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In what

be made before the

iure, shall certainly come to pass; therefore God is said to bave done from éternity, what is revealed to us in its appointed time : as the venerable Beza has well observed on Tit. I. 2. And let this be said for those, who understand this giving, of the giving in the decree, and explain that expression, before the foundation of the world, so as to mean the same thing as from éternity.

XIX. Yet other divines explain it of the giving in fense the the promise; on comparing Tit. 1. 2, in hope of eterpromise nal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised, mpè xpórwy oflife may átavíos, before the world began. Hence we fee, says a

celebrated Expositor of our day, that the promise, founda

which was made minim vena in the beginning of ages, tion of the IJ. 41. 4, before any age had passed away, and so when world.

there was no secular time, or time of this world, when the second age was not yet called forth. We see, I say, that the promise was said to be given forth before the world began. Here therefore we do not only understand a giving by decree, or purpose, but also by promise, that is, by assignation. Which is given unto us, that is, the effe Et of which grace is affigned to us by promise, which is almost coeval with this world. These things are much more plausible than what we just heard from Twiss. Indeed, from that passage in Titus, it seems that we might conclude, that apò Xpówr åsiw, before the world began, neither always, nor necessarily, denotes absolute eternity. For, because the Apostle there treats of the promise, he does not so comprehend all ages, as to lead us beyond the creation of the world, as Calvin himself has observed: but he points out the beginning of the first age, in which the promise of salvation' was made to our first parents immediately upon the fall, which our Dutch commentators have also adopted. Whence it appears, that they are guilty of no absurdity, who fo explain this giving, as to include the promise of grace, made before the Aux of any age. And then, in the

Apostle's

manner.

eternal

I . ,

Apostle's discourse there are these three things proposed in order ; first, the purpose of God, which is the source of all grace; then the promise made from the remoteit antiquity, which he expresses by the term, giving; and lastly, the actual bestowing and manifestation by the glorious coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Nor would I make much opposition, if any should explain the Apostles expression in this

XX. But whatever way you interpret, there is a That prostrong argument in the said passage of Paul for the mise fupeternity of election. For, if you explain the giving,

poses an of the decree, and say, chat, before the world began purpose. is equivalent to eternity: you will conclude directly: phrase, before the world began, in its full emphasis, signifies so much: nor can it be much weakened by Tit. 1. 2. For, the subject is different : in the one place the Apostle speaks of the purpose of God, and of giving from his purpose: In the other, of the promise. But the same predicate is often to be differently explained, according to the diversity of the subjects. For instance, when Peter says, Aets 15. 18, known unto God are all bis works, án átõvos, from the beginning of the world ; 'án árūvos, doubtless fignifies, from eternity. For, if all his works, certainly also, that of the first creation, prior to which was nothing but eternity : but when the fame Apostle, Aets, 3. 21, says, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all bis boly prophets, ár" cesūros, fince the world began; he means nothing by these words, but the most ancient times, in which the Prophets existed. Why therefore may not #po Xpovw uswrlwy be explained one way in 2 Timn. I. 9. and another sit. 1. 2. But let us grant, that the Apostle, by the giving of grace before the world began, understands the promise made in the beginning of the first age ; feeing he says, that the purpose of God was the source of it, certainly that purpose was prior to the promise. But none, I imagine, will say,

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2. 13•

that it was made, when God created man: it mutt
therefore have been froin eternity. According to the
eternal purpose, which be proposed in Christ Jesus our
Lord, Eph. 3. 11. That must certainly, be an eter-
nal purpose, since the effect of it is grace, given before

the foundation of the world. Eternity

XXI. Let us add another passage of Paul, which, of election, we think, is a testimony to the eternity

, of election ;
establish- namely, 2 Thel. 2. 13, but we are bound to give thanks
ed from
2 Theft.
Thell always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord,

because God bath ár' apxñs from the beginning chofen you
to salvation. The Apostle distinguishes that election,
of which he speaks from the call by the Gospel, v. 14.
And therefore, with great propriety, we understand
it of the election of counsel and purpose. This, he
says, was da apxms from the beginning, that is, from
eternity. For that phrase is often taken in that sense:
thus what John 1, 1, says in his Gospel, év apxñ ñv in
the beginning was, in 1 John, 1.' I, he fays, 'an' apxãs
was from the beginning. But to have been already in
the beginning, signifies to be from eternity. For,
what was already YWN73, iv 'wpxñ, in the beginning,
when all things were made, must have been self-
existent, and from eternity. But, lest any should
cavil, that the new world of grace was here intended,
John speaks of the beginning of things made, because he
speaks of the existence of him, by whom the world
was made, and that very world, which knew hint
not, v. 10. By comparing the alledged passages, it
appears, that in the beginning and from the beginning,
are equivalent terms. We have this fenfe more
clearly, Mich. 5. 2. Where the Prophet defcribes at
least a. twofold going forth of the Meffiab: the one
from Bethlebem which is after the flesh, and relates to
his being born of the Virgin Mary : the other, which
is after the Spirit, and is expressive of his eternal
generation; of which last he says, a TDX71318,
Obypia wbose goings forth have been from of old, from

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everlasting. Which the Septuagent translate, zás ižodos 'autz'um 'upgrūs, sojuspār ’ar švos. and his goings forth from the beginning, from everlasting. What can be more evident, than that ar 'apxñs there denotes eternity ? The fon of Sirach also Eclefiafticus 24. 9, may shew us, in what sense the Hellenists were wont to use this expression, when he joins as synonymous, apo të ecsūros and’un'apxñs. As then, the Apostle speaks of the election of purpose, as distinct from that of execution, which is made by effectual calling, and since av epoxñs fignifies eternity, we very properly infer the eternity of election.

XXII. Here again I wiss comes in our way, who Twiss a.confidently affirms, that there is no place in all the gain cena Scripture, where this word, signifies eternity: nay,

sured. he thinks it may be put out of all controversy, that it never is, or can be, so used in the sacred writings, according to right reason, l, 6. p. 60. And he applies the election, mentioned here, to some external declaration of internal election, and thinks, the Apostle' alludes to that remarkable promise made to Adam after the fall, of the feed of the woman bruifing the serpent's head. For, says he, God himself has pointed out, in that place, a remarkable difference between the elect and the reprobate : and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between Thy feed and her seed, &c. p. 63. I cannot but wonder at the confidence of this very learned person. It is, indeed true, chat, from the beginning, does not always in Scripture denote eternity; as John 8. 44, and 1 Jobn 3. 8, where the signification is to be determined by the subject treated of. But from the places above quoted it is plain, that sometimes it can admit of no other sense. And I hope, the learned person did not desire to wrest out of our hands those passages, by which all our divines have, so happily, defended the eternity of the logos, or word, against the Socinians. I would rather believe, that he did not attend to the places we have mentioned. Besides, I

could

could, wish he would shew where, in the sacred writings, the first promise of grace is called election ; which, I imagine, he will never be able to do : we are not to forge significations. Moreover, tho' in that promise there is some general indication of a difference made between the elect and reprobate ; yet it is not credible, the Apostle here had any eye to that ; who gives thanks to God, not because he chose some men ; but most especially, because he chose the Thessalonians. But the election of the Thessalonians cannot be inferred from that general declaration of God, the truth of which might have remained, tho' none of those, who then dwelt at Thessalonica, had been chosen. We therefore conclude, that the res ceived explication of divines is perfectly well

grounded. The ex XXIII. There is another learned person, who afposition of ferts, that this place of Paul is to be understood of another

that beginning in which God began to make the Gentiles. learned person ex

heirs of salvation; seeing the Thessalonians were almost amined. among the first of these; they are said to be chosen, sepa

rated from the beginning. Or also ibe beginning of the Gospel may be understood, of which Mark 1. 1, Phil

. 4. 15; or of the salvation, which was preached by Jesus,

He hath chofen you from the beginning: That is, from the begirining of preaching the Gospel, and of salvation manifested and proclaimed But even these things are not satisfactory : for, ift, We have shewn, that Paul treats here of election in purpose, or intention, and not in execution. 2dly, It is, indeed true, that the term, beginning, ought to be explained, in a way suitable to the fubject it treats of; but I do not think, that, from the beginning, absolutely taken does, anywhere, signify the beginning of the Gospel preached, much lefs che beginning of the inheritance of the Gentiles; nor do the places alledged prove it. 3dly, Nor does it agree with history, that the Thesalonians were the first-fruits of the Gentiles brought to the inheritance

af

Heb. 3.

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