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answer; that the threatenings, cautions, and exhortations referred to, will appear to accord perfectly with the wisdom of Providence, when it is considered, that they are made to societies and bodies of men under a profession of religion, some of which were real, others nominal professors; some true believers, others hypocrites, men destitute of the grace of God; and, perhaps, with a particular view to the latter, were these things given out, to whom God had never decreed to give repentance and perseverance. Besides, allowing that these threats, cautions, and exhortations are made to such to whom he had decreed to give repentance and perseverance, they are to be considered as means leading on, and blessed, in order to the enjoyment of what God had determined to give; and, therefore, it must accord with the wisdom of providence to make use of them.

(8.) "Is it suitable* to the sincerity of his providential dispensations, of which his dealings with men, by his revealed will towards them, make so great a part, to move them to the performance of their duty only by motives, which he knows cannot work upon them, without that farther aid he, from eternity, hath determined to deny them?" I reply; that if, by performance of duty, is meant that men should convert themselves, repent of sin, and believe in Christ, to the saving of their souls, it will not be easy to prove that God makes use of any motives to move any persons to do these things of themselves; and still more difficult to prove, that he makes use of any to induce such persons thereunto to whom he does not give that grace which only can enable them to do them. If by performance of duty, is meant moral obedience to the law of God, this is every man's duty, whether he has any motives to it or not; and if God makes use of any motives to induce unto it, which, without his grace, do not, and cannot, work upon them, the insufficiency of them does not arise from any thing in the motives themselves, nor from the denial of God's grace, nor from his determination to deny it, but from the perverseness and wickedness of men's hearts; wherefore, it is not unsuitable to the sincerity of providence, to make use of such motives, though they do not, and he knows they cannot, influence without his grace, which he is not obliged to give, and which he has determined to deny; since thereby, the perverseness and wickedness of men are more fully discovered, and they left inexcusable. Besides, the instances referred to regard not all mankind, but the people of Israel, and God's dealings with them, not in relation to their spiritual and eternal welfare, but their civil and temporal estate, as a body politic, as has been shown in the first Part of this work.

(9.) "Is it suitable+ to the same wisdom and sincerity, to move such persons by promises to repent and believe; and to require them, having such promises, to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God? What wit of man can show, how God can be serious in calling such men to faith and repentance, much less in his concern that they might do so, or in his trouble that they have not done so; and yet be serious and in good earnest in his ante*Whitby, p. 511; ed. 2. 489. + Ibid. p. 512; ed. 2. 490.

cedent decree to deny them that aid, without which they never can believe or repent?" To which may be replied; that God is serious in calling men to faith and repentance, and as serious in his decrees either to give or deny that grace, without which none can ever believe or repent, is certain; and it must be owned, it would appear unsuitable to his wisdom and sincerity, should he move such persons by promises, and call such to faith and repentance, to whom, by an antecedent decree, he had determined to deny that grace, without which they could never believe and repent: but, then, it remains to be proved, which, I think, can never be proved, that God calls any persons, and moves them by promises to believe in Christ, to the saving of their souls, or to evangelical repentance, to whom he does not give grace to believe and repent, or such who are not eventually saved.



IN favour of the doctrines of absolute election and reprobation, particular redemption, and special grace in conversion, we observe, that, for many ages, God suffered the heathen world to walk in their own ways, leaving them without a revelation of his mind and will, without the gospel, and means of grace; and which has been, and still is, the case of multitudes to this day. This it cannot reasonably be thought he would have done, had it been according to the counsel of his will that all the individuals of mankind should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; or had Christ died for and redeemed them all; or was it the will of God to bestow on all men sufficient grace, whereby they may be saved. Nor can it be thought that God deals more severely with men, according to the above doctrines, than he seems to have done with the heathen world in this respect: particularly, in favour of God's decrees, it is observed, that if God conveys his gospel to, and bestows the means of grace on some people, and not on others, when the one are no more worthy of it than the other, and so must arise from his free grace, sovereign pleasure, and the counsel of his will; why may not the decree of the end of bestowing salvation on some, and not on others, as well as the decree of the means of sending the gospel to some, and not to others, be thought to be equally free, absolute, and sovereign? And seeing it is in fact certain, that the greatest part of mankind have been always left destitute of the means of grace, we need not wonder why that God, who freely communicates the knowledge of himself by the gospel to some nations, denying it to others, should hold the same method with individuals that he doth with whole bodies; for the rejecting of whole nations by the lump, for so many ages, is much more unaccountable than the selecting of a few to be infallibly conducted to salvation, and leaving others in that state of

disability in which they shall inevitably fail of it. Now to this it is replied*:

1. "That this objection doth by no means answer the chief arguments produced against these decrees, which are all taken from the inconsistency of them with the truth and sincerity of God's declarations, with his commands to repent, his exhortations and desires that they would, threats of ruin to them that do not, and with all the promises, motives, and encouragements to induce them unto it." I observe, that this writer himself seems to be convinced, that this objection answers some, though not the chief, arguments produced against the absolute decrees of God. And as for those which are taken from the supposed inconsistency of them with the truth and sincerity of God, in his declarations, they have been replied to already, in this Part, under the article of Reprobation, to which the reader is referred, where it is made to appear, that there is no inconsistency between these decrees and the truth and sincerity of God in his declarations. It is much we should be called upon to show the like inconsistency, as is here pretended, between God's declarations touching the heathen world, and his dealings with them, when it is agreed, on both sides, he has made no declarations of his mind and will to them. This author goes on, and allows, that there is a greater depth in the divine providence, and in his dispensations towards the sons of men, than we can fathom by our shallow reason; but then, it must be insolence in us to say, that God does not act, in the ordering of affairs in the world, according to the measures of true goodness, because we, who cannot dive into the reasons of his dispensations, cannot discern the footsteps of that goodness in all his various transactions towards men. To which I heartily agree; and it would have been well if this author, and others of the same cast with him, had carefully attended to such an observation, and contented themselves with such a view of things; which must have stopped their mouths from calumniating the goodness of God, on a supposition of his absolute decrees of election and reprobation. It is further observed, "that what God hath plainly and frequently revealed concerning his goodness, ought firmly to be owned and believed, although we are not able to discern how the transactions of God in the world comport with our imperfect knowledge and weak notions of immense and boundless goodness." All very right. To which is added§, that "seeing the revelations of this nature (of divine goodness) are so clear and copious, have we not reason to believe them, notwithstanding those little scruples which, from our fond ideas and imperfect notions of divine goodness, we do make against them?" But, pray, what are these plain and frequent, clear and copious, revelations of divine goodness? and what the things that are not so clearly revealed? why, we are told, that to apply these things to our subject,

1. "We know from Scripture, how dreadful for quality, how endless for duration, will be the punishment of every Christian who fails of the salvation tendered; but we know so little of the future state of hea

*Whitby, p. 515; ed. 2. 493.

‡ Ibid. p. 517; ed. 2. 495.

Ibid. p. 516, 517; ed. 2. 494, 495.

Ibid. p. 519; ed. 2. 496.

thens, that we are uncertain both as to the measure and duration of their punishment." Now not to take notice, that salvation is not tendered, and that a Christian, or one that truly deserves that name, cannot fail of it, or be liable to endless punishment; it is strange, that the dreadful punishment of any, and the endless duration of it, should be mentioned among the plain and frequent, clear and copious revelations of divine goodness, when it belongs to the plain and frequent, clear and copious revelations of divine justice. Besides, though we know so little of the future state of heathens from the Scripture, yet we are not altogether at an uncertainty about either the measure or duration of their punishment; for as to the former, we are told*, that it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, for the inhabitants of these places, who had not the advantage of Christ's ministry and miracles, at the day of judgment, than for the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, who were favoured with them; and it is reasonable to conclude, that this will hold good of all men, without a divine revelation; and as to the latter, it is certain, when our Lord shall descend from heaven, he will take vengeance on them that know not God, the Gentiles, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; meaning such who have enjoyed, but have neglected and despised the means of grace; who, one as well as another, shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his powert. Moreover, whereas it is suggested, that Providence may put the heathens into a better state before their final doom, since God overlooked the times of their former ignorance, there being the like reason for his still overlooking them; it should be observed, that God's overlooking the times of heathen ignorance, was not an instance of his kindness and goodness, but of his disregard unto them: the meaning is, that he looked over them, took no notice of them, made no revelation to them, but left them in their blindness and ignorance, without giving them any helps, or sending them any persons to instruct and teach them.

2. It is said §, "We know that God hath made a tender of the covenant of grace, upon conditions of faith and repentance, to all that live under the gospel dispensation; and that these decrees of absolute reprobation, and of denying the help necessary to the performing these conditions, are inconsistent with that tender: whereas we know of no such tender made to the heathen world; but rather, that they are still strangers to the covenant of promise, Eph. ii. 12." I answer; We know, indeed, from the Scriptures, that God has made a covenant of grace, which is a considerable instance of his divine philanthropy and goodness; but then, this covenant of grace is neither made with, nor tendered to all that live under the gospel dispensation; it is only made with God's elect in Christ, and that not upon conditions of faith and repentance; for these are blessings of grace secured for them in this covenant. Hence the decrees of absolute reprobation, and of denying the aid of grace to some persons, are not at all inconsistent with this covenant, and the promulgation of it in the gospel. We also know of no such covenant made with, nor of any tender of it, nor of * Matt. xi. 21, 22. Acts xvii. 30. § Whitby, p. 519; ed. 2. 497.

+2 Thes. i. 8, 9.


any publication of it to the heathen world; but rather, that all that are destitute of revelation, are strangers to the covenant of promise, Ephes. ii. 12, which passage likewise acquaints us, that such as are without the knowledge of Christ, and God in Christ, are without hope; and that such who live and die so, have no good ground of hope of eternal life and salvation; which plainly points out the state and case of the heathens, and leaves us at no great uncertainty about it: wherefore, we freely own, what is further alleged *, that,

3. "We know not any promises God hath made to them;" and we know as little of any promises, or tenders of promises, God has made to the reprobate part of mankind, either with or without conditions, or upon possible or impossible ones: as also, that,

4. "We know from Scripture that the heathens, who never had Christ preached to them, are not bound to believe in him." This is readily granted; and to it may be added, that they will not be condemned and punished for their unbelief, but for their sins committed against the law and light of nature. And though "we know from the same Scripture, that this is the command of God to all that have heard of Christ, that they believe in the Son of God;" yet we know that the faith enjoined and required is proportionate to the revelation that is made of Christ; for no man is bound to believe more than what is revealed. If evidence is given of Christ's being the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour of the world, as was to the Jews, credit should be given thereunto; which the Jews should and could have given, though they could not believe unto salvation, without superior power and grace: if Christ is represented to any persons as a proper object of faith, trust, and confidence; it becomes such persons to believe in him, and rely upon him; and such are, by the grace of God, enabled so to do. If the Spirit of God reveals to a man his particular interest in the death of Christ, or that Christ died for him in particular, he ought to believe it. All which perfectly accords with the doctrine of particular redemption, and is no ways inconsistent with God's decrees. of giving the necessary aid of his grace to some, to enable them to believe unto salvation, and of denying it to others.

5. It is added, "We know that God sent his prophets and messengers, apostles and evangelists, to move the Jews unto repentance, and those Gentiles to whom the gospel was offered, to embrace it; and that under both these dispensations, he established an order of men to call all men indifferently to repentance; but we know not that any thing was done towards those heathens to whom the gospel never hath been preached, nor ever any messenger or prophet sent." Be it so, as it will be allowed, that proper persons were sent to move the Jews to repentance, and the Gentiles to embrace the gospel, who were blessed to the conversion of God's elect, which lay among them both; and that nothing of this was ever done to the heathens, to whom the gospel was never preached; for, indeed, how should any thing of this kind be done to them, this being their case? yet this is not at all inconsistent with God's decrees of election and reprobation, since it Whitby, p. 519; ed. 2. 497.

+ Ibid. p. 520; ed. 2. 498.


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