By Christopher Love
"For God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:9
We come now to handle what is expressed in the text: We are not appointed unto wrath, but to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. Here are three things expressed:
1. What a Christian is not appointed to: he is not appointed to wrath.
2. What he is appointed to: to obtain salvation.
3. And here is laid down the means by whom a Christian obtains salvation, and that is by Jesus Christ. We are not appointed unto wrath, but to obtain salva tion through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I shall only at present speak to the two first particu lars: what a Christian is not appointed to and what he is appointed to. We are not appointed unto wrath, but to obtain salvation, from whence we may learn this obser vation: there are a certain number who are appointed by God not to wrath, but to obtain salvation. It is need less to multiply places of Scripture for the proof of it, since the doctrine is lying so clear in the words. In the prosecution of it, I shall do these three things:
1. Show you what this salvation is that a certain number of people are appointed to.
2. I shall examine whether this doctrine of predestination, and of God's appointing a certain number of people to salvation, is a doctrine that should make men loose and careless.
3. I shall show you whether God, in appointing some men unto salvation, has respect to their foreseen faith or good works.
QUESTION 1. What is meant here by the salvation that some men are appointed to.
ANSWER. There are two things included in this term "salvation." You must know in general that it is that happy and glorious estate which glorified persons in heaven do and shall enjoy, and it includes these two things: There is in this estate something privative and something positive.
There is something privative in it: you shall be freed from sin, from the cause of sin, and from the punish ments of sin. But here you are not so. The best of God's children are not here freed from sin, but it is a spot upon the most beautiful face. But then you shall ap pear, as in Ephesians, "not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:27), but you shall be holy and without blemish.
You shall be freed from the causes of sin, likewise, which are two: either from within (sinful corrupted and polluted nature) or from without (the temptations and suggestions of Satan). Then you shall be freed from the cause of sin within, a corrupted and polluted nature, which shall then be converted into a glorified and pu rified nature, a nature that shall not have the least provocation or inclination in it to vanity. And you shall be freed from the temptations of the devil. He shall then be no more able to trouble and molest or entice you to sin.
You shall be freed from punishment of sin, whether outward (such as troubles, afflictions, disgraces, perse cutions, and death) or inward (such as horror, terror of conscience, and the like). When you come to heaven you shall be freed from all these, but till you come there none of these can be had. You shall neither be freed from sin or the causes nor punishments of it. In 1 Kings 6:32 it is said that, in the entrance into the holy of holies, upon the doors were carved palm trees. Now a palm tree is an emblem of conquest and victory, and these were placed there to note that so long as we live in this world we are soldiers to fight. But we are not conquerors till we enter into the holy of holies, till we come to heaven. In the time of the law, if any unclean thing fell into a vessel of earth, the vessel was unclean till it was broken. So it is with us: there is uncleanness in our bodies, and we shall not be clean till our earthly tabernacles are laid in the dust.
In this salvation there is not only something priva tive, but also something positive. As first, we shall know God clearly and see Him as He is. We here only know what God is not, and see what He is not. We know He is not unjust, nor unrighteous, unwise, or unmerciful, and the like. But we do not know what is that wisdom, holiness, omniscience, and omnipotence that are in God. But in heaven we shall know Him as He is; we shall know God fully, love God perfectly and un-feignedly, serve Him unwearyingly, praise Him continu ally, and enjoy Him everlastingly and uninterruptedly. It is true, the people of God have an enjoyment of God here in this life, but it is far different from that which they shall have in heaven. And those differences are these:
1. It differs in mode, in the manner of enjoying God mediately, and in and by His ordinances; but then we shall enjoy Him immediately without ordinances. Here we see Him but as in a glass darkly, but then we shall behold Him face to face.
2. In measure: here we enjoy God but in a small and weak measure, but there we shall enjoy Him in a larger and full measure.
3. In duration in the continuance: here we enjoy Him for a time, now and then, but in heaven we shall enjoy Him at all times and forever, without intermis sion or interruption.
4. In certitude in the certainty: here we have the en joyment of God but in hope and expectation, but there in fruition, being continually made happy with the beatific vision.
But this much for the first thing, what this salvation is that God has appointed unto us.