Page images

or before the eyes of an unregenerate man; nor is he fubject to the law of God, or obedient to it; neither, indeed, can be be without the grace of God. Now this incapacity arifes from fin, and the corruption of nature; and therefore, as it no ways leffens mens obligations to love, fear and obey God, nor weakens his authority to require these things, fo it is not to be afcribed to the decree of Reprobation. Could it be thought that fuch a decree puts men into an incapacity to love, fear and obey God; it would be apparently contrary to his moral perfections, and unworthy of him. But Reprobation does not, in any view of it, render men uncapable of these things; for, confider the objects of preterition either as fallen or unfallen creatures; if as unfallen, it finds and leaves them fo, without putting them in an incapacity, or fuppofing them in an incapacity to love, fear and obey God, and therefore neither finds nor leaves them in fuch an incapacity; if as fallen creatures, it finds them in this incapacity; and feeing this is owing to themfelves, it cannot be contrary to his moral perfections to leave them in it, or to determine to leave them in it.

3. Let it be obferv'd, that it is the grace of God only that can remove this incapa

Rom. viii. 7. and iii. 17:



city, or make men capable of loving, fearing and obeying him. We love God, becaufe be first loved us; love is a fruit of the Spirit, and the produce of his grace. An heart to fear the Lord, is a part of the new covenant; in which covenant God has also promised to put his Spirit within his people, to caufe them to walk in his ftatutes, and keep his judgments and do them. Now the grace of God is his own, and he may do what he will with it, bestow it on whom he pleases, and withhold it from whom he thinks fit, without any impeachment of his moral perfections; wherefore to leave men without his grace, and in an incapacity of loving, fearing and obeying him, and to determine to do fo, even tho' he requires and approves of these things, cannot be contrary to the perfections of his nature. For,

4. It is not to be doubted of, that God requires the very Devils to love, fear and obey him; they are under obligation to thefe things, and it is their fin that they do not do them, and should they be done by them, would be approved of by God; and yet they are not only in an incapacity to do them, but are all of them, and that for ever, left in this incapacity. Now if it will comport with the moral perfections of


f 1 John iv. 19. Gal. v. 22. Jer. xxxii. 39, 40. Ezek. xxxvi. 27.


God, to leave the whole body of apoftate angels, for ever; in an incapacity of loving, fearing and obeying him; though he requires thefe things of them, and they would be grateful to him if done, it cannot be contrary to the perfections of his nature, to leave, and to determine to leave, even the greatest part of mankind, and that for ever, in fuch an incapacity.




5. 'Tis a mifreprefentation of the decree of Reprobation, that God has ordained that men should not be holy, righteous, kind and merciful, for want of any thing on his part requifite to make them fo. Since, though by this decree God has determined to deny them his grace to make them fo, yet he has not by it ordain'd that they fhould be unholy, unrighteous, unkind and unmerciful; only has determined to leave them to themselves, and the freedom of their own wills, which iffues in their being fo; wherefore their being fo, is not to be ascribed to the denial of his grace, much less to his decree to deny it, but to their own wickednefs: nor is his command, even under the penalty of his fevere difpleasure, that they be holy, righteous, kind and merciful, inconfiftent with his leaving them, or his determining to leave them in an incapacity of being fo; fince, as has been fhewn, that incapacity is from themselves.

[blocks in formation]

II. The decree of Reprobation is reprefented as contrary to the mercy of God, and as charging him with cruelty and want of compaffion to the greatest part of mankind. The mercy of God is either general or fpecial. The general mercy of God reaches to all his creatures; his tender mercies are over all his works". From a share in this, the decree of Reprobation does not exclude any man; reprobates may have a larger fhare of providential mercies and goodness than others: wherefore the decree of Reprobation is not contrary to the merof God in general. The fpecial mercy of God, as it is guided by the fovereign will of God; for he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will be hardneth; fo it is, indeed, limited to the elect, who are ftiled veffels of mercy, in distinction from the non-elect, who are called veffels of wrath. This mercy, which lies in pardoning fin, in regenerating mens hearts, in their final perfeverance and compleat falvation, the decree of Reprobation denies to the objects of it; with fuch a mercy, difpenfing these bleffings of grace to all men, the decree of Reprobation cannot ftand, we freely own; but then it does not appear


Remonftr. A. Synod. Circ. Art. i. p. 242. Curcellaeus, p. 370. Limborch, p. 339.


5 Pfal. cxlv. 9.

Rom, ix. 18.

[ocr errors]

to us, that there is any fuch mercy in God, difpenfing pardoning, regenerating and perfevering grace to all men; for there are fome, that be that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will fhew them no favour. Could it be proved that there is fuch a mercy in God, preparing for, and giving the fpecial bleffings of grace to, all men, the decree of Reprobation must at once be exploded. But though this decree is oppofite to any fuch mercy in God towards thofe who are included in it; yet it is no ways contrary to the mercy of God fhewn to the elect: wherefore we cannot but conclude, that our doArine reprefents God as merciful, yea, more merciful than that which is oppo fite to it; fince, according to our doctrine, God, of his abundant grace, and mercy, has determined to give pardoning, regenerating and perfevering grace to a certain number of men, whereby they fhall be infalliby faved, when he denies it to others: whereas, according to the contrary scheme, God has not abfolutely chofen one fingle perfon to falvation; but his choice proceeds upon their faith, repentance and perfeverance; which alfo are left to the power and will of man: fo that, at most, the falvation of every man is precarious and

* Ifa. xxvii. 11.


« PreviousContinue »