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place,“ which we have done, but according “ to his mercy he saved us, by the washing “ of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy “ Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, “ through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, be“ ing justified by his grace, we should be “ made heirs according to the hope of eternal “ life'.". .
These declarations of Scripture are explicit, unfolding the sovereignty of God's grace or free favour. If his special call of sinners is not owing to any merit in them, it must be owing to his own most free and unbiassed determination to save them. This is what is called the decree of election, of which we have repeated mention made in Scripture, especially in Christ's priestly prayer'.
Of this truth we have the fullest proof that is necessary in the nature of things, and all who repent and believe do most unfeignedly acknowledge that their salvation is of grace; or, in other words, that God chose them, and not that they chose God. He met them when they were wandering from him, and, constraining them by his power, made them willing subjects of his kingdom. b Tit. iii. 5, 6.
© John xvii.
Thus the Christian poeta describes the truth in his own case : . ..
“ I was a stricken deer that left the herd " i.
If this conversion is the effect of God's free grace subduing the sinner, the exercise of that grace must necessarily be the effect of a previous determination. But as the perceptions of God's understanding, and the determinations of his will, had no beginning, and are capable of no change, from his eternal existence, and immutable nature; so what he sees to be fit and determines in time, he saw to be fit and determined in eternity. “ New determinations can only
arise from some prior defect of wisdom, of “ power, or of goodness; but to suppose “ such defect in God would be blasphe“ mye.”
The people of God, the company of believers, therefore, are a chosen generation,
d Cowper. e Dr. J. Erskine's Sermons, vol. 1:
selected from the rest of mankind by the sovereign love of God. What was said of Israel of old applies to them: “ You only 66 have I known of all the families of the “ earth”-known namely as his beloved pecple, partakers of his grace here, and heirs of his glory hereafter. Thus they dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations of the earth in the love of the Father giving them to his Son; in the love of Christ, dying for them as their Surety; in the love of the Holy Spirit, sealing them to the day of redemption. Their covenant Jehovah speaks to them as he did to Israel of old : “ Yea, I “ have loved thee with an everlasting love; " therefore with loving kindness have I “ drawn theel.” · II. The people of God are distinguished from the men of the world, in their temper and disposition. . ;. They are made new creatures in Christ Jesus. From aliens, they have become citizens of the New-Jerusalem; from enemies, they have been made the children of God, through faith in Christ. The Spirit which animates them is totally different from that f Amos iii. 2.
g Jer. xxxi. 3.'
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BELIEVERS [SER. VI. of the world. The latter is the spirit of rebels, of apostates, hostile to God, and averse to all that is truly excellent. The former is the spirit of loyal subjects, of regenerated sinners, who are the friends of God, and love true holiness. Their standard of right and wrong is that which infinite wisdom has devised, and infinite purity established.
With this standard their spirit essentially agrees, and they study to make it agree more and more in all particulars, that they may, in their degree, be like God. Hence it is heavenly, being the fruit of the operation of the Holy Ghost. It is noble and dig. nified as its Author, despising and avoiding what is sinful and base. It is constantly looking upwards, regarding eternal realities more than temporal shadows, and preferring God's favour to every other consideration. It is a spirit baptized in the blood of Christ, making its possessors like-minded with him. It is mild and unassuming; humane and charitable; friendly and hospitable. It is meek and lowly, or humble, disclaiming all praise, and glorying in the cross of Christ as the source of all its virtue. It is sincere in all its professions, true in all its
MEN OF THE WORLD. 127 acknowledgments. It is uniform in public and private, among foes and friends. It is bold to discharge duty, at every risk and ha
zard, but fearful of sin ; this it dreads, but not death : death has no power over it; it triumplis over the grave; it is immortal. It is honest, rendering to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour. It is peaceable, patient, gentle, easy to be entreated, forgiving, never revenging injuries real or imaginary, and readily appeased when insulted. It is a spirit of supreme devotion to God, and ardent love to man; a spirit of resignation under adversity, and thankfulness under prosperity; a firm, decisive spirit, unawed by dangers, and unseduced by temptation ; rising above opposition, and triumphing over enemies.
How different from this is the spirit of the world! Light and darkness are not more opposite than these two. The spirit of the world is false, dissembling, crouching under dangers, revengeful under injuries, haughty, fretful, dissembling to obtain advantages, changing for interest; and what shall I add ?