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1. The ultimate end might have been a display of creating and preserving goodness, in the happiDefs of the system. But fovereignty determined, by leaving the creature in the hand of its own counsel, to manifest the equitable and merciful perfections of Deity, rather than mere supporting grace.
2. The ultimate end might have been a display of mere equity in the total and final destruction of the system. But a sovereign hand fixed it otherwise ; by establishing a plan of recovering grace, there is glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good. will towards men. GOD has a tribute of eternal
« whole universe, including all creatures animate and inanimate, « in all its actings, proceedings, revolutions, and entire series of “ events, should proceed from a regard and with a view to God, as " the fupreme and last end of all: that every wheel, both great «, and small, in all its rotations, should move in a constant invari« able regard to him as the ultimate end of all; as perfectly and “ uniformly as if the whole system were animated by one common “ foul : or, as if such an arbiter as I have before supposed, one * pofseffed of perfect wisdom and rectitude, became the common « foul of the universe, and actuated and governed it in all its 66 motions.
“ Thus have I gone upon the supposition of a third person, 6 neither Creator nor creature, but a disinterested person, step“ ping in to judge of the concerns of both, and state what is most “ fit and proper between them. The thing supposed is impossi. praise from fallen but redeemed sinners, while these have an eternal portion of happiness and holy rest.
ble; but the case is nevertheless just the same as to what is « moft fit and suitable in itself. For it is most certainly proper " for God to act, according to the greatest fitness in his proceed. “ ings, and he knows what the greatest fitness is, as much as if “ perfect reétitude were a distinct person to direct him.” EDWARDS's Differtation on God's last End in the Creation of the World, P. 16-19. Edinb. 1788.
3. The ultimate end might have been greatly different in respect of the numbers, and the identical persons to be saved. But Sovereignty says ; " The decree was wisely made-if some are more “ favoured than others, none are injured.” Well may we exclaim on the brink of this ocean, O the depth!
* " However it be a foundation disallowed of men, every ob. serving christian fhall find, that without acknowledging Divine sovereignty for the original, supreme and unaccountable disposer of
persons and things, he fall want a principal means of supporting his faith, and quieting his understanding in the course of commor providences ; much more of those mysterious occurrences, and Supernatural truths which he is eternally concerned about. - To make of the same lump one vessel to honour and another to dishonour, is the sublimest act and most apparent demonitration of Sovereign power concerning men. The reason of which (and that to satisfaction) might have been given, and would, had it befitted the greatness of God, or the trust and reverence we owe to him: but for the present he is pleased to give none other but that of his right; He may do what he will with his own. Rom. ix. 18." Cole's Praftical Discourse on God's Sovereignty, p. 1, 14. Edinb. 1788.
Of the Sovereignty of Grace in the choice of MEANS
to accomplish the end proposed.
$ 1. How the proposed end is prosecuted, and made in
fallibly certain. § 2. First, God conduEling himself towards the creature in ftriat equity. $ 3. Secondly, fixing on some, rather than others, as vessels of mercy. 4. A third mean, the choice of a Mediator. $ 5. Fourthly, the decretive speciality of Christ's mediation. $6. The instances of sovereignty in the choice of means, numberless.
§ 1. VERY fyftem may be considered under
the twofold notion of end and means ; and as we have considered the moral system in reference to an ultimate end, and the influence of Sovereignty in the choice of it, we now proceed to consider the same exalted attribute in reference to the means adopted for accomplishing that end. The ultimate point to which the whole system is destined to move, as we are assured from the highest autho. rity, is the praise of glorious grace in the salvation of the church; but how is this to be effected ? Redemption or salvation, implies a being lost; but what certainty can there be of a free agent falling into a loft condition, from which mercy may extricate him to the praise of glorious redeeming grace? If a perfeet free agent, how is the defection infallibly certain?
which it must be in order to secure the ultimate end of the human moral system. — Hence,
$ 2. The first instance of sovereignty in the choice of means to accomplish the high end of falvation, appears to be God's resolution to conduct himself towards our moral system, for a time, in strict equity. Nothing else was necessary to render our defection from rectitude infallibly certain. Every entity, whether being or act, is from God as its efficient cause; all passive power, whether physical or moral, is from the creature ; consequently, supposing a non-communication of the former, or, which is the same thing, a non-prevention of the latter, on which we have no claim in equity, the creature's act terminates in defection. *
$ 3. A second instance of sovereignty in the choice of means, is the designation of some of the fallen human race as vessels of mercy, in preference to others. To say that all are alike chosen decretively, is to say that there is no ele&tion at all; which is to contradict the whole tenor of scripture, and universal analogy. Besides, if all are in themselves loft, and none decretively chosen to falvation, then none are or can be saved. But the vindication of this point is referred to the next chapter.
$ 4. A third instance of high sovereignty, in subserviency to the same end, is the choice and appointment of a Mediator. Mankind, having deviated from rectitude, their equitable doom was the suffering of natural evil in proportion to the defection. The dif. ficulty in the way of pardon and restoration lay in the honourable fufpenfion of the penal consequence. Wisdom fixed on a mediatorial plan. By this method the divine law and equity were consulted and their glory secured,
* See the profesied investigation of the above sentiments, Chap. IV, Sect. i. § 5, &c.
Hereby God has declared his righteousness, and shewn himself to be just while the justifier of him who is constituted one with the Saviour, not by works but by fovereign grace, The mediation of Christ is so far from degrading the divine benevolence, that nothing can be conceived more expreslive of it. It includes benevolence to the law, which is magnified and made honourable ; to equity, which hereby is declared ; and to every divine perfection, as well as to man. kind. Hereby God COMMENDETH HIS LOVE toward us, in that while we were yet finners, CHRIST DIED for us. He so LOVED the world that he gave his only begotten Son. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one ; MUCH MORE they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. In the redeeming plan, accordo ing to the riches of his grace, he hath ABOUNDED toward us in all wisdom and PRUDENCE; in all long-suffering and loving-kindness, mercy and faithfulness, as well as love.
$ 5. A fourth instance appears in the decretive Speciality of Christ's mediation, whereby he not only procured suitable means for all, but also be. came a surety for the application of efficacious