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Acts xvi. 14. Admitting, however, that the condition whereon le
the decree depends, (that is to say, the will enfranchised by icut
God himself, and that faith which is required of mankind), 9 is left in the power of free agents, there is nothing in the On
doctrine either derogatory to grace, or inconsistent with jus-
Man shall find grace ;
Paradise Lost, III. 227
By destiny, and can no other choose ? Ibid, V. 524.
against this doctrine,' are of no force whatever ;-namely, that the repentance and faith of the predestinated having been foreseen, predestination becomes posterior in point of time to works,--that it is rendered dependent on the will of man,—that God is defrauded of part of the glory of our salvation,—that man is puffed up with pride,—that the foundations of all Christian consolation in life and in death are shaken,that gratuitous justification is denied. On the contrary, the scheme, and consequently the glory, not only of the divine grace, but also of the divine wisdom and justice, is thus displayed in a clearer manner than on the opposite hypothesis ; and consequently the principal end is effected which God pro. posed to himself in predestination.
Seeing, then, that God has predestinated from eternity all those who should believe and continue in the faith, it follows that none can be reprobated, except they do not believe or continue in the faith, and even this rather as a consequence
than a decree ; there can therefore be no reprobation of indie nd
vation, on the proviso of a general condition, all who enjoy freedom of will; while rone are predestinated to destruction, except through their own fault, and as it were per accidens, in the same manner as the gospel itself is said to be a stumbling-block and a savour of death to some. This shall be proved on the testimony of Scripture no less explicitly than the doctrine asserted in the former part of the chapter. Isai. 1. 1. “where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?.... behold for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves.” Hos. iv. 6. “ because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee .... seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Rev. xiij. 8. “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;" those, namely, who have not believed, whom God has expressly deserted? because
1 See the works of Twiss, Rutherford, and Bishop Davenant, Edwards on Free Will, Calvin's Institutes, and the School Divines in general.
2 Thence faintings, swoonings of despair,
And sense of heaven's desertion - Samson Agonistes, 631.
they s wandered after the beast," v. 3. Nor should I call the decree in Zephaniah ii. 1-3. a decree of eternal reprobation, but rather of temporal punishment, and at any rate not an absolute decree, as the passage itself is sufficient to show:
gather yourselves together, 8c. before the decree bring forth.... 8c. fe. it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the anger of Jehovah.”
If God had decreed any to absolute reprobation, which we nowhere read in Scripture, the system of those who affirm that reprobation is an absolute decree, requires that he should have also decreed the means whereby his own decree might be fulfilled. Now these means are neither more nor less than
sin. Nor will it avail to reply that God did not decree sin, but only permitted it; for there is a fatal objection to this common subterfuge, namely, that it implies more than simple permission. Further, he who permits a thing does not decree it, but leaves it free.
But even if there be any decree of reprobation, Scripture everywhere declares, that as election is established and confirmed by faith, so reprobation is rescinded by repentance. Jer. vi. 30. “reprobate silver shall men call them, because Jehovah hath rejected them;" and yet in the third verse of the following chapter God addresses the same people –
amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.” So too in chap. xviii. 6. &c. where God
compares his own right with that of the potter, (whence 6 See the same argument urged by Jeremy Taylor in his letter to a person of quality on the subject of Original Sin, Works, IX. 322.
7 See the divines quoted in the preceding page. Respecting the obs. jection urged by Milton, compare the following passage from the Second Sermon of Tillotson on James i. 13, 14. “If these things be true, that God hath absolutely decreed to damn the greatest part
men, and to make good this decree, he permits them to sin, not by a bare permission of leaving them to themselves, but by such a permission as shall be efficacious; that is, he will so permit them to sin as they cannot avoid it; then those who are under this decree of God are under a necessity of sin. ning; which necessity, now it does not proceed from themselves, but from the decree of God, does by consequence make God the author of
8 To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,
Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,
Paradise Lost. III. 191. VOL. IT.
St. Paul seems to have taken his metaphor, Rom. ix.) “ if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” So too, where God enters into an explicit vindication of the justice of his ways, Ezek. xviii. 25—27. “when the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” xxxiii. 14, 15. “when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right, fc. &c. he shall surely live, he shall not die.” The same is inculcated in other parts of the chapters just quoted : xviii. 31, 32. "why will ye die, O house of Israel ? for I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah, wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” xxxiii. 11. “say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his
and live; turn ye, turn ye from your
for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?” Luke xiii. 5. “
except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish :” therefore, if ye repent, ye shall not perish. If then there be no repentance, of what advantage is election; or if there be repentance, of what injury is reprobation? Accordingly St. Paul, after speaking of those whom he describes as blinded, who are opposed to the elect, Rom. xi. 7. “ the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded,” subjoins immediately, v. 11. “ have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid ;” and v. 23, &c. “and they also, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be graffed in ; for God is able to graff them in again,” &c. Lastly, he adds, v. 32. “God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon
all.” If then God reject none but the disobedient and unbelieving, he undoubtedly gives grace to all, if not in equal measure,' at least sufficient for attaining knowledge of the truth
9 Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
Paradise Lost, III.
and final salvation. I have said, not in equal measure, because not even to the reprobate, as they are called, has he imparted uniformly the same degree of grace. Matt. xi. 21,
, 23. woe unto thee, Chorazin, &c. for if the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon,” &c. See also Luke x. 13. For God, as any other proprietor might do with regard to his private possessions, claims to himself the right of determining concerning his own creatures according to his pleasure, nor can he be called to account for his decision, though, if he chose, he could give the best reasons for it. Rom. ix. 20, 21. “ nay but, О man, who art thou that repliest against God? shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ? hath not the potter power over the clay?” That an equal portion of
grace should not be extended to all, is attributable to the supreme will of God alone; that there are none to whom he does not vouchsafe grace sufficient for their salvation, is attributable to his justice. Isai. v. 4.,“ what could have been done more in my vineyard, that I have not done in it ?” which is said of the whole nation of the Jews, not of the elect only. xxvi. 10. “let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness.”
Ezek. xii. 2. • which have eyes to see, and see not, they have ears to hear, and hear not ; for they are a rebellious house." 2 Kings, xvii. 13. “Jebovah testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye
evil ways, &C..... notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks.” See also 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16. John i. 9. “that was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” ix. 41. "if ye were blind, ye should have no sin ; but now ye say, We see, therefore your sin re
1 maineth," namely, because your sin is the fruit of pride, not : of ignorance. XV. 22. “if I had not come and spoken unto
them, they had not had sin : but now they have no cloak for their sin.' xii. 34–41. yet a little while is the light with you: walk while
ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you, &c. while ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.
Acts xiii. 46. “it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy