was final, for they were destroyed by the sword, and wasted by slavery; and as to all who persevered in unbelief, the future punishment in eternity would be final and hopeless, "as one breaketh a potter's vessel that cannot be made whole again:" a sufficient proof that St. Paul is not speaking of the vessel in its state of clay, on the potter's wheel, which might be made whole again; and, therefore, the punishment figured by that was not final, but corrective; for the Jews, though made vessels unto dishonour in Babylon, were again made vessels of honour on their restoration; and the Jews now, though for a much longer period existing as "vessels of dishonour," shall be finally restored, brought into the Church of Christ, acknowledged to be his people, as the believing Gentiles are, and thus, united with them, again be made "vessels unto honour."
The application of time apostle's words, jam the verses just commented upon, as intended to silence the" replying" of the Jews against God, is now obvious. The could urge no charge upon God for making them vessels of dishonour by taking away their Church state, for that was their own fault; they were "marred in his hands," and they yielded not to his design. But their case was no more hopeless than that of the Jews in Babylon; they might still be again made vessels of honour. And then, as to the case of the "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction," those stubborn Jews who were bringing upon themselves the Roman invasion, with the destruction of their city and nation; and all perverse, unbelieving Jews, who continued, in other parts of the world, to reject the Gospel; although their approaching punishment would be final and remediless, yet was there no ground for them "to reply against God" on that account, as though this dispensation of wrath were the result of unconditional predestination and rigid sovereignty. On the contrary, it was an act of pure and unquestionable justice, which the apostle proves by its being brought upon themselves by their own sins; and by the circumstance that it did not take place until after God had "endured them with much long suffering."
1. The destruction was brought upon themselves by their own sins, This is manifest from all time instances in the New Testament, in which their sins are charged upon them as the cause of their calamities, and which need not be quoted; and also from time expression inn the text before us, vessels "fitted to destruction." The word might as well have been rendered "adapted to destruction," which fitness or congruity for punishment can be produced only by sin; and this sin must have been their own choice and fault, unless we should blasphemously make God the author of sin, which but a few Calvinistic divines have been bold enough to affirm. Nor are we to overlook the change of speech which the apostle uses (Wolfius in loc.) when speaking of "the vessels of mercy." Their "preparation unto glory," is ascribed expressly to God,-" which HE had afore prepared unto glory ;" but of the vessels of wrath the apostle simply says passively, "fitted to destruction," leaving the agent to be inferred from the nature of the thing, and from time testimony of Scripture, which uniformly ascribes the sins of men to them selves, and their punishment to their sins.
2. The justice of God's proceeding as to the incorrigible Jews is still more strongly marked by the declaration, that these vessels of wrath fitted, or adapted to destruction, were "endured with much long suffering." To say that their punishment was delayed to render it more conspicuous, after they had been left or given up by God, would be no impeachment of God's justice; but it is much more consonant to the tenor of Scripture to consider the "long suffering" here mentioned, as exercised previously to their being given up to the hardness of their hearts, like Pharaoh, and even after they were, in a rigid construction of just severity, "fitted for destruction:" the punishment being delayed to afford them still farther opportunities for repentance. The barren tree, in our Lord's parable, was the emblem of the Jewish nation, and no one can deny that after the Lord had come for many years "seeking fruit and finding none," this fruitless tree was "fitted" to be cut down; and yet it was "endured with much long suffering." This view is, also, farther supported by the import of the word "long suffering," and its use in the New Testament. Long suffering is a mode of mercy, and the reason of its exercise is only to be found in a merciful intention. Hence "goodness amid forbearance, and long suffering," are united by the apostle, in another part of this epistle, when speaking of these very Jews, in a passage which may be considered as strictly parallel with that before us. "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance, and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of GOD;" which "wrath" the long suffering of God was exercised to prevent, by leading them "to repentance," Rom. ii, 4, 5. So also St. Peter teaches us, that the end of God's long suffering to men is a merciful one: he is "long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." The passage in question, therefore, cannot be understood of persons derelict and forsaken of God, as though the long suffering of God, in enduring them, were a part of the process of "showing his wrath and making his power known." Doddridge, a moderate Calvinist, paraphrases it: "What if God, resolving" at last "to manifest his wrath, and make his power known, hath," in the meantime, "endured with much long suffering" those who shall finally appear to be "the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" to which there is no objection, provided it be allowed that in this "meantime" they might have repented and obtained mercy.
Thus the proceedings of God as to the Jews shut out all "reply" and "debate" with God. Nothing was unjust in his conduct to the impenitent among them, for they were "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction," wicked men, justly liable to it, and yet, before God proceeded to his work of judgment, he endured them with forbearance, and gave them many opportunities of coming into his Church on the new election of believers both of Jews and Gentiles. And as to this election, the whole was a question not of justice but of grace, and God had the unquestionable right of forming a new believing people, "not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles," and of filling them, as "vessels of honour," with those riches, that fulness of glory, as his now acknowledged Church, for which he had "afore prepared them" by faith, the only ground of their admission into his covenant. The remainder of the chapter, on which we have commented, contains citations from the prophecies, with respect to the salvation of the "remnant," of the believing Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles. The tenth and eleventh chapters which continue the discourse, need no particular examination; but will be found to contain nothing but what most obviously refers to the collective rejection of the Jewish nation, and the collective election of the "remnant" of believing Jews, along with all believing Gentiles, into the visible Church of God.
We have now considered this discourse of the Apostle Paul, with reference to the question of personal or collective election, and find that it can be interpreted only of the latter. Let us consider it, secondly, with reference to the question of unconditional election, a doctrine which we shall certainly find in it; but in a Sense very different from that in which it is held by Calvinists.
By unconditional election, divines of this class understand an election of persons to eternal life without respect to their faith or obedience, these qualities in them being supposed necessarily to follow as consequences of their election; by unconditional reprobation, the counterpart of the former doctrine, is meant a non-election or rejection of certain persons from eternal salvation; unbelief and disobedience following this rejection as necessary consequences. Such kind of election and rejection has no place in this chapter, although the subject of it is the election and rejection of bodies of men, which is a case more unfettered with conditions than any other. We have, indeed, in it several instances of unconditional election. Such was that of the descendants of Isaac to be God's visible Church, in preference to those of Ishmael; such was that of Jacob, to time exclusion of Esau; which election was declared when the children were yet in the womb, before they had (lone "good or evil;" so that the blessing of the special covenant did not descend upon the posterity of Jacob because of any righteousness in Jacob, nor was it taken away from the descendants of Esau because of any wickedness in their progenitor. In like manner, when almighty God determined no longer to found his visible Church upon natural descent from Abraham in the line of Isaac and Jacob, nor in any line according to the flesh; but to make faith in his Son Jesus Christ the gate of admission into this privilege, he acted according to time same sovereign pleasure. It is not impossible to conceive that he might have carried on his saving purposes among the Gentiles through Christ, without setting up a visible Church among them; as, before the coming of Christ, he carried on such purposes in the Gentile nations, (unless we suppose that all but the Jews perished,) without collecting them into a body, and making himself their head as his Church, and calling himself "their God" by special covenant, and by visible and constant signs acknowledging than to be "his people." Greatly inferior would have been the mercy to time Gentile world haul this plan been adopted; and, as far as it appears to us, the system of Christianity would have been much less efficient. We are, indeed, bound to believe this, since Divine wisdom and goodness have determined on another mode of procedure; but still it is conceivable. On the contrary, the purpose of God was now not only to continue a visible Church in the world, but to extend it when its visible, collective, and organized form, into all nations. Yet this resolve rested on no goodness in those who were to be subjects of it: both Jews and Gentiles were "concluded under sin," and "time whole world was guilty before God." As this plan is carried into effect by extending itself into different nations, we see the same sovereign pleasure. A man of Macedonia appears to Paul in a vision by night, and cries, "Come over and help us;' but we have no reason to believe that the Macedonians were better than other Gentiles, although they were elected to the enjoyment of the privileges and advantages of evangelical ordinances. So in modern times parts of Hindostan have been elected to receive the Gospel and yet its inhabitants presented nothing more worthy of this election than the people of Tibet, or California, who have not yet been elected. We call this sovereignty; not indeed in the sense of many Calvinistic writers, who appear to understand by the sovereign acts of God those procedures which he adopts only to show that he has the power to execute them; but because the reasons of them, whether they are reasons of judgment, or wisdom, or mercy, arc hidden from us- either that we have no immediate interest in them, or that they are too deep and ample for our comprehension, or because it is an important lesson for men to be taught to bow with reverent submission to his regal prerogatives. This is the unconditional election and non-election taught by the apostle in this chapter, but what we deny is, that either the spiritual blessings connected with religious privileges follow as necessary consequences from this election; or that unbelief, disobedience, and eternal ruin follow in the same manner from non-election. Of both these opinions the apostle's discourse itself furnishes abundant refutation.
Let us take the instances of election. The descendants of Abraham in the line of Isaac and Jacob were elected; but true faith, and obedience, and salvation, did not follow as infallible consequents of that election. On the contrary, the "Jew outwardly," and the "Jew inwardly," were always distinguished in the sight of God; and the children of Abraham's faith, not the children of Abraham's body, were the true "Israel of God." Again, the Gentiles were at length elected to be the visible Church of God; but obedience and salvation did not follow as necessary consequents of this election. On the contrary, many Gentiles chosen to special religious privileges have, in all ages, neglected the great salvation, and have perished, though professing tine name of Christ; and in that pure age in which St. Paul wrote, when comparatively few Gentiles entered the Church but with a sincere faith in Christ, he warns all of the danger of excision for unbelief and disobedience :- "Thou standest by faith; be not high minded, but fear." "For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." "Toward thee goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." Certain, therefore, it is, that although this collective election of bodies of men to religious privileges, and to become the visible Church of God, be unconditional, the salvation to which these privileges were designed to lead, depends upon personal faith and obedience.
Let us turn, then, to the instances of non-election or rejection; and here it will be found that unbelief, disobedience, and punishment, do not follow as infallible cousequents of this dispensation. Abraham was greatly interested for Ishmael, and obtained, in answer to his prayer, at least temporal promises in his behalf, and in that of his posterity; and there is no reason to conclude from any thing which occurs in the sacred writers, that his Arabian descendants were shut out, except by their own choice and fault, at any time, from the hopes of salvation; at least previous to their embracing the imposture of Mohammed; for if so, we must give up Job and his friends as reprobates. The knowledge of the true God existed long in Arabia; and "Arabians" were among the fruits of primitive Christianity, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles.
Nor have we any ground to conclude that the Edomites, as such, were excluded from the mercies of God, because of their non-election as his visible Church. Their proximity to the Jewish nation must have served to preserve among them a considerable degree of religious knowledge; and their continuance as a people for many ages may argue at least no great enormity of wickedness among them; which is confirmed by the reasons given for their ultimate destruction. The final malediction against this people is uttered by the Prophet Malachi :-" Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them the BORDER OF WICKEDNESS, amid the people against whom the Lord bath indignation for ever," i, 4. Thus their destruction was the result of their "wickedness" in the later periods of their history; nor have we any reason to conclude that this was more inevitable than that of other ancient nations, whom God, as in the case of Assyria, called to repentance; but who, not regarding the call, were finally destroyed. That the Edomites were not, in more ancient times, the objects of the Divine displeasure, is manifest from Deut. ii, 5, where it is recorded that God commanded the Israelites, "Meddle not with them; for I will not give YOU of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession." They also outlived, as a people, the ten tribes of Israel; they continued to exist when the two tribes were carried into captivity to Babylon; and about the year of the world 8875, or 129 before the Christian era, John Hircanus entirely subdued them, and obliged them to incorporate with the Jewish nation and to receive religion. They professed consequently the same faith, and were thus connected with the visible Church of God.
We come, finally, to the case of the rejected Jews in the very age of the apostles. The purpose of God, as we have seen, was to abolish the former ground on which his visible Church had for so many ages been built, that of natural descent from Abraham by Isaac and Jacob; but this was so far from shutting out the Jews from spiritual blessings, that though, as Jews, they were now denied to be God's Church, yet they were all invited to come in with the Gentiles, or rather to lead the way into the new Church established on the new principle of faith in Jesus, as the Christ. Hence the apostles were commanded to "begin at Jerusalem" to preach the Gospel; hence they made the Jews the first offer in every place in Asia Minor, and other parts of the Roman empire, into which they travelled on the same blessed errand. Many of the Jews accepted the call, entered into the Church state on the new principle on which the Church of Christ was now to be elected, and hence they are called, by St. Paul, "the remnant according to the election of grace," Rom. xi, 5, and "the election." The rest, it is true, are said to have been "blinded;" just in the same sense as Pharaoh was hardened. He hardened his own heart, and was judicially left to his obduracy; they blinded themselves by their prejudices and worldliness and spiritual pride, and were at length judicially given up to blindness. But then might they not all have had a share in this new election into this new Church of God? Truly every one of them; for thus the apostle argues, Rom. ix, 30-32, "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? BECAUSE THEY SOUGHT IT NOT BY FAITH, but, as it were, by the works of the law." And thus we have it plainly declared that they were excluded from the new spiritual Church of God, not by any act of sovereignty, not by any decree of reprobation, but by an act of their own: they rejected the doctrine and way of faith; they attained not unto righteousness, because they sought it not by faith.
The collective election and rejection taught in this chapter is not then unconditional, in the sense of the Calvinists; and neither the salvation of the people elected, nor the condemnation of the people rejected, flows as necessary consequents from these acts of the Divine sovereignty. They are, indeed, mysterious procedures; for doubtless it must be allowed that they place some portions of men in circumstances more favoured than others; but even in such cases God has shut out the charge of "unrighteousness," by requiring from men according "to what they have, and not according to what they have not," as we learn from many parts of Scripture which reveal the principles of the Divine administration, both as to this life and another; for no man is shut out from the mercy of God, but by his own fault. He has connected these events also with wise and gracious general plans, as to the human race. They are not acts of arbitrary will, or of caprice; they are acts of "wisdom and knowledge," the mysterious bearings of which are to be in future times developed. "O the depth, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" These are the devout expressions with which St. Paul concludes this discourse; but they would ill apply to the sovereign, arbitrary, and unconditional reprobation of men from God's mercies in time and eternity, on the principle of taking some and leaving others without any reason in themselves. There is no plan in this; no wisdom; no mystery; and it is capable of no farther development for the instruction and benefit of the world; for that which rests originally on no reason but solely on arbitrary will, is incapable, from its very nature, of becoming the component part of a deeply laid, and, for a time, mysterious plan, which is to be brightened into manifest wisdom, and to terminate in the good of mankind, and the glory of God.
The only argument of any weight which is urged to prove, that in the election spoken of in this discourse of St. Paul, individuals are intended, is, that though it should be allowed that the apostle is speaking of the election of bodies of men to be the visible Church of God; yet, as none are acknowledged by him to be his true Church, except true believers; therefore, the election of men to faith and eternal life, as individuals, must necessarily be included; or rather, is the main thing spoken of. For as the spiritual seed of Abraham were the only persons allowed to be "the Israel of God" under the Old Testament dispensation; and as, upon the rejection of the Jews, true believers only, both of Jews and Gentiles, were allowed to constitute the Church of Christ, the spiritual seed of Abraham, under the law; and genuine Christians, both of Jews and Gentiles, under the Gospel, are "the election;" and "the remnant according to the election of grace," mentioned by the apostle.
In this argument truth is greatly mixed up with error, which a few observations will disentangle.
1. It is a mere assumption, that the spiritual Israelites, under the law, in opposition to the Israelites by birth, are any where called "the election;" and "the remnant according to the election of grace;" or even alluded to under these titles. The first phrase occurs in Romans xi, 7, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Here it is evident that "the election" means the Jews of that day, who believed in Christ, in opposition to "the rest," who believed not; in other words, "the election" was that part of the Jews, who had been chosen into the Christian Church, by faith. The second phrase occurs in verse 5, of the same chapter, "Even so, then, at this present time, also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace;" where the same class of persons, the believing Jews, who submitted to the plan of election into the Church by "grace," through faith, are the only persons spoken of Nor are these terms used to designate the believing Gentiles; they belong exclusively to the Christianized portion of the Jewish nation, and as the contrary assumption is without any foundation, the inferences drawn from it are imaginary.
2. It is true that, under the Old Testament dispensation, the spiritual seed of Abraham were the only part of the Israelites who were, with reference to their spiritual and eternal state, accepted of God; but it is not true, that the election of which the apostle speaks, was confined to them. With reference to Esau and Jacob, the apostle says, Romans ix, 11, 13, "For the children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." The "election" here spoken of, or God's purpose to elect, relates to Jacob being chosen in preference to Esau; which election, as we have seen, respected the descendants of Jacob. Now, if this meant the election of the pious descendants of Jacob only, and not his natural descendants; then the opposition between the election of the progeny of Jacob, and the non-election of the progeny of Esau, is destroyed; and there was no reason to say, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," or loved less; but the pious descendants of Jacob have I loved and elected; and the rest I have not loved, and therefore have not elected. Some of the Calvinistic commentators have felt this ffidiculty, and therefore say, that these cases are not given as examples of the election and reprobation of which the apostle speaks; but as illustrations of it. If considered as illustrations, they must be felt to be of a very perplexing kind; for how the preference of one nation to another, when, as we have seen, this did not infallibly secure the salvation of the more favoured nation, nor the eternal destruction of the less favoured, can illustrate the election of individuals to eternal life, and the reprobation of other individuals to eternal death, is difficult to conceive. But they are manifestly examples of that one election, of which the apostle speaks throughout; and not illustrations of one kind of election by another. They are the instances which he gives in proof that the election of the believing Jews of his day to be, along with the believing Gentiles, the visible Church of God, and the rejection of the Jews after the flesh, was not contrary to the promises of God made to Abraham; because God had, in former times, made distinctions between the natural descendants of Abraham to Church privileges, without any impeachment of his faithfulness to his word. Again, if the election of which the apostle speaks were that of pious Jews in all ages, so that they alone stood in a Church relation to God, and were thus the only Jews in covenant with him; how could he speak of the rejection of the other portion of the Jews? Of their being cut off? Of the covenants "pertaining" to them? They could not be rejected, who were never received; nor cut off, who were never branches in the stock; nor have covenants pertaining to them, if in these covenants they had never been included.
3. This notion, that the ancient election of a part of the descendants of Abraham spoken of by the apostle, was of the pious Jews only, and, therefore, a personal election is, in part, grounded by these commentators upon a mistaken view of the meaning of the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth verses in this chapter; in which they have been sometimes incautiously followed by those of very different sentiments, and who have thus somewhat entangled themselves. "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son." In this passage, the interpreters in question suppose that St. Paul distinguishes between the spiritual Israelites, and those of natural descent; between the spiritual seed of Abraham, and his seed according to the flesh. Yet the passage not only affords no evidence that this was his intention; but implies just the contrary. Our view of its meaning is given above; but it may be necessary to support it more fully.
Let it then be recollected that the apostle is speaking of that great event, the rejection of the Jews from being any longer the visible Church of God, on account of natural descent; and that in this passage he shows that the purpose of God to construct his Church upon a new basis, that of faith in Christ, although it would exclude the body of the Jewish people from this Church, since they refused "the election of grace" through faith, would not prove that "the word of God had fallen" to the ground; or, as the literal meaning of the original is rendered in our version, "has taken none effect." The word of God referred to can only be God's original promise to Abraham, to be "a God to him and to his seed after him;" which was often repeated to the Jews in after ages, in the covenant engagement, "I will be to you a God, and ye shall be to me a people;" a mode of expression which signifies, in all the connections in which it stands, an engagement to acknowledge them as his visible Church; he being publicly acknowledged on their part as "their God," or object of worship and trust; and they, on the other, being acknowledged by him as his peculiar "people." This, therefore, we are to take to be the sense of the promise to Abraham and to his seed. How then does the apostle prove that the "word of God had not fallen to the ground," although the natural seed of Abraham, the Jews of that day, had been rejected as his Church? He proves it by showing that all the children of Abraham by natural descent had not, in the original intention of the promise, been "counted," or reckoned, as "the seed" to which these promises had been made; and this he establishes by referring to those acts of God by which he had, in his sovereign pleasure, conferred the Church relation upon the descendants of Abraham only in certain lines, as in those of Isaac and Jacob, and excluded the others. In this view, the argument is cogent to his purpose. By the exercise of the same sovereignty God had now resolved not to connect the Church relation with natural descent, even in the line of Isaac and Jacob; but to establish it on a ground which might comprehend the Gentile nations also, the common ground of faith in Christ. The mere children of the flesh were, therefore, in this instance excluded; and "the children of the promise," the promise now made to believing Jews and Gentiles, those begotten by the word of the Gospel, were "counted for the seed." But though it is a great truth that only the children of the Gospel promise are now "counted for the seed," it does not follow that the children of the promise made to Sarah were all spiritual persons; and, as such, the only subjects of that Church relation which was connected with that circumstance. That the Gentiles who believed upon the publication of the Gospel were always contemplated as a part of that seed to which the promises were made, the apostle shows in a former part of the same epistle; but that "mystery" was not in early times revealed. God had not then formed, nor did he till the apostle's age form, his visible Church solely on the principle of faith, and a moral relation. This is the character of the new, not of the old dispensation; and the different grounds of the Church: relation were suited to the design of each. One was to preserve truth from extinction; the other to extend it into all nations: in one, therefore, a single people, taken as a nation into political as well as religious relations with God, was made the deposite of the truth to be preserved; in the other, a national distinction, and lines of natural descent, could not be recognized, because the object was to call all nations to the obedience of the same faith, and to place all on an equality before God. As the very ground of the Church relation, then, under the Old Testament, was natural descent from Abraham; and as it was mixed up and even identified with a political relation also, the ancient election of which the apostle speaks could not be confined to spiritual Jews; and even if it could be proved, that the Church of God, under the new dispensation is to be confined to true believers only, yet that would not prove that the ancient Church of God had that basis alone, since we know it had another, and a more general one. When, therefore, the apostle says, "for they are not all Israel, which are of Israel," the distinction is not between the spiritual and the natural Israelites; but between that part of the Israelites who continued to enjoy Church privileges, and those who were "of Israel," or descendants of Jacob, surnamed Israel, as the ten tribes and parts of the two, who, being dispersed among the heathen for their sins, were no longer a part of God's visible Church. This is the first instance which the apostle gives of the rejection of a part of the natural seed of Abraham from the promise. He strengthens the argument by going up higher, even to those who had immediately been born to Abraham, the very children of his body, Ishmael and Isaac. "The children of the flesh;" that is, Ishmael and his descendants, (so called, because he was born naturally, not supernaturally, as Isaac was, according to "the promise" made to Abraham and Sarah ;)-they, says the apostle, are not the "children of God;" that is, as the context still shows, not "the seed" to whom the promise that he would be "a God to Abraham and his seed" was made: "but the children of the promise," that is, Isaac and his descendants, were "counted for the seed." And that we might not mistake this, "the promise" referred to is added by the apostle ;-" for this is the word of the promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son." Of this promise, the Israelites by natural descent, were as much "the children," as the spiritual Israelites; and, therefore, to confine it to the latter is wholly gratuitous, and contrary to the words of the apostle. It is indeed an interesting truth, that a deep and spiritual mystery ran through that part of the history of Abraham here referred to, which the apostle opens in his Epistle to the Galatians: "The children of the bond woman and her son," symbolized the Jews who sought justification by the law; and "the children of the promise," "the children of the free woman," those who were justified by faith, and born supernaturally, that is, "born again," and made heirs of the heavenly inheritance. But these things, says St. Paul, are an "ALLEGORY;" and therefore could not be the thing allegorized, any more than a type can be the thing typified; for a type is always of an inferior nature to the antitype, and is indeed something earthly, adumbrating that which is spiritual and heavenly It follows, therefore, that although the choosing of Isaac and his descendants prefigured the choosing of true believers, (persons born supernaturally under the Gospel dispensation,) to be "the children of God ;" and that the rejection of the "children of the flesh," typified the rejection of the unbelieving Jews from God's Church, because they had nothing but natural descent to plead; nay, though we allow that these events might be allegorical, on one part, of the truly believing Israelites, in all ages; and on the other, of those who were Jews only "outwardly," and, therefore, as to the heavenly inheritance were not "heirs ;" yet still that which typified, and represented in allegory these spiritual mysteries, was not the spiritual mystery itself. It was a comparatively gross and earthly representation of it; and the passage is, therefore, to be understood of the election of the natural descendants of Isaac, as the children of the promise made to Sarah, to be "the seed" to which the promises of Church privileges and a Church relation were intended to be in force though still subject to the election of the line of Jacob in preference to that of Esau; and subject again, at a still greater distance of time, to the election of the tribe of Judah, to continue God's visible Church, till the coming of Messiah, while the ten tribes, who were equally "of Israel," were rejected.
4. That this election of bodies of men to be the visible Church of God, involved the election of individuals into the true Church of God, and consequently their election to eternal life, is readily acknowledged; but this weakens not in the least the arguments by which we have shown that the apostle, in this chapter, speaks of collective, and not of individual election; on the contrary, it establishes them. Let us, to illustrate this, first take the case of the ancient Jewish Church.
The end of God's election of bodies of men to peculiar religious advantages is, doubtless as to the individuals of which these bodies are composed, their recovery from sin, and their eternal salvation. Hence, to all such individuals, superior means of instruction, and more efficient means of salvation are afforded along with a deeper responsibility. The election of an individual into the true Church by writing his name in heaven is, however, an effect dependent upon the election of the body to which he belongs. It follows only from his personal repentance, and justifying faith; or else we must say, that men are members of the true spiritual Church, before they repent and have justifying faith, for which, assuredly, we have no warrant in Scripture. Individual election is then another act of God, subsequent to the former. The former is sovereign and unconditional; the latter rests upon revealed reasons; and is not, as we shall just now more fully show, unconditional. These two kinds of election, therefore, are not to be confounded; and it is absurd to argue that collective election has no existence because there is an individual election; since the latter, on the contrary, necessarily supposes the former. The Jews, as a body, had their visible Church state, and outward privileges, although the pious Jews alone availed themselves of them to their own personal salvation. As to the Christian Church, there is a great difference in its circumstances; but the principle, though modified, is still there.
The basis of this Church was to be, not natural descent from a common head; marking out, as that Church, some distinct family, tribe, and, as it increased in numbers, some one nation, invested too, as a nation must be, with a political character and state; but faith in Christ. Yet even this faith supposes a previous sovereign and unconditional collective election. For, as the apostle argues, "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God: but how shall they hear without a preacher'? and how shall they preach except they be sent ?" Now this sending to one Gentile nation before another Gentile nation, a distinction which continues to be made in the administration of the Divine government to this day, is that sovereign unconditional election of the people constituting that nation, to the means of becoming God's Church by the preaching of the Gospel, through the men "sent" to them for this purpose. The persons who first believed were for the most part real Christians, in the sense of being truly, and in heart turned to God. They could not generally go so far as to be baptized into the name of Christ, in the face of persecution, and in opposition to their own former prejudices, without a considerable previous ripeness of experience, and decision of character. Under the character of "saints," in the highest sense, the primitive Churches are addressed in the apostolical epistles: and such we are bound to conclude they were; or they would not have been so called by men who had the "discernment of spirits." Whatever then the number was, whether small or great, who first received the word of the Gospel in every place, they openly confessed Christ, assembled for public worship; and thus the promise was fulfilled in them: "I will be to them a God," the object of worship and trust; "and they shall be to me a people." They became God's visible Church; and for the most part entered into that, and into the true and spiritual Church at the same time. But this was not the case with all the members; and we have therefore still an election of bodies of men to a visible Church state, independent of their election as "heirs of eternal life." The children of believers, even as children, and therefore incapable of faith, did not remain in the same state of alienation from God as the children of unbelievers; nay, though but one parent believed, yet the children are pronounced by St. Paul, to be "holy." "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy." When both parents believed, and trained up their families to believe in Christ, and to worship the true God, the case was stronger: the family was then "a Church in the house;" though all the members of it might not have saving faith. Sincere faith or assent to the Gospel, with desires of instruction and salvation, appear to have uniformly entitled the person to baptism; and the use of Christian ordinances followed. The numbers of the visible Church swelled till it comprehended cities, and at last countries; whose inhabitants were thus elected to special religious privileges, and, forsaking idols and worshipping God, constituted his visible Church among Gentile nations. And that the Apostle Paul regarded all who "called upon the name of the Lord" as Christian Churches, is evident from his asserting his authority of reproof, and counsel, and even excision over them, as to their unworthy members; and also from his threatening the Gentile Churches with the fate of the Jewish Church ;-unless they stood by faith, they also should be "cut off;" that is, be unchurched. Of his full meaning, subsequent history gives the elucidation, in the case of those very Churches in Asia Minor which he himself planted; and which, departing from the faith of Christ, his true doctrine, have been, in many instances, "cut off," and swallowed up in the Mohammedan delusion; so that Christ is there no longer worshipped. The whole proves a sovereign unconditional election independent of personal election; unconditional as to the people to whom the Gospel was first sent; unconditional as to the children born of believing parents; unconditional as to the inhabitants of those countries who, when a Christian Church was first established among them, came, without seeking it, into the possession of invaluable and efficacious means and ordinances of Christian instruction and salvation; and who all finally, by education, became professors of the true faith; and, as far as assent goes, sincere believers. This election too, as in the Jewish Church, was made with reference to a personal election into the true spiritual Church of God; but personal election was conditional. It rested, as we have seen, upon personal repentance and justifying faith; or else we must hold that men could be members of the true Church without either. This election was then dependent upon the other; arid, instead of' disproving, abundantly confirms it. The tenor of the apostle's argument sufficiently shows that the transfer of the Church state and relation from one body of men to others, is that which in this discourse he has in view-in other words, he speaks of the election of bodies of men, to religious advantages, not of individuals to eternal life; and however intimately the one may be connected with the other, the latter is not necessarily involved in the former; since superior religious privileges, in all ages have, to many, proved but an aggravation of their condemnation.
The THIRD kind of election is personal election; or the election of individuals to be the children of God, and the heirs of' eternal life.
It is not at all disputed between us and those who hold the Calvinistic view of election, whether believers in Christ are called THE ELECT of God with reference to their individual state and individual relation to God as his "people," in the highest sense of that phrase. Such passages as "the elect of God;" "chosen of God;" "chosen in Christ;" "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father;" and many others, we allow therefore, although borrowed from that collective election of which we have spoken, to be descriptive of an act of grace in favour of certain persons considered individually.
The first question then which naturally arises, respects the import of that act of grace which is termed choosing, or an election. It is not a choosing to particular offices and service, which is the first kind of election we have mentioned; nor is it that collective election to religious privileges and a visible Church state, on which we have more largely dwelt. For although "the elect" have an individual interest in such an election as parts of the collective body, thus placed in possession of the ordinances of Christianity; yet many others have the same advantages who still remain under the guilt and condemnation of sin and practical unbelief. The individuals properly called "the elect," are they who have been made partakers of the grace and saving efficacy of the Gospel. "Many," says our Lord, "are called, but few chosen."
What true personal election is, we shall find explained in two clear passages of Scripture. It is explained negatively by our Lord, where he says to his disciples, "I have chosen you out of the world:" it is explained positively by St. Peter, when he addresses his first epistle to the "elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus." To be elected, therefore, is to be separated from "the world." and to be sanctified by the Spirit, and by the blood of Christ.
It follows, then, that election is not only an act of God done in time; but also that it is subsequent to the administration of the means of salvation. The "calling" goes before the "election;" the publication of the doctrine of "the Spirit," and the atonement, called by Peter "the sprinkling of the blood of Christ," before that "sanctification" through which they become "the elect" of God. The doctrine of eternal election is thus brought down to its true meaning. Actual election cannot be eternal; for, from eternity, the elect were not actually chosen out of the world, and from eternity, they could not be "sanctified unto obedience." The phrases, "eternal election," and "eternal decree of election," so often in the lips of Calvinists, can, in common sense, therefore, mean only an eternal purpose to elect; or a purpose formed in eternity, to elect, or choose out of the world, and sanctify in time, by "the Spirit and the blood of Jesus." This is a doctrine which no one will contend. with them; but when they graft upon it another, that God bath, from eternity, "chosen in Christ unto salvation," a set number of men, "certam quorundam hominum multitudinem ;" not upon foresight of faith and the obedience of faith, holiness, or of any other good quality, or disposition, (as a cause or condition before required in man to be chosen;) but unto faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, &c, "non ex praevisa fide, fideique obedientia, sanctitate, aut alia aliqua bona qua litate et dis. positione," 4-c, (Judgment of the Synod of Dort,) it presents itself under a different aspect, and requires an appeal to the word of God.
This view of election has two parts: it is the choosing of a set or determinate number of men, who cannot be increased or diminished; and it is unconditional. Let us consider each.
With respect to the first, there is no text of Scripture which teaches that a fixed and determinate number of men are elected to eternal life; and the passages which the synod of Dort, adduce in proof, being such as they only infer the doctrine from, the synod themselves allow that they have no express Scriptural evidence for this tenet. But if there is no explicit scripture in favour of the opinion, there is much against it; and to this test it must, therefore, be brought.
The election here spoken of must either be election in eternity, or election in time. If the former, it can only mean a purpose of electing in time: if the latter, it is actual election, or choosing out of the world.
Now as to God's eternal purpose to elect, it is clear, that is a subject on which we can know nothing but from his own revelation. We take, then, the matter on this ground. A purpose to elect, is a purpose to save; and when it is explicitly declared in this revelation that God "willeth all men to be saved," and that "he willeth not the death of a sinner," either we must say, that his will is contrary to his purpose, which would be to charge God foolishly, and indeed has no meaning at all; or it agrees with his purpose: if then his will agrees with his purpose, that purpose was not confined to a "certain determinate number of men;" but extended to all "whosoever" should believe, that they might be elected and saved.
Again, we have established it as the doctrine of Scripture, that our Lord Jesus Christ died for all men, that all men through him might be saved; but if he died in order to their salvation through faith, he died in order to their election through faith; and God must have purposed this from eternity.
Farther, we have his own message to all to whom his servants preach the Gospel. They are commanded to preach "to every creature,"- "He that believeth shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned." This is an unquestionable decree of God in time; and, if God be unchangeable, it was his decree, as touching this matter, from all eternity. But this decree or purpose can in no way be reconciled to the doctrine of an eternal purpose to elect only "a set and determinate number." For the Gospel could not be good news to "every creature" to whom it should be as such proclaimed, which is the first contradiction to the text. Nor would those who believe it not, but who are nevertheless commanded to believe it, have any power to believe it, which is the second contradiction: for since they are to be "damned" for not believing, they must have had the power to believe, or they could not have come into condemnation for an act impossible to them to perform, or else we must admit it as a principle of the Divine government that God commands his creatures to do, what under no circumstances they can do; and then punishes them for not doing what he thus commands. Finally, he commands those that believe not, and who are alleged not to be included in this "fixed number" of elected persons, to believe the good tidings, as a matter in which they are interested: they are commanded to believe the Gospel as a truth; but if they are not interested in it, they are commanded to believe a falsehood, which is the third contradiction; and thus the text and the doctrine cannot consist together.
As the whole argument on this point is involved in what we have already established concerning the universal extent of the benefits of Christ's death, we may leave it to be determined by what has been advanced on that topic; observing only, that two of the points there confirmed bear directly upon the doctrine, that election is confined to a "fixed number of men." If we have proved from Scripture, that the reason of the condemnation of men lies in themselves, and not in the want of a sufficient and effectual provision having been made in Christ for their salvation, then the number of the actually elect might be increased; and if it has been established that those for whom Christ died might "perish;" and that true believers may "turn back unto perdition," and be "cast away," and fall into a state in which it were better for them "never to have known the way of righteousness," then the number of the elect may be diminished. To what has already been said on these subjects the reader is referred; and we shall now only mention a few of the difficulties with which the doctrine of an election from eternity of a determinate number of men to be made heirs of eternal life is attended.
'Whether men will look to the dark and repugnant side of this doctrine of the eternal election of a certain number of men unto salvation, or not, it unavoidably follows from it, that all but the persons so chosen in Christ, are placed utterly and absolutely, from their very birth, out of the reach of salvation; and have no share at all in the saving mercies of God, who from eternity purposed to reject them, and that not for their fault as sinners. For all, except Adam and Eve, have come into the world with a nature which, left to itself, could not but sin; and as the determination of God, never to give the reprobate the means of avoiding sin, could not rest upon their fault, for what is absolutely inevitable cannot be charged on man as his fault, so it must rest where all the high Calvinistic divines place it,-upon the mere will and sovereign pleasure of God.
The difficulties of reconciling such a scheme as this to the nature of God, not as it is fancied by man, but as it is revealed in his own word; and to many other declarations of Scripture as to the principles of the administration both of his law and of his grace; one would suppose insuperable by any mind, and indeed, are so revolting, that few of those who cling to the doctrine of election will be found bold enough to keeps them steadily in sight. They even think it uncandid for us who oppose these views to pursue them to their legitimate logical Consequences. But in discussion this is inevitable; and if it be done in fairness, and in the spirit of candour, without pushing hard arguments into hard words, the cause of truth, and a right understanding of the word of God, will thereby be promoted.
The doctrine of the election to eternal life only of certain determinate number of men to salvation, involving, as it necessarily does, the doctrine of the absolute and unconditional reprobation of all the rest of mankind, cannot, we may confidently affirm, be reconciled,
1. the LOVE of God. "God is love." "He is loving to every man: and his tender mercies are over all his works."
2. Nor to the WISDOM of God; for the bringing into being a vast number of intelligent creatures under a necessity of sinning, and of being eternally lost, teaches no moral lesson to the world; and contradicts all those notions of wisdom in the ends and processes of government which we are taught to look for, not only from natural reason, but from the Scriptures.
3. Nor to the GRACE of God, which is so often magnified in the Scriptures: "for doth it argue any sovereign or high strain; any super abounding richness of grace or mercy in any man, when ten thousand have equally offended him, only to pardon one or two of them?" (Goodwin's Agreement and Difference.) And on such a scheme can there be any interpretation given of the passage "that where sin had abounded, grace might much more abound?" or in what sense has "the grace of God appeared unto all men;" or even to one millionth part of them
4. Nor can this merciless reprobation be reconciled to any of those numerous passages in which almighty God is represented as tenderly compassionate, and pitiful to the worst and most unworthy of his creatures, even them who finally perish "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth:" "Being grieved at the hardness of their hearts." "How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." "The Lord is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish." "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance."
5. It is as manifestly contrary to his JUSTICE. Here, indeed, we would not assume to measure this attribute of God by unauthorized human conceptions; but when God himself has appealed to those established notions of justice and equity which have been received among all enlightened persons, in all ages, as the measure and rule of his own, we cannot be charged with this presumption. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" "Are not my ways equal? saith the Lord." We may then be bold to affirm, that justice and equity in God are what they are taken to be among reasonable men; and if all men every where would condemn it, as most contrary to justice and right, that a sovereign should condemn to death one or more of his subjects, for not obeying laws which it is absolutely impossible for them, under any circumstances which they can possibly avail themselves of, to obey, and much more the greater part of his subjects; and to require them, on pain of aggravated punishment, to do something in order to the pardon and remission of their offences, which he knows they cannot do, say to stop the tide or to remove a mountain; it implies a charge as awfully and obviously unjust against God, who is so "holy and just in all his doings," so exactly "just in the judgments which he executeth," as to silence all his creatures, to suppose him to act precisely in the same manner as to those whom he has passed by and rejected, without any avoidable fault of their own; to destroy them by the simple rule of his own sovereignty, or, in other words, to show that he has power to do it. In whatever light the subject be viewed, no fault, in any right construction, can be chargeable upon the persons so punished, or, as we may rather say, destroyed, since punishment supposes a judicial proceeding, which this act shuts out. For either the reprobates are destroyed for a pure reason of sovereignty, without any reference to their sinfulness, and thus all criminality is left out of the consideration; or they are destroyed for the sin of Adam, to which they were not consenting; or for personal faults resulting from a corruption of nature which they brought into the world with them, and which God wills not to correct, and they have no power to correct themselves. Every received notion of justice is thus violated. We grant, indeed, that some proceedings of the Almighty may appear at first irreconcilable with justice, which are not so; as that we should suffer pain and death, and be infected with a morally corrupt nature in consequence of the transgression of our first progenitors; that children should suffer for their parents' faults in the ordinary course of providence; and that, in general calamities, the comparatively innocent should suffer the same evils as the guilty. But none of these are parallel cases. For the "free gift" has come upon all men, "in order to justification of life," through "the righteousness" of the second Adam, so that the terms of our probation are but changed. None are doomed to inevitable ruin, or the above words of the apostle would have ho meaning; and pain and death, as to all who avail themselves of the remedy, are made the instruments of a higher life, and of a superabounding of grace through Christ. The same observation may be made as to children who suffer evils for their parents' faults. This circumstance alters the terms of their probation; but if every condition of probation leaves to men the possibility and the hope of eternal life, and the circumstances of all are balanced and weighed by him who administers the affairs of individuals on principles, the end of which is to turn all the evils of life into spiritual and higher blessings, there is, obviously, no impeachment of justice in the circumstances of the probation assigned to any person whatever. As to the innocent suffering equally with the guilty in general calamities, the persons so suffering are but COMPARATIVELY innocent, and their personal transgressions against God deserve a higher punishment than any which this life witnesses; this may also as to them be overruled for merciful purposes, and a future life presents its manifold compensations. But as to the non-elect, the whole case, in this scheme of sovereign reprobation, or sovereign preterition, is supposed to be before us. Their state is fixed, their afflictions in this life will not in any instance be overruled for ends of edification and salvation; they are left under a necessity of sinning in every condition; and a future life presents no compensation, but a fearful looking for of fiery and quenchless indignation. It is surely not possible for the ingenuity of man to reconcile this to any notion of just government which has ever obtained; and by the established notions of justice and equity in human affairs, we are taught by the Scriptures themselves to judge of the Divine proceedings in all completely stated and comprehensible cases.
6. Equally impossible is it to reconcile this notion to the SINCERITY of God in offering salvation by Christ to all who hear the Gospel, of whom this scheme supposes the majority, or at least great numbers, to be among the reprobate. The Gospel, as we have seen, is commanded to be preached to "every creature;" which publication of "good news to every creature," is an offer of salvation "to every creature," accompanied with earnest invitations to embrace it, and admonitory comminations lest any should neglect and despise it. But does it not involve a serious reflection upon the truth and sincerity of God which men ought to shudder at, to assume, at the very time the Gospel is thus preached, that no part of this good news was ever designed to benefit the majority, or any great part of those to whom it is addressed? that they to whom this love of God in Christ is proclaimed were never loved by God? that he has decreed that many to whom he offers salvation, and whom he invites to receive it, shall never be saved? and that he will consider their sins aggravated by rejecting that which they never could receive, and which he never designed them to receive? It is no answer to this to say, that we also admit that the offers of mercy are made by God to many whom he, by virtue of his prescience, knows will never receive them. We grant this; but, not now to enter upon the question of foreknowledge, it is enough to reply, that here there is no insincerity. On the Calvinian scheme the offer of salvation is made to those for whose sins Christ made no atonement; on ours, he made atonement for the sins of all. On the former, the offer is made to those whom GOD never designed to embrace it; on ours, to none but those whom God seriously and in truth wills that they should avail themselves of it; on their theory, the bar to the salvation of the non-elect lies in the want of a provided sacrifice for sin; on ours, it rests solely in men themselves: one consists, therefore, with a perfect sincerity of offer, the other cannot be maintained without bringing the sincerity of God into question, and fixing a stigma upon his moral truth.
7. Unconditional reprobation cannot be reconciled with that frequent declaration of Scripture, that GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS. This phrase, we grant, is not to be interpreted as though the bounties of the Almighty were dispensed in equal measures to his creatures. In the administration of favour, there is place for the exercise of that prerogative which, in a just sense, is called the sovereignty of GOD; but justice knows but of one rule; it is, in its nature, settled and fixed, and respects not the PERSON, but the CASE. "To have respect of persons" is a phrase, therefore; in Scripture, which sometimes refers to judicial proceedings, and signifies to judge from partiality and affection, and not upon the merits of the question. It is also used by St. Peter with reference to the acceptance of Cornelius: -"Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Here it is clear, that to respect persons, would be to reject or accept them without regard to their moral qualities, and on some national or other prejudice or partiality which forms no moral rule of any kind. But if the doctrine of absolute election and reprobation be true; if we are to understand that men like Jacob and Esau, in the Calvinistic construction of the passage, while in the womb of their mother, nay, from eternity, are loved and hated, elected or reprobated, before they have done "good or evil," then it necessarily follows, that there is precisely this kind of respect of per. sons with God; for his acceptance or rejection of men stands on some ground of aversion or dislike, which cannot be resolved into any moral rule, and has no respect to the merits of the case itself; and if the Scripture affirms that there is no such respect of persons with God, then the doctrine which implies it is contradicted by inspired authority.
8. The doctrine of which we are showing the difficulties, brings with it the repulsive and shocking opinion of the ETERNAL PUNISHMENT OF INFANTS. Some Calvinists have, indeed, to get rid of the difficulty, or rather to put it out of sight, consigned them to annihilation; but of the annihilation of any human being there is no intimation in the word of God. In order, therefore, to avoid the fearful consequence of admitting the punishment of beings innocent as to all actual sin, there is no other way than to suppose all children dying in infancy to be an elected portion of mankind, which, however, would be a mere hypothesis brought in to serve a theory without any evidence. That some of those who, as they suppose, are under this sentence of reprobation, die in their infancy, is, probably, what most Calvinists allow; and if their doctrine be received cannot be denied; and it follows, therefore, that all such infants are eternally lost. Now we know that infants are not lost, because our Lord gave it as a reason why little children ought not to be hindered from coming unto him, that "of such is the kingdom of heaven." On which Calvin himself remarks, (Harm. in Matt. xix, 13,) "in this word, 'for of such is the kingdom of heaven,' Christ comprehends as well little children themselves, as those who in disposition resemble them. Hac voce, tam parvulos, quam eorum similes, compre. hendit." We are assured of the salvation of infants, also, because "the free gift has come upon all men to [in order to] justification of life," and because children are not capable of rejecting that blessing, and must, therefore, derive benefit from it. The point, also, on which we have just now touched, that "there is no respect of persons with God," demonstrates it. For, as it will be acknowledged that some children, dying in infancy, are saved, it must follow, from this principle and axiom in the Divine government, that all infants are saved: for the case of all infants, as to innocence or guilt, sin or righteousness, being the same, and God, as a judge, being "no respecter of persons," but regarding only the merits of the case; he cannot make this awful distinction as to them, that one part shall be eternally saved and the other eternally lost. That doctrine, therefore, which implies the perdition of infants cannot be congruous to the Scriptures of truth; but is utterly abhorrent to them. (On the case of infants, see part ii, p. 57.)
9. Finally, not to multiply these instances of the difficulties which accompany the doctrine of absolute reprobation, or of preterition, (to use the milder term, though the argument is not in the least changed by it,) it destroys the end of PUNITIVE JUSTICE. That end can only be to deter men from offence, and to add strength to the law of GOD. But if the whole body of the reprobate are left to the influence of their fallen nature without remedy, they cannot be deterred from sin by threats of inevitable punishment; nor can they ever submit to the dominion of the law of GOD: their doom is fixed, and threats and examples can avail nothing.
We may leave every candid mind to the discussion of these and many other difficulties, suggested by the doctrine of the synod of Dort, as to the election of" a set and determinate number of men" to eternal life; and proceed to consider the second branch of this opinion-that elec. lion is unconditional. "It was made," says the synod, "not upon foresight of faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition, (as a cause or condition before required in men to be chosen,) but unto faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, &c"
Election, we have already said, must be either God's purpose in eternity to elect actually, or it must be actual election itself in time; for as election is choosing men "out of the world," into the true Church of Christ, actual election from eternity is not possible, because the subjects of election had no existence; there was no world to choose them "out of," and no Church into which to bring them. To affirm that any part of mankind were chosen from eternity, in purpose, (for in no other way could they be chosen,) to become members of the Church without "foresight of faith, and the obedience of faith," is therefore to say, that God purposed from all eternity to establish a distinction between THE WORLD, "out" of which the elect are actually chosen, and the CHURCH, which has no foundation in, or respect to, faith and obedience; in other words, to constitute his Church of persons to whose faith and obedience he had no respect. For how is this conclusion to he avoided? The subjects of this election, it seems, are chosen as men, as Peter, James, and John, not as believers. God eternally purposed to make Peter, James, and John, members of his Church, without respect to their faith or obedience; his Church is therefore constituted on the sole principle of this purpose, not upon the basis of faith and obedience; and the per. sons chosen into it in time are chosen because they are of the number included in this eternal purpose, and with no regard to their being believers and obedient, or the contrary. How manifestly this opposes the word of God, we need scarcely stay to point out. It contradicts that specific distinction constantly made in Scripture between the true Church and the world, the only marks of distinction being, as to the former, faith and obedience; and as to the latter, unbelief and disobedience-in other words, the Church is composed not merely of men, as Peter, James, and John; but of Peter, James, and John believing and obeying: while all who believe not, and obey not, are "the world." The Scriptures make the essential elements of the Church to be believing and obeying men; the synod of Dort makes them to be men in the simple condition of being included in a set and determinate number, chosen with no respect to faith and obedience. Thus we have laid two very different foundations upon which to place the superstructure of the Church of Christ; one of them indeed is to be found in the Scriptures, but the other only in the theories of men; and as they agree not together, one of them must be renounced.
But election, without respect to faith, is contrary also to the history of the commencement and first constitution of the Church of Christ. Peter, James, and John did not become disciples of Christ in unbelief and disobedience. The very act of their becoming disciples of Christ, unequivocally implied some degree both of faith and obedience. They were chosen, not as men, but as believing men. This is indicated also by the grand rite of baptism, instituted by Christ when he commissioned his disciples to preach the Gospel, amid call men into his Church. That baptism was the gate into this Church cannot be denied; but faith was required in order to baptism; and, where true faith existed, this open confession of Christ would necessarily follow, without delay. Here, then, we see on what grounds men were actually elected into the Church of Christ; it was with respect to their faith that they were thus chosen out of the world, and thus chosen into the Church. The rule, too, is universal; and if so, if it universally holds good that actual election has respect to faith, then, unless God's eternal purpose to elect be at variance with his electing, that is, unless he purposes one thing and does another differing from his purpose; purposes to elect without respect to faith; and only actually elects with respect to faith; his eternal purpose to elect had respect both to faith and obedience.
