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Prevenient Grace and the Salt of the Earth
In God’s prevenient grace his elect remnant are “the salt of the earth.” His elect remnant is the blessing in Adam’s fallen race for which reprobate sinners are temporarily preserved in life (2 Peter 3:9).
A Vine Preserved
Though in ourselves we were but worthless, dead, dried vines, fit only to be cut down and cast into the fire, the God of Glory, the God of all grace saw something else in us, something he alone could produce. He says, concerning a world lost in sin, “Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it” (Isaiah 65:8).
The picture Isaiah gives is of a gardener about to cut down a dried up vine or prune away some of its unfruitful branches. The owner of the vineyard passes by and notices a cluster of new grapes on it. When he does, he cries out to the vine dresser, “Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it!” It looked worthless. It appeared to be needlessly occupying space. Ugly and dried up, the gardener would have cut it down, and would have thought that was the only thing to be done with it. Nothing in the field is uglier than a dried up vine. But the owner saw a blessing in that which appeared to be worthless.
The Holy Spirit gives us the parallel. — “So will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.” Both the chosen and the reprobate are referred to as “my servants” because all men, indeed all things are the servants of our God (Proverbs 16:4).
God’s elect in this world are the blessing hidden among the nations of the world for which He preserves them. It is written, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
The only reason God does not destroy this world right now is the fact that there is yet a remnant according to the election of grace who must be saved. Everything God does in this world is for the elect’s sake. Every benefit of providential mercy that reprobate men enjoy in time is because there lives among them God’s elect, of whom he says, “Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it.” This is not my opinion. This is what God says. — “So will I do for my servants’ sakes.”
Once Noah (the blessing) was safely in the ark, God destroyed the rest of the world. Once Lot (the blessing) was delivered unto Zoar, God destroyed Sodom. Joshua and Caleb (the blessings) entered into the land of promise, though all those who came out of Egypt with them perished under the wrath of God. The rest of the world exists and is used by God for his elect, the blessing in it (Isaiah 43:1-6). In a word, as God the Holy Ghost tells us in 2nd Peter 3:15, the longsuffering of God with the world is the salvation of his elect.