Thomas Chalmers

Lectures on Romans
LECTURE LXI. - ROMANS, viii, 29, 30.

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

IN my last remarks upon the subject I confined myself nakedly and absolutely, to the truth of the doctrine of predestination; and had no time left for any moral or practical application. And yet it is for a good and powerful application of the truth in this instance that I feel greatly more anxious, than even for the truth itself. it is not your curiosity, but your conscience that I want to address; neither am I so solicitous for dogmatising you into a right belief on the topic of predestination, as for evincing that, whether true or false, all your present energies should be given entire to the present work of repenting, and believing, and labouring with all diligence in the new obedience of the gospel. As to the speculative doctrine itself, I do not scruple to aver, that, while a firm and unexcepted believer in it myself, I do not regard it as one of those articles which are indispensable to salvation - that many are the eminent worthies, and more especially of our sister church, who have the root of the matter in them; and yet who eye this doctrine, not with incredulity alone, but with a sort of keen and sensitive antipathy - who have, in short, a kind of horror at this most revolting feature of what they denominate a rigid and revolting Calvinism; and deem, that, unfit for modern ears, it should now be suffered to be forgotten in the unwieldy folio, whose scowling frontispiece fitly represents the theologian who penned it. I, of course, hold them to be wrong. I think that they misunderstand the subject, and view it through a medium of passion and prejudice which may at length be dispersed. Nevertheless, though we count them in an error, it, like certain sins mentioned by the apostle John, is an error not unto death. I do not see how they can get over the evidence that there is for predestination - both in the Scriptures of truth; and in those independent reasonings to which man, even unaided and alone, seems altogether competent. Yet I am aware, that, to a certain limit, there may be varieties of opinion, and all of them alike consistent with reverence for God and His communications, so far as the ability to understand them has been given; and such varieties on the much controverted topic of predestination appear to me within that limit. So that it is not in the spirit of Athanasian intolerance, that I have hitherto urged my convictions upon this subject; nor indeed so much with a view to impress these convictions, as to demonstrate if I can - that the great cause of practical Christianity remains uninjured by a doctrine, which is conceived by many to be fatal to it.

The apostle Paul, however strenuous and resolute in his assertion of certain doctrines, was, in regard to certain others, the most indulgent and liberal of men. He admitted a certain latitude of sentiment even among his own converts; and, though there were errors for which he had no toleration, yet there were also errors, both in opinion and in practice, which he regarded in the spirit of a most benignant forbearance. There were articles of faith, on which he would not give place even to the slightest iidtigation of them - no not for a single hour; and when the apostle Peter offered something like a compromise with the doctrine of justification by faith alone, he withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed. Nay he called down the imprecation of Heaven on any who should pervert the mind of his disciples from that gospel of free grace, wherewith he linked the whole of a sinner’s salvation; and yet, while there were truths respecting Jesus Christ and Him crucified which he could not surrender, there were also truths in which he suffered a variety of conception on the part of his fellow-Christians; and so far from scowling excommunication upon them because of it, he waited in hope and charity the progress of a more enlightened conviction in their minds. "Let as many as be perfect be thus minded, and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same things."

This he would not have said of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. This, for aught that is known, he might have said of the doctrine of predestination. And it is sufficiently remarkable that the apostle Peter adverts to certain things of Paul, not as indispensable to be believed, but what is far more characteristic ef our present topic as hard to be understood - a topic that has met us on our way, and which it were surely unworthy of the fearless believer in the authority of Scripture to decline from; but a topic which we at the same time entertain, not with the purpose to regale your curiosity, but if possible to stimulate your conscience - not to make intelligible that which an inspired teacher hath pronounced to be dark - not to make you more learned in this redoubted dogma than the Bible is fitted to make its humble interpreters and scholars, but to save if possible, to save the ulilearned and the unstable from wresting this and the other scriptures to their own destruction.

I have already stated that the doctrine of the text might be apprehended by a series of historical events - each linked in firm and necessary concatenation with the other, and altogether forming a chain which extends from the first purpose of the Divine Mind to the final accomplishment of it in eternity. The intermediate place at which each of us now stands forms one of these links. It is a step of that mighty progression which reaches from everlasting to everlasting, and of whose distant extremities we are in profoundest ignorance. We may know that there is a primary decree, either for or against us; but of the decree itself we know nothing. We may know that there is a fixed destination in reserve for us; but which term of the dread alternative between heaven and hell is to be realized on our imperishable spirits, of this we have no information. We see but a little way on either side of us; and from the visible place where we now stand, each in the chain of his own personal destiny, does it soon lose itself, both behind and before, in a dim and distant obscurity which we cannot penetrate. And the question that I have to address to every plain understanding is, whether we shall be guided in the business that is now before us by that which we do know, or by that which we do not know - whether by our fancies of that which lies in a conjectural region away from us, or by our findings of that which is at hand - whether by our vague speculation on the frst and the last steps of that process which connects the pre-ordination of God with the future eternity of man, or by those steps in which we now are actually implicated, the near and the besetting certainties of our own present condition. For, let it be observed, that there are such urgent and immediate certainties in your state as it now is; and the question is, shall you proceed upon these, or upon tile far-fetched imaginations which you choose to draw from a territory that is fathomless and unknown. A fool’s eyes, says Solomon, are abroad over all the ends of the earth; and we appeal to common sense - whether it be practical wisdom or practical folly, to guide your footsteps by the uncertain guesses of what God hath written regarding you in the book of His decrees, or by what He hath written for your present direction in the book of His revelation.

Grant that I am moving along a chain which hath one end certainly fixed in the eternity that is past, and another as certainly fixed in the eternity that is to follow. The movement of this day, at least, depends on the few links that are within the reach of your present observation. It is not by looking distantly aback, neither is it by shooting your perspective ahead of all that is visible before you, it is not thus that you are practically carried forward on the line of your history as an immortal being - it is by time links that are presently in hand that your present route is determined - it is to these that you have to look - it is upon the realities within your grasp that you are to decide the enquiry, what shall I do; and not upon the visions that float before the eye of your imagination. And what are these realities? What are the matters on hand, that we would have you substitute in place of the speculations about things beyond our reach, and things at a distance? There is an embassy of peace from heaven at your door. There is the truth of the Godhead staked to the fulfilment of your salvation, if you will only rely upon Him. There is His beseeching voice addressed to each and to all, and saying "Come now let us reason together." There is the free offer of forgiveness, and what is more, the assurance that if you will only turn unto God He will pour out His Spirit upon you.

These are the matters on hand. This is the business to which I should like to recall you; and would rather quash all your thoughts on the topic of predestination as so many hurtful vagaries, than that the urgencies of a free gospel should he held in abeyance. If you are not able to see the consistency of this doctrine with the plain declarations and entreaties of the New Testament, do not bewilder yourselves. Misspend not that precious time in fruitless cogitation, which should be employed in proceeding upon the calls of repent and believe and be reconciled unto God. Put away from you the doubtful disputations, and give your busy entertainment to the honest assurances of the gospel. Be content with your ignorance of higher mysteries, and forthwith enter on the open walk of reconciliation - being very sure, that, whatever doubt or darkness may have gathered around the loftier summits of Theology, it hath also its safe and its patent road for the humble wayfarer - that it has an offered pardon which you cannot too confidently trust, that it has its revealed hopes of glory which you cannot too joyfully cherish, that it has its promises of salvation which none of you can too surely or too speedily embrace, that it has its prescribed path of holiness which you cannot too diligently walk in.

You remember the illustration that I have already given upon this subject, when I endeavoured to show how the doctrine of predestination could be exemplified in the processes of nature and of history - not only holding an unquestioned sway over inanimate things, and stamping a precise necessity both on the simpler movements of the heavens above, and the more complicated operations that take place in the physics and the physiology of the earth below; but, even when man mingles his energies and volitions with the unconscious elements as he does in the plans and proceedings of husbandry - that, then too, there is as sure a presiding sovereignty, which determines the site of every plant, and fixes the condition of every spot of territory, as if nought but the winds and the waters, these unconscious ministers of the Divinity, were in play. But, granting this to be a true speculation, will it ever warp the designs and the doings of the practical agriculturist? Does he ever think of the predestination that runs through all his busy processes, or is it necessary that he should? Did ever in this world’s history a party of colonists tread on some before untrodden shore and begin its cultivation, under the impulse of such a metaphysical speculation? Did the notion of God’s prescience and of God’s preordination extending to every movement, supply one element of influence or direction in a single choice that they made, or a single labour that they put their hand to? It might be true, that every resulting farm, with its fields and its crops and its bounderies, emerged, after the busy willing and working of many years, into the very state that had been pictured in the Divine Mind from all eternity - yet the truth never, for a single instant, be present to the mind of a single operator in this process. He was set agoing by other considerations. He is decided by other influences. He never vaults so high as to the first determinations of the Almighty. He never looks so far as to the remote transformation that the surface of the territory on which he now labours is to undergo. He is moved both to will and to do by nearer elements - by the nature of the soil that is under his feet - by the present weather which is around him, and which calls him forth to his toils - by the promises of a climate, that experience has told him warrants the hope of a recompence for his labours.

There is nought of predestination in all his thoughts. He may exemplify the doctrine, but he does not recognise it; nor is it at all essential to the practical result of a domain now rich in all the fruits of a prosperous agriculture. It is the very same in spiritual husbandry. it is the very same in that process, by which souls, now dead in trespasses and sins, are turned into well-watered gardens. It is a transformation that may be effected, without one thought being bestowed, or one intelligent regard being once cast, on this sublime mystery. The mind is decided by nearer and more effective contemplations - by the voice of a beseeching God - by the view of an open door of Mediatorship to His throne - by the tidings of peace even to the worst of sinners, through the blood of a satisfying atonement; and by the honest and affectionate urgency wherewith these tidings are pressed upon the acceptance of you all - by the promises of a spiritual climate, now rendered fit for the transformation of sinners, these thorns and briars, into trees of righteousness; for living water is made to descend on the prayers of every believer, the Holy Ghost being given because Christ is now glorified. Let these obvious considerations be plainly amid obviously proceeded on; and, whether you have settled the high topic of predestination or not - be very sure, that he who strives to enter in at the strait gate shall save his own soul, that he who presses into the kingdom of heaven shall take it by force.

If the doctrine of predestination be true, as I believe it to be, then it extends to all the processes of human life; and, in virtue of it, every career of human exertion hath its sure result, and must terminate in one certain fulfilment that is absolute and irreversible. It is not the state of your future eternity alone, that is decided by it; but the state of your fortune and family in this world. Are you entering upon business for example? If this doctrine be true, even as I think it to be, the wealth to be realised, the height of affluence to be gained, the precise sum to be bequeathed as aim inheritance to your children,are fixed and immutable as if already written in the book of destiny. Now attend to what that is which you take your motive from, when you actively engage in the pursuits and speculations of merchandise. Do you ever think of fetching it from the predestination that has been already made in the upper sanctuary? What is it that sets you so busily agoing? Is it the predestination that is past, and which has its place in heaven? or is it the prospect which lies immediately before you, and which is furnished both by the present realities and the future likelihoods that be on the field of your earthly contemplations? Does the argument that all is already determined, and there is no object to be gained by the most strenuous forth-putting of activity on your part - does ever this paralyse or impede any of your movements? Practically and really, I would ask, do you not resign yourselves as fully to what may be called the operation of the contiguous inducements, as if there was no predestination - as if this were a work that you had never heard of, or a conception that never had been presented to your thoughts? There is no such lofty or aerial speculation that is ever permitted to embarrass this part at least of your history; and, what is more, no complaint of hardship is ever uttered by you - because the affairs of your worldly business are all chained down in adamantine necessity. The thought of this fated necessity as to this world’s business, will neither provoke nor will it paralyse you - provided that you could only see a good and a likely opening for the prosecution of it. You will instantly forget the abstract speculation, and enter with all the busy ardour of intense and unrestrained faculties on the path of action. Give you only a hopeful enterprise - give you credit, and the countenance of steady and powerful friends, when you embark upon it - give you the assurance of rising markets, and of a demand that will speedily absorb all the commodities which, either by purchase or by preparation, you can assemble together for the purpose of pouring into them - And then, only think of the impetuous contempt wherewith you would overleap the paltry obstacle, if, in the midst of all this glee and animating hurry, one of your cool metaphysical acquaintances should offer to arrest you on the path of fortune, by the assurance that fortune and every thing else had already a decree of predestination laid upon them.

You would no more think of giving up because of this, than you would think of regulating the history of your present day by what you read of history before the flood. And certain it is of all the operations of commerce, which, if predestination be indeed true, are as much within the iron grasp of fatality as any other of our concerns; that still these are as much the spontaneous doings of busy active plodding and locomotive creatures, as if there was no such doctrine at all; and that, in respect of the calculations and the correspondencies and the bargains and the voyages and all the other processes that obtain in the world, of trade - the doctrine, which some conceive would freeze the whole into apathy and lay upon it a sudden congelation, leaves the affairs of human beings precisely on the footing in which it found them. It is just so in all the other processes of human life. It is so, for example, in the education and settlement of children. If the doctrine in question be true - then every footstep, and every advancement, and the whole train of the future history of each, are already the subjects of a prior and unfailing ordination. But does this encumber the activity and the outlook, even of those parents who are of sturdiest and most inflexible Calvinism? In the whole plan and conduct of their proceedings in behalf of their own offspring, it is still the operation of the contiguous inducements that sets them practically agoing. No one ever thinks of fetching one consideration to guide or to influence him, from that period of remoteness and mystery when God made His decrees; but all the influence which tells upon them, cometh from the circumstances that are immediately around them, or from the probabilities that are immediately before their eyes. Give a parent an accessible place of best scholarship for some rising member of his family - give him a likely avenue to some office of emolument or houour - give him a promising line of business, a promise too that he reads not in time book of heaven’s ordinations but in the book of earth’s common and every-day experience - give him these; and predestination will no more affect either the direction or the activity of his movements, than any category of the old schoolmen.

It may be a truth, and he may believe it as such; but never does he suffer it to bewilder him away from the plain course, on which wisdom and observation and a sense of interest have urged him to enter - and on that course, do we see him plying all his expedients, as if God had decreed nothing, and as if man had to do every thing. All that he needs to put him into motion is an opening towards which he may turn him, and along which he will be guided just by the events which cast up - just by the circumstances and things that meet his observation. Such an opening in trade will at once make of him an aspiring and indefatigable merchant. Such an opening in family politics will at once set him, under the stimulus of his parental affection, to do all and to devise all for the future provision of his offspring. Such an opening in near or distant colonies will, under the powerful operation of interest, bring out capital and skill and personal activity, and make him a busy agriculturist. Predestination may, or it may not, have stamped a rigid and inviolable necessity on each and on all of these processes; but whether the one or the other it matters not to him, who is directly, and personally engaged in them. He gives himself up to the play of those motives by which he is immediately beset; and under which he is powerfully urged forward on that course of activity, where he strives for his object, and where he carries it.

It is even so in the business of religion. Predestination no more locks up the activities of this business than of any other, and no more lays a hurt or a hardship on those who are engaged in it. We never hear of the merchant or the parent or the agriculturist, complaining that all his energies are bound fast by a decree; but we see them instantly set in motion by a good opening. Neither ought we to hear such a complaint from the adventurer for heaven, provided only that he too is presented with a good opening. His proper and practical concern, is, not with the decree at all that is behind him, but with the opening that is before him. It is with the gate of Christ’s mediatorship, now flung back for his access to the throne of God, and with the voice of invitation that issues therefrom. It is with the call, "cease to do evil, learn to do well." it is with the honest assurance, that, if we return unto God, God will return unto us and abundantly pardon us. It is with the proclamation of welcome to one and to all; and, lest you should feel yourself secluded by the doctrine of election, it is with such terms as all and any and whosoever - terms that both embrace all and point specifically to each, and by which therefore an obliterating sponge should be made to pass over the hurtful and the withering imagination. These are what you have immediately to do with; and with the question of your name being in the book of life, I speak unto those who meditate the great transition on which hingeth the whole of their future eternity, with this question at present they have positively nothing to do.

The merchant would not so embarrass himself - his love of gain would urge him forward to the opening. The parent would not so embarrass himself - the love of his children would urge him in like manner to take the practicable opening. Neither would the agriculturist - his love of a prosperous settlement would lead him instantly to seize upon the goodly opening. And if an opening goodlier than them all - if the plain and practicable path to which you arc cheered forward by the invitation of Heaven, and along which you have the guarantee of Heaven’s grace and Heaven’s promises to assure you of a harvest of glory - If this be not enough to arouse you from insolent speculation - if this do not break you loose from metaphysical difficulties, as from the entanglement of so many cobwebs - The inference, we fear, is too obvious to be resisted - that barrier over which the love of gain, or the impulse of natural affection, so easily forced its way, hath withstood the impotent efforts of the religionist; for he had not the love of God or of holiness that would have carried him over it, and this is his condemnation that he loved the darkness rather than the light because his deeds were evil.

There are innumerable successive links in the chain of your destiny, and it is only a few of the greater ones that are adverted to in the text. The first of all is coeval with the foreknowledge and predestination of God. With this you have nothing at present to do. God at that time was alone, and what He then did is one of those secret things which belong unto Himself. The second link is the call that He addresses to you: ‘Whom he hath predestinated them he also called.’ With this you have to do. God at this part of the series is not alone. He makes a forthgoing of Himself to the sinner. There is now a converse between Him and you; and the particulars of this converse are among the revealed things which belong to yourselves and to your children. By this call He points out the opening through which you may escape from the coming wrath, through which you enter upon friendship with the God whom you have offended. To this then I would solicit your attention; and I warn you, that, with the dark and unknown territory which lies behind this actual communication from heaven to earth, you have positively no more at present to do, than with the territory that lies beyond the confines of our planetary system. The matter in hand is the call. It is the widely sounding proclamation of "Look unto me, all ye ends of time earth, and be saved."

It is the assurance of a welcome and a good-will lifted from the mercy-seat, and made to circulate at large among all the families of the world. It is the good news of a propitiation, the blood of which cleanseth from all sin; and of a Spirit ready to be poured on the returning penitent, that it may both actuate the holy desire and uphold his footsteps in the way of holy obedience. And the truth of God is staked to the fulfilment of all these declarations. He hath so framed the economy of the gospel, that if you simply trust - then either you are saved or God is a liar. He hath indeed descended very far, that He might again make up the controversy between Himself and a sinful world. He bids one and all of us only put Him to the trial. "Prove me, prove me" says God "and see whether I will not pour out a blessing upon you." "Plead your cause with me and pnt me in mind of my own promises." "Take with you words and turn to the Lord, say unto him Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously. I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely for mine anger is turned away."
It is not with God, shrouded in the depths of His past eternity - it is not with God, in that era of high and remote antiquity, where all His footsteps are unsearchable - it is not with God in the secrecy of those unrevealed counsels by which He fixes the destiny of all worlds, that you have to do. You have no right to intrude into these mysteries of the Royal Presence, and you should count it enough, if you are included in the benefits of a Royal Proclamation; and you are positively left without one shadow of complaint - now that God hath broken silence - now that He hath set Himself forth in that most winning and impressive attitude of God waiting to be gracious - now that He stands before you like a Parent bereaved of His children, and longing for them back again. And now that it is God beseeching you to be reconciled, and God entreating your acceptance of His mercy, and God importunately plying you with the offers of pardon and the calls of repentance, and God swearing by Himself that He hath no pleasure in your death but rather that one and all should come unto Him and live - now it is with Him and with Him only that you have really and practically to do.

I can tell you nothing about the first link; but I am just fulfilling the duties of my office, when I bid you lay hold of the second. I know not aught of the individual predestination of any of you; but I do most assuredly know that each of you is the fit and legitimate subject for an individual call. I therefore do most freely and unreservedly call you. If you respond thereunto with the question, "But is not there only a certain number set apart for salvation and what may that number be?" I know not how I can better reply than after the example of Jesus Christ, when asked ‘Were there many that should be saved? He gave no countenance to the speculative interrogation, and simply bade the man look to himself. " Strive you to enter in at the strait gate." In like manner do I say Strive you to make your calling and election sure. I am not able to trace the chain of your destiny backward. But here is one link of it, the call; and could I gain your compliance with the call, could I get you to close with the chain at this part of it - then I can pursue it with certainty forward; and, in fullest confidence that he who is called is also justified and that he who is justified is also glorified, I, in darkness though I be about the secrets of the book of life, could read in the book of your own visible history in the world your destination to the glories of an everlasting inheritance.

Let me beseech you then to take yourselves plainly and practically to that revealed opening, through which all who will might find egress from death unto life. Suffer not ought to suspend this transition. Cease now your hands from disobedience; and submit now your hearts to that grace, which never is withheld from those who truly and desirously seek after it. Give speculation with all its doubts and difficulties to the wind, rather than that another moment should elapse, ere you give entertainment to the free overtures of the gospel, and render a full and a resolved compliance therewith. Christ knocketh at the door of every heart; and let ‘that knock be first answered, ere you feel yourselves at leisure or at liberty for the controversies of an argument that has baffled many, and that never should be permitted to detain or to embarrass you - whilst so urgent an interest, as that of your salvation, is still in dependence. The question, my brethren, is not "Am I by election one of the saved?" but the question is "What shall I do to be saved?"

This is the first question, and your highest wisdom is simply to adjourn the other; and when pressed upon you so as to interrupt your progress on the plain way of a plain Christian, then do as they do in Parliament, when they want to dispose of’a topic, or rather to dismiss it from their deliberations - move the previous question, or proceed to the order of the day. It is a most idle expenditure of thought and energy that many do lavish upon predestination; and if carried to the length of elbowing out the faith and repentance of the gospel, it is worse than idle, it is ruinous. It finds you on the ground of alienation from God; and, if it take up the room that belongs to the plain matters of salvation, it will leave you there. It is not your orthodoxy on this point that will prepare you for heaven. Nay it may only train you for, the companionships of hell, for some of time employments that are carried on there, for converse with infernal spirits who have gone before you,

"And now apart sit on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate and reason high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will and fate,
Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,
And find no end in wandering mazes lost."

Next to that of being called is the step of our being justified, and next to that of being justified is the step of our being glorified. There are some who feel as if here a vacancy had been left in the sense that needs to be filled up, and they would interpose between two of these terms the step of our being sanctified - making the whole to run thus, 'Whom He did predestinate them He also called, and whom He called them He also justified, and whom He justified them He also sanctified, and whom He sanctified them He also glorified.’

Now this is as good as done, though not so as to sustain a continued order of enumeration. The called in a former verse are designed to be those who love God; and indeed this affection springs directly in the bosom of the complying sinner, after that he hath acceded to the offers of peace and pardon which are addrest to him in the gospel. And what perhaps is stronger still -the predestination that is spoken of fixes all the intermediate steps, as well as the final and the glorious consummation; and, more expressly, does it settle and make sure - that all who are the objects of it should be conformed to the image of Christ. It is thus that virtue here is made the indispensable stepping-stone to glory hereafter. It is thus that a doctrine, misconceived by many as superseding the need of holiness and of all exertion after it, supplies the strongest urgencies upon its side - by giving us to know, that a moral excellence, like unto the Saviour’s, forms part of the invariable order, which lies between the primary ordination and the final blessedness of all who are redeemed by Him. The consistent predestinarian knows, that every step in the series of a believer’s history, is as irrevocably sure as is its termination; and it is not for him of all men, to break up the alliance between holiness in time and happiness in eternity. To obtain the happiness, I must have the holiness; and, wanting the one on earth, I shall never reach the other in heaven. There is nought, we have affirmed already, in the doctrine, that should avert the eye of the enquirer from the ,call of the gospel; and there is nought, we affirm now, in the doctrine, that should exempt him who hath accepted of the call from the earnest prosecution of its holiness. Nay, it tells him more impressively than ever, that it cannot be dispensed with - that there is a necessity, as rigorous as fate, for its being and for its power in the person of every believer - that, wanting it, he is altogether out of the way of a blessed eternity - and that, having it, his calling and his election are sure.

This doctrine then does not affect the business in hand. It should neither deafen upon the sinner’s ear the gospel call of reconciliation - nor should it slacken, but rather stimulate to the uttermost, all his incentives to obedience. The direct work of Christianity, either with or without predestination, abideth as before; and unable, as I have been from unlooked-for circumstances, to pursue this topic even through the whole extent of its useful and practical applications main design is fulfilled, if it no longer stand as a stumbling-block in the way either of your firmly trusting in God, or of your diligently doing good in His service.

More particularly, the doctrine leaves the question of your preparation for the Sacrament, on precisely the same footing as before. It fixes what must be your character in time, as well as what must be your condition in eternity. It stamps its own irreversibleness on the truth, that grace here must go before glory hereafter; and it is not, my brethren, on the strength of your fancied predestination, but on the strength of your felt and your present holiness, that you infer yourselves to be among the people of God - who might now share in the ordinances of His church, and might afterwards look for admission into the festivities of His paradise. Do then examine yourselves, not by what hath taken place in heaven before you, but by what now you feel and know to be within you. I do not ask what are your attainments; but I at least ask what are your purposes? Is it your desire to be conformed unto the image of Christ? Under the conscious load of imperfection that is upon you, are you weary of sin, and is it your heart’s earnest longing to be translated into the element of sacredness? Have you resolved to give up all that you know to be evil; and breaking loose from the companionships of the world, is it your determination to come out from among them, and to touch not the unclean thing, but give yourselves singly to the invitation and service of that Master - who, without bar or hindrance, is willing to receive you all, and be a Father to you all? These are the plain questions, on which the step of your worthy communion is suspended; and be very sure, that; if fit for this act of fellowship with the saints on earth, you are fit and on full march, to the high joys and the holy exercises of the sanctuary that is above.

I conclude with an extract from the commentary of Archbishop Leighton on Peter, of which I know not whether to admire most - the exquisite skill, or the exquisite beauty, of his deliverance on this whole topic. But it will require your attention to follow it. It is one of his paragraphs on this verse, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." "Now," he says, "the connection of these we are for our profit to take notice of, that effectual calling is inseparably tied to this eternal foreknowledge or election on the one side, and salvation on the other. These two links of the chain are up in heaven in God’s own hand; but this middle one is let down on earth into the hearts of His children, and they, laying hold on it, have sure hold on the other two - for no power can sever them; if therefore they can read the characters of God’s image in their own souls, these are the counterparts of the golden characters of His love, in which their names are written in the book of life. Their believing writes their names under the promises of the revealed book of life, the Scriptures; and so ascertains them, that the same names are in the secret book of life that God hath by Himself from eternity. So finding the stream of grace in their hearts, "though they see not the" fountain whence it flows, nor the ocean into which it returns - yet they know that it hath its source, and shall return, to that ocean which ariseth from their eternal election, and shall empty itself into that eternity of happiness and salvation."

"Hence" he adds "much joy ariseth to the believer. This tie is indissoluble as the agents are, the Father the Son and the Spirit; so are election and vocation and sanctification and justification and glory. - Therefore, in all conditions, believers may, from the sense of the working of the Spirit in them, look back to that election, and forward to that salvation. But they that remain unholy and disobedient, have as yet no evidence of this love; and therefore, cannot, without vain presumptions and self-delusions, judge thus of themselves, that they are within the peculiar love of God. But in this let the righteous be glad, and let them shout for joy all that are upright in heart."

"If election, effectual calling, and salvation be inseparably linked together - then by any one of them, a man may hold upon all the rest, and may know that his hold is sure; and this is the way wherein we may attain, and ought to secure that comfortable assurance of the love of God. Find then but within thee sanctification by the Spirit; and this argues necessarily both justification by the Son, and election by God the Father." The Spirit will be given to your prayers, and to your endeavours. Here is your opening; and it lies with yourselves to enter it.

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