« PreviousContinue »
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
BY REV. RAPHhael gilbert, of the New-YORK CONFERENCE.
"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied,” 1 Pet. i, 2.
Ir is our object, in the following remarks, to present as explicitly as we can, the doctrine of election as taught in the Bible.
In order that we may have a clear, just, and Scriptural understanding of this subject, we shall,
I. In the first place, treat on the different kinds of election spoken of in the Scriptures.
1. Christ is called the elect of God, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles," Isa. xlii, 1.
2. The Scriptures speak of elect angels, "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality," 1 Tim. v, 25. It seems that these angels were chosen to perform particular offices to the church.
3. God chose or elected certain individuals to fill particular offices in the Jewish nation. Hence he elected Saul, David, and Solomon, to be kings in, or over the children of Israel.
4. Moses and Joshua were elected to lead the children of Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan.
5. Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and others, were elected to be the prophets of the Lord to his people Israel. See Jer. i, 4, 5.
6. Our Lord elected Peter, James, John, and others, to be his apostles, and set them apart for that office. Hence he says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye 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," John xv, 16.
7. There is also a national election spoken of in the Bible: "And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountain, and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there," Isa. lxv, 9. This kind of election is introduced into the ninth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, at the eleventh verse: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." This national election is an election to great and exalted privileges, which are mentioned by the apostle in the fourth and fifth verses of this chapter: "Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." And we are confident that the election spoken of in the eleventh verse is a national election to great and exalted privileges, and not a personal and individual election
to salvation; because the apostle begins, continues, and ends this chapter in a national point of view.
1. The apostle begins this chapter by expressing his "great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh; who are Israelites." Now we would ask, What was the cause or causes of the apostle's "great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh?" We answer, Because the apostle saw that they were deceiv. ing themselves with the false notion that they were the only people of God, merely because they were the natural descendants of Abraham, and because they had also been honored with greater and more exalted privileges than any or all the other nations of the earth.
2. That in consequence of their rejecting and crucifying the Lord of life and glory they were not only to be broken off, and rejected as the people of God, and the Gentiles elected in their stead; but that the most awful and tremendous judgments that had ever befallen any people or nation were lowering in horrid aspect over their guilty heads, and were ready to fall in redoubled terror upon their defenceless souls. These were the evils which the apostle saw would soon come in upon them like an overflowing flood. And how deeply was the apostle affected by the sight. What would he not have been willing to do or suffer, if by that means he could rescue them from these coming judgments. Who can fathom the deep tones of sorrow that are implied in these words of the apostle: "I say the truth in Christ; I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart; for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites," verses 1, 2, 3. Now a deceived Jew might reply, and say, If we are to be broken off and rejected as the church of God, then has the promise of God failed; for God said to Abraham, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and thy seed after thee," Gen. xvii, 7. Here we have a clear view of the ground of their deception-namely, they supposed that the promises of God, which were made to Abraham and his seed, were restricted to the natural born Jews, when in fact Abraham was to be "a father of many nations:" "not to those only that were of the law, but to those also that were of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all," chap. v, 16. Therefore, though the Jews were to be broken off and rejected as the people of God, and the Gentiles elected in their stead, it does not follow from hence "that the word of God hath taken none effect," or that the promises of God to Abraham and to his seed have failed. No; " for they are not all Israel which are of Israel." God has other children besides those of the descendants of Jacob. Verse 6: "Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham are they all chil. dren" the real spiritual children of God, and the seed to whom the promises were made. For,
3. "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God," though they be the descendants of Abraham, verse 8. And the reason is, they have not "walked in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham," by which alone they can become the true children of God.
4. If all the seed of Abraham are included in the promises that were made to him, that his seed should possess the land of Canaan, and who were to be the church and people of God, and through whom Christ, the Messiah, was to come; then Ishmael and his posterity would come in with an equal claim, for they were the seed of Abraham. But the promises were made in Isaac. Hence says the apostle, "But in Isaac shall thy seed be called," verse 7. Why? Because Isaac was the child of promise, and Abraham received the promise by faith long after Ishmael was born. And although he was very old, "he staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform," chap. iv, 20, 21.
5. Therefore, says the apostle again, "But the children of the promise are counted for the seed," ver. 8; that is, the promises that were made to Abraham, that his seed should inherit the land of Canaan, &c., were to be counted through Isaac, and not through Ishmael. We have therefore proved, in the first place, that the apostle treats the subject in the beginning of this chapter in a national point of view:
1. By showing the cause of his "great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites ;" viz., that they are to be broken off and rejected as the church of God, and the Gentiles elected in their stead; and that unparalleled judgments were to fall upon them.
