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have compassion on whom I will have compas. sion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth,” not by positive influence, but by leaving the sinner to act out his own character, or follow the wickedness of his own heartAnd as man. kind universally have by sin subjected themselves to everlasting condemnation, they that are lost will have no just cause of complaint against God, but will be obliged to acknowledge his justice ; and they who are saved will ascribe their salvation wholly to his sovereign grace. God condemns none but the guilty, nor will he save any that had any claim upon him; otherwise salva. tion would not be by grace.
In the chapter in which the text is, this distinction is most clearly declared. The same gospel that was the wisdom and power of God to some, was a stumbling-block and foolishness to others : hence Paul thus addressed himself to the Corinthians ; ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called : but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are : that no flesh might glory in his presence.” Remark, my brethren, God is here said to choose some and to leave others. Some persons were
brought to receive the gospel, while others were Jeft in their unbelief. Paul always ascribes his conversion to the
grace of God. “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace.” In another place he says, “ By the grace
of God I am what I am.” If so, it follows as an undeniable truth, that God made a difference between him and many of his countrymen, the Jews. He was converted to Christianity by divine power, while crowds of other sinners were passed by. God could as easily have converted the whole nation as one man, had it been his sovereign pleasure; but you all know he did not; therefore he made a difference.
We see in our own day, when the Lord revives his work among us, that one is taken and another left. The same sermon that is the means of awakening or comforting one person, leaves others in a secure condition. Under the same religious advantages, some are hopefully wrought upon, while others maintain their opposition to Jesus Christ.
That the success of the gospel, or the conversion of sinners, is owing to divine influence, is proved by the current language of scripture. They who believe in Christ, are said to be “born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Paul says, “ I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” We may safely conclude then, that under the dispensation of the gospel, God confers a favour on some, that he does not confer on all.
Our blessed Lord teaches its this doctrine of divine sovereignty in the following passage, as well as in others that might be mentioned. “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
9. The nature and necessity of faith and repent. ance were important parts of the preaching of the apostles. They assure us, that “ faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen;" “ the belief of the truth, or, a giving credit to the record God gave of his Son. And that we may be capable of distinguishing between living and dead faith, they inform us, that the faith of God's elect works by love, purifies the heart, esteems Christ precious, and produces good works. « Faith without works is dead, being alone."
The importance of faith appears from various circumstances, such as, that without it we cannot please God, enjoy the consolations of the gospel, nor enter into the kingdom of heaven. “If ye believe not that I am he,” said Christ to the Jews, “ye shall die in your sins;" that is, under the curse of the law, and perish forever. The language of the commission needs no comment; “He that believeth shall be saved ; and he that believeth not shall be damned.” ACcording to this commission, the apostles constantly urged on sinners the necessity of believing in the Lord Jesus Chist, whom God had set forth to be a propitiation though faith in his blood.
They also insisted, wherever they went, on the nature and necessity of repentance, as implying a change in the disposition of the mind, without which no man can see the Lord. Peter said to the anxious multitude, “ Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” And Paul assured the Athenians, that “God commanded all men every where to repent, because he had appointed a day in which he would judge the world in righteousness,” &c.
The most likely method of bringing mankind to repentance is to hold up to their view the nature, extent and perpetuity of the divine law, as holy, just and good; reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart, requiring truth in the inward parts, and condemning the sinner for a single inordinate desire, or wrong temper; which law is perpetually and universally binding.
Un til heaven and earth pass away, Christ assures us, one jot or tittle of the law shall not fail. Now by this law is the knowledge of sin ; and when it comes home in its true nature on the conscience, sin revives, and the sinner dies, i. e. he stands justly condemned by it as a transgressor, but sees no way of escape. In this condition he remains till Christ is revealed in him ; for the law can do nothing but condemn him. It will not accept repentance as a condition of his
pardon; nor can it discover the atonement. Its language is, “Pay me what thou owest.” At length the sinner is brought to look on him whom he hath pierced, and to mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and to be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness
for his first-born. He adopts the language of the prophet, saying, “Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instruct. ed, I smote upon my thigh ; I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth."
10. The apostles dwelt much on the Christian tempers,
and the whole circle of moral and evan. gelical obedience; such as, supreme love to God, benevolence to men, meekness, patience, resignation to the divine will, forgiveness of injuries, readiness to relieve the poor, &c. Jesus Christ had taught them these important lessons in his most excellent sermon on the mount, * which contains an immense treasure of most precious truths and exhortations, after which they copied in their own preaching. Hence they thus address us, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." “ They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts." « Let the same mind be in
that was also in Christ Jesus.” “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die ; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” These are mentioned as a specimen of their zeal to promote personal holiness among the disciples of Christ.
They also persuaded believers to give themselves up to the Lord and to his church, by a public submission to the two leading institutions of the New Testament, baptism and the Lord's supper ; that they might become witnesses for Christ, and enjoy the special privileges of his house. In a word, they urged with constancy
See Matt. v, vi, vik