« Prev DISPUTATION 16 Next »

DISPUTATION 16

ON THE VOCATION OF MEN TO SALVATION

RESPONDENT: JAMES BONTEBAL

I. The title contains three terms—vocation, men, salvation, (1.) The word Vocation denotes a total and entire act, consisting of all its parts, whether essential or integral, what parts soever are necessary for the purpose of men being enabled to answer the Divine Vocation. (Prov. i. 24; Matt. xi. 20, 21; xxiii, 37.) (2.) Men may be considered in a two-fold respect, either as placed in the state of animal life without sin, or as obnoxious to sin. We consider them here in this last respect. (Gen. ii. 16, 17; Matt. ix. 13.) (3.) Salvation, by a Synecdoche, in addition to vocation itself by which we are called to salvation, contains also whatsoever is necessary, through the appointment of God, for obtaining salvation or life eternal (Luke xix. 9; 2 Cor. vi. 2.)

II. We define Vocation, a gracious act of God in Christ, by which, through his word and Spirit, He calls forth sinful men, who are liable to condemnation and placed under the dominion of sin, from the condition of the animal life, and from the pollutions and corruptions of this world, (2 Tim. i. 9; Matt. xi. 28; 1 Pet. ii. 9, 10; Gal. i. 4; 2 Pet. ii. 20; Rom. x. 13-15; 1 Pet. iii. 19; Gen. vi. 3,) unto "the fellowship of Jesus Christ," and of his kingdom and its benefits; that, being united unto Him as their Head, they may derive from him life, sensation, motion, and a plenitude of every spiritual blessing, to the glory of God and their own salvation. (1 Cor. i. 9; Gal. ii. 20; Ephes. i. 3, 6; 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14.)

III. The efficient cause of this vocation is God the Father in the Son. The Son himself, as appointed by the Father to be the Mediator and the king of his church, calls men by the Holy Spirit; as He is the Spirit of God given to the Mediator; and as He is the Spirit of Christ the king and the head of his church, by whom both "the Father and the Son hitherto work" (1 Thess. ii. 12; Ephes. ii. 17; iv, 11, 12; Rev. iii. 20; John v. 17.) But this vocation is so administered by the Spirit, that the Holy Spirit is himself its effector: for He appoints bishops, sends forth teachers, endues them with gifts, grants them his assistance, and obtains authority for the word and bestows efficacy upon it. (Heb. iii. 7; Acts xiii. 2; xx, 28; 1 Cor. xii. 4, 7, 9, 11; Heb. ii. 4.)

IV. The Inly-moving cause is the grace, mercy and (philanthropy) "love of God our saviour toward man;" (Tit. iii. 4, 5;) by which He is inclined to relieve the misery of sinful man, and to impart unto him eternal felicity. (2 Tim. i. 9, 10.) But the disposing cause is the wisdom and justice of God; by which he knows how it is proper for this vocation to be administered, and wills it to be dispensed as it is lawful and befitting; and from which is formed the decree of his will concerning the administration and its mode. (1 Cor. i. 17, 18.)

V. The external cause, which outwardly moves God, is Jesus Christ by his obedience and intercession. (2 Tim. i. 9.) But the instrumental cause is the word of God, administered by means of men, either through preaching or writing, which is the ordinary method; (1 Cor. xii. 28-30; 2 Thess. ii. 14;) or without human assistance, when the word is immediately proposed by God inwardly to the mind and the will, which is extraordinary. And this is in fact both the word of the law and that of the Gospel, which are subordinate in the operations apportioned to each other.

VI. The matter or subject of vocation is mankind constituted in the animal life; men worldly, natural, animal, carnal, sinful, alienated from the life of God, and dead in sins; and therefore Unworthy to be called, and Unfit to answer to the call, unless by the gracious estimation of God they be accounted worthy, and by his powerful operation they be rendered Fit to comply with the vocation. (Matt. ix. 13; Tit. ii. 12; Ephes. ii. 11, 12; iv, 17, 18; v, 14; John v. 25; vi, 44; Matt. x. 11-13; Acts xvi. 14.)

VII. The form of vocation is placed in the very administration of the word and of the Holy Spirit. God hath instituted this administration so, as He knows to be suitable and becoming to himself, and to his justice tempered with mercy in Christ; always reserving to himself the fall and free power of not employing, for the conversion of men, all the methods which are possible to himself according to the treasures of his wisdom and power, and of bestowing unequal grace on those who are [in every respect,] equals, and equal grace on those who are unequal, nay, of employing greater grace on those who are more wicked. (Rom. ix. 21-26; x, 17-21; xi, 25, 29-33; Ezek. iii. 6; Matt. xi. 21, 23.)

VIII. But in every vocation the point of commencement, and that of termination, come to be considered. The point of commencement, whence men are called by divine vocation, is not only the state of this animal life, but likewise that of sin and of misery on account of sin, that is, out of guilt and condemnation. (1 Pet. ii. 9; 2 Pet. i. 4; Ephes. ii. 1-6; Rom. vi. 17, 18.) The point of termination is, First, the state of grace, or a participation of supernatural good and of every spiritual blessing, during the present life, in Christ, in whom resides a plenitude of grace and truth; and, Afterwards, the state of glory, and the perfect fruition of God himself. (Ephes. i. 3, 4,; John i. 14, 16; Rom. viii. 28-30.)

IX. The proximate end of vocation is, that they who have been called answer by faith to God and to Christ who give the call, and that they thus become the covenanted people of God through Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant; and, after having become believers and parties to the covenant, that they love, fear, honour, and worship God and Christ, render in all things obedience to the divine precepts "in righteousness and true holiness," and that by this means they "make their calling and election sure." (Prov. i. 24,; Heb. iii. 7; Rev. iii. 20; Ephes. ii. 11-16; Tit. iii. 8; Deut. vi. 4, 5; Jer. xxxii. 38, 39; Luke i. 74, 75; 2 Pet. i. 1, 10.)

X. The remote end is the salvation of the elect and the glory of God, in regard to which the very vocation to grace is a means ordained by God, yet through the appointment of God it is necessary to the communication of salvation. (Phil. i. 6; Ephes. i. 14.) But the answer by which obedience is yielded to this call, is the condition which, through the appointment of God, is also requisite and necessary for obtaining this end. (Prov. i. 24-26; Acts xiii. 46; Luke vii. 30.) The glory of God, who is supremely wise, good, merciful, just and powerful, is so luminously displayed in this communication both of his grace and glory, as deservedly to raise into rapturous admiration the minds of angels and men, and to employ their loosened tongues in celebrating the praises of Jehovah. (Rev. iv. 8-11; v, 8-10.)

XI. Vocation is partly external, partly internal. External vocation is by the ministry of men, who propound the word of the law and of the gospel, and who are on this account called "workers together with God, planters, waterers, builders, and ministers by whom the [members of the] church believe." (1 Cor. i. 5-9; iii, 3-6.) Internal vocation is by the operation of the Holy Spirit illuminating the mind and affecting the heart, that serious attention may be given to those things which are spoken, and that faith or credence may be given to the word. The efficacy consists in the concurrence of both the internal and external vocation. (Acts xvi. 14; 2 Cor. iii. 3; 1 Pet. i. 22.)

XII. But that distribution is not of a genus into its species, but of a whole into its parts, or of the entire vocation into partial acts which concur to produce one conclusion—which is, obedience yielded to the call. Hence an assemblage, or congregation of those who are called, and of those who answer to the call, is denominated "the Church;" (1 Cor. iii. 5, 6; Rom. i. 5;) which is itself, in the same manner, distinguished into the visible and the invisible—the visible, that "maketh confession with the mouth," and the invisible, "that believeth with the heart." (Rom. x. 10.) As man himself is likewise distinguished into "the outward" and "the inward." (2 Cor. iv. 16.)

XIII. But we must be cautious, lest with the mystics and the enthusiasts, we consider the word which is propounded by the ministry of men as only preparatory; and believe that another word is inwardly employed, which is perfective, or, (which is the same thing,) lest we suppose, that the Spirit by his internal act illuminates the mind into another knowledge of God and Christ, than that which is contained in the word outwardly propounded, or that he affects the heart and the soul with other meanings, than those which are proposed from the very same word. (1 Pet. i. 23, 25; Rom. x. 14-17; 2 Cor. iii. 3-6; 1 Cor. xv. 1-4.)

XIV. The accidental result of vocation, and that which is not of itself intended by God, is the rejection of the word of grace, the contemning of the divine counsel, the resistance offered to the Holy Spirit. The proper and per se cause of this result is, the malice and hardness of the human heart. But this result is, not seldom, succeeded by another, the just judgment of God, avenging the contempt shewn to his word and call, and the injury done to his Holy Spirit; and from this judgment arise the blinding of the mind, the hardening of the heart, "the giving over to a reprobate mind," and "the delivering unto the power of Satan." (Acts xiii. 46; Luke vii. 30; Acts vii. 51; 2 Thess. iii. 2; 2 Cor. iv. 4; Psalm lxxxi. 11-14; Isa. lxiii. 10; vi, 9, 10; John xii. 37-40.)

XV. But, because "known unto our God are all his works from the beginning of the world," (Acts xv. 18,) and as God does nothing in time which He has not decreed from all eternity to do, this vocation is likewise instituted and administered according to God’s eternal decree. So that what man soever is called in time, was from all eternity predestinated to be called, and to be called in that state, time, place, mode, and with that efficacy, in and with which he was predestinated. Otherwise, the execution will vary from the decree; which charge of mutability and change cannot be preferred against God without producing mischievous effects. (Ephes. iii. 5, 6, 9-11; James i. 17, 18; 2 Tim. i. 9.)

« Prev DISPUTATION 16 Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |