- Memoir of Rev. John Robinson.
- Section I.: Mr. Robinson, a Puritan In Norfolk. (1575—1604.)
- Section II.: Mr. Robinson a Separatist At Scrooby. (1604—1608.)
- Section III.: Mr. Robinson an Exile At Amsterdam. (1608, 1609.)
- Section IV.: Mr. Robinson a Pastor At Leyden. (1609—1625.)
- Section V.: Mr. Robinson, His Character and Writings.
- The Preface.
- Prefatory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Man's Knowledge of God .
- Chapter II.: Of God's Love.
- Chapter III.: Of God's Promises.
- Chapter IV: Of the Works of God, and His Power, Wisdom, Will, Goodness, Etc., Shining In Them.
- Chapter V.: Of Created Goodness.
- Chapter VI.: Of Equability, and Perseverance In Well-doing.
- Chapter VII.: Of Religion, and the Differences and Disputations Thereabout.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Holy Scriptures.
- Chapter IX.: Of Authority and Reason.
- Chapter X.: Op Faith, Hope, and Love: Reason, and Sense.
- Chapter XI.: Of Atheism and Idolatry.
- Chapter XII.: Of Heresy and Schism.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Truth and Falsehood.
- Chapter XIV.: Of Knowledge and Ignorance.
- Chapter XV.: Of Simplicity and Craftiness.
- Chapter XVI.: Of Wisdom and Folly.
- Chapter XVII.: Of Discretion.
- Chapter XVIII.: Of Experience.
- Chapter XIX.: Of Examples.
- Chapter XX.: Of Counsel.
- Chapter XXI.: Of Thoughts.
- Chapter XXII.: Of Speech and Silence.
- Chapter XXIII.: Of Books and Writings.
- Chapter XXIV.: Of Good Intentions.
- Chapter XXV.: Of Means.
- Chapter XXVI.: Of Labour, and Idleness.
- Chapter XXVII.: Of Callings.
- Chapter XXVIII.: Of the Use and Abuse of Things.
- Chapter XXIX.: Of Riches and Poverty.
- Chapter XXX.: Of Sobriety.
- Chapter XXXI.: Of Liberality and Its Contraries.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of Health and Physic.
- Chapter XXXIII.: Of Afflictions.
- Chapter XXXIV.: Of Injuries.
- Chapter XXXV.: Of Patience.
- Chapter XXXVI.: Of Peace.
- Chapter XXXVII.: Of Society and Friendship.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: Of Credit and Good Name.
- Chapter XXXIX.: Of Contempt and Contumely.
- Chapter Xl.: of Envy.
- Chapter Xli.: of Slander.
- Chapter Xlii.: of Flattery.
- Chapter Xliii.: of Suspicion.
- Chapter Xliv.: of Appearances.
- Chapter Xlv.: of Offences.
- Chapter Xlvi.: of Temptations.
- Chapter Xlvii.: of Conscience.
- Chapter Xlviii.: of Prayer.
- Chapter Xlix.: of Oaths and Lots.
- Chapter L.: of Zeal.
- Chapter Li.: of Hypocrisy.
- Chapter Lii.: of Sin, and Punishment From God.
- Chapter Liii.: of Rewards, and Punishments By Men.
- Chapter Liv.: of the Affections of the Mind.
- Chapter Lv.: of Fear.
- Chapter Lvi.: of Anger.
- Chapter Lvii.: of Humility and Meekness.
- Chapter Lviii.: of Modesty.
- Chapter Lix.: of Marriage.
- Chapter Lx.: of Children and Their Education.
- Chapter Lxi.: of Youth and Old Age.
- Chapter Lxii.: of Death.
- Introductory Notice By the Editor.
- Chapter I.: Of Predestination.
- Chapter II.: Of Election.
- Chapter III.: Of Falling Away. Adversaries. (page 78.)
- Chapter IV.: Of Free-will.
- Chapter V.: Of the Original State of Mankind.
- Chapter VI.: Of Baptism. (pages 129—176.)
INTRODUCTORY NOTICE BY THE EDITOR.
The celebrated Synod of Dort, held in 1618-19, was a General Council of the Dutch and Belgic Churches, assisted by deputies from the Churches of England, Scotland, Switzerland, Bremen, Hessia, and the Palatinate. The object of the Convocation was the settlement of the Calvinistic and Arminian Controversies, which had been carried on in the Low Countries with considerable acrimony for nearly twenty years.
The result of these deliberations was the establishment of the Calvinistic Creed, and the expulsion of the Arminian clergy from the national churches, in which many of them officiated.
While the residents were agitated by these controversies, the English exiles in the principal towns were not a little affected by them. John Smyth, the pastor of the Separatist Church at Amsterdam, embraced the Arminian doctrines, and his successor, John Helwisse, with many of their church, discarded the Calvinistic notions on the mysterious themes of Election and Redemption. “John Murton and his Associates” published the treatise, to which the following pages are a reply, to counteract the effects of the “Articles of the Synod of Dort,” and also to oppose Mr. Robinson's baptismal view, as maintained in his “Apology;” his “Treatise on Religious Communion,” and particularly in a tract on baptism, entitled “Manumission.” The history of John Murton is unknown. It is conjectured, by some, that he was the John Morton described in Crosby's History of the Baptists, who is said to have returned to England, and joined Hellwisse's Church in London. He subsequently left the metropolis, and is supposed to have settled at Colchester or its vicinity. In demolishing some houses in that town, a copy of a work of a similar character to the present treatise, and entitled “Truth's Champion,” was discovered, and is said, on the title page, to have been written by John Morton.
The work to which Robinson replies is entitled “A Description of what God hath predestinated concerning Man in his Creation, Transgression, and Redemption. As also, an Answer to John Robinson, touching Baptism. In a Dialogue. The Speakers, Ereunetes, a Searcher, and Odegos, a Guide.” Printed 1620. 12mo. 176 pages. The copy of the Defence, from which the present reprint has been transcribed, is dated 1624, and is found in the Bodleian Library. Henry Ainsworth, of Amsterdam, prepared a reply to the same work, entitled “A seasonable Discourse, or a Censure upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists, intituled ‘ A Description of what God,’ ”&c., but which was not printed till after his death. The Bodleian copy bears date 1644, twenty years after Robinson's publication. Robinson's “Defence” bears the characteristic mark of his controversial publications. It is a minute and elaborate examination of the statements and objections of his opponents against the Calvinistic Creed; and is a fair and candid exposition and vindication of the doctrines propounded in the celebrated Synod, and published in their “Judgment.”
It is only justice to state, that Mr. Robinson rarely quotes the “ipsissima verba” of his opponents. He gives the general sense of the passages, or slightly abridges the arguments to be resisted, and, it must also be admitted, with fairness and candour.
When exact quotations occur, they are indicated by the usual inverted commas. In a few instances there were verbal inaccuracies in the quotations; these have been collated and corrected by a rare and valuable copy of Murton's volume, kindly lent by Mr. Underhill.
The Editor has endeavoured to render the work more interesting and easy of reference, by dividing the chapters into numerical sections, and giving them appropriate headings. The parenthetical marks have been, for the most part, omitted, and occasional notes supplied.
The record, which the Apostle bare the Jews in his time, such, as either read these men's writings, or know their persons, may bear them; which is, “that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Rom. x. 2. I add, touching them, nor in modesty neither; which if it held any place in their hearts, as were meet, would moderate and restrain, both their causeless presumption in themselves, and graceless licentiousness which they fear not to use, both towards God, and other men.
They would seem very zealous for the Scriptures' purity and perfection; warning all, in the epistle to the reader, to take heed they presume not above what is written, nor to add to, or diminish from the perfect law of the Lord contained therein: and yet they themselves presume so frequently, and notoriously in this their book, to corrupt the very words of the texts which they cite, by adding to and taking away and altering, for their advantage; as I suppose, the like hath not been seen before in any, of any sect whatsoever: and as if, in truth, they meant not to use a gift to interpret the Holy Scriptures, but a privilege to correct them. A taste of this they give us in their very epistle, where answering an objection taken from the learning of the Synod of Dort, by Isa. xxix. 14, and Matt. xi. 25, 26, they, instead of “wise and prudent,” which are Christ's words, put “learned,” and that in small letters as part of the text, both wronging therein that lawful and helpful learning in others, which themselves want, and corrupting the Lord's words, which they ought religiously to keep, and obtruding another meaning than ever came into his mind: which they do usually in this treatise, by neglecting the main scope of the place cited, and catching at a word or phrase in it, which is the highest way, that can be, to all heresy.
And for men, how uncharitable are they towards them in their persons, judging them as perishing without remedy, if they receive not their new gospel of Anabaptistry and Free-will! How injurious in relating their own misformed collections for their opinions ! And lastly, how contemptuous of their gifts and graces, how eminent soever! As if the Word of God came out from them, or to them alone. 1 Cor. xiv. 36. It is true we ought not to pin our faith on the sleeves of any, nor to call any master, as Christ speaks and means, but him alone: and no less true, that Christ hath given gifts to some men, for the edifying of others, Eph. iv. 8—11; and that we ought not to look on our things alone, as if we alone had knowledge, and conscience, and zeal, and souls to save: “but every man also on the things of others,” Phil. ii. 4, though in some things differing from them, as having these things, as well as we: and therewith considering, that many eyes see more than one, and that specially having, as so many spectacles, the advantages of knowledge of tongues, and arts, with daily travail in the Scripture, which in us are wanting. And thus serving God, in all modesty of mind, Acts xx. 19, and being sincere in the truth in love, Eph. iv. 15, we shall be much fitter, both to help others, and to be helped by them in the things agreeable thereunto.
meaning- of the term.
“We hold that before the foundation of the world the Most Holy God, of his sincere love, without any cause out of himself, predestinated to make the world, and man, and all good things that are made: to make man a reasonable soul; to give him a righteous law; to give him ability to keep it or to break it; if he broke it to punish him, yet so as not to forsake him: but provided the slain Lamb (the seed of the woman) to send him into the world a Saviour for all men; to purchase the very wicked that deny him; yea even his enemies: not to send him to condemn the world but to save it: for so he loved it, that he would send his Son with this proclamation, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; yea as he liveth, not consulting that any man should perish, but that all come to repentance.
“Those that receive this his grace by faith in his Son, them, in this his eternal predestination he elected; the rest that will not receive this his grace, but put his word from them, and judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life, those in his said predestination he rejected or reprobated. This decree of God being done at once; all which in time he effected and manifested.”
Neither the Scriptures so speak, neither is it sensibly said, that “God predestinated to make the world and man,” &c. To predestinate, is to predetermine, or to destinate, or ordain beforehand, a person, or thing to its end. God indeed purposed from eternity to make the world, and man; but destinated it, and him, considered as, to be, made, to their ends. Christ as God was preordained or predestinated “before the foundation of the world, and manifested in the last times for our redemption,” 1 Pet. i. 19, 20; yet, is he not of the number of persons or things made or created. Again, the glory of the grace of God, shining in man's salvation, is a created thing, and yet not predestinated of God, nor preordained to any end, being itself the utmost end of all things. We see then something predestinated, and yet not made; and something again made, and yet not predestinated. With like incongruity they add, that God predestinated to make man a reasonable soul, to give him a righteous law, and lastly, to send his Son “to purchase the very wicked,” &c., which last words have neither truth in them (in their meaning), nor sense, as they lay them down.
Secondly, the Synod at Dort, against which these adversaries deal, and all others, speaking distinctly of things, apply the decree of predestination, to reasonable creatures; and that Synod, especially to men, and the same considered, as fallen in Adam, and thereby made guilty of eternal death; referring the decree of creation, and permission of the fall, to a more general work of Divine Providence.
Their description of the elect and reprobate may be admitted, in a good sense; namely, that the receiving of grace by some, argues God's eternal election of them, as the effect doth the cause. The not receiving of this grace by others, to whom it is offered, his eternal reprobation; that is, his not electing, but refusing or passing by of others, as the consequent, the antecedent. Of which more hereafter.
In setting down the difference between them and us, they insinuate, as if we made God the author, yea, the principal author of all the evil of sin in the world. But as the Synod disclaims that profane error, so doth it justly complain of this ungodly slander; which in these men ariseth from their want of skill, to put difference between God's working of the sin, as author thereof; and his appointing, and ordering, both of sin and sinner to his own holy ends.
the cause of the sin of adam.
(Pages 4, 5.)
The first particular against which they deal, is our affirmation, that God decreed the sin of Adam, and that, of necessity, to come to pass, and consequently, all other sins, in their time, taking upon them withal to manifest, that herein we not only contradict the truth, but our own affirmation elsewhere, quoting for example, these Genevenses, where it is affirmed, that Adam in innocency, had freewill or power, from the creation of God, not to have sinned: which matter they also prosecute in many words with great disorder, making the head of their discourse, Predestination; and the body, Sin.
As the contradiction is not in our assertions, but in their misunderstanding; so might I, by good right, forbear to meddle about Adam's sin, in the case of predestination, considering the determination of the Synod at Dort hereabout, which I take upon me to defend: which considers man as fallen in God's account, as the object of the predestination in question. But I will not use all my lawful liberty; but as he that will overtake and hold a malefactor, must follow him, not only in the high and beaten way, whilst he keeps it, but in all the out-leaps also, and turnings which he makes, so, God assisting me, purpose I, though it be troublesome, to follow and prosecute these adversaries in this, and other their particular stragglings, if any way pertinent to the general controversy.
I affirm then, that God's decree, and ordination about Adam's fall was such, as that the same could not but follow thereupon; not as an effect, upon a cause working it; God forbid ! but as a consequent upon an antecedent; or as an event necessarily following upon a most holy, wise, and powerful providence, so ordering and disposing, that the same should so come to pass infallibly, though performed by Adam's free, and freely-working will. If any demand how this can be, that God who forbiddeth and hateth sin, yet should so order persons and things, by his providence, and so from eternity purpose to order them, as that the same cannot but be ? I answer, by free acknowledgment, that the manner of God's working herein is to me, and to all men, inconceivable; and withal avouch, that he, who will not confess, that God can, and could in Adam's sin, by his infinite wisdom and power, most effectually, and infallibly, in regard of such event, order and dispose of things, without violation to his holiness, or violence to the creature's will, as no mortal man is able to conceive the manner thereof, is himself in a high degree guilty of that pride which was Adam's ruin, by which he desired to be as God in knowledge. Gen. iii. Who is able to understand the manner of God's working, in giving the Holy Ghost to men, and in directing the tongues and pens of the prophets infallibly, and so as they could not err ? Much less discernible is God's manner of working in, and about the creature's sinful actions. And because many take great offence at this doctrine of truth and work of God, I will, the Lord assisting me, plainly and briefly as I can, prove, that all events, even those most sinful, in regard of the creature's work in, and of them, come to pass necessarily, after a sort, in respect of God's providence, as being a hand steady and which swerveth not, in ordering the creature in and unto the same.
My first proof is from Acts ii. 22, 23, and chap. iv. 27, 28. “Him,” to wit, Christ, “being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” And again, “Herod, Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and people of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” What words could the Holy Ghost make use of more livelily to express God's effectual work, according to his eternal purpose ? Here is expressly mentioned, not only his foreknowledge, upon which the event necessarily followeth, except God go by guess only, but his determinate counsel, yea his hand, as the effectual instrument of working: as if the Holy Ghost should have said, that which the heart of God unchangeably purposed should be done, touching the killing of his Son by wicked men, that his hand power fully ordered to be done accordingly.
god's suffering but not decreeing sinful actions.
(Pages 28, 29.)
Their evasions elsewhere are, that God decreed to suffer them to do that which they did, but decreed not that they should so do, and that God might have appointed some to sacrifice his Son Christ, as he did Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. And again, “that although God determined certainly that his Son should be slain, yet he might have been slain without sin.”
That God suffered, and so decreed to suffer the wicked to kill his Son, is plain. If he had not decreed to suffer them, he had not suffered them; if he had not suffered them, they could not have done it: but that he only suffered them, is against the express words and meaning of the text, which saith, the wicked took him, “being delivered by God's determinate counsel.” Is to deliver by determinate counsel, to suffer only ? So, where it is said, that God's “hand determined” that which was done, it shows that God was a doer in the business, and not a sufferer only. If God only suffered them, that is hindered them not, he had no hand in it at all, but withheld his hand from meddling in it. How then could his hand and counsel determine, before whatsoever was done ? Besides, if God only suffered the death of his Son, all the worth of our redemption by his death, vanisheth away: seeing that which God suffers only, is only evil and not good. Also by this perverse exposition, neither the Father gave his Son, nor the Son himself for us to the death, which the Scriptures everywhere affirm. John iii. 16; Gal. ii. 20;1 John iv. 9; Rom. v. 8, 9. Lastly, he that considers the end of the church's prayer, Acts iv., will plainly see how they meant therein to ascribe unto God more than the sole suffering of those things. The end was to comfort themselves and other God's servants against the threatenings and rage of the wicked in all their persecutions. But what comfort, I marvel, can the servants of God draw from this consideration, that God suffers the wicked in rage to persecute them, and hinders them not. This were indeed rather matter of discouragement and despair, than of comfort unto them. But herein stands their comfort firm, that God by the hand of his providence orders all these things according to the fore-determination of the counsel of his will. Neither will their vain imagination help them, that Christ might have been slain, and become our sacrifice, yet without sin. For, howsoever, it be not for them, nor me, to determine what was possible to God's absolute power; yet we know, considering the declaration thereof both by the Scripture and event, that in regard of God's decree, it was necessary that Christ should die, as he did by the conspiracy and rage of wicked men; as both the express words, and plain drift of the places prove. Lastly, it is an erroneous presumption, that God might have appointed some to have sacrificed his Son Christ, as he did Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, to wit, in obedience to God's commandment, considering how expressly the Scriptures did even before his death, teach the contrary: and that the “Son of man must suffer many things, and be killed” by the elders and chief priests. Also that Christ “ought to suffer,” to wit, what he had suffered by the priests and rulers which had delivered him to be condemned to death, and had crucified him: which manner of death, by being hanged upon the tree, so becoming a curse for us, that he might free us from the curse of the law, was as well foretold by the Scriptures, as his death itself. Mark viii. 31; Luke xxiv. 20—26; John xii. 32, 33; Gal. iii. 13. If that cannot but be, which the Scriptures foretell, and that the Scriptures foretold that Christ must thus be killed and crucified by the hands of wicked men, then was it necessary, and could not otherwise be, in regard of God's decree, that Christ should die as he did, and not without sin in them that killed him.
To conclude this place; these men granting, that God decreed the death of his Son, but denying that he decreed the means and manner thereof, make the most wise God like weak man, who often resolves of a thing to be done, but takes time to consider of the manner of doing it.
Neither yet do we, by all this, make God the appointer of evil in their meaning, that is, either the commander, or worker, or approver thereof; but only the supreme governor of the whole world, and of all persons and actions therein, how sinful soever; using and ordering the covetousness of Judas, the envy of the priests, and injustice of Pilate to this event of Christ's death; in regard of them, most wicked; but of God, most gracious; and to us, most profitable.
Take we one other instance, for this purpose, from God's threatening of David by the prophet, for his sin against Uriah. “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house,” &c. 2 Sam. xii. 10, 11, 12. “Behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of the sun,” &c. Whence it appears, that Absalom's practices against his father, as necessarily followed, by the work of God's providence, as God's threatenings going before, were necessarily true. Will they say, that God only suffered this, and so gainsay God himself saying, I will do this, v. 12. Is to do, to suffer, with these men? Tell me, you poor seduced souls, doth not the Lord here threaten a judgment from him to come upon David for his sin ? Are not all God's judgments good and righteous? 2 Kings xx. 19; Psa. cxix. 160—164. Doth the judge only suffer the punishment of the malefactors, and not inflict or procure it ? The Scriptures teach, and these men acknowledge, that whatsoever is good, cometh from the Father of lights. Are not God's judgments, whereof this is one, good in truth, though both evil to man's sense, as this was to David's; and worse sometimes in the instruments, both intention and action, as it was in Absalom's ? It is therefore evident, that the same thing, in divers respects, was both the horrible sin of Absalom, and the severe punishment of David, and the just judgment of God. Take a familiar similitude for the explaining of this matter. The water is of itself apt and prone to flow to and fro. The husbandman by his artificial ditches and trenches, brings it to this or that place, in this or that measure, at this or that time, and so, for other circumstances: yet doth not he at all work the disposition of flowing in the water, but finding it there, makes use of it for his purpose, and by his skill leads the water whither seems good unto him. So neither did the Lord infuse at all corruption into Absalom, but finding it there by the devil's and his own work, ordered it to that his holy end, the glory of his justice in punishing the heinous sins of David: of which punishment He was the author.
These men grant, that “God foreseeth all evil to come.” This foresight of God they will not deny to be certain, and that wherein God cannot be deceived. Whereupon it follows, that such evils so foreseen, necessarily and unavoidably come to pass. If any object, that God's foresight is not the cause of the evil, I answer, no more is his decree or work of providence about it. It sufficeth for the purpose in hand, if it follow by way of event or consequence upon the antecedent, though not of effect upon the cause. Let us yet a little further open this point. This knowledge, or foreknowledge of God, is two-fold: natural and indefinite, by which God knows all possible things, and whatsoever in any respect, or upon any supposition, can possibly be: or definite and determinate, by which of things possible he knows what shall and what shall not be.' Now, howsoever this foreknowledge, as all other things in God, be one, and that infinite and eternal; yet in our conception, the former of those acts of God's foreknowledge, goes before the decree, the latter presupposeth it. For therefore God certainly and infallibly foresees a thing shall be, because he unchangeably decrees it shall be in and according to its kind: if good, by his working it: if evil, by his suffering it, and governing the creature in working it.
But you will answer, that God from eternity certainly, and infallibly foresaw Absalom's incest, because Absalom would certainly and undoubtedly practise it in time. But I would further know, whence this certainty and undoubtedness of Absalom's such practice should arise, so as it could not possibly but be, nor God be deceived in that his prescience or foreknowledge ? It was not of any absolute necessity of itself, that Absalom should be born: or being born, that he should be preserved, and survive to that time: or being till then preserved, that he should have natural ability, and opportunity therewith to practise that sin: seeing it was not impossible, but that David might have taken his wives with him, or they have fled else whither, and have hid themselves. In all these things, God was not a mere sufferer, but a powerful worker by his providence. But suppose the being of all these things as they were; and withal, Absalom's heart by the devil's work, and his own, fraught with lust and impiety this way; yet was Absalom a changeable creature, having in himself freedom, or liberty of will to have foreborne that act at that time, or to have exercised his lust upon some other object. How then could that particular event follow unchangeably from his changeable will ? How necessarily and unavoidably, from his choice of will which was free in itself, either to that act, or to another of that kind, or to neither ? Either therefore God's decree from eternity, and so his work in time, must be acknowledged for the disposing and ordering of all events unavoidably, or his knowledge be denied in foreseeing them infallibly.
Lastly, to affirm that anything, great or small, good or evil, comes to pass in the world, without God's providence ordering and governing it and them that do it, is to set the creature from under the Creator's rule and dominion therein; and to shut God out of the earth, whilst men do what they list in it, he letting them alone, and not meddling with them.
How “Adam had power from the creation of God not to have sinned,” which they urge in the next place, we shall show hereafter. In the meanwhile, their addition, “that God's commanding him not to sin, and yet his decreeing that he should sin, are contrary, as light and darkness,” is faulty both in regard of our assertion and their own. For us, we do not hold, that God decreed Adam's sin, as they conceive, that is, either to approve it, or command it, or compel unto it, nothing less: but this we affirm, that God decreed to leave Adam to himself in the temptation, and not to assist him with that strength of grace, by which he could, if he would, have upheld him; and so to order both him, and all things about him, in that his temptation, as that, he, by the motion and sway of his own free-will, following his natural appetite to the pleasant, but forbidden fruit, and that false persuasion wherewith his understanding was by Satan overclouded, should both choose and eat the forbidden fruit. Neither are these two things contrary, that God should forbid a thing, and yet decree that it should come to pass in the manner fore-mentioned. God commanded Abraham to kill his son, as it was a trial of his obedience: and yet decreed that the event of killing should not follow: as we know. Gen. xxii. 2—12. God commanded Pharaoh by Moses, to “let Israel go,”—and yet said before, “I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall not let the people go.” Exod. iv. 21, 22. That which he said, he decreed and purposed. Christ our Lord desired to drink of that bitter cup appointed him, and to be baptized with that baptism, and was pained till it were accomplished: and yet desired in another respect, that the same cup might pass from him, and he not drink of it, “if it were possible.” Luke xii. 50; xxii. 42. These things may well stand together in their several respects, and are not as light and darkness to any, but to them, whose light is darkness.
Next, they take upon them to impugn the received distinction of God's revealed and secret will; and demand, “If it be God's secret will, how we come to know it?” I answer, by his revealing it afterwards, either by his Word or by his work. When a thing comes to pass in this or that manner, though before not so much as insinuated in his Word, and therefore secret, we then know that it was the will of God it should so come to pass, either by his working it according to its kind, if it be good; or by his suffering and ordering it, and the worker thereof, if evil.
It is true which they add, that God's revealed will was not revealed but hidden, before it was revealed. But what then? There was then, say they, “two hidden wills in God contrary to each other: whereof the one willed; yea, decreed Adam to sin, and the other willed him not to sin,” and so by consequence, a good will, and an evil will.
I answer, that the will of God in him, and itself, is but one, and the same most simple; but by us conceived of, as diverse, according to the diversity of objects upon which it is set. Secondly, we do not say, that God willed Adam's sin immediately, but that he willed the suffering and ordering of both the sin and sinner in sinning. Thirdly, the willing and nilling of the same thing in divers respects, makes not two contrary wills, as the Scriptures last cited manifest; but the willing and nilling of the same thing in the same respect, makes the contrariety.
punishment of sin.
(Pages 6, 7.)
They make us further to say, that “God willeth justice for itself, and sin, not for sin, but that he might have praise either in pardoning or punishing sin:” and thereunto frame answer, that to pardon or punish sin, is not to will sin, and that if God willeth sin in any respect, why doth he punish it in Adam, and all his posterity ?
