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of his government, to pardon such sinners as were described. 3. To point out the method by which the benefits of Christ are applied, namely, by the Holy Ghost, through faith in the Lord Jesus. 4. To exemplify the exercise of a sinner while under a legal sentence of condemnation, and groaning for deliverance. This he illustrates in the seventh chapter, by introducing an account of his own experience, or by personating any man under the exercise of repentance. 5. To exhibit to both Jews and Gentiles, the superlative excellence of Christianity, in its effects upon the hearts and lives of believers. 6. His next principal design appears to have been to justify the ways of God in rejecting the Jews, and in receiving the Gentiles to be heirs of the heavenly inheritance. To this the Apostle anticipates the objections which a thinking Jew might make against his doctrine, in supposing thats if God rejected the Jews from being his people, he would suffer his faithfulness to fail. To obviate such objections, the Apostle proceeds to shew that God as a sovereign, elected the Jews to be his peo. ple, without any regard to their worthiness or merit; and that, inasmuch as they had long abused his clemency, he had a just right to cast them away, as a punishment for their many crimes. This proposition the Apostle proves, and illustrates in a variety of ways. In the ninth chapter especially, he introduces the matter in the most solemn and emphatical manner-In a manner which clearly evinces the ardour of his mind, and the burning love he felt for his nation-In a manner also, which manifestly proves he did not believe in your doctrine of decrees and unconditional election. V. 1. I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, v. 2. That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. V. 3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. If the Apostle had been about to assert your doctrine, he never would have expressed himself in this manner.
Can it be supposed that he felt such an opposition to the eternal decree of God, respecting the reprobation of the Jews, that he wished himself accursed from Christ, if he could thereby prevent its execution. He was now under the influence of the Spirit of God, and therefore spoke as moved by the Holy Ghost. But if the rejection of the Jews at the present time were an effect of an eternal and irresistible decree of God, without any regard to their wickedness foreseen, would it not have been the depth of duplicity to express such an anxious concern for their salvation ? Allowing their reprobation to be an effect of their volun. tary wickedness,* of their malicious hatred to the Lord Jesus, in addition to all their other crimes,
* If their wickedness was voluntary, it could have been Oroided; and if it had been avoided, the conditional decree of reprobation would not have been executed upon them.The condition of their reprobation was their various and ag. gravated crimes, which they might have avoided by receive ing the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, and by acting accord. ingly.
and this tender concern for their misery, is perfectly consistent with the purest spirit of piety. You frequently tell the people that opposition to the decrees, is indicative of impiety. Do you think the Apostle was so totally depraved at this time also, that his “ heart was directly the reverse of what it ought to be," and therefore it rose in opposition to the decrees?
3. The Apostle proceeds to notice the sovereignty of God, in his choosing Jacob in preference to Esau, to be the progenitor of Messiah, of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever more, verse 5. “For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son, verse 9. And not only this ; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, verse 10. (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works” (seeing this was impossible while Jacob was yet unborn] “ but of him that calleth) verse 11. It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger, verse 12. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." The text which you have chosen as a motto for your second sermon, is quoted by the Apostle from Gen. xxv. 23. and stands thus : 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. It is evident beyond contradiction,
that these words were spoken, not of Jacob and Esau in their individual capacity, but of their posterity. Two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels, which plainly refers to the Israel. its and Edomites. The elder shall serve the younger. This never was the case with Jacob and Esau as individuals. Esau never served Jacob in person; and neither did his posterity until the days of David, when the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau, were brought under the dominion of Israel, 1 Kings xi. 16.-1 Chron. xviii. 12.-2 Sam. viii. 14. The election therefore spoken of here, cannot be personal election to eternal life, which is inseparably connected with personal reprobation to eternal death. It was necessary that some one should be selected from the human family, from whom the promised Messiah should descend according to the flesh, and through whom the records of the grand promise, and the revelations of God should be preserved. To these distinguished privileges the Apostle asserts, verse 4. the Israelites were elected. This selection depended solely on the sovereign pleasure of God; whose perfect knowledge of all persons, cases and circumstances, qualified him to make the wisest choice. He no doubt saw, that Jacob and his posterity were the fittest persons to answer his benevolent design; and therefore made choice of him and his descendants, in preference to Esau and his progeny. All this can be admitted without supposing that Jacob and his posterity were unconditionally elected to everlasting life, and that Esau and his descendants were unconditionally reprobated to everlasting death. If, because Jacob is called the elect of God, he were elected to eternal life, without any regard to his faith and obedience, it will follow that all his numerous progeny were also elected, for they are uniformly called the elect, the people of God. But will you affirm that all the Israelites were elected to eternal life, merely because they are denominated the elect? To be consistent with yourself, you should. This, however, would be running upon the point of the apostle's argument, ver. 6. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. Although they were exalted to peculiar privileges, they were not all the genuine Israel of God, because they were not diligent to make their eternal election sure.
4. You think, “ If election and reprobation appear bad when applied to Jacob and Esau, as individuals, they must appear vastly worse, when applied to them as the heads of two great nations,” p. 56. So indeed they would, if we admitted your notion of unconditional election and reprobation to eternal life and eternal death. But when it is considered that the election of the Israelites to certain external privileges, from which the Edomites were reprobated, did not necessarily affect their eternal interests, all that apparent badness disappears, and we behold an illustrious display of the wisdom and goodness of God. But you suppose, “Esau never had any piety," p. 56. If this be so, how could the apostle say, By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and