The Fifth Property of the Divine Decree: It is DISCRIMINATING
That it is discriminating and particular, not universal or general, may be proved from the following arguments:
1. The very word used, Election, confutes the universality of it. There can be no choice made, where all are taken, and none left. That cannot be called election which is equally extended to every individual. He doth not elect that doth not prefer some before others. God did not choose all the thirty-two thousand Israelites that were with Gideon, to save Israel by, out of the hand of Midian, but only the three hundred that lapped; and these were chosen from out of the thirty and two thousand (Jdg 7:3-7). God did not choose all the nations, but only Israel, to be a special people to Himself, "Thy God hath chosen thee . . . above all people that are upon the face of the earth" (Deu 7:6). Election must therefore be discriminating, and a making of some to differ from others.
2. Scripture expressly states that only few are chosen, though many be called (Matthew 20:16). It is only a little flock (Luk 12:32), and but one of a city and two of a family that are brought to Zion (Jer 3:14). "I have chosen you out of the world," saith Christ (John 15:19); and the Lord calls Paul a chosen vessel unto Him (Act 9:15; 22:14). How ill it sounds in the ears of a gospel-spirit to say that Pharaoh and Judas were elected as well as Paul and Barnabas; and that Simon Magus was elected as well as Simon Peter; all which a general election, which is the Arminian hypothesis, most necessarily asserts. How can these "reprobate silver" pieces be, in a gospel sense, termed chosen vessels (as Paul was) to know God's will, and to see the Just One (Act 22:14)?
3. If election be general under a condition of believing, then Pilate, Caiaphas, and Judas were elected under that condition; and so God is brought in to speak after this manner: I have appointed to save Pilate, Caiaphas and Judas if they will believe in the death of Christ; but, if they believe, Christ shall not be crucified, for those are the very men appointed by My determinate counsel to put Christ to death (see Act 2:23; 4:28). Had these men believed (and they have believed according to the Arminians' views), then God's decree concerning Christ's death would not have been absolute, but depending on a condition which those men might have fulfilled (to wit, believing in Christ's death), which had they done, they had believed in that which then never would have come to pass. Thus carnal reason bespatters Divine wisdom!
4. How can it be safely said that God ever intended the salvation of any others, but those who are, or shall be, effectually saved? This would frustrate the will of God, even His will of intention, and would be contrary to the following scriptures, "Our God . . . hath done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Psalms 115:3). "I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee" (Job 42:2). And no man can resist the will of God, for He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. And, if after all, O vain man! thou wilt still object, and say, "Why doth He yet find fault? for who hath resisted His will?" the only answer for thee is, "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" (Romans 9:19). Thus it was, according to the sovereign will of Jehovah, that Jacob and Esau were discriminated the one from the other.
5. The apostle shows that there is this discriminating difference between man and man, that some are chosen to life, and therefore shall most certainly obtain it! others are refused and left in a perishing condition, which they shall certainly not escape. "The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded" (Romans 11:7). The difference is of God, according to the purpose of election; not as of Him that foresees faith or works, but as of Him that gives both.
We may learn from the preceding:
1. It is distinguishing love that our Potter hath made us what we are, men and women. All creatures, even toads and other obnoxious animals, were formed of the same dust with man. "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Gen 2:7); "and out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast" (Gen 2:19).
2. It is the will of God that some be poor and others rich; so here, that some be vessels of honour, and others of dishonour.
3. Christ raised not all up that were dead, but Lazarus, etc., nor all that were born blind, but him mentioned in John 9. Bless God for raising thee up from thy death of sin, and healing thy blindness, and not others! Thou wert alike undeserving with them! Thou wert, thou art still, in thyself, a sinner! And if thou art taught by grace, the last accents on thy faltering tongue will be the publican's prayer. "God be merciful to me a sinner."