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his holy will to make the tree and the serpent and the temptation; to punish the wilful transgressors; to multiply the sinful progeny of our first parents, and to choose some of them in Jesus Christ unto salvation. And he hath done according to his will in all ages of the world, from the first family, even unto this day. He showed mercy to Adam's second son Abel, and not to his first born Cain : but Abel had faith, Cain had not, and that was the reason; well! who gave faith to Abel, and who could have given it to Cain had it been according to his will ? The two brothers were made of the same lump, the same sinful lump, and “ hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour.” He showed mercy to Jacob, and not to his brother Esau, having declared his intention “ before the children were born, or had done any good or evil, that the

purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth.”* He showed mercy to Saul of Tarsus, and not (so far as the sacred narrative informs us) to Annas or Caiaphas, while all three were engaged in the same work of persecuting his church. And as it was in days of old, so it is also in these our own days. In reference to

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* Rom. ix. 11.


external privileges, the distinguishing mercy of God is manifest, in that he hath commanded the light of the ministry of his glorious gospel to shine upon some of the inhabitants of the earth, while others are still left in gross dark

And the same distinguishing mercy would be as clearly seen in reference to eternal salvation, if we had an inspired modern history of the members of the Church of Christ. The holy evidences of belonging to that church are not the same in different believers, nor always in the same believer at different times : we are therefore liable to endless deceptions but “ the Lord knoweth them that are his ;' he has the cords of his everlasting love entwined around them, whereby with lovingkindness and watchful care he draws them to himself, guides them through the intricate mazes of this perilous world, inclines them to walk in his holy ways, putting his fear into their hearts that they may not depart from him; and “ they shall be mine saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”*

* Mal. iii. 17. These pages may meet the eyes


many who cannot agree in this view of the subject, nor approve of its being so put forward. It is hoped, however, that they will have the candour to acknowledge, that there is (apparently at least) a strong foundation for it in the passages of


Again, therefore, my brethren, we make the inquiry. Does this character of God, this predestinating sovereignty, this distinguishing grace, this unchanging purpose, belong to the Being before whom we bend our knees? And are we indeed (so far as this truth is concerned) scriptural worshippers of the Lord Jehovah ? Unquestionably the inquiry is of vast importance : but some man will say; The scripture gives a very different representation of our God; it describes him in far more amiable and engaging colours; as having no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; as tempting no man; not willing that any should be lost, but that all should come to repentance; as repenting himscripture above quoted, and in the deliberate interpretation put upon these and similar passages by our established church in the following article. “Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God whereby (before the foundaations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel seçiet to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his spirit working in due season: they through grace obey the calling : they be justified freely : they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten son Jesus Christ : they work religiously in good works, and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity. .

Article 17.


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self of the evil which he has threatened, when he sees his children penitent, and bringing forth such fruits as prove their penitence to be sincere.

True, the scripture does indeed declare all this, and unfeignedly do we rejoice in the paternal tenderness of our God: but the same scripture declares with the same plainness and reiteration, the absolute sovereignty of God, and describes him as doing all things uncontrollably after the counsel of his will. The histories of Pharaoh, and Balaam, of Ahab, Rehoboham, and Amaziah are remarkably illustrative of this. The private history of

every individual, when piously contemplated, will bear witness to the same truth. And the only answer the scripture gives to those who object to this truth, is, 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?"* “ Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?" +

I pretend not, my dear friends, to present these various statements in any such consistent connexion as shall be intelligible to your minds: my aim is to prevail upon you to adopt them both, as they are both revealed; to lead you to take a more enlarged, scriptural (and may I not add, to us inconsistent) view of our awful God; and so to impress your hearts, that while you indulge towards him, the allowed confidence of loving children, reconciled and adopted in his dear Son; you may mingle with it, the becoming reverence of helpless and guilty creatures, absolutely dependant upon his sovereign will. “ See now that I, saith the Lord, even I am he, and there is no god with me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of

* Rom. ix. 20.

+ Isaiah x. 15.


hand.” “ The kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the nations." “ The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

To conclude. Let the doctrine we have been discussing enhance the value in our eyes of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there indeed mercy in the holy Lord God Almighty towards any

of the rebellious inhabitants of the earth ? Amazing miracle of distinguishing grace! When hosts of angels fell from their first estate, and sinned against the majesty of heaven, they found no mercy: the High and Mighty Sovereign of all drove them from his presence into a state of éternal unmitigated misery. For them he had no purpose of love, no yearnings of tender

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