2. By pointing out the cause of their deception-viz., supposing that they were the only people of God, merely because they were the natural descendants of Abraham, and had been so highly exalted in point of privileges.
3. Having shown wherein the apostle labored to undeceive them, viz., by proving that "they are not all Israel who are of Israel:" but God has children among other nations besides the descendants of Jacob.
4. That, although the Jews were to be broken off and rejected as the visible church of God, and the Gentiles to be elected in their place, yet the word, the promises of God, made to Abraham and to his seed, would not fail, because Abraham was "a father of many nations." All, therefore, that should "walk in the steps of that faith of our fa. ther Abraham" were accounted the true children of God, whether Jews or Gentiles.
5. And we have proved that the promises made to Abraham and to his seed, respecting the land of Canaan, &c., are through Isaac, the child of promise, and not through Ishmael.
Hence it follows, that the election spoken of by the apostle in the ninth chapter of Romans is a national election to great and exalted privileges, and not an individual and personal election to salvation. Again: the apostle continues this chapter in a national point of
1. By going back to the promise that was made to Abraham: "For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son," ver. 9. This son was Isaac, through whom the promised seed was to come, and not through Ishmael.
2. The apostle then takes another step, and speaks of the Israelites and Edomites under the names of their respective heads, Jacob and
Esau: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done either good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth," ver. 11. Now, that the apostle is speaking of nations, and of national election, and not of personal and individual election to salvation, let the reader turn to the place from which the apostle quotes: "And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the elder shall serve the younger," Gen. xxv, 23. Now, it would be absurd to suppose, that the Lord would be so particular to speak of nations and people; and then, by the mouth of the apostle, to speak only of individuals, and leave nations and people out of the subject. Hence it follows, that the election spoken of by the apostle in this chapter is a national, and not an individual election.
3. The apostle, in the next place, speaks of the Edomites serving the Israelites: "It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger," ver. 12. Now this was literally true in a national point of view, but not true in respect to Jacob and Esau as individuals; for Esau never did serve Jacob in an individual capacity. See what follows: "And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. And Esau ran to meet him; and they wept. And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and children, and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and bowed themselves. And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves; and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord. And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself. And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand; for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him; and he took it. And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me; and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant; and I will lead on softly according as the cattle that go before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir," Gen. xxxiii, 1-14. We have made this long quotation to prove that the servitude spoken of in the text is not an individual, but a national servitude; for if there was any individual service rendered by either, it was by Jacob to Esau. For in this quotation we are told, that when Jacob met his brother Esau, he
bowed himself to the ground before Esau seven times; and called himself Esau's servant twice; and Esau his lord, four times; and he also says, "for I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me." Does this look like Esau serving Jacob in an individual capacity? Certainly not. Hence it follows, that the servitude spoken of in this text is not an individual, but a national servitude.
4. "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," ver. 13. These words are a quotation from the first chapter of Malachi, 1st and 2d verses. In this chapter the Lord righteously complains of the ungrateful and wicked course pursued by the Israelites, whom he had so greatly loved. "I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us." They wished to know in what respect he had distinguished them by his love. The Lord then informed them, that he had loved them, and had manifested his love toward them, inasmuch as he had chosen Jacob and his posterity to be the people and nation on whom he had bestowed such great and exalted privileges as are enumerated by the apostle in the 4th and 5th verses of this chapter, rather than upon Esau and his posterity. Hence he says, "Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness," Mal. i, 2, 3. Now, in the first place, it will be clearly seen, by referring to the 4th and 5th verses of this chapter, that the Lord is speaking of the Israelites and Edomites, and has no reference to Jacob and Esau personally, further than to show that a greater degree of his love had been manifested toward the Israelites than the Edomites, inasmuch as he had chosen the Israelites to be the people and nation on whom he had bestowed so many favors, which he had not upon the Edomites. "Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places: thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel."
In the second place, it must be clear to every candid mind, that the ground of complaint in this chapter was not against Jacob as an individual, who was on the account of his great faith called Israel; but against the Israelites, his descendants. Hence the Lord justly complains of their not rendering that "honor" and "fear" that were due to his great and holy name. They had also "offered polluted bread upon his altar." They had "profaned" his name, by saying, "The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this at your hand? saith the Lord." Now, we would ask, Was this course pursued by Jacob? Was he ever guilty of such base ingratitude? Did he ever say, "Wherein hast thou loved us?" Did the man that wrestled with the Angel of the Lord until break of day, and prevailed, offer polluted bread upon the altar of his God? Did he ever bring the blind, the torn, the lame, the sick, and offer them upon