It is true, that the synod of Port says, that election is "unto faith and the obedience of faith," &c, thereby making the end of election to be faith: in other words their doctrine is, that some men were personally chosen to believe and obey, even before they existed. But we have no such doctrine in Scripture as the election of individuals unto faith; and it is inconsistent with several passages which expressly speak of personal election
"Many are called but few chosen." In this passage we must understand, that the many who are called, are called to believe and obey the Gospel, or the calling means nothing; in other words they are not called. But if the end of this calling be faith and obedience, and the end of election also be faith and obedience, then have we in the text a senseless tautology; for if the many are called to believe and obey, then, of course, we need not have been told that the few are chosen to believe and obey, since the few are included in the many. But if the "choosing" of the "few" means, as it must, something different to the "calling" of the "many," then is the end of election different to the end of calling; and if the election be, as is plain from the passage, consequent upon the calling, then it can mean nothing else than the choosing of those "few," of the "many," who being obedient to the "calling," had previously believed and obeyed, into the true Church and family of God, which is the proper and direct object of personal election. This passage, therefore, which unquestionably speaks of personal election, contradicts the notion of an election unto faith and obedience, and makes our election consequent upon our obedience to the calling, or evangelical invitation.
Let this notion of personal election unto faith be tested also by another passage, in which, like the former, personal election is spoken of. "I have chosen you out of the world," John xv, 19. According to the notion of the synod of Port, the act of election consists in appointing or ordaining a certain number of the human race to believe and obey: here the personal electing act is a choosing out of the world, a choosing, manifestly, into the number of Christ's disciples, which no man is capable of without a previous faith; for the very act of becoming Christ's disciple was a confession of faith in him.
A third passage, in which election is spoken of as personal, or at east with more direct reference to individual experience, than to Christians in their collective capacity as the Church of Christ, is 1 Peter i, 2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus!" Here obedience is not the end of election, but of the sanctification of the Spirit; and both are joined "with the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus," (which, in all cases, is apprehended by faith,) as the media through which our election is effected-' elect through sanctification of the Spirit," &c. These cannot, therefore, be the ends of our personal election; for if we are elected "through" that sanctification of the Spirit which produces obedience, we are not elected, being un sanctified and disobedient, in order to be sanctified by the Spirit that we may obey: it is the work of the Spirit which produces obedient faith, and through both we are "elected" into the Church of God.
Very similar to the passage just explained is 2 Thess. ii, 13, 14, "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, because God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto he called you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." As the apostle had been predicting the future apostasy of persons professing Christianity, he recollects, with gratitude, that from "the beginning," from the very first reception of the Gospel in Thessalonica, which was preached there by St. Paul himself with great success, time Thessalonians had manifested no symptoms of this apostasy, but had been honourably steadfast in the faith. For this he gives thanks to God in the verses above quoted, and in the 15th exhorts them still "to stand fast." When, therefore, Calvinistic commentators interpret the clause "hath chosen you from the beginning," to mean election from eternity, they make a gratuitous assumption which has nothing in the scope of the passage to warrant it. Mr. Scott, indeed, (Notes in loc.) rather depends upon the "calling" of the Thessalonians being, as he states, subsequent to their election, than upon an arbitrary interpretation of the clause "from the beginning," and says, "if the calling of the Thessalonians was the effect of any preceding choice of them, it comes to the same thing whether the choice was made the preceding day, or from the foundation of the world." But the calling of the members of this Church is not represented by the apostle as the effect of their having been chosen, but on the contrary, their election is spoken of as the effect of "the sanctification of the Spirit, arid belief of the truth;" and these, as the effects of the calling of the Thessalonians by the Gospel,-" whereunto," to which sanctification and faith," he called you by our Gospel." Or the whole may be considered as the antecedent to the next clause "to which" election from the beginning, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, "he called you by our Gospel." Certain it is, that sanctification and belief of the truth cannot be the ends of election if they are the means of it, as they are here said to be; and we may therefore conclude from this, as well as from the other passages we have quoted as speaking of the personal election of believers, that this kind of election is not "unto faith and obedience," as stated in "The Judgment of the Synod of Port," that is, a choice of individuals to be made believers and obedient persons; but an election, as it is expressed both by St. Peter and St. Paul, through faith and obedience; or, in other words, a choice of persons already believing and obedient into the family of God.
There are scarcely any other passages in the New Testament, which speak expressly of personal election; but there is another class of texts in which the term election occurs, which refer to believers, not distributively, but collectively; not personally, but as a body, either existing as particular Churches, or as the universal Church; and, by entirely overlooking, or ingeniously confounding this obvious distinction, the advocates of unconditional personal election bring forward such passages with confidence, as proofs of the doctrine of election unto faith furnished by the word of God. Thus the synod of Dort quotes, as the leading proof of its doctrine of personal election, Eph. i, 4, 5, 6, " According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should he holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." This, indeed, is the only passage quoted by the synod of Dort, in which the terms chosen and election occur; and, we may ask, why none of those on which we have above offered some remarks, were quoted also, since the subject of personal election is much more obviously contained in them than in that which they have adduced? The only answer is, that the others were perceived not to accord with the doctrine of " election unto faith and obedience;" while this, in which the personal election of individual believers is not referred to, but the collective election of the whole body of Christians, was better suited to give a colour to their doctrine, because it speaks, of course, and as the subject required, of election as the means of faith, and of faith as the end of election, an order which is reversed when the election of individuals, or the election of any body of believers, considered distributively and personally, is the subject of the apostle's discourse. It; indeed, the election spoken of in this passage were personal election, the Calvinistic doctrine would not follow from it; because it would admit of being questioned, whether the choosing in Christ before the foundation of the world, here mentioned, was a choice of certain persons, as men merely, or as believing men, which is surely the most rational. For all choice necessarily sup. poses some reason; but, as men, all things were equal between those who, according to this scheme, were chosen, and those who were passed by. But, according to the Calvinists, this election was made arbitrarily, that is without any reason, but that God would have it so; and to this sense they bend the clause in the passage under consideration, "according to the good pleasure of his will." This phrase has, however, no such arbitrary sense. "The good pleasure of his will" means the benevolent and full acquiescence of the will of God with a wise and gracious act; and, accordingly, in verse 11, the phrase is varied "according to the COUNSEL of his own will," an expression which is at utter variance with the repulsive notion that mere will is in any case the rule of the Divine conduct, or, in other words, that he does any thing merely because he will do it, which excludes all "counsel." To choose men to salvation considered as believers, gives a reason for election which not only manifests the wisdom and goodness of God, but has the advantage of being entirely consistent with his own published and express decree: "he that believeth shall be saved and he that believeth not shall be damned." This revealed and promulgated decree, we must believe, was according to his eternal purpose; and if from eternity be determined that believers, and only believers in Christ, among the fallen race, should be saved, the conclusion is inevitable that those whom he chose in Christ "before the foundation of the world," were considered, not as men merely, which gives no reason of choice worthy of any rational being, much less of the ever blessed God; but as believing men, which harmonizes the doctrine of election with the other doctrines of Scripture, instead of placing it, as in the Calvinistic scheme, in opposition to them. For the choice not being of certain men, as such; but of all persons believing; and all men to whom the Gospel is preached, being called to believe, every one may place himself in the number of the persons so elected. Thus we get rid of the doctrine of the election of a set and determinate number of men; and with that, of the fearful consequence, the absolute reprobation of all the rest, which so few Calvinists themselves have the courage to avow and maintain.
But though this argument might be very successfully urged against those who interpret the passage above quoted of personal election, the context bears unequivocal proofs that it is not of an election or predestination of this kind of which the apostle speaks; but of the election of believing Jews and Gentiles into the Church of God; in other words, of the eternal purpose of God, upon the publication of the Gospel, to constitute his visible Church no longer upon the ground of natural descent from Abraham, but upon the foundation of faith in Christ. For upon no other hypothesis can that distinction which the apostle makes between the Jews who first believed, and the Gentile Ephesians, who afterward believed, be at all explained. He speaks first of the election of Christians in general, whether Jews or Gentiles; using the pronouns "us" and "we" as comprehending himself and all others, He hen proceeds to the "predestination" of those "who first trusted in Christ :" plainly meaning himself and other believing Jews. He goes on to say, that the Ephesians were made partakers of the same faith, and therefore were the subjects of the same election and predestination: in whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth:" the reaching of which truth to them as Gentiles, by the apostle and his coadjutors, was, in consequence of God "having made known unto them he mystery of his will, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ ;" which, in the next chapter, a manifest continuance of the same head of discourse, is explained to mean the calling in of the Gentiles with the believing Jews, reconciling "both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enemity thereby." The same subject he pursues in the third chapter, representing this union of believing Jews and Gentiles in one Church as the revelation of the mystery which had been hid "from the beginning of the world;" but was now manifested "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord," verses 8-11. Here then we have the true meaning of the election and predestination of the Ephesians spoken of in the opening of the epistle: it was their election, as Gentiles, to be, along with the believing Jews, the Church of God, his acknowledged people on earth; which election was, according to God's "eternal purpose," to change the constitution of his Church; to establish it on the ground of faith in Christ; and thus to extend it into all nations. So far as this respected the Ephesians in general, their election to hear the Gospel sooner than many other Gentiles was unconditional and sovereign, and was an election "unto faith and obedience of faith;" that is to say, these were the ends of that election; but so far as the Ephesians were concerned, as individuals, they were actually chosen into the Church of Christ as its vital members, on their believing; and so the election to the saving benefits of the Gospel was a consequence of their faith, and not the end of it, and was therefore conditional-" in whom also ye trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."
The Calvinistic doctrine of election unto faith has no stronger passage than this to lean upon for support; and this manifestly fails them: while other passages in which the terms election, or chosen occur, all favour a very different view of the Scripture doctrine. When we are commanded to be diligent "to make our calling and election sure," or firm, this supposes that it may be rendered nugatory by want of diligence; a doctrine which cannot comport with the absolute certainty of our salvation as founded upon a decree determining, infallibly, our persona] election to eternal life, and our faith and obedience in order to it. When believers are called a "chosen generation," they are also called "a royal priesthood, a holy people;" and if the latter characteristics depend upon, and are consequences of faith, so the former depends upon a previous faith, and is the consequence of it. Finally, although these terms themselves occur in but few passages, and in all of them which respect the personal experience of individuals express, or necessarily imply, the previous condition of faith, there are many others, which, in different terms, embody the same doctrine. The phrases to be "IN Christ," and to be "Christ's," are, doubtless, equivalent to the personal election of believers: and these, and similar modes of expression, are constantly occurring in the New Testament; but no man is ever represented as "Christ's," or as "in Christ," by an eternal election unto faith; but, on the contrary, as entering into that relation which is termed being "IN Christ;" or being "Christ's," through personal faith alone. The Scripture knows no such distinctions as elect unbelievers, and elect believers; but all unbelievers are represented as "of the "world;" under "condemnation," so that "the wrath of God abideth upon them;" and as liable to eternal ruin. But if Calvinistic election be true, then there are elect unbelievers; and with respect to these, the doctrine of Scripture is contradicted: for they are not "of the world," though in a state of unbelief, since God from eternity "chose them out of the world;" they are not under condemnation, "but were justified from eternity;" "the wrath of God does not abide upon them," for they are objects of an unchangeable love which has decreed their salvation: subject to no conditions whatever; and therefore no state of unbelief can make them objects of wrath, as no condition of faith can make them objects of a love which was moved by no such consideration. Nor are they liable to ruin. They never were, nor can be liable to it: the very threats of God are without meaning as to them, and their consciousness of guilt and danger under the awakenings of the Spirit are deceptious, and unreal; contradicting the work of the Spirit in the heart of man, as THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH. For if he "convinces them of sin," he convinces them of danger; but they are, in fact, in no danger; and the monstrous conclusion follows inevitably, that the Spirit is employed in exciting fears which have no foundation.
We have thus considered the Scriptural doctrine of election; and as we find nothing in it which can warrant any one to limit the meaning of the texts we have adduced to prove that Christ made an actual atonement for the sins of all mankind, we may proceed to examine another class of Scripture proofs quoted by Calvinists to strengthen their argument :-those which speak of the "calling," and "predestination" of' believers.
The terms "to call," "called," and "calling," very frequently occur in the New Testament, and especially in the epistles. Sometimes "to call" signifies to invite to the blessings of the Gospel, to offer salvation through Christ, either by God himself, or under his appointment, by his servants; and in the parable of the marriage of the king's son, Matt. xxii, 1-14, which appears to have given rise to many instances of the use of this term in the epistles, we have three descriptions of "called" or invited persons. First, the disobedient who would not come in at the call; but made light of it. Second, the class of persons represented by the man who, when the king came in to see his guests, had not on the wedding garment; and with respect to whom our Lord makes the general remark, "for many are called, but few are chosen." The per. sons thus represented by this individual culprit, were not only "called," but actually came into the company. Third, the approved guests; those who were both called and. chosen. As far as the simple calling, or invitation, is concerned, all these three classes stand upon equal ground; all were invited; and it depended upon their choice and conduct whether they embraced the invitation, and were admitted as guests. We have nothing here to countenance the Calvinistic fiction, which is termed "effectual calling." This implies an irresistible influence exerted upon all the approved guests, but withheld from the disobedient, who could not, therefore, be otherwise than disobedient; or at most could only come in without that wedding garment, which it was never put into their power to take out of the king's wardrobe; the want of which would necessarily exclude them, if not from the Church on earth, yet from the Church in heaven. T he doctrine of the parable is in entire contradiction to this; for they who refused, and they who complied but partially with the calling, are represented, not merely as being left without the benefit of the feast; but as incurring additional guilt and condemnation for refusing the invitation. It is to this offer of salvation by the Gospel, this invitation to spiritual and eternal benefits, that St. Peter appears to refer, when he says, Acts ii, 39, "For the promise .s unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall CALL:" a passage which, we may observe, in passing, declares "the promise" to be as extensive as the "calling;" in other words, as the offer or invitation. To this also St. Paul refers, Rom. 1, 5, 6, "By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name;" that is, to publish his Gospel, in order to bring all nations to the obedience of faith; "among whom are ye also the CALLED of Jesus Christ;" you at Rome have heard the Gospel, and have been invited to salvation in consequence of this design. This promulgation of the Gospel, by the ministry of lie apostle, personally, under the name of calling, is also referred to in Galatians, 1, 6, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ," (obviously meaning that it was the apostle himself who had called them by his preaching to the grace of Christ,) "unto another Gospel." So also in chapter v, 13, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty." Again, 1 Thess. ii, 12, "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath CALLED you [invited you] to his kingdom and glory."
In our Lord's parable it will also be observed, that the persons called are not invited as separate individuals to partake of solitary blessings; but they are called to "a feast," into a company, or society, before when the banquet is spread. The full revelation of the transfer of the visible Church of Christ from Jews by birth, to believers of all nations, was not, however, then made. When this branch of the evangelic system was fully revealed to the apostles, and taught by them to others, that part of our Lord's parable which was not at first developed, was wore particularly inculcated by his inspired followers. The calling of guests to the evangelical feast, we now more fully learn, was not the mere calling of men to partake of spiritual benefits; but calling them also to form a spiritual society composed of. Jews and Gentiles, the believing men of all nations; to have a common fellowship in these blessings, and to be formed into this fellowship for the purpose of' increasing their number, and diffusing the benefits of salvation among the people or nation to which they respectively belonged. The invitation, "the calling" of the first preachers, was to all who heard them in Rome, in Ephesus, in Corinth, in all other places; and those who embraced it, and joined themselves to the Church by faith, baptism, and continued public profession, were named especially and eminently "THE CALLED;" because of their obedience to the invitation. They not only put in their claim to the blessings of Christianity individually; but became members of the new Church, that spiritual society of believers which God now visibly owned as hi: people. As they were thus called into a common fellowship by the Gospel, this is sometimes termed their "vocation:" as the object of this Church state was to promote "holiness," it is termed a "holy vocation:" as sanctity was required of the members, they are said to have been "called to be saints :" as the final result was, through the mercy of God, to be eternal life, we hear of "the hope of their calling ;" and of their being "called to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus."
These views will abundantly explain the various passages in which the term "calling" occurs in the epistles, Rom. ix, 24, "Even us whom he hath CALLED, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles;" that is, whom he hath made members of his Church through faith. 1 ('or. i, 24, "But unto them which are CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God ;" the wisdom and efficacy of the Gospel being, of course, acknowledged in their very profession of Christ, in opposition to those to whom the preaching of" Christ crucified," was "a stumbling block," and " foolishness." 1 Cor. vii, 18, "Is any man CALLED;" (brought to acknowledge Christ, and to become a member of his Church;) "being circumcised, let him not become uncircumcised: is any CALLED in uncircumcision, let him not be cir cumcised." Eph. iv, 1-4, "That ye walk worthy of the VOCATION wherewith ye are called. There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are CALLED in one hope of your calling." 1 Thess. ii, 12, "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath CALLED you to his kingdom and glory." 2 Thess. ii, 13, 14, "Through sanctification of time Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto he CALLED you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Tim. i, 9, 10, "Who hath saved us and CALLED us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began; but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ :" on which passage we may remark, that the object of the "calling," and the "purpose," mentioned in it, must of necessity be interpreted to mean the establishment of time Church on time principle of faith; and not, as formerly, on natural descent. For personal election, and a purpose of effectual personal calling, could not have been hidden till manifested by the appearing of Christ; Since every instance of true conversion to God in any age prior to the appearing of Christ, would be as much a manifestation of eternal election, and an instance of personal effectual calling, according to the Calvinistic scheme, as it was after the appearance of Christ. The apostle is speaking of a purpose of God, which was kept secret till revealed by the Christian system; and, from various other parallel passages we learn that this secret, this "mystery," as he often calls it, was the union of the Jews and Gentiles in "one body," or Church, by faith.
In none of these passages is the doctrine of the exclusive calling of any set number of men contained; and the synod of Port, as though they felt this, only attempt to reason the doctrine from a text not vet quoted; but which we will now examine. It is Rom viii, 30: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; amid whom he justified, them he also glorified." This is the text on which Calvinists chiefly rest their doctrine of effectual calling; and tracing it as they say, through its steps and links, they conclude, that a set and determinate number of persons having been predestinated unto salvation, this set number only are called effectually, then justified, and finally glorified. The words of the synod of Dort are, "He hath chosen a set number of certain men, neither better, nor more worthy than others; but lying in the common misery with others, to salvation in Christ, whom he had also appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect; and the foundation of salvation from all eternity; and so he decreed to give them to him to be saved; and effectually to call, and draw them to a communion with him, by his word and Spirit; or to give them a true faith in him: to justify, sanctify, and finally glorify them; having been kept in the communion of his Son, to the demonstration of his mercy, and the praise of the riches of his glorious grace."
The text under consideration is added by the synod, in proof of the doctrine of this article; but it was evidently nothing to the purpose, unless it had spoken of a set and determinate number of men as predestinated and called, independent of any consideration of their faith and obedience; which number, as being determinate, would, by consequence, exclude the rest. As these are points on which the text is at least silent, there is nothing in it unfriendly to those arguments founded on explicit texts of holy writ, which have been already urged against this view of election; and with this notion of election is refuted, also, the cognate doctrine of effectual calling, considered as a work of God in the heart, of which time elect only can be the subjects. But the passage, having been pressed into SQ alien a service, deserves consideration; and it will be found that' it indeed speaks of the privileges and hopes of true believers; but not of those privileges and hopes as secured to them by any such decree of election as the synod has advocated. To prove this, we remark, 1. That the chapter in which the text is found, is the lofty and animating conclusion of St. Paul's argument on justification by faith: it is a discourse of that present state of pardon and sanctity, and of that future hope of felicity, into which justification introduces believers, notwithstanding those sufferings and persecutions of the present life to which those to whom he wrote were exposed, and under which they had need of encouragement. It was, obviously, not in his design here to speak of the doctrines of election and non election, however these doctrines may be understood. There is nothing in the course of his argument which leads to them; and those who make use of the text in question for this purpose are obliged, therefore, to press it, by circuitous inference, into their service.
2. As the passage stands in intimate connection with an important and elucidatory context, it ought not to be considered as insulated and complete in itself; which has been the great source of erroneous interpretations. Under the sufferings of the present time, the apostle encourages those who had believed with the hope of a glorious resurrection: this forms the subject of his consolatory remarks from verse 17 to 25. The assistance and "intercession" of the Spirit; and the working of "all things together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose;" clearly meaning those who, according to the Divine design, had received and embraced the Gospel in truth, form two additional topics of consolatory suggestion.- The passage under consideration immediately follows, and is in full, for the synod has quoted it short: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called (who are called) according to his purpose. 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. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." The connection is here manifest. "The sufferings of the present time could only work together for the good" of them that "love God," by being connected with, and compensated in a future state by a glorious resurrection from the dead; and therefore the apostle shows that this was the design of God, the ultimate and triumphant result of the administration of his grace, that they who love God here, should be conformed to the image of his Son, in his glorified state, that he might be "the first born among brethren:" the head and chief of the redeemed, who shall be acknowledged as his "brethren," and co-heirs of his glory. Thus the whole of the 29th verse is a reason given to show WHY "all things, however painful in the present life, work together for good to them that love GOD;" and it is therefore introduced by the connective particle, oJti, which has here, obviously, a casual signification, "for (because) whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate."
3. The apostle is here speaking, we grant, not of the foreknowledge or predestination of bodies of men to Church privileges; but of the experience of believers, taken distributively and personally. This will, however, be found to strengthen our argument against the use made of the latter part of the passage by the synod of Dort.
It is affirmed of believers, that they were "foreknown." This term may be taken in the sense of foreapproved. For not only is it common with the sacred writers to express approval by the phrase "to know;" of which Hebraism the instances are many in the New Testament; but in Rom. xi, 2, "to foreknow," is best interpreted into this meaning.- "God hath not cast away his people which he FOEEKNEW." It is not of the whole people of Israel of which the apostle here speaks, as the context shows; but of the believing part of them, called subsequently "the remnant according to the election of grace:" a clause which has been before explained. The question put by the apostle into the mouth of an objecting Jew, is, "Bath God cast away his people?" This is denied; but the illustration taken from the reservation of seven thousand men, in the time of Elijah, who had not bowed the knee to Baal, proves that St. Paul meant to say, that God had cast off from being members of his Church, all but the remnant; all but his people whom he "foreknew;" those who had laid aside the inveterate prejudices of their nation, and had entered into the new Christian Church by faith. These he foreknew, that is approved; and so received them into his Church. In this sense of the term foreknew, the text in question harmonizes well with the context. "All things work together for good to them that love God," &c. "For, whom he did foreknow,' (approve as lovers of him,) "lie predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son," in mind and temper here, and especially in glory hereafter.
The second sense of foreknowing is that of simple prescience; and if any prefer this we shall not dispute with him, since it will come to the same issue. The foreknowledge of men must have respect either simply to their existence as persons, or as existing under some particular circumstances and characters. If persons only be the objects of this foreknowledge, then has God's prescience no more to do with the salvation of the elect than of the non-elect, since all are equally foreknown as persons in a state of existence: and we might as well argue the glorification of the reprobate from God's foreknowing them, in this sense, as that of the elect. The objects of this foreknowledge, then, must be men under certain circumstances and characters; not in their simple existence as rational beings. If, therefore, the term "foreknow," in the passage above cited, "God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew," be taken in the sense of prescience, those of the general mass of Jews, who were not "cast away," were foreknown under some circumstance and character which distinguished them from the others; and what this was is made sufficiently plain from the context,-the per. Sons foreknown were the then believing part of the Jews, "even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace." Equally clear are the circumstances and character under which, more generally, the apostle represents believers as having been foreknown in the text more immediately under examination. Those "whom he did foreknow," are manifestly the believers of whom he speaks in the discourse; and who are called in chap. viii, 28, "them that love God." Under some character he must have foreknown them, or his foreknowledge of them would not be special and distinctive; it would afford no ground from which to argue any thing respecting them; it could make no difference between them and others. This specific character is given by the apostle; but it is not that which is gratuitously assumed by the synod of Dort, a selection of them from the mass, without respect to their faith. It is their faith itself: for of believers only is St. Paul speaking as the subjects of this foreknowledge; and such believers too as "love God," and who, having actually embraced the heavenly invitation, are emphatically said to be, as before explained, "called according to his purpose."
To predestinate, or to determine beforehand, is the next term in the text; but here it is also to be remarked, that the persons predestinated, or before determined to be glorified with Christ, are the same persons, under the same circumstances and character, as those who are said to have been foreknown of God; and what has been said under the former term, applies, therefore, in part, to this. The subjects of predestination are the persons foreknown, and the persons foreknown are true believers: foreknown as such, or they could riot have been specially or distinctively foreknown, according to time doctrine of the apostle. This predestination, then, is not of persons "UNTO faith and obedience," but of believing and obedient persons unto eternal glory. Nor are faith and obedience mentioned any where as the end of predestination, except in Ephesians chap. i, where we have already, proved, when treating of election, that the predestination spoken of in that chapter, is the eternal purpose of God to choose the Gentile Ephesians into his Church, along with the believing Jews: and that what is there said is not intended of personal, but of collective election and predestination; arid that to the means and ordinances of salvation. For the argument, by which this is established, let the reader to prevent repetition, turn back.
The passage before us, then, declares, that true believers were foreknown and predestinated to eternal glory; and when the apostle adds, "moreover whom be did predestinate, them he also called; arid whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them lie also glorified;" he shows in particular how the Divine purpose to glorify believers is carried into effect, through all its stages. The great instrument of bringing men to "love God" is the Gospel; they are therefore CALLED, invited by it, to this state and benefit: the calling being obeyed, they are JUSTIFIED; and being justified, and continuing in that state of grace, they are GLORIFIED. This is the plain and obvious course of the amplification pursued by the apostle; but let us remark how many unscriptural notions the synod of Dort engrafts upon it. First, a "certain number" of persons, not as believers, but as men, are foreknown; then a decree of predestination to eternal life goes forth in their favour; but still without respect to them as believing men as time subjects of that decree; -then we suppose, by another decree, (for the first cannot look at qualities at all,) and by a second predestination, they arc to be made believers; -then they are exclusively "called:" then infallibly justified; and being justified, are infallibly glorified. In opposition to these notions, we have already shown, that the persons spoken of are foreknown and predestinated as believers, not as men or persons; and we may also oppose Scriptural objections to every oilier part of the interpretation.
As to calling, we allow that all of whom the apostle speaks are necessarily "called;" for since lie is discoursing of the predestination of believers in Christ to eternal glory, and does not touch the question of the salvation, or otherwise, of those who have not the means of becoming such, the calling of time Gospel is necessarily supposed, as it is only upon that Divine system being proposed to their faith, that they could become believers in Christ. But though all such as the apostle speaks of are "called;" they are not the only persons called m on the contrary, our Lord declares, that "many are called, but few chosen." To confine the calling here spoken of to those who are actually saved, it was necessary to invent the fiction of "effectual calling," which is made peculiar to the elect; but calling is the invitation, and offer, and publication of the Gospel: a bringing men into a state of Christian privilege to be improved unto salvation, amid not an operation in them. Effectual invitation, effectual offer, and effectual publication, are turns of the phrase which sufficiently expose the delusiveness of their comment. By effectual calling, they mean an inward compelling of the mind to embrace the outward invitation of the Gospel, and to yield to the inward solicitations of the Spirit which accompanies it; but this, whether true or false, is a totally different thing from all that time New Testament terms "calling." It is true, that some embrace the call, and others reject it, yet is there jam the "calling" of the Scripture nothing exclusively appropriate to those who are finally saved; and though the apostle supposes those whom he speaks of in the text as "called," to have been obedient, he confines not the calling itself to them so as to exclude others,-still "MANY are called." Nor is time synod more sound in assuming that all who are called are "justified." If" many are called, and few chosen, "this assumption is unfounded: nay, all compliances with the call do not issue in justification; for time man who not only heard the call, but came in to the feast, put not on the wedding garment, and was therefore finally cast out. Equally contradictory to the Scripture is it so to explain St. Paul here, as to make him say, that all who are justified, are also glorified. The justified are glorified: but not, as we have seen from various texts of Scripture already, all who are justified. For if we have established it, that the persons who "turn back to perdition;" "make ship wreck of faith, and of a good conscience:" ho turn out of the "way of righteousness;" ho forget that they were "purged from their old sins;" ho have "tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come; and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost," and were "sanctified" with the blood they afterward 'm counted an unholy thing;" re represented by the apostles to have been in a state of grace and acceptance with God, through Christ; then all persons justified are not infallibly glorified; but only such are saved as "endure to the end ;" and they only receive that "crown of life" who are "faithful unto death."
The clear reason why the apostle, having stated that true believers were foreknown and predestinated, introduces also the order and method of their salvation, was, to connect that salvation with the Gospel, and he work of Christ; and to secure to him the glory of it. The Gospel reveals it, that those who "love God" shall find that "all things work together for their good," because (oJti) they are "predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God," in his glory; yet the Gospel did not find them lovers of God, but made them so. Since, therefore, none but such persons were so foreknown and predestinated to be heirs of glory, the Gospel calling was issued according to "his purpose," or plan of bringing them that love him to glory, in order to produce this love in them. "Whom" he thus called, assuming them to be obedient to the call, he justified; "and whom he justified," assuming them to be faithful unto death, he "glorified." But since the persons predestinated were contemplated as believers, not as a certain number of persons; then all to whom the invitation was issued might obey that call, and all might be justified, and all glorified. In other words, all who heard the Gospel might, through it, be brought to love God; and might take their places among those who were "predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son." For since the predestination, as we have seen, was not of a certain number of persons, but of all believers who love God; then, either it must be allowed that all who were called by the Gospel, might take the character and circumstances which would bring them under the predestination mentioned by the apostle; or else those who deny this are bound to the conclusion, that God calls (invites) many whom he never intends to admit to the celestial feast; and not only so, but punishes them, with the severity of a relentless displeasure, for not obeying an invitation which he never designed them to accept, and which they never had the power to accept. In other words, the interpretation of this passage by the synod of Dort obliges all who follow it to admit all the consequences connected with the doctrine of reprobation, as before stated.
 "Having conquered the Edomites, or Idumeans," says Prideaux, "he reduced them to this necessity, either to embrace the Jewish religion, or else to leave the country, and seek new dwellings elsewhere; whereon, choosing rather to leave their idolatry than their country, they all became proselytes to the Jewish religion," &c. (Connex. vol. iii, pp. 365, 366.)
 Sententia de Divina Proedest. Art. 7. Est autern Electio immutabile Dei propositum, &e.