Page images

or before the eyes of an unregenerate man; nor is he subject to the law of God, or obedient to it; neither, indeed, can be be without the grace of God.

of God. Now this inca. pacity arises from fin, and the corruption of nature; and therefore, as it no ways Jeffens mens obligacions to love, fear and obey God, nor weakens his authority to require these things, so it is not to be ascribed to the decree of Reprobation. Could it be thought that such 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, consider the objects of preterition either as fallen or unfallen creatures ; if as unfallen, it finds and leaves them so, without putting them in an incapacity, or supposing them in an incapacity to love, fear and obey God, and therefore neither finds nor leaves them in such an incapacity; if as fallen creatures, it finds them in this incaopacity, and seeing this is owing to themselvès, ic cannot be contrary to his moral perfections to leave them in it, or to de termine to leave them in it. 3. Let it be observ'd, that it is the

grace of God only that can remove this incapa

'* Rom. viii. 7. and iïi. 17:


city, city, or make men capable of loving, fear, ing and obeying him. We love God, because

. be first loved us; love is a fruit of the Spirit, and the produce of his grace. An beart 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 cauje them to walk in his statutes, 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 co leave men without his grace, and in an incapacity of loving, fearing and obeying bim, and to determine to do so, even tho' he requires and approves of these things,

cannot be contrary to the perfections of his naturę. 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 these things, and it is their sin 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 God, to leave the whole body of apoftate angels, for ever; in an incapacity of loving, fearing and obeying him ; though he requires these 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 co determine to leave, even the greatest part of mankind, and that for ever, in such an incapacity.

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


5. 'Tis -a misrepresentation of the decree of Reprobation, that God has ordained thao men should not be holy, righteous, kind and merciful, for want of any thing on his part requisite to make them fo. Since, though by this decree God has determined to deny them his grace to make them so, yet he has not by it ordain'd that they should be unholy, unrighteous, unkind and unmerciful; only has determined to leave them to themselves, and the freedom of their own wills, which issues in their being fo; wherefore their being so, is not to be ascribed to the denial of his grace, much less to his decree to deny it, but to their own wickedness : nor is his command, even under the penalty of his severe displeasure, that they be holy, righteous, kind and merciful, inconsistent with his leaving them, or his determining to leave them in an incapacity of being fo; lince, as has been shewn, that incapacity is from themselves.

[blocks in formation]

II. The decree of Reprobation is reprefented 8 as contrary to the mercy of God, and as charging him with cruelty and want of compassion to the greatest part of mankind. The mercy of God is either general or special. The general mercy of God reaches to all his creatures ; bis tender mercies are over all his works h. From a share in this, the decree of Reprobation does not exclude any man ;.reprobates may have a l'arger share of providential mercies and goodness than others : wherefore the decree of Reprobation is not contrary to the mercy of God in general. The special mercy of God, as it is guided by the sovereign will of God; for be hath mercy on whom he will bave mercy, and whom be will be hardnetbi ; so it is, indeed, limited to the elect, who are stiled vesels of mercy, in distinction from the non-elect, who are called vessels of wrath. This mercy, which lies in

pardôning fin, in regenerating mens hearts, in their final perseverance and compleat salvation, the decree of Reprobation denies to the objects of it; with such a mercy, dispensing these blessings of grace to all men, the decree of Reprobation cannot stand, we freely own; but then it does not appear

& Remonftr. A&. Synod. Circ. Art. i. p; 242. Curcellacus, p. 370. . Limborch, p. 339. ó Pial. cxlv. 9. i Rom, ix. 18.


[ocr errors]

to us, that there is any such mercy in God, dispensing pardoning, regenerating and persevering grace to all men; for there are some, that be that made them will not have mercy on them, and be tbat formed them will mew tbem no favour k. Could ic be proved that there is such a mercy in God, preparing for, and giving the special blessings of grace co, all men, the decree of Reprobation must at once be exploded. But though this decree is opposite to any such mercy in God towards those who are included in it; yet it is no ways contrary to the mercy of God shewn to the elect: wherefore we cannot but conclude, that our doctrine represents God as merciful, yea, more merciful than that which is oppo. fice to it ; fince, according to our doctrine, God, of his abundant grace, and mercy, has determined to give pardoning, regenerating and persevering grace to a certain number of men, whereby they lhall be infalliby saved, when he denies it to others: whereas, according to the contrary scheme, God has not absolutely chosen one fingle person to falvarion ; but his choice proceeds upon their faith, repentance and perseverance ; which also are left to the power and will of man : so that, at moft, the salvation of every man is precarious and

k Ifa. xxvii, 11.


« PreviousContinue »