According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
I. STATE THE DOCTRINE ITSELF. The word rendered "predestinated" denotes simply predetermined, or foreordained (See Acts 4:27, 28),
1. It proceeds on the assumption of the fact that man is in a state of guilt, condemnation, and ruin: that, in himself considered, he is without any claim on the Divine favour, without help and without hope.
2. In maintaining the doctrine under consideration, it is assumed that a sufficient, complete, and glorious redemption has been accomplished and revealed.
3. This salvation is proclaimed to all men, without restriction; and all are freely invited to receive its blessings. Is not the blessed God sincere, in all the proffers of His mercy? Can there be any secret counsels at variance, in reality, with the overtures of His grace?
4. All men, if left to themselves, disregard the overtures of mercy, and neglect the great salvation.
5. That grace which God now communicates to the hearts of men, He has resolved and decreed, from all eternity, to communicate.
II. REMOVE MISCONCEPTIONS. Let it be observed —
1. That the leading object of our present inquiry regards not an abstract truth, involved in metaphysical obscurity, but a matter of fact, to be determined by scriptural testimony.
2. That the proof of the fact and of the doctrine of election, does not rest on a few insulated texts of Scripture. A minister of the gospel, lately deceased, who was distinguished by no common share of mental energy, discovered, on one occasion, that he had armed against himself the strongest prejudices of a very intelligent hearer, by preaching the doctrine of election. In his private writings he thus records the conversation which ensued: — "I told her that I had no choice; the doctrine was not mine; nor did the evidence rest on the words 'elect and election.' I advised her to read the fifth and sixth chapters of the Gospel of John, in which the word election does not once occur, but which are full of the doctrine itself. She followed my advice, and in a few days she was confirmed in the belief of this truth. I then advised her to read the seventeenth chapter of John; and she acknowledged, that it was full of the same truth. I asked her, to what conclusion her experience led her on the subject; — whether she had chosen Christ as the Saviour of her soul? 'Yes,' she exclaimed. 'And do you think He has chosen you?' 'Yes, I do,' she replied. 'If you chose Him first,' I rejoined, 'you made yourself to differ, and salvation is of works: if the Divine choice was first, your choice of Christ was the effect of it, and salvation is of grace.' 'This,' she added, 'is the fact.' 'Then,' I concluded, 'fact, matter of fact, establishes the doctrine of election.' Her 'peace now flowed like a river, bearing all abjections before it, and her blessedness was as the waves of the sea.'"
3. The doctrine does not in the least restrict the free invitation of the gospel. God has given these invitations in full sincerity. He has given them on the finished and accepted redemption of His Beloved Son. The only barrier between the sinner and salvation is his cherished unbelief.
4. This doctrine does not in the slightest degree affect man's obligation to repent and to believe the gospel. Man's responsibility arises out of his rational and moral nature, and his relation to the God that made him. He does not cease to be accountable, because he has made himself sinful; for were this the case, a man would only have to become a depraved and abandoned transgressor, in order to exonerate himself from all further obligation to obey the Author of his existence.
5. This fact — that there is a Divine election — does not create an obstacle to the salvation of any human being. From the remarks already made, it is apparent, that if any man perish, he must perish in consequence of his own unbelief. In the investigation of the Word of God, I discover no traces of any decree involving an appointment to wrath irrespective of guilt. Throughout the Bible, the perdition of the soul is ascribed, not to God's decree, but to man's transgression. No human being will be condemned at the last day, on the ground of not being included in the election of grace.
6. This doctrine, rightly understood, has no tendency unfavourable to the interests of practical religion.
III. THE EFFECTS which a correct view and a cordial reception of this doctrine are calculated to produce on the mind and heart of the believer.
1. The belief of this doctrine is calculated to extend and to elevate our views of the character of God.
2. This doctrine presents the most vivid exhibition of the certainty of the final salvation of all who truly believe in the Divine Redeemer.
3. This doctrine is adapted to produce the deepest humility. Every truth associated with this doctrine is a humbling truth. We are reminded, at every step of our researches, of some trait in our own character, or in the character of the blessed God, which is calculated to humble the heart. We are reminded, that we are, by nature, children of wrath — that by unmerited grace alone we can be saved. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded; that no flesh should glory in His presence; that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
4. Finally, The subject under consideration is designed and adapted to call forth the most grateful and adoring praise.
(H. F. Burder, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: