The Chequered Life of A Christian – Chapter 1
By purpose then, according to the Scriptures, I understand God’s predestinating a certain number of the children of men (known only to Himself) to obtain eternal life, and this out of pure love in a sovereign way, according to His own will and pleasure. This is the whole and sole cause. Now Paul is plain upon this, “Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).
And then he brings in the purpose, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
Now this is God’s purpose, His decrees, and they stand fast; hence He says, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” And not only do we read of God’s purpose and decree of election, but likewise also of reprobation; and if you deny the one, you must the other, for they stand or fall together; and the Word of God is plain upon this also: “It is hard therefore to kick against the pricks”; and therefore Paul says, “God hath not appointed us to wrath”; which implies that some are, and according also to God’s purpose, as was the case with Pharaoh, who was a type of the devil; “Even for this purpose have I raised thee up” (Romans 9:17).
“Therefore hath he mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth”: and he speaks of vessels to honour, and vessels to dishonour. Now all this, as before observed, is after the counsel of God’s own will. I might greatly enlarge on these things, and bring many passages of Scripture forward of the same kind, but there is no need for it; and therefore I shall dismiss this part of the subject, by bringing in a few remarks, whereby you and I may know that we are the elect of God. This is coming nigh home to the conscience, and this is what I like; for what is all our profession short of this? It is not our understanding truth, but our having an experience of truth that will secure our standing. Hence Peter says, “Giving all diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”
Now there are six things which if we experience will prove clearly in time that we are the elect of God.
1. Then if you belong to God, you will in the worst calamity you ever can get into (at times) feel a cry in your heart to the Lord alone for help, as was the case with the woman of Canaan, and also Hezekiah, with many others; but not so the hypocrite – he cries not when God binds him, but they come after Him in chains. This very thing has often been an encouragement to me; and it is a proof of election, as you read, “Shall not God avenge His own elect which cry unto Him day and night.”
2. If you are one of this number, you shall be blessed with saving faith; and that you may be sure that yours is the right faith you will prove as follows; for what God speaks of the human heart you will feel yourself in possession of. What He speaks of Adam’s fall, and His judgments against sin, you (as an individual) will tremble at. And therefore real faith applies and brings home what it believes, with an application, and says, “Thou art the man!” Now this is faith in God’s righteousness, holiness, and justice; such are troubled, they believe in God, and when this same faith is in exercise, they are enabled to lay hold of the Lord Jesus Christ. It applies all the promises, and brings them into the heart. This is a brief account of real faith, and is the faith of God’s elect, “For as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
3. Another mark of election is, the Word will (when preached) at times, be attended with power, and you will say what power? I answer as follows, power to bring us out of Satan’s kingdom, out of the world – power to convince us of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come – power to hold us up in these storms – power to lead us to Jesus – and power to save our souls from Satan, sin, death, the Law, and the wrath of God. Hence the Gospel when brought home to the heart is “the power of God to salvation.” Have these effects, reader, been produced in thee while hearing the Word, or through hearing the Word? If so, it is a proof of thy election; “Knowing, therefore, brethren beloved, your election of God; for our Gospel came not to you in Word only, but in power,” etc.
4. If you are elected, you will have the Spirit of Christ in your heart; and He will quicken your soul that was once dead (Ephesians 2:1). He will make you feel sin, and awaken all the powers of your soul; He will also regenerate you and renew you; He will testify of Jesus, and apply the benefits of His death; and He will shed abroad the Father’s love in your heart; and lastly, show you the blessings of the new covenant. This is a proof of election; “I will pour My Spirit on thy seed.”
5. If you are in God’s purpose of election, you will know it by the hatred of this world; for as sure as ever you are chosen by God the Father in Christ Jesus, so sure Christ will choose you out of this world; and this will be sure to discover sooner or later the world’s malice and enmity. Hence Christ says, “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world will hate you.” The nearer you live to Jesus, the more this enmity is sure to work.
Lastly, If you are elected, God will bless you with peace: peace with Himself, peace with the Church, and peace at times in your own heart. We are predestinated to the adoption of sons, and such as are called sons of peace; and therefore Christ tells His disciples, “Into whatsoever house ye enter, say, peace be to this house; and if the son of peace be there, your peace shall come on it.”
Now, reader, have you got any or all of these things in any degree?
Is there a cry put in thy heart?
Have you a measure of this faith?
Has the Word come with power?
Have you received the Blessed Spirit?
Does thy religion incur the displeasure of the world, whether we speak of the ungodly, Pharisee, or hypocrites in Zion; and are you blessed at times with this peace?
If so, you are in God’s purpose: yes, and if you have not as yet attained to these things, yet if your heart is after them, and nothing else will do, I will insist upon it that you are a vessel of mercy. Press on. Thus much for God’s purpose.