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I reply; that these calls, desires, declarations, promises and threats, do not respect all men, only the people of Israel; and not their spiritual and eternal, only their civil welfare, as a body politic; and could they be thought to all mankind, even to such who are not eventually saved, it would not disprove the decree of reprobation; since they only regard external repentance, outward reformation and obedience, which, we readily own, wicked men may be capable of, by the judgments or mercies of God; and which are not only agreeable to God, but are for their good, even for the good of reprobates, quo mitius puniantur, that their punishment may be the milder.
3. It is urged*, that "such a decree as this, being a secret of God's counsel, no man can know that God has made it, but from the express and clear revelation of the holy Scripture; and so no person can have any reason to assert it on any other account. Now the Scripture hath said nothing of the decree of election, and that it is absolute, and without respect to man's faith, repentance, or perseverance; nor has it one syllable to prove, that the object of this election is a certain number of singular persons, or that God hath absolutely ordained one single person to faith, repentance, and perseverance to the end." I answer; that the decree of election is a secret of God's counsel, and that no man can know that God has made it, but from the revelation of the holy Scripture, and so can have no reason to assert it on any other account, is readily granted; and we desire to bring it to no other test or standard, being well assured, that the Scripture has said a great deal concerning it; and we are willing that it should be tried by it, whether election is conditional or absolute, respective or irrespective to man's faith, repentance and perseverance; and whether it has for its object, churches and nations, or a certain number of singular persons. I have shown in the second part of this work, that the Scriptures often speak of this decree, and that as absolute and unconditional; and, as of a certain number of persons, whom the Lord knows to be his, who are the little flock and sheep of Christ, the Father has given to him; not as Judas was, to be his apostle, but to be saved by him with an everlasting salvation. When we say that this decree is irrespective of faith, or holiness, or perseverance in grace, we do not mean that God, in this decree, had no respect to these things; for we know, that whom he hath chosen, they are chosen by him through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth; and that God saves none, and has determined to save none of riper years but such who believe, and persevere to the end so that this decree perfectly agrees with the express declarations of Scripture in Mark xvi. 16. Matt. xxiv. 13. and others of the like kind. But we say, and mean, that God, in this decree, did not consider these things as to be performed by the will of man, and as motives inducing him to make such a decree, but as what he determined to bestow upon them, as means of salvation. And as for God's ordaining single persons to faith, repentance, and perseverance to the end, we say, with the Scriptures, that men are ordained to eternal life ‡; which cannot be understood of churches or nations, but of single persons; and that he has *Whitby, p. 88, 89; ed. 2. 87, 88.
† 2 Thess. ii. 13.
Acts xiii. 48.
determined to give them grace to repent, believe and persevere to the end, that they may enjoy that eternal life, which he has ordained them to. 4. But it is objected*, that "to say that election, or predestination, being an immanent, eternal act of God's understanding, or rather of his will, can have no dependence on, or respect to, any act of man's will, by way of motive, or condition, is to say things contrary to Scripture, and to common sense: for, did not God decree from all eternity, to pardon the penitent, justify him that believes in Jesus, save the obedient, glorify them that suffer for Christ, judge all men according to their works, offer to man a new covenant of grace, promising pardon and salvation to him, upon condition of his faith, repentance, and sincere obedience; and that he that believeth in his Son should have everlasting life and must not these immanent, eternal acts, have respect to the temporal acts of men?" I answer; that since election, or predestination, is an immanent act of God, it must be within himself, and therefore, nothing without him can be the cause or condition of it, or motive to it and seeing it is an eternal one, not any thing done in time, can have any influence upon it; and inasmuch as it is an act of his will rather than of his understanding, it cannot depend upon, or be moved by any act of man's will without making the will of God dependent on the will of the creature, and the first mover of it. It is true, indeed, that God did, from all eternity, decree to pardon the penitent, justify the believer, save the obedient, glorify such who suffer for Christ, judge men according to their works; and did, from all eternity, really make a covenant of grace with Christ, on the behalf of the elect; but did not decree to offer to man a new covenant of grace, nor make one promising pardon and salvation to them, upon condition of their faith, repentance, and sincere obedience, but upon condition of the perfect obedience and sufferings of Christ; and has also declared in the gospel, that he that believes in his Son, shall have eternal life but then, as repentance is not the cause of pardon, nor faith of justification, nor obedience of salvation, nor sufferings for, and with Christ, of glorification; so when God, from all eternity, did decree to pardon, justify, save, and glorify, these persons, he had no respect to these things by way of motive or condition; he did not decree to pardon, justify, save, and glorify, upon a foresight of these things, as arising from the will of man: but having resolved to pardon, justify, save, and glorify these men, he determines to give them, of his own will and pleasure, the grace by which they should become penitent believers, obedient and cheerful sufferers for, and with Christ. So that faith, repentance, obedience, and the like, cannot be considered as conditions. of, or motives to the decrees of God, since they spring from the grace which God, in these decrees of his, has determined to bestow upon the persons he bears such a good will unto. If sin, as is suggested, is the inducement to God, from all eternity, to decree to cast some men out of his favour, it must have been an inducement to cast all men out of his favour, since all have sinned, and are equally unworthy of it; and if those actions, wrought by the assistance of his grace in some, are in
* Whitby, p. 90, 91; ed. 2. 89, 90.
ducements to him, to decree to reward them with eternal life, how comes it to pass, that such actions are not wrought, by the assistance of his grace, in all men? It remains, that nothing can be the cause of these immanent and eternal decrees of God, but his own will and pleasure.
5. Whereas we say that God's ultimate end in these decrees is his own glory, the manifestation of the glory of his grace and mercy, together with his justice by the one, and the manifestation of the glory of his vindictive wrath and justice by the other; our author takes some pains to show that "the end for which he decrees any thing concerning us is not, and cannot be, any advantage or good he expects to reap from it; he being from all eternity past as completely happy as he can be to eternity to come; and therefore what other end, he asks, can he be supposed to aim at in these things, but our good?" I reply, that it will be freely owned that God is completely happy, nor can any thing in time or to eternity be added to his happiness and glory; yet his great design in all his ways and works is the manifestation of his glory to his creatures; for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Ament. Which may be concluded, without entertaining such vain imaginations and conceits, as if his view was to "gain esteem or a good word from such wild creatures as we are; or as if he was concerned, whether we approve or disapprove of his proceedings; or as if he can be tickled with applause, and aim at reputation from us in his glorious design." Moreover, though the good of the elect, even their eternal salvation, is a subordinate end in the decree of election, yet what good can be designed for the reprobates in the decree of reprobation, even according to our author's own scheme of it, is not easy to discern; for he says, "He, that is God, from his justice, hath decreed from all eternity to cast some men out of his favour; the inducement to it is that sin, which hath rendered them unworthy of it, and rendered it inconsistent with his holiness and justice to admit them to it." But it is certain from the Scriptures, which only can give us an account of these decrees, that God's design in the one is the declaration of his wrath and justice; and in the other, of his grace and mercy; for not to take notice of Prov. xvi. 4, the sense of which passage, and the argument upon it, have been vindicated in the second part of this work, the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. And a little after, What if God, willing to show his wrath, and make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, afore prepared unto glory §? Add to this that well known place of scripture, Having predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace. This writer suggests, that "if it is for the glory of his grace to decree to save some, it must be
*Whitby, p. 92; ed. 2. 91. § Rom. ix. 17, 22, 23.
† Rom. xi. 36. || Ephes. i. 5, 6.
Whitby, p. 91; cd. 2. 90. Whitby, p. 95; cd. 2. 94.
more for the glory of it to decree to save more; and most of all, to decree to save all, and to prepare saving grace for all, and not restrain it to a few." To which I reply, that had God decreed to save all men, and had prepared saving grace for all men, then all men would be saved; what should hinder? But I do not find that the opposite scheme provides for this any more than ours; and therefore no more magnifies the glory of God's grace and mercy than ours does, if so much; since it provides not for a certain but an uncertain precarious salvation. Besides, if God had decreed to save all men, and had prepared saving grace for all men, here would indeed have been a display of the glory of his grace and mercy; but where would have been the declaration of his wrath and justice? Especially, the glory of God's sovereignty more appears by these distinct decrees, than if no such distinction had been made; for hence it is evident, that he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth *.
6. The other black part of this decree is said + to be "still more horrible in its immediate consequences; for it makes God to create innumerable souls, after the fall of Adam, to be inevitably damned without the least compassion for them, or will to afford them means sufficient to exempt them from that dreadful doom; and, in prosecution of this end, having created them pure and innocent, it makes him to put them into bodies, that so they may be made or deemed the offspring of Adam; and, by being so, may be made the fit objects of eternal wrath." I answer; that innumerable souls are made since the fall of Adam, and are put into, or united to, human bodies, are things generally agreed upon; but how these souls are united to human bodies, and how they become polluted with sin, and so fit objects of God's wrath, and, indeed, whether they are, by immediate creation, or ex traduce, or both, cannot be so easily determined: however, that God created souls to be inevitably damned, and put them into bodies, that they might be fit objects of his eternal wrath, are things we abhor and detest; and are no consequences of, nor can they be fairly deduced from the decree of reprobation; which, whether it considers creatures fallen or unfallen, leaves them as it finds them, and puts nothing in them; nor is creation the means of damnation, nor damnation the end of creation: God made no man to damn him; but he made him for himself, for his own glory.
To conclude; this author himself owns a decree of God from all eternity, to cast some men out of his favour, induced to it by sin; and another decree, to reward some of them with eternal life, or the enjoyment of himself, induced to it by those actions wrought in them by the assistance of his grace; and, according to this scheme, salvation and damnation are as inevitable, as they are according to ours; since God's foreknowledge of sin and damnation, of grace and salvation, is as infallible as his decree to damn or save; and the absurdities, which are supposed to follow upon our scheme, must follow upon this: for God foreknew that these men would sin and continue in it; whereby he would be induced, nay, on the account of which, he deWhitby, p. 95; ed. 2. 94.
*Rom. ix. 18.
creed to cast them out of his favour; and yet he creates them, permits them to sin, when he could have hindered it, and to many of them he does not give the outward means of grace, and to none of them the assistance of his grace, by which those actions are performed, which induce him to reward others with eternal life, when it is equally in his power to assist them as others; and in a word, denies them that grace which would cure them of their impenitence and unbelief, as it does in others to whom it is given; but suffers them to continue in sin, when he could have restrained them from it, and delivered them out of it; the consequence of which is, their everlasting ruin and destruction.
I PROPOSE in this chapter to consider the arguments from reason, for and against the universality of Christ's redemption; and such as are said plainly to offer themselves to confirm this doctrine, are these :
I. "If God intended not the death of Christ for the saving of any but the elect, then he never intended the salvation of any to whom the gospel is revealed, but the elect; and then he never designed any salvation for the greatest part of men, to whom the gospel was or is revealed, on any condition whatsoever; for since there is no other name under heaven given by which we can be saved; salvation could not be intended for them on any condition whatsoever, to whom the benefit of Christ's death was not intended." To which I answer; that God never intended the death of Christ for the saving of any but the elect, is evident from this consideration, that none are saved but the elect; no one will say, that any are saved who are not the elect of God. This author himself will allow, that such who repent and believe, and are persevering Christians, are the elect, and such are all those that are saved. Now if God intended to save any besides the elect, his intentions are frustrated, and he disappointed; things which cannot be said of, and ascribed to the Divine Being. Besides, what is God's intending to save any by the death of Christ, but the very act of election itself? It is no other than an appointing to salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore to talk of God's intending the death of Christ for the saving of any, or intending to save any by the death of Christ, besides the elect, is a contradiction in terms. Nor is the gospel revealed internally to any but the elect, even to those to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. To these only it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom; to others, they are hid in parables; for, if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost †. *Whitby, p. 158; ed. 2. 154.
† Col. i. 27; Matt. xiii. 11; 2 Cor. iv. 3.