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should be holy and without blame before him in love? Doth not this conviction, operate beyond any other, to induce you to adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things? And if by divine grace you find yourself preserved in the path of duty, is it not truly refreshing to the soul to discover the cause, that you are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them? §
And no less let the Sinner say, if it be God's choice, and not man's desert; if all the difference between one man, and another, originates in Him, who giveth to every one severally as he will, why should you question more than others, but that you may be the happy partaker of the same grace also? Surely, there would be abundantly more reason to doubt receiving the divine favor, if that favor, was depending upon your desert of it, than if it be the sole result of unmerited bounty and goodness!
I have been led into this train of observation, from the perusal of the precious words, of the Lord Jesus in the text. Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you and ordained you that should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name he may give it you. Abstracted from any personal relation, which those
those words may be supposed to have, as more particularly addressed to the disciples of Christ, at that period, and age, of the Church, in which they were first spoken; they contain this plain, and important truth, which is not confined to any period, but in all ages must have the same obvious, and determined meaning that the personal salvation, of every true believer in Jesus, is founded, not in human merit, but in divine favor, not in our choice of Christ, but in his choice of us: for, that it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth but of God that sheweth mercy or to sum it up, in the full comprehensive words of the Apostle, for of him and through him and to him are all things, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
If you will analyze the several parts of the text, you will find, that they all bear a corresponding testimony, to this one, and the same leading truth. Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you. No one I venture to think, after this declaration of Christ, can be such an Advocate for the free will, and merit of man, as to invert the order of these words, and fancy the reverse, of what the Lord Jesus hath said to be true. Depend upon it what John the Apostle observes, is a positive fact, and of universal extent; if we love him, it is because he first loved us. †
And the ordination, which follows in the text, this choice of the Redeemer, as plainly manifests, that the grace which hath appointed to the end, hath also appointed suitable and sufficient means for its accomplishment. I have ordained you, that should go ye and bring forth fruit. It is all in the divine appointment. Thou O Lord (saith the Church) hast wrought all our works in us: or as the Lord expresses it himself, in another scripture: from me is thy fruit found.
Neither is this. all. It would not indeed answer the purposes of salvation, if like abortions in the natural world, the setting fruit of the fairest blossoms, was liable to fall off: Jesus therefore adds one circumstance more, and that a very material one; I have not only ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, but that your fruit shall remain. It is an object of the highest moment, to the peace and comfort of the believer, to be well assured, that the grace which begins the work, will carry it on and complete it. And therefore, nothing can be more satisfactory, than to know, that being chosen, and ordained, by a will that is not his own, he shall be preserved by a grace, that is more than mortal; and kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
And lastly, as a comprehensive expression, which conveys to the believer, the assurance of
Isaiah 26. 12.
Hosea 14. 3.
every blessing he may stand in need of, in passing on, through a life of grace, to glory; Jesus hedges in the whole, of the many precious things in this text, with that delightful promise in the close of it, and founded in the security, of his own all prevailing intercession, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he may give it
I question, whether in the whole compass of scripture, a verse can be found, more copious in its contents, respecting those momentous doctrines of our most holy faith, than what is here contained. What I propose from it, as God the Spirit shall be pleased to enable me, is simply this; to shew you, that the whole sum and substance of our redemption from beginning to end is included in this free, sovereign, and unmerited choice of God, in Christ Jesus. This is the leading doctrine insisted upon in the text, and all the other parts naturally arise out of it. To this therefore alone, I shall limit your pre
In the accomplishment of this purpose, the arrangement of my discourse, will be; in the first place, to establish the certainty of the doctrine. And then secondly, to point to the practical effects which arise out of it. And, if God the Holy Ghost, shall be graciously pleased (which I most humbly implore,) to be our Teacher, in confirming the truth of the doctrine, by a personal application of it to our hearts,
we shall be enabled to assume the language of the Apostle, which he used to the Church of the Thessalonians, upon the same occasion, and say as he did, we are bound to give thanks always to God for you brethren beloved of the Lord because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. §
In pursuit of the first object I proposed, which is to prove the truth of our blessed Lord's declaration in the text, ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you, the best method I humbly conceive, will be, by tracing effects, to their causes; which will fully demonstrate, that the first advance in the way of grace, evidently begins in God and not in man. For if, it can be shewn, that such things as accompany salvation, are altogether disproportioned, to the powers of man to produce, the inference will undeniably follow, that the appointment must be, in an higher ordination, and that ordination is God. And I venture to believe, that in no one circumstance of life, can this be more fully shewn, or perhaps equally so, than in the subject now under consideration.
The Scripture, in a tone of decision, which admits of no appeal, awfully declares, that we are by nature, not only in a fallen, sinful state, but so totally ruined in all our faculties, that
§ 2 Thess. 2. 13.