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:
It would be a narrow and superficial view of these words to suppose them to refer only to the enjoyment of external privilege, or to imagine that they are meant to level Jewish pride, and that they describe simply the choice of the Gentiles to religious blessings. The purpose of the election is, that its objects should be holy, an end that cannot fail, for they are in Christ, and "in Him they are complete." Yet the sovereign love of God is strikingly manifested even in the bestowment of external advantage. Ephesus enjoyed what many a city in Asia Minor wanted. The motive that took Paul to Ephesus, and the wind that sped the bark which carried him, were alike of God's creation. It was not because God chanced to look down from His high throne, and saw the Ephesians bowing at the shrine of Diana, and worshipping "the image that fell from Jupiter," that His heart was moved, and He resolved to give them the gospel. Nor was it because its citizens had a deeper relish for virtue and peace than masses of the population around them, that He sent among them the grace of His Spirit. "He is of one mind, and who can turn Him?" Every purpose is eternal, and awaits an evolution in the fulness of the time, which is neither antedated nor postponed. The same difficulties are involved in this choice to the external blessing, as are found in the election of men to personal salvation. The whole procedure lies in the domain of pure sovereignty, and there can therefore be no partiality where none have any claim. The choice of Abraham is the great fact which explains and gives name to the doctrine. Why then should the race of Shem be selected to the exclusion of Ham and Japheth? Why of all the families in Shem should that of Terah be chosen? and why of all the members of Terah's house should the individual Abraham be marked out, and set apart by God to be the father of a new race? As well impugn the fact as attempt to upset the doctrine. Providence presents similar views of the Divine procedure. One is born in Europe with a fair face, and becomes enlightened and happy; another is born in Africa with a sable countenance, and is doomed to slavery and wretchedness. One has his birth from Christian parents, and is trained in virtue from his earlier years; another has but a heritage of shame from his father, and the shadow of the gallows looms over his cradle. One is an heir of genius; another, with some malformation of brain, is an idiot. Some, under the enjoyment of Christian privilege, live and die unimpressed; others, with but scanty opportunities, believe, and grow eminent in piety. Does not more seem really to be done by God externally for the conversion of others who live and die in impenitence, than for many who believe and are saved? And yet the Divine prescience and predestination are not incompatible with human responsibility. Man is free, perfectly free, for his moral nature is never strained or violated. Foreknowledge, which is only another phase of electing love, no more changes the nature of a future incident, than after knowledge can affect an historical fact. God's grace fits men for heaven, but men by unbelief prepare themselves for hell. It is not man's non-election, but his continued sin, that leads to his eternal ruin. Action is not impeded by the certainty of the Divine foreknowledge, he who believes that God has appointed the hour of his death is not fettered by such a faith in the earnest use of every means to prolong his life. And God does not act arbitrarily or capriciously. He has the best of reasons for His procedure, though He does not choose to disclose them to us.
(John Eadie, 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: