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John Foreman, Duty Faith

To me it appears the plain truth of God, and mind of the Spirit, that the alls and universal sounds, in texts relating to the redemption work of Christ, are of the very same meaning and intent as those in the texts relating to all flesh seeing the salvation glory of the Lord – of the Spirit’s pouring out upon all flesh – of all nations and tongues being gathered to see the glory of the Lord – of all men being drawn unto Christ – and of the Holy Spirit’s reproving or convincing the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John 16:8. And now to attach individual universality to the first class of these alls, &c must be to hold a perishable redemption, with the wreck of all involved in it, to an extent as far as the whole world is not saved. And to attach individual universality to the second class of these alls, must be at once to give God the lie, and say that his truth does not `endure for ever,’ nor his `word for ever settled in heaven.’ In my opinion, however, it is a decided error to consider that either of these classes of alls are at all intended to express personal numbers, few or many, in the redemption and salvation work of the Lord; but to declare the…

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Having set down some of the principal texts which from their sound are, on duty faith principles, considered to declare the redemption work of Christ, to be in some way universal, we will now try that conclusion by a second class of ails, &c, which in their sound must imply as much universality as any one of the ails used in regard to redemption; while the sense and truth of which it is impossible to make out universal; such as the following.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;’ not may see it, might see it, or ought to see it, but shall see it, `for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it,’ Isaiah xl 5. Now we know there cannot be a more universal sound than this of `all flesh,’ while here it is declared from the Lord’s own mouth, that all flesh together shall see the glory of the Lord, and which glory is declared to be `the salvation of the Lord,’ Luke iii 6; and so it is declared that `all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ And here are now eighteen hundred years passed away, and not a single feature of evidence has ever appeared to give the truth, meaning, and intent of this text, a universal countenance; and it is too late, by all that time, possibly to give it that countenance now.

And it shall come to pass, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh;’ not would, nor would have done, but will, Joel 11:28. There is no word used in relation to the redemption work of Christ that sounds more universal than this text, and we know that nothing universal has ever yet been made of its meaning, and that it is too late to take it in any possible truth with that meaning now. And beside, the apostle Peter applies this text to the out- pouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, saying, `This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: and it shall come to pass in the last days saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,’ Acts 2:16, 17. And now we know all flesh individually universal were not present on the day of Pentecost, nor was the Spirit poured individually upon all that were present, for some `mocked,’ verse 13; but `there were devout men out of every nation under heaven,’ verse 5, both Jews and Gentiles, pretty well of all sorts, tongues, and countries; and to these the apostle applies as the divine meaning and intent of the text, the words `all flesh;’ agreeable to the words of God by the prophet, saying, `I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my glory,’ Is 66:18; my salvation, Luke 3:6; and according to our Lord’s words saying, `And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me,’ John 12:32. All nations of men individually have never been gathered to see the salvation glory of the Lord; nor has the Lord drawn all men individually of all nations unto him, nor all men individually of any one nation, nor has the Lord ever, in any age, sent out ministers, or employed other means, in any such way, shape, or form; and, consequently, no such individual universality could ever be intended.

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`To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,’ 2 Cor 5:19. This text, from its sound, has been taken to deny the personal divinity of Christ; but it was never intended to express the personal constitution of Christ, so much as it is the nature, order, economy and design of the incarnate life, deeds, and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. For when Jesus as mediator moved in obedience, worth and merit, the Triune God moved in design. And what was that design? Reconciliation! Of whom? The world; Gentiles of all nations, and Jews of all ranks. How? `Not imputing,’ charging or reckoning `their trespasses unto them.’ `Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin,’ Rom iv 8. So that as far as God hath and doth reconcile, so far he imputeth not sin; and so far blessed is the man, the men, or the people to whom the Lord will not impute sin. And, consequently, if reconciliation were individually universal, non-imputation of sin must be so too, and then blessedness must be individually universal accordingly, without fail; but neither the word of God, nor the face of things by the operations of the hand of God, have ever borne any testimony to such universality of grace, either in purpose, thought, word or deed.

The word reconciliation, in scripture truth, has evidently three branches of application. First, legal, as by the meritorious blood-shed and perfect righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby justice is satisfied, the law is magnified, all righteousness is fulfilled, and the…

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`For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved,’ John 3:17. `And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world,’ John 6:5. `And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world,’ 1 John 2:2. These portions of sacred truth, from the use of the words world, and the whole world, are considered to involve an evident universal intention and consequent universal virtue, provisionally, if not determinately, in the redemption work of Christ. But while God in the Trinity of his persons is as mighty to save as he is willing to save, and saving being the sole act of his own good will and pleasure, and the saving display and conduct of his power having been in all ages discriminate only, I cannot take any text to mean any thing of individual universality of intention, provision, or virtue, in the redemption work of Christ; while, notwithstanding, every text and every sound has a meaning harmonious in the perfect whole.

It is well known that the Gentiles are called the world, in distinction from the Jews, and such passages as the above are intended to declare the…

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“Who gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Tim 2:6.

This evidently and simply means, all sorts and grades of society of men, whom the apostle exhorted Timothy that they should be prayed for, verse 1,2, `that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness;’ and also because that such all men `God will have to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth,’ and the same to be testified in due time.’ It is not said God would have all men to be saved, nor would have had all men to be saved; but `Will have all men to be saved,’ and this will extends quite as far as the gift of the ransom; and all intended by both sayings is `to be testified in due time.’ Now take the whole connection from the first to the close of the seventh verse, and then take the testimony of these now for ever gone by eighteen hundred years, and see whether any thing like individual universality in either the `will’ or the `ransom,’ could ever be…

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Whether universal redemption as the ground-plot of universal invitations, will universally stand, or be particular only in its final effects, perhaps may be considered to be not so much our business to enquire, as it is at once to admit that redemption in itself is in some way universal, by the clearest Bible testimony, which at once plainly declares that Christ did die for all; and that `as it is so said in the holy word, it is for us so to believe, receive, and speak of it.’ But while with heart and soul we receive and revere the Bible as the infallible truth of God, and believe that every sound of it is intended to convey some true and solemn sense, we ask, is there not a possibility of taking sounds in a sense never intended? Spiritual things would bear comparing with spiritual things in the apostle’s day, and by their harmony gave instruction, confirmation, and consolation, by the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, 1 Cor 2:13. And as spiritual things are now just what they always were, I think in order to come at the truth of God and the mind of the Spirit in the sacred word, we cannot do better than compare spiritual things with spiritual things now, by the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth.

And if upon examination it should be found, that the word all, &c used in the holy revelations of the will of God, in relation to other parts of the salvation work of the Lord, cannot possibly in truth be taken with universal intent, meaning and design, would it be quite safe to conclude that the word all, &c as used in relation to the…

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It has been said, `That redemption is universal, but the application particular; and that a universal redemption is a necessary preliminary to a particular application.’ What can men of learning and talent think the redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ really to be, to speak of it in this way? For the word redemption itself must be well known to have no such meaning, acceptation, or use among men by any analogy under the whole heavens. It is well known that the word signifies buying back, a rescue, a release, a reclaim, a freedom obtained by an adequate price paid for the same, with the consideration that there is no such freedom without such price, and that no such price is paid without such freedom being obtained and secured without any further consideration, and which is accordingly called `The price of redemption.’ Lev 25:51,52. And the word redeem will apply to land mortgaged, to any thing put in pledge for money, to a person who has forfeited his liberty by misdeeds, and to persons taken prisoners in the field of battle, and led away captive by the conqueror; and in all these and such like cases where redemption is required, and is to be effected, the price of redemption is the full price of complete freedom and deliverance always. Deliverance by power, without any other immediate outlay, is called redemption, Jer 31:11; but no sort of price paid is ever called redemption without deliverance effected and secured thereby. The apostle useth the word in regard to saving of time by Christian diligence, watchfulness, &c., saying, `Redeeming the time,’ Col 4:5. Now it is the time saved, the deliverance wrought, the rescue and freedom actually effected and secured, that is called, and is properly the redemption; and not the diligence employed, the power outlaid, or the price paid, for they are but the means; so that whatever be the price paid, the power or outlay employed, the deliverance and salvation itself only is the redemption, as we so fully and plainly read in the word of God saying, `The angel which redeemed me from all evil,’ Gen 48:16; `The Lord liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,’ 2 Sam 4:9; `Out of all distress,’ 1 King 1:29; `Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,’ Psalm 103:4; `I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death,’ Hosea 13:14; `That he might redeem us from all iniquity,’ Tit 2:14; `Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,’ Gal 2:13; `From your vain conversation,’ 1 Peter 1:18; `Which were redeemed from the earth,’ Rev 14:3; `These were redeemed from among men,’ verse 4; `Which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt,’ 2 Sam 7:23; `And hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,’ Rev 5:9.

From the word of God, therefore, so full and so plain on the point, it is undeniably evident, that a real deliverance only effected and ensured is redemption; and that without a real, proper, and actual deliverance and freedom ensured from the thralldom considered, whatever is done, it is in no shape redemption at all, by any known meaning and proper use of the terms redeem, redemption, redeemeth, redeemed, redeemest. And on what ground, then, our Lord Jesus Christ’s proper redemption of souls, by the full price of `Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe,’ Ex 21:23-25, in suffering, bloodshed, and obedience even unto the death of the cross, should be so mauled about as above, and subjected to those drawbacks, imbecilities, failures and defects, contrary to all and every idea of a real and proper redemption in every other matter, case or instance known among men, for which the true and proper sense and meaning of the word redemption is known to stand, I cannot make out or understand; otherwise than that such men, professing to receive the truth of God, at the same time cannot bear the plain, free, discriminating, absolute grace, shape and order of that truth, and, consequently, not its real nature and design.

I hope I have as large a heart and soul for the salvation of sinners as any man living, and subject to the sovereign will and operative power of God, work as hard at least as any second-rate laborer in the Lord’s name, to promote that end; but I must confess that I have never been able to make that out to be redemption at all, which does not really and properly redeem, but leaves its intended objects, from certain still existing causes, enthralled, undelivered, un-rescued, and liable, after all, to all the misery and woe to which exposed without such a falsely called redemption. Nor that to be atonement that does not really and properly atone, by `making amends for the…

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It has been said, `That redemption is universal, and that the reason why salvation is not universal, is because men do not avail themselves of the advantages of redemption.’ This gives plenty of scope for universal invitations, and just suits the pride of the human heart, because it gives to man a sort of self-dispensing power over the eternal favours of God, and denies God’s sovereignty in the dispensations of his own blessings. This also makes the redemption work of Christ to come a certain distance toward the sinner, but not to reach all the way to him as a sinner, without strength, dead in sins, and at enmity against God, in order to fetch him out from that very state. But if the ladder which Jacob saw had not come all the way to the earth, it could have marked out no way of intercourse for him with heaven, or heaven with him: and so the work of Christ would do nothing if it did not reach all the way to the sinner’s case as a sinner. But quite contrary, and very happily so, to the above nonsense of the sinner’s availing himself, the apostle Paul declares the work of our Lord Jesus Christ to extend to the sinner as a sinner considered, and not to him merely considered as a coming saint: saying, `When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the…

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It has been said, `That Christ died for sin, for all sin, and not for persons in particular.’ This is a very convenient loop-hole for the bringing in of universal invitations, and human conditions for the personal acquirement of eternal life; but is this the truth of God that endureth for ever? Death is the wages of sin, and if Christ died for all sin, then is there now no more death for sin to any one. Death is the full penalty of sin, and so much of sin as Christ hath died for, so much of death that came by sin hath Christ for ever destroyed. And if Christ died for all sin, then hath he for ever abolished, swallowed up in victory, and destroyed all death, that came by sin, or by dying he hath not destroyed death at all, and in that case what has he done by dying? But according to the…

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It has been said, that “Christ died intentionally for the elect, and provisionally for all the rest of mankind, and that there is merit enough in the blood of Christ for the redemption of all men, if they would apply for it.”

This is as easy said as any thing else, and is very pleasant to flesh and blood, but it is not easy to be proved and sustained for truth by any one text in all the word of God; because in relation to eternal salvation, God has borne no such testimony in any part of his word, either of man, or of himself, of his will and intention, or of his work, or the worth that is in it. The Lord’s plans are all drawn in his own mind before he begins his work; the counsel of his own will, indeed, is his one great and entire plan, and to this plan he will work all things until he has fulfilled all he has purposed, promised, meant and intended; for as he is of infinite understanding, and sees the end from the beginning, all his provisions, operations, promises and intentions, are in conformity to, and all tend infallibly to secure that full end and design; for “I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it,” Ecc 3:14; so that “All God’s works shall praise him, and his saints shall bless him.”

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As it is impossible to give any thing of a tolerable countenance to universal invitations on particular redemption premises, so, as a sort of plea for universal invitations to salvation, the work of our Lord Jesus Christ is mauled about into all manner of shapes and forms of a something universal; but forced to be therewith of consequent uncertainty, and perishable fallibility. Because none pretend to affirm that salvation is or will finally be universal, but intimate that on the work of Christ being universal, salvation might be if men would. But according to this, so far as salvation fails to be universal, just so far the…

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It has been said, `That it is the duty of all men to be what grace makes the Christian.’ This is plain, and the plainer it is the better we can understand it, and the less likely we are to make mistakes. But in reply to this, let us observe:

First. That so it would be the duty of all men, if Adam had been as a head to his whole posterity exactly what Christ is as a head to his believing church, and the whole posterity of Adam had been in him at the first exactly what the quickened and called church is in Christ; but not otherwise, since it cannot be any man’s duty now, to be more than man was at the first. And taking Adam as a pattern of the whole, that he was in his moral uprightness, in his life and standing in Eden, and in his meetness for Eden, just what the Christian man by grace is unto salvation; and that the man of God by grace unto eternal salvation, is but a repetition of Adam’s first constitutional state and standing figure before God in Eden, either personally, systematically, properly, or prospectively, I challenge and defy any duty faith man under the heavens to prove by any one text in all the word of God. For that while Adam had in his first state but a pure earthly paradise, he stood in the very height and perfection of the bliss for which he had a personal meetness, and that on condition only of his upright continuance in the moral rectitude in which God had made him; while the Christian, by grace `a new creature,’ has a meetness for the incorruptible inheritance of heaven itself, and that ensured to him in the very life of Christ, John 14:19. The word of God, in speaking of Adam in his own order of first state, never calls him a…

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And to what can we possibly attribute this apostolic silence on points which, if true, must give feature and figure to all other points of the gospel of God? I cannot possibly, for myself, account for this dead silence on duty faith and universal invitations otherwise than that these points were nonentities in the apostolic gospel of God; and that it is of the devil, antichrist, and the pride and false piety of men, that they have either name, place or being for gospel, the truth of God, or anything related thereunto now. Duty faith men make duty faith and universal invitations to give countenance and cast to the whole of their gospel; and how is this, that our duty faith men make that to be so much in every thing, which the apostles were as silent upon as death in every thing? This awful difference has not come from God, but from the parent of those spirits, 1 John 4:1, and is of their fraternity only.

Our God is of one uniform mind, and the Spirit of truth speaketh one and the same thing, in the same ministry, through all ages, without contradiction. And most certainly, that which was not gospel truth in the mouth of the apostles’ public ministration of the `whole counsel of God,’ of `all the words of this life,’ declaring all that they had…

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And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ,’ Acts 24:24. This was a most favorable opportunity for duty faith and universal invitations to have been advanced and enforced; and such an opportunity too, as could not have justly or innocently been suffered to pass by un- embraced and unimproved, had any such doctrines, sentiments, principles, thoughts or ideas been contained and known in the apostle’s great commission `to bear the Lord’s name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel,’ Acts 9:15. But is there anything of the kind to be found here in Paul’s address? No, not one word, for at verse 25, chap 24 it is said, `And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.’ Here was no duty faith nor universal invitations in this, but a fair and honest statement of facts, supported by sound and solemn reasoning. This was a mode of address to a Gentile sinner that needed no reconciling with the counsels of God and other truths of the faith of Christ.

And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds,’ Acts 26:29. Here was a good opportunity, and one in which we might reasonably expect to find something of duty faith and universal invitations principles, in some one form of countenance or another, if any such thing had been in either Paul’s creed or commission. For ‘Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,’ verse 28. And why did not Paul snatch up this opportunity that was so…

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There could not have been three more favorable opportunities for the enforcement of duty faith and universal invitations than Peter the apostle had. First. In opening his gospel commission, in the first really and properly new testament sermon to the Jews, on the person, death and resurrection of Christ, Acts 2. Second. In his explanatory defense before the high priest and the Jewish council, Acts 4:9-12; 5:29-32. And Third. In opening his gospel commission in the first properly new testament sermon that was preached to the Gentiles, Acts 10:34 to the end of the chapter. Now these were not only opportunities, but occasions which must have made it Peter’s duty to have enforced duty faith and universal invitations, if any such things had been in his gospel commission from his Lord and Master; but we hear nothing about…

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If duty faith and universal invitations unto salvation were really truths of the divine mind, and of revelation, they would claim a place in the gospel ministry as first principles, and would have been held by our Lord and his apostles as of so much importance, as, for that reason and for our example, to have used them on every fair occasion, and not let one real opportunity escape the enforcing of them upon unbelieving persons. And did they do so? And have they set us any such an example? No, but altogether the contrary, as the following examples of their conduct will shew: `Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ,’ Matt xvi 20. On duty faith and universal invitation principles, we should suppose that all men would have been invited to come, that through seeing they might all believe, not missing such a fine opportunity, if duty faith and universal invitations had ever been in the Lord’s meaning; but instead of which it was `tell no man’ to come and see.

And when our Lord talked with the woman of Samaria, he neither told her that it was her duty to believe unto salvation nor invited her to do so, but pointed at her conscience through the…

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Third. Universal invitations fully imply and really breathe the spirit of a total denial of that personal change of state, which, according to the word of God, must take place in the person for the soul to be saved; and which change of personal state is declared to have been wrought in all them who, according to New Testament record, have been believers unto salvation, and that also to have been God’s own work only. And this indispensable personal change of state is set forth in the word of God, by such figures of expression as defy any commixture of agency in the thing itself, and all power but the power of God alone to produce the same. And out of the many, we will take notice of four of those forms of expression by which this change of state for the kingdom of God is set forth.

(1) It is set forth under the figure of being generated, saying, `Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,’ James 1:18. Surely the Holy Ghost never inspired this figure without a correspondent meaning; and with this fact duly considered as the truth of God in his own holy word, universal invitations must appear most senseless and opposed to all the laws of truth, unless it be good sense and quite consistent with the…

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Second. Universal invitations are supported, and can only be supported, by a perversion and misapplication of the addresses of the word of God. It is pretended that universal invitations are used in the word of God, and accordingly to be used now on that authority, although no man can bring them into harmony with any truth of a particular nature. I have read those who have collected their supposed authority from the sacred word, and the whole appears to me to be altogether without the true mind and intent of one text cited for the purpose; and to be a direct misapplication of them, both to persons and things; and a mere catching at sounds, with a gross perversion of sense, to make it fit to the predetermined favorite point. I am confident that with such a catching at sounds, irrespective of the real mind and intent of the text, which is evident from the…

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The fact that universal invitations cannot be made to agree with any doctrine of particular grace and ensured salvation, is forced to be admitted by some of those duty-faith ministers who profess to hold election, particular redemption, free Justification, and such like doctrines of grace. But they endeavour to excuse themselves in their evident self inconsistency, by saying, that ‘truth is no system, and that it is impossible for any man to reconcile the mode of address to sinners, authorized by the word of God, with the counsels of God.’ See James Smith’s Warrant, &c. However this may appear to others, to me it appears one of the most awful conclusions that any man can come to, in the name of the great Fountain of all wisdom and order for the support of a point. Surely our God is not chargeable with this strife, this war, this opposition, this contradiction, this say and unsay with himself in his word; for he is not the author of such confusion, 1 Cor. 14: 33. What! When there is not a term used among men significant of system, but what the Holy Ghost has summoned as a figure whereby to express the systematical economy and settled order of the grace of God to men, as that of the Vine and its branches, and God the Father its husbandman; the Shepherd and his flock, the Husband and his bride, the Father and his family, the Head and its body, the covenant and the Mediator, the Testament, or will, and the Surety, &c.; and yet the truth of it, truth by which it is published, and by which only it is made known to the sons of men in the power of the Holy Ghost, is no system! There cannot be a more pointed self-contradiction. If truth be no system, then God can have no determined method, boundary, harmony of parts, or end in his…

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First, that universal invitations can never be made to agree with particular, fixed, and eternal purposes; a particular covenant that shall never be broken, is everlasting, immovable, ordered in all things and sure; a particular redemption that is real and eternal; particular promises that are all yea and amen in Christ; and a particular provision which God ‘will abundantly bless.’ And it is most certain, that if universal invitations cannot be made to agree with those great points, they can form no part of the ministry of those great points, and so, no part of the ministry in the communication of the blessings thereof. The economy of grace can only be sure, as it is particular, and must be as particular as it is really sure. And that it is particular must be admitted, if the Bible be admitted as the standard law-book of the case; for the Lord knew the end from the beginning, Isaiah 46:10; ‘For he himself knew what he would do, John 6: 6; ‘That the purpose of God according to election might stand, Rom 9:11; ‘Even so, then, there is at this present time a remnant according to election of grace; and if by grace, then it is no more of works,’ Rom 9:5,6; ‘Our God is in the heavens, and he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased,’ Psalm 115:3: ‘Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight,’ Matt 11:25-27. ‘So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy,’ Rom 9: 16; Now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe, John 14:29; that in purpose, God’s works were finished from the foundation of the world,’ Heb 4:3.

The provisions of grace are not only made for the certain support and eternal salvation of all them that come to Christ by faith, but are equally and altogether as much made for the purpose of quickening, disposing, and bringing by faith to Christ, all and every one that shall be saved by him; none have ever come to Christ in any other way than by the…

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