But who hath said, that God wills sin, though not for sin ? We know that the object of man's will, is only good in appearance, and of God's, in truth. We do not then say, that God wills sin properly, though he wills the thing which in regard of the creature is sin: but in regard of him, either a most holy and wise trial of the creature, or just punishment of former sins, either their own that practise it, or others: so Absalom's wicked sin, was God's just punishment upon David, 2 Sam. xii., xv., xvi. So the “reprobate mind,” “vile affections,” and “all unrighteousness” of the Gentiles,was “ameet recompense” from God of their error, in not glorifying him as God in the things which they clearly saw in the creation of the world. Rom. i. 28—32. They cannot here hide themselves in their burrow of God's bare suffering, considering how expressly it is said, that God gave them up to vile affections, and as a just judge recompensed thereby their former sins, to wit, as otherwise, so by ordering that corruption which was in, and of themselves, to this fearful event of a reprobate mind.
The things which they add about men's, how much more God's, speaking the truth from his heart, and their bold charge of others with blasphemy, in making God (to be “blessed for ever!”) a hypocrite, I pass by as a fruit of that spirit which makes men presumptuous, self-willed, and not afraid to speak evil of the things which they know not themselves, nor will learn of others. 2 Pet. ii. 10; Jude 10. The Lord who taught Paul, that he, who being a Pharisee, and in his ignorance had accounted Christ's doctrine blasphemy, had himself blasphemed, show these men the like mercy; for they know not what they speak.
adam under no necessity of sinning.
In the next place to show how free Adam was from all necessity of sinning, they at large relate how God furnished him with all things that might support him in the estate in which he created him.
The particular helps mentioned, I acknowledge with them, but with limitation of some of them, which they set down at a large adventure. Whereas in the third, they affirm, that Adam had a meet help and comfort for him, his wife, Eve. This is true of her created state, but not of that which followed, she, being first seduced by the serpent taking advantage upon her womanly weakness and the absence of her husband, becoming the only immediate instigator of him to sin. So the seventh and last, which is, that God gave Adam will and power not to have eaten, we confess it, but not as they mean it, in their more overly considerations, and peremptory determinations, than is meet, in this deep mystery. Let us therefore a little more distinctly consider, how it may and ought to be granted, that God furnished Adam with all necessary and sufficient grace and helps, against sin, and for perseverance in holiness.
First then, we confess, that God making him a reason able creature, bestowed upon him withal whatsoever grace was sufficient and necessary, on his part; that is, as much, and more, than he was bound to give him. Secondly, that God gave him whatsoever was sufficient for his preservation in that state of holiness and integrity in which he was created, out of the case of temptation. Thirdly, I grant, that whatsoever grace he wanted, for the resisting of the temptation when it came, it was by his own default, and that, if he had not failed himself, the grace of God would and should have sustained him therein also. Notwithstanding all this, the event manifested, that Adam had not the grace to withstand the temptation of the serpent by the woman, but was seduced thereby. It was nothing but want of grace in him not to withstand it; and this grace he could not have, but by his gift, “from whom every good gift, and every perfect gift cometh down, even the Father of lights,” James i. 17. God gave him will actually only to good, but changeably; and power to understand and do whatsoever concerned him if he would: but now that constancy of will upon clear understanding and unchanged purpose of heart, which was requisite in so great a temptation, by so subtle an adversary, in an object so pleasing to nature, and good in itself, together with the persuasion of his wife, so near unto him, this grace, I say, Adam received not of God, as the event in the changing of his will upon deceitful information of his understanding, blinded by an appearing good, made it too manifest: though as before, I said, through his own default, in not depending upon God as he ought.
The things which they annex, that “God gave not Adam a law to ensnare him; but that that law was holy and good, that Adam was the son of God by creation; and if men, who are evil, do good unto their children, and would not beget them to misery; how much less hath the good God created his son to sin and misery ? As also, that sin is the defacing of God's image in man,” we willingly acknowledge; and withal whatsoever can be rightly gathered therefrom.
We believe that the end of Adam's creation in regard of himself, was holiness and happiness; in regard of God, the glorious manifestation of his power, wisdom, holiness, and goodness; and that sin came in by accident, and misery by sin; man by his free but corrupted will, willing the sin, and God by his just and holy will, the punishment; and that sin was in no sense the destinated end of God's creation; nor misery, but by accident, as to come from sin. Yet must the difference here be held, howsoever these men tumble all together, between God, Adam's and all men's father by creation, and his children, and between natural parents and their children. God was Adam's absolute Father and Lord, though not for the use of any unjust power; men are but fathers as it were by borrowing, and with a power limited by God's will. 2. God works, and orders all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the evil day, and “of him, and through him, and to him are all things.” Prov. xvi. 4; Rom. xi. 36. So do not earthly parents beget and order their children for themselves, as their utmost, and highest end. 3. Earthly parents are bound not to suffer their children to sin, if they can hinder it; but to do whatsoever they possibly can, being lawful, to keep them from sin and misery. Will these free burgesses, of their own choosing, make a parliament-law to bind God to do whatsoever he possibly can to keep from sinning, men and angels? Lastly, earthly parents would rather, had they before known it, never have begotten their children, than that they should, though merely by their own default, have come to sin and misery thereby without remedy. But God, even our adversaries being judges, foreknew these things of men, and yet created them notwithstanding.
could adam have been made immutable in holiness?
Here, upon question moved, whether God could not have made Adam so as he could not have been deprived of his state of righteousness; and whether anything can be done against God's will; they undertake to manifest two things: 1. “In what state God made Adam ?” 2. That “many things are done against the will of God.” For the first, they in their bold ignorance, hold it an “ignorant conceit,” that God could have made Adam unchangeable; that is, so have made, and kept him as he should not, nor could have been deprived of his state of righteousness, in which he was made. For this, say they, had been to have made him God like himself; and so conclude, that God could not have made man otherwise than he made him, a reasonable creature, yet changeable. 2. That then it had been to no purpose, to have set a penalty to the law. 3. That then the most holy attributes of God, his justice to punish sin, and mercy to forgive it, had been void.
They, who here desire, that what, they say, may be well observed, should themselves better have observed what they say, than thus, as they do, to deceive both themselves, and others, by an equivocation of words.
Here then in the first place, a distinction must be put, which is, that a thing is unchangeably good, either in, and by itself, and so God only is unchangeable, and so “only hath immortality,” and is “only wise,” &c., 1 Tim. vi. 16; 1 Tim. i. 17, or a thing unchangeable by the grace and power of God communicated with the creature; and so God could, if he would, have made. Adam unchangeable, or kept him unchanged, which is the same, in the present consideration: as he hath made the angels and souls of men immortal, and both angels and men wise in their kind, by communication of the effects of his being and wisdom with them. God, then, is only unchangeably good by nature, and of himself; yet by his grace and power, it was possible for Adam to have been kept unchangeably good, so as he should not have sinned, which is the unchangeableness in question.
And this answereth their first reason. To the second also, I answer, that God making Adam changeably good by created nature, might, had it seemed so good to his infinite wisdom, have kept him by grace from possibility of breaking his righteous law, in our meaning, notwithstanding the annexing of the penalty, and that to great good purpose; viz., both to show how God hates all transgressing of his law, against the breach whereof he denounceth such judgment; and also, as a means, by his blessing and grace, effectually for the keeping of Adam from breaking it: which use also it should have had, if Adam had done his duty in constant obedience, and that God, by his most powerful grace had so preserved him, that he had not sinned.
For the third reason: First I demand, what necessity there was that God should have use, as they speak, towards men of the attributes of his justice to punish sin, and of his mercy to pardon it upon repentance ? Would it have been any diminution of his perfection, and happiness if he had not so done ? Doth not the glory of God also even most brightly shine in the elect angels, which have been and shall be kept unchangeably holy and without sin for ever? and in regard of whom those holy attributes, of justice in punishing, and mercy in pardoning have no use. But observe, good reader, how these men are taken unavoidably in their own snare. It is not man's being made changeable, and such as might sin, by which there could come to be use of God's attributes of justice for the punishing of sin, and mercy for the pardoning of it; except, withal, man become actually changed, and sinful. Can there be use of justice for punishing, or of mercy for forgiveness of sin, but where sin is ? Their reason therefore, if it bear weight, proves not only, that man might possibly, but that he must sin necessarily. “Which I lay down and apply formally thus; that, without which the attributes of God's justice to punish sin, and of his mercy to pardon it, had been utterly without use towards men, that must necessarily be: but without man's sinning, the attributes of God's justice to punish, and of his mercy to pardon, had been utterly without use towards men; ergo, man must necessarily sin, by just consequence upon this antecedent.
Their reasons thus answered, I will plainly prove that God could, if it had so pleased him, have kept Adam unchangeably good; as the angels, and souls of men are, and bodies shall be, at the resurrection, unchangeably immortal.
And first, the Scriptures teach us to give this honour to the power of God, as to believe that our God in the heaven doth, and, therefore, can do, whatsoever pleaseth him, Psa. cxv. 3, and so could, had it pleased him, and been his will, have preserved Adam from sinning against him. Of their distinction of God's will we shall speak by and by. If in the meanwhile they except, that God could not so will; I would know the reason of their presumption. If they say, there are some things which God cannot do, as to lie, to deny himself, to make the same thing to be, and not to be, at the same time, and the like, inferring either impotence in the Creator, or contradiction in the creature; I demand, what had there been herein against the nature either of the Creator, or creature, if God by his grace, had kept the understanding of Adam from being overclouded with error, or false opinion, and therewith his will and affections in the integrity of obedience? This had not been, as some imagine, to destroy; but to perfect his nature. Hath not God so kept the elect angels without all change from their primitive purity ? Was not the Lord Jesus in his manhood so kept upon earth? And shall not all the elect be so kept for ever in heaven? These are, were, and shall be unchangeably righteous; and yet were not, nor are, nor shall be made gods.
They themselves confess, that the “devils are unchangeable in evil.” And why then might not both angels and men be unchangeable in good ? That is, so kept by the power of God as they never turn from their goodness. Or what bar would these men have put against the power of God, if his will had been so to have preserved and kept Adam ? I demand, whether the Apostles, in their time, could possibly preach anything but the truth, being immediately and infallibly guided by the Holy Ghost? All these instances serve to prove, that it is possible to God, if it please him, so to assist and confirm by his Spirit, a reasonable creature, though of a changeable nature in itself, as that in regard of the same Divine assistance, it is not possible it should be changed from good to evil, or sin against God. Lastly, if God could not have so made and ordered Adam, as that he could not have sinned, then God did not so much as suffer him to sin, seeing none can be said properly to suffer a thing to be done, save he that could hinder it, if he would. It were absurdly said, that I suffer the wind to blow, or sea to swell, though I hinder them not, seeing that it is not in my power to hinder them.
god's will—ezekiel xxxiii. 18.
(Pages 11, 12.)
They add from Ezek. xxxiii. 18, God's asseveration, “that as he lives, he -would have no man transgress, and so come under the execution of his justice:” making withal a short description of the will of God, as they call it: and ever confounding these two things; necessity and compulsion: and God's not decreeing, with his forcing men to sin.
For the better answering and understanding of the answer unto these things, it must be considered, first, that the will of God, though simple, and one in its nature, yet exerciseth itself diversely, in regard to divers objects. The first and weakest degree of God's willing, to speak of God as man is able to conceive of him, is that, by which he. wills the permission or suffering of sin, as sin. For if God suffer it, he suffers it willingly, seeing he both takes knowledge of it, and could hinder it by his omnipotent power, if he pleased. The second degree of God's willing, is that by which he commands a thing to be done, and approves of it, if it be done. The third, and last degree is, that according to which he works all things by his omnipotent power. And if a man, whose will is finite, yet can will things according to those degrees; how much more both” possible and easy is it to God's infinite will, to exercise itself more intensely or remissly, according to those degrees? I may be willing, in cases, to suffer that in another which I approve not of: so may I command my servant or child to do a thing, and approve of it, if it be done, and yet not so will it, as to use all the power that possibly I can, to have it done. Some things, again, there are that I so will, as that I do, or am bound to use all my possible skill and power to have them effected. These things are much more rightly said of God, considering the infinite largeness of his will, compared with my straitness. The same may be said of the Spirit of God which is one, for there is one Spirit, 1 Cor. xii. 4, whose operation yet is diverse, and the same sometimes more, and sometimes less forcible; as we see in the knowledge of an apostle, compared with the knowledge of an ordinary minister or Christian, and many other ways.
And these differences of the will of God, in the exercising of itself towards the creature, I desire the reader here carefully to ohserve for after use. Their short definition, as they unskilfully call it, of God's will, by which he either “wills what man is to do, or what he will do in himself,” is short indeed; as cutting off all that God will do and doth out of himself, and in the creature, as are all his works, ad extra, as they are called.
It remains, that in the next place, we show the difference between necessity and compulsion; and God's decreeing in our sense, and his forcing of things, which our adversaries with great error confound as the same, and withal, that things may, after a sort, be done necessarily, and freely too. Freely, yea contingently also, in regard of men, and necessarily, in regard of God's work of providence, according to his decree. I mention God's work according to his decree; because to speak properly, God's decree or will, works not things, but his power according to his will. There is, indeed, a necessity which takes away freedom and voluntariness from men; but then, they rather suffer than do. For example, the striking or thrusting of a man with such violence, as that he is compelled thereby to stagger or fall: this necessity of compulsion deprives me of all freedom to this bodily motion, so as I stagger or fall unwillingly; but this comes from an external principle, or beginning, working violently, and from without me. But this is nothing to that other necessity in regard of God, causing and effecting the good, in and by the creature, according to its kind; and suffering and ordering the evil person and thing, according to its kind; with which man's freedom may well stand.
And first, whatsoever God doth, he doth it both most freely, and most necessarily well. So the elect angels do the will of God most voluntarily, and yet most necessarily. 1 Tim. v. 21; Isa. vi. 2. So did Christ, as man, the will of his Father so freely, as none can do anything more; and yet as necessarily, as it was necessary for God not to sin. Matt. xvi. 21; John iv. 34; Acts xx. 28. On the contrary, the devils do evil, both necessarily, being by these men's own grant, unchangeably evil, and yet most willingly, as carried thereunto with all their power. Christ saith, “It must needs be that offences come;” and the apostle, that there must “be heresies in the church.” Matt. xviii. 7; 1 Cor. xi. 19. If then freedom of will can stand with no manner of necessity, the authors of these “heresies ”and “offences” sin not therein; for all sins, especially of this kind, are voluntary. I add in the last place, that the better any man or angel is, he doth good the more, both necessarily and willingly; and the worse any, evil, both ways.
Neither will seem strange unto us, that one and the same action comes under so divers considerations, as in one regard, to be voluntary, contingent, and casual; and in another, necessary: if we consider, how divers agents concur and meet together in producing it. No work of man, is so man's alone, as that God hath not some hand in it, in sustaining and ordering the person and work, yea in effecting that which is good in it, as all that is, which hath in it any created being or order. What hinders then, but that the same thing may, in regard of man, as the particular and immediate cause, be voluntary and contingent; and yet in regard of God, the highest and general cause, necessary ? We daily see the truth of this, in proportion, amongst men; the meeting of Ahab and Elijah was in respect of Ahab, casual; but in respect of Elijah, of destinate counsel. 1 Kings xxi. 18.
These things thus cleared, we will come to the exposition of the words of'Ezekiel, so oft and vehemently urged by these men, and others; which are, that “God takes not pleasure in the death of a sinner,” but “that he turn from his way and live.” Ezek. xviii. 23; and xxxiii. 11.
I answer, first, that the Lord takes no delight in the death of a sinner, that repents, and turns from his wicked way; but otherwise, if the sinner repent not, the Lord takes delight in his death; not for the misery of the creature, but for the glory of his justice shining therein. Of such the Lord testifies, that he “will laugh at their calamity, and mock them when their fear cometh,” Prov. i. 26; and considering, that the death and destruction, of the wicked is God's own just and holy work, for their sins, who will deny that God delights in it ? Secondly, for sin: who was ever so wicked as to imagine that God takes pleasure in it ? It pleaseth him for his holy ends, to suffer sin, and to order the creature sinning by his own free-will, and election of evil, as hath heen formerly proved. Thirdly, it must be noted that the prophet speaks there of such sinners only, as to whom the Word comes; saying, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Whence we do gather evidently these two particulars. First, that the prophet doth not here speak of all men universally, as they—the writers—conceive, but only of the house of Israel, or of such, as to whom he sends his prophets to call them to repentance; secondly, that he speaks not of that decree of the Lord willing, which is accompanied with the powerful work of his grace, by which he will give repentance to wicked men, instructed in the truth by his servants, 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25, 26; but only of that degree of his will which stands in commanding that which is good, and in approving of it, if it be performed. And so we grant it to be the Lord's pleasure and will, that all repent to whom the Word is preached.
It is true which they add: that Adam and others sinned against the will of God, but not that any ever sinned against the secret will of God, as they affirm. The will of God is no law to man till it be revealed; and where there is no law there is no transgression. It is also truly said, that the Jews' unwillingness to be gathered to Christ was against God's and Christ's will: that is, his commanding will: for he would, that is, commanded; and they would not, but disobeyed: but that it was against that decree of God's willing, which sets his almighty power a-work, that I deny. For God could, if thus he would, have given them repentance, and drawn them to his Son. Whatsoever he thus wills, he can do. John vi. 44.
That which they add, as an eye-salve to cure our blindness, namely, that we have nothing to do with God's secret will, not revealed in his Word, Psa. cxxxv. 6; is true in regard of our obedience to God, and expectation from him, but not absolutely, as they conceive. The particular events of things in the world, though not so much as insinuated in the Scriptures, concern us when they come to pass, so as we may and ought to say, it was the will of God they should so be: either his will to work them, if good; or to suffer and order them and their doers, if evil.
god the author of man's actions, but not of the sinfulness of the actions.
Next comes into consideration a special distinction of ours, which is, that God is the author of the action, or fact, but not of the sin of the fact or crime. Over which they insult, and in it, over all learned men, though they mention Calvin only, with high contempt, and great triumph before the victory; calling it, “merely a fabulous riddle,” and “marvellous sophistication ”; telling us that “a spade is a spade,” &c., but in truth showing themselves fitter to meddle with a spade and a mattock, than with those high mysteries. Let us see their reasons. In the first, whereof they make us say: that “God is the author of the very fact and deed of Adam's sin, yea of adultery, theft, murder,” &c.
We deny their charge, and answer by distinction; that Adam's taking and eating the forbidden fruit, David's adultery, Joab's murder, and the like, are to be considered in two ways: First, naturally, and as they are motions in nature, performed by man's natural, and created faculties and powers of soul and body: secondly, morally, as those motions are misapplied, and abused to wrong objects, by man's blind mind and corrupt will. In the former respect and materially, as we speak, they are of God and created nature; in the latter and formally, of man's proper corruption. Now the sin is not the natural action of the motion, but the pravity and abuse of the action. The subtlety of our riddle, they, as if they had ploughed with our heifer, find out to be this, that in our account, sin is nothing, and that God, though the author of all things, is not the author of sin, for sin is nothing; and so the thief and other malefactors, are punished for nothing by the judge: and the wicked for nothing, in everlasting fire.
First, I demand of these men, whether, if God command something to be done, and men do it not, they deserve not to be punished for their doing of nothing ? Is it not sin not to do what we should do; and to do nothing when we should do something ? These witty men could teach the goats of Christ's left hand, Matt. xxv. 33, at that day, to answer him to the full, that he condemned them to hell fire for nothing; for not to do, is to do nothing. We then answer, first, that we call not sin nothing, negatively, but privatively, as a want of that which should be; secondly, that sin is not nothing morally, that is, not nothing against God's law, for sin only is something against it, but nothing naturally; that is, nothing which hath a created being in nature.
So for their next argument, that by “authority of Scripture,” and our own description, “sin is a thought, word, or deed, contrary to the will of God, and therefore that the deed is sin;” they should consider, that neither the Scriptures' nor writer's meaning is, that the sin stands in the natural deed or motion, but in the contrariety which the same deed, or motion hath in it to the law of God. Darkness, or a shadow, are nothing positively, but only the want of light. The voidness, darkness, and unformedness on the earth and deep. Gen. i. 1, 2, in the beginning were nothing that had real being; but only the want of that form, furniture, and light, which God afterward made, and furnished them withal. When the candle, is put out, and it becomes dark, shall we think that any real thing comes into the house, and causes the darkness ? or when I make a shadow by standing in the light, or sunshine, do I put any real thing in the place where the shadow is ? or do I not only keep the light and sunshine from it? Likewise, when a man or beast halts in going, shall we imagine that the halting is the very motion of going, or the fault of the motion only? So is sin only the absence and want of that conformity and agreeableness, which ought to be in the thought, word or work of the reasonable creature to the law of God; which as none of understanding and sincerity will deny: so for further satisfaction of the doubting, and conviction of the refractory, I will annex certain most plain and undoubted proofs of Scripture to confirm the same.
First, the apostle quoting and confirming the saying of the heathen poet, witnesseth to the Athenians, that “in . God we live and move, and have our being,” Acts xvii. 28. Our being then, that is, our souls and bodies, and our life arising from their union; and so our motions arising from our life we have of God: yea which is more, after a sort, in him, who filleth all things with his presence. Where let it also be noted, that he speaks of the being, life and motions of the very profane and heathenish idolaters as well as of any other.
Secondly, God, as it is in the Psalm, “made the heavens and earth, and sea, and all that in them is,” Psa. cxlvi. 6. If sin then be anything, viz. anything having being, God made it, and so it is his creature. And, surely, if it have a being, it is either a created or uncreated being. Not the latter, for that is only God; and therefore the former by their ground. If God created all things that are, sin, if it be in their sense, must be God's creature.
Thirdly, the same natural motion of man in which great sin is committed, if it were exercised upon another object, might be without sin, and lawful; and therefore not the very action or motion, but the misapplying of it is the sin; from which the action hath its moral, but not its natural being. For example, the very same natural motion which Adam used in taking and eating the forbidden fruit, upon any other fruit, had been no sin. The same natural act in which David practised adultery with Bathsheba, with his lawful wife, had been no adultery: the very same natural act and motion whereby Joab killed Abner and Amasa, if exercised upon a malefactor at the magistrate's command, had been no murder, but a work of just execution. The sin therefore is not in the very act, but in the misapplying it, or other vicious adjunct.
Fourthly, considering that there is no sin in deed or action of body, which was not first in the faculties of the soul, the understanding, will and affections; for only “the things which come from the heart, defile the man,” Matt. xv. 8; the outward sin, in fact and deed, can no more make the outward action in itself not to be of God,—than the inward corruption can make the created faculties in which it is, not to be of God. It is senseless to doubt, but that when a wicked man sleepeth, and so practiseth no wickedness one way or other, he is notwithstanding a wicked man. And where now resteth his wickedness, but in his heart? And what is his heart, but the faculties of his understanding, will, and affections, which sin possesseth and corrupteth ? And yet nevertheless these natural faculties remain God's good creatures; so do their motions natural, notwithstanding sins possessing them. There is in our sinful nature, the faculty, and the sin or disorder in it: and in our sinful works, the action from the faculty, and the outward sin in it, from the inward sin in the other.
Lastly, I thus argue unresistibly: That which God blesseth is good, and of himself. This none will deny, I assume. But God blesseth the natural action, or motion, in which horrible sin is practised. This is most evident, amongst a thousand daily instances, in the sinful commixture of Judah and Tamar, being on his part whoredom, and on her's incest, though with a better mind, Gen. xxxviii. Yet this action, considered naturally, God blessed with a child; yea, with two sons; yea, with him of “whom Christ came according to the flesh, who is blessed for ever.” Rom. ix. 5. Here is plainly the action blessed, and therefore good, in our sense, and of God; and yet the sin in the action, evil and accursed.
The meaning of Mr. Knox, in saying, that “what Ethnics ascribe to fortune,” we acknowledge to come from God, as the appointer of the things they mistake and pervert, neither understanding the Ethnics' meaning nor his. The heathens, speaking of fortune, did not conceive that there was any such Divine power causing things to be, but the contrary, and that things came to pass without any Divine Providence ordering them, and merely by blind chance or fortune: when they spoke of good fortune, or ill fortune, they meant only the good or ill hap of persons, or things. His and our meaning then is, that which Christ our Lord also teacheth, that “not a sparrow falls to the ground” without God's providence. Matt. x. 29. And where he speaks of God as the author, by his counsel appointing all things to the one part, and to the other; it is plain he intends it only of the ordering and governing of them, which they that deny, do in effect, pluck God out of heaven, by denying his sovereignty, and power over all his creatures in ordering them, and all their actions, to his own supernatural ends. The bitter curses which here they break into in their ignorant zeal against him, and Calvin, and with them, all others, the worthy instruments of restoring the gospel's light, after the darkness of Popery, into which these men are slidden back in no small measure, are like stones thrown upwards by them, which without their answerable repentance, will fall down upon their own heads.
Their proofs that God is gracious and merciful, of whom all good things come, and none evil, are needless, seeing we grant as much; only wishing them to consider these three things. First, that the most of these scriptures cited, mean only the mercy and love of God to his church and people. Secondly, with what mind they, once and again, put moving for tempting, James i. Thirdly, that 2 Pet. iii. 4, is not to be extended to all,' as it is by those prodigal stewards of God's grace, but to the elect only, whom the apostle opposeth to the mockers mentioned, ver. 3, and therefore saith, that the Lord which hath promised, is patient towards us, and so defers that his coming till the number of the elect be accomplished, by their effectual calling.
Of God's suffering and doing things, and how they come to pass thereupon, I have spoken before, answering what they object thereabout. Only I may not pass by, without giving warning thereof, the stumbling-stone of most grievous error and impiety, which they, purblind people, cast in their own way, making God's purposes and promises no better, in effect, than the vizor of stage-players, which they put on, and off again, at every turn.
god's foreknowledge and truthfulness.
(Pages 18, 19.)
Their affirmation, that God from the beginning of the world knoweth all things, yet, that all things come not to pass, therefore, necessarily; alleging for that purpose, Matt, xxvi. 53, is dangerous, if they speak to the matter in hand, and with respect to the text, whose word, for the most part they bring: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts xv. 18. Their instance, in Christ's “asking twelve legions of angels,” Matt. xxvi. 53; “Ananias keeping his possession,” Acts v. 3: and the “saving of the ship in which Paul sailed,” Acts xxvii. 44. These Scriptures, together with Saul's coming to Keilah, and the men of Keilah's delivering David into his hands, 1 Sam. xxiii., they bring to prove, “that although God do foreknow things will come to pass, and also foretel them, yet they may be prevented:” adding hereunto, that the Lord knoweth and pronounceth, that the wicked shall be damned, and yet there lieth no necessity upon their damnation, but that it may be prevented by repentance.”
First, these examples of the Lord's asking “the twelve legions of angels,” and of Saul's coming to Keilah, and the like, are not to the purpose in hand. The question is, as they themselves put it, of things coming not of fortune, but by God's providence, and of God's willing things that come to pass, both good and evil. To what end, then, mention they things that never did, nor shall come to pass, either good or evil: and so to cover their craft the better alter the words of the text, “All God's works,” into “all things.” And what are all these things with them ? Christ's obtaining twelve legions of angels; Ananias retaining his possession; the saving of the ship in which Paul sailed towards Rome: Saul's coming to Keilah, and the destruction of the Ninevites within forty days: which were neither works of God, nor man; nor never were, nor shall be. So then by “all God's works,” as the text saith, and matter in hand requireth; and by “all things,” as they say, they' must mean plain nothing, and that which never was, nor shall be.
Secondly, the scriptures cited by them, rightly understood, are to them, as Goliath's sword to him, clearly cutting off the head of their error. Take for instance one or two of them, upon which they most insist.
For, Matt. xxvi. 53, it was a thing in itself possible, considering God's love to his Son, and his faith in him, that he should have obtained those legions of angels to have rescued him; so was it also, not only possible in itself, for Saul, but also in his mind to have come to Keilah, &c. And whence, then, was it that these things came not to pass, and had not their answerable events ? Even from the decree and providence of God's ordering things the other way inevitably. In the former instance we have Christ's own testimony, who after mention of such praying, if he would, ver. 53, adds, ver. 54, “But then how shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” As if he should have said, It agrees well with the interest which I have in my Father's love, that I should obtain from him an invincible army of heavenly soldiers, for the rescuing me out of mine enemies' hands: but the Scriptures, manifesting the purpose and decree of God, have foretold the contrary; and that I should thus be “oppressed, and afflicted, and made an offering of sin,” Isa. liii. 7, 10; which before he also professed to be “the will of his Father,” ver. 39—42. So for Saul's coming to Keilah, 1 Sam. xxiii. 6—15, it was a thing in itself possible, and also Saul's purpose, and this the Lord saw and foretold, but hindered by his providence in sending away David, as he had fore-purposed in his counsel to do, and thereby to hinder Saul's coming thither. These men should have said thus, that God, always foreseeing, and sometimes foretelling, what in regard of the nature of things might be, and in respect of the dispositions of the persons would be, if they were not prevented, yet doth prevent them effectually by the work of his providence interposed, according to the decree of his will. And this, so far as it looks towards the thing in hand, makes against them, avowing a most powerful work of God's providence, according to a most constant will, overruling all dispositions of persons, and events of things. But for them to say bluntly, as they do, that God foreknows and foretels that things will come to pass, and yet, that those things may be prevented, is to accuse the Lord himself, both of want of wisdom in discerning, and of truth in speaking, and of power in working.
If any object, that God saith, “Saul will come to Keilah,” I easily answer, that God therein only foretels what was in Saul's will and purpose; which, compared with the event, shows that Saul's purpose of will was alterable, not God's, “in whom there is neither change, nor shadow of changing,” James, i. 17; “neither is he as man that he should repent,” 1 Sam. xv. 29. So the threatening of the Ninevites, as divers other particulars, both threatenings and promises, are but upon condition, sometimes expressed, and sometimes understood. It is ignorantly said, that a thing will be, which is promised or threatened conditionally, except it be presupposed that the condition will be first. Alike impious, as accusing God, both of being deceived and deceiving, is that which followeth, that God knows and pronounceth, that the wicked shall be damned, and yet that there is no necessity of it; but that it may be prevented by repentance. This is to say, that God knows and says a thing shall be, when it may not be; yea, when he knows it shall not be, as in them that do repent afterwards.
If they say further, that wicked men may and shall be saved if they repent, they say, but as the truth is: but if thereupon they conclude of all simply, that therefore they may either repent, or be saved, they err, not knowing the nature of a conditional proposition: in which it is sufficient, if the consequence or latter part follow truly upon the antecedent or former part; though it may be, that neither consequent nor antecedent can possibly be. For example, 1 Cor. xv.13—19:—“ If there be no resurrection from the dead, then is Christ not risen,” and “your faith is also in vain,” &c. The consequence is firm: if this, then that, and yet neither this nor that apart, nor both together could possibly be.
the divine counsel.
These men having, as they list, vilified God's infallible knowledge, and unchangeable truth, come to his counsel, against which, say they, things may be done, as, Luke vii. 30, the Pharisees did against the counsel of God: adding, that Christ knew those he admonished should perish, if they repented not; yet there lay no necessity of their perishing because Christ knew it, for as he testifieth, repentance might help it.
In the former place they commit the fallacy of equivocation, taking the word “counsel” there for the internal and eternal decree of God in himself; when by it, John vii. 30, it meant only the outward instructions and exhortations ministered by John Baptist.
Of salvation upon condition of repentance, I spake even now that which is sufficient, to which the reader may look back.
Coming to answer certain scriptures, they begin with Prov. xvi. 4, which they set down thus: God created all things for his own sake, yea the wicked for the day of destruction, and so corrupt the text whilst they pretend the opening of it; for it is not said, that God created, but that he made, that is, wrought, or did all things, as Psa. xi. 3, and xv. 2, and, generally, wheresoever the word is used. They, therefore, like unskilful workmen, make themselves labour, and lose it when they have done, in proving that God created all men good, and none bad. Neither is it wholly true, much less the whole truth, which they conclude as the meaning, that man becoming evil, God made the day of destruction for him, or him for the day of destruction, as a just recompense. For first, is it not all one, as they make it, to say, that man is made for, the day of destruction, and the day of destruction for man; seeing the one, imports the Lord's work in or upon the person for the thing, and the other, in or upon the thing for the person. Secondly, they miss the meaning of the place; -which is, that all things in the world, yea wicked men, who seem to live without all compass, yet come under the Divine ordination; and that as there is nothing so casual in regard of men, no not the casting of a lot, Prov. xvi. 33, nor falling of a sparrow upon the ground, Matt. x. 29, but comes under the Lord's disposition and providence; so there is no person, nor thing in the world so evil, but he rules and overrules it, as it may serve for the manifestation of his glory.
divine concurrence in human actions.
Unto the instances brought by us to prove God's holy work, in and about men's sinful works, and Satan's with them: for example, God's bidding Shimei curse David; his stretching out his hand upon Job, and taking away all that he had; his moving David to number Israel; sending a lying spirit upon Ahab's prophets, and the like: to all these they have their ready and round answer, that God only suffered all these things, and that Satan and evil men were the workers of them.
But first, let the godly reader, who will not oppose his own fleshly reason against the wisdom of God, well weigh the most effectual and significative terms, that possibly can be used by the Holy Ghost everywhere, to show the powerful work in those matters, and not his bare sufferance; as if he were only an idle looker on, letting men alone without meddling with them, in a great part of the greatest, even all the evil works of their lives: for example, that God sent Joseph into Egypt, and not his brethren, Gen. xlv. 7: that he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and raised him up to show in him his power, &c., Exod. iv. 21; ix. 16: that the Lord gave, and that the Lord took away from Job, Job i. 21; that God bade Shimei curse David, 2 Sam. xvi. 10—12; that he moved David against Israel, to say, Go number Israel and Judah, 2 Sam. xxiv. 1; that he put a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets, 1 Kings xxii. 22; that Asshur was a staff in the Lord's hand, and the rod of his anger, Isa. x. 5; that he sent strong delusions upon them that received not the love of the truth, 2 Thess. ii. 11; and lastly, to let pass infinite other places, that God by his determinate counsel and foreknowledge, delivered Christ into the hands of wicked men; and that they did what God's hand and counsel had determined before to be done.
Now, can we conceive it to be for no more but a simple suffering, that the Holy Ghost, who knew right well how to speak, should not once, nor twice, but I may safely say, a thousand times in the Scriptures, use words and phrases importing so effectual operation and working? Is to send men to take away things, to raise up, to use men as a staff in the hand, and bid them go, only to suffer them, and let them be still, and alone? Surely the art of chemists is nothing to these men's, in evaporating; who can reduce those most just and powerful works of God to a very nothing; for no more is a bare suffering, than a not doing.
But we will briefly, as may be, handle the particulars, following their footsteps, who beginning with Shimei, allow God only the poor pittance of sufferance, for David's trial. 2 Sam. xvi. 10. But David himself will teach them better, in saying the Lord had said to him, “Curse David: who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so ?” For first, if God did only suffer, that is, not hinder Shimei, then God did not try David, but only suffered Shimei to try him, which is false: secondly, this was not only a trial, but specially a punishment, or correction of his former sins, and therefore laid upon him by God: but whether it were trial, or correction, or both, it was in that respect good, and of God as the author. God's suffering of Shimei could not be his trial of David. It was Shimei who was suffered; but David who was tried and punished; who, therefore, bore it with the piercings of a tender and humble heart, as God's just work in ordering the malice of Shimei to become his rod of correction.
Of Job's afflictions, it is also presumptuously said by them, that God only suffered them. Job speaking of his nakedness, and misery, saith expressly, that “as the Lord had given, so the Lord had taken away.” Job i. 21. They may as well say, the Lord only suffered the giving, as that he only suffered the taking away of Job's substance. He ascribeth both alike to the Lord, in regard of his providence ordering things according to their kinds. Neither is there sense to imagine that Job so blessed God for only letting the devil, and wicked men alone, to work their malice upon him, and his; but as by the eye of faith he saw the hand of God, (to be “blessed for ever!”) ordering and determining the same to his own holy ends. Can any man bless God merely for suffering the devil to hurt him ? So God in moving David to number Israel, 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, did not only suffer him and Satan to do their work, but did his own also by them, though they thought not so, in ordering the malice of the one, and pride of the other, to a just occasion of punishing Israel, against whom his anger was kindled; and this agrees well with both the proportion of faith, and generality of the Scriptures.
The same in effect is to be said of the lying spirits seducing Ahab's prophets, 1 Kings xxii. 22, in which God neither puts malice in the devil, nor flattery into the hearts of false prophets; but finding them there before, and that of themselves, useth them by a most powerful and skilful hand to the furthering of the deserved destruction of a wicked king. And where they say, the controversy is, who was the first cause of this cursing, envy, pride, and deceit, they miserably deceive themselves and others. We abhor from saying that God is either first or last cause of any wicked thing; but of the trial or punishment, or other good in the ordering of the wicked thing; as the just judge may use the malice or cruel disposition of the executioner for the exercising of just punishment upon the malefactor. Neither do we say, as they dream, that cursing, envy, &c., are good in God, and wicked in the devil, and man. This is impossible: but we say, that the ordering of them, and of the persons in whom they are, is good in God, either for trial, or punishment. For example, of such as go to war, and take means, one is moved thereto, because he would not work; another in hope of booty and prey; a third being weary of wife and friends; and so others, in the like corrupt respects: and yet the king, or captain may use and order them all, and all their corrupt ends and intendments to his most just and lawful ends, and intentions, either in offensive, or defensive wars. And if one frail man can make this lawful use of the lawless and sinful lusts of other men, should proud flesh quarrel at God's most infinite power and wisdom in his just and holy works ? Or will they, vain men, conjure him herein, within the narrow circle of their understanding? Denying him at all to have any hand in working, where they, blind moles, cannot discern how he works '? “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Rom. xi. 33, cried he, who yet could far better discern of them, than they, or we. In opening Isa. x. 5, 6, they speak the truth, and that which we intend, though presently after they devour the hallowed thing. They say well, that one wicked nation was sent to punish another, which thing, say they, was good for God; namely to punish the wickedness of some by others as wicked, and that this is God's justice, though they thought not so. Very well said; God justly punisheth the Jews by the Assyrians; and how doth he that his just work ? By the Assyrians invading and spoiling them; and no other way. This invading, spoiling and murdering of Israel, was the Assyrians' horrible sin, Isa. x. 6—13, which, therefore, the Lord hated with great hatred, and punished accordingly. Here then we have plainly the sins of men, and, therefore wicked, in regard of them, the doers, avowed for the judgments of God, and in that regard just and holy. Their daring any tongue to say, that the delusion mentioned, 2 Thess. ii., comes from God, otherwise, than by suffering the devil to delude, is but the fruit of their bold ignorance, with which they abuse unstable minds. As the devil and men's selves, are the only authors of these delusions in themselves considered; so are there divers effectual works of God in and about them. The first thing indeed is, God's permission or sufferance of the devil to exercise his malice to hurt, wherein, as they rightly say, he and his children take delight; but this is rather a not-work of God than a work, namely, a not restraining, or hindering him. God's next work is to order and direct Satan's malice upon the persons so deluded, that so they may receive a punishment proportionable to their sins, both for quality and quantity. A third work of God is in them, in depriving them of the knowledge and discerning of the truth, which they formerly had, without the love thereof, as the Scriptures testify. What should I say more ? These adversaries, elsewhere, being set upon the rack, by the evidence of the place, thus speak, God will have them to be seduced, thereby to punish them: confessing therein their seduction to be a punishment, and, therein, good and God's work, and that which God wills also, as they expressly affirm. The devil wills their seduction as a hurt to them; they will it, as a thing pleasing to them; God wills it as a punishment of them: which last, to wit, a punishment, nothing is in itself, but by way of relation put upon it, by the judge.
divine permissions in general.
And here, to thrust God from the government of the world, they take upon them to prove, that in this, and the like cases, God's sending is nothing but suffering: their proof is, for that the holy evangelists making relation of the devil's possessing and drowning the swine, where one of them saith that Christ sent them, another saith, that he suffered them to enter into them. Matt, viii, 31, 32; Mark v. 12, 13; Luke viii. 32.
But first, I would know how they can prove, that though in one place, where no punishment is directly intended, suffering and sending be all one, therefore, they are all one, in all other places, where the Lord properly and professedly intends a punishment? Secondly, I deny, that sending and suffering are here all one; but as we find in many other places, so in this, that which one evangelist relates, though truly, yet not so fully, that another sets down more thoroughly with all the parts. Luke saith, “He suffered them,” and this is true; Matthew saith, “He sent them,” and this is the same which Luke saith, and more; namely, together with the suffering of them, the directing and” determining also of their malice this way, for the Lord's most holy, though unknown, ends. And if the Lord in this case only suffered them, and let them alone, then it should follow, that the creature doth some actions, wherein he is wholly left to himself without God's meddling with him, or ruling of him. But to come nearer the matter, I would know of these men, when two evangelists or prophets set down the same thing in divers words, the one in more sparing and strait, and the other in more large terms; whether we be not to expound the straiter by the larger, and not the larger by the straiter, except there be some apparent restraint. The evangelist Matthew, in Ch. viii. 15, relating the miracle done by Christ upon Peter's mother, saith, “He touched her hand and the fever left her;”' Mark saith, i. 31, “He took her by the hand and the fever left her.” Should we now say, that to take her by the hand and lift her up, were nothing but to touch her hand ? Or say we not truly, that Mark said the same thing which Matthew doth, and more also: so is it in Christ's suffering and sending the devils. More plainly yet. We read, how upon the death of Absalom,'Ahimaaz the priest being very desirous to be the messenger thereof to David, importunes Joab greatly to let him run, and again to let him run. 2 Sam. xviii. 22, 23. Joab at the last condescends, and saith to him, Run, and so, ver. 29, Ahimaaz expressly affirms that Joab sent him to David. He therefore both suffered him to go, and sent him. He suffered him, as having a desire of himself; and sent him also as his messenger to the king. So Christ both suffered the devils, as desiring to possess the swine rather than to be cast into the deep; and also sent them, as ordering their malice to that object, and none other, for the trial of the Gergesenes.
In the next place, followeth to be considered of, the sending of Joseph into Egypt, touching which, let these two things only be added to the things spoken, for the opening of the former instances. First, that Joseph expressly saith, not only that God sent him into Egypt, but that he sent him thither to preserve life, Gen. xlv. 5, 7, 8, which was God's end, and not his brethren's, and therefore depends upon God's work, and not upon theirs: but withal, that it was not they that sent him thither, but God. Joseph here makes God, in a respect, a greater doer than his brethren; these men shut God quite out, and make him only a sufferer, or one that left others alone, and meddles not with them. His brethren sold him, but God sent him; that is, used their envious injury to his own gracious work, both towards him and them, and much other people, whom by his means he kept alive. Secondly, and for conclusion, let this be observed, that Joseph speaks of God's sending him to comfort his brethren in their sorrow and fear, for the evil they had done to him. But I would know, what comfort it could be to their perplexed hearts, to think that God suffered them to do wickedly, that is, hindered them not? Can any man, having grace, yea, common sense, take comfort in this, that God leaves him to himself to do wickedly, and hinders him not ? A miserable comforter would this miserable exposition have made Joseph to have been. Whereas by -the other and true sense, though their sin were nothing the less, yet God's providence appears the greater, and more gracious, in ordering their envy and malice to such an event as it had, whence no small comfort did accrue unto them.
Of the death of Christ, and God's work in giving him thereunto, even to the cursed death of the cross, by the hands of the wicked, I have formerly spoken at large, and will not repeat the same things. Only I cannot but tax their allegation of Ursinus as most vain, who, in the place noted by them, opposeth God's permission, to his willing and working of sin, as sin, and so God indeed only permits, and neither wills, nor works sin, as sin. Otherwise, all that have but once looked into Ursinus, know, how vehemently he impugneth that imagination of bare permission, avowing the effectual work of God's providence in and about sin: as both working the actions themselves, which he calls the materials of sin, and withdrawing his grace; and withal, destinating, directing, and bringing to their ends, the same actions.
That of Amos iii. 6 is misapplied, if by any alleged, and so easily answered.;
The last place which they, take upon them to answer is John xii. 39, 40. Therefore they, to wit, the Jews, before whom Christ had done so many miracles, could not believe, because that Esaias said, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts that they should not see,” &c.
divine instructions not accepted.
Their answer, after divers incongruous forms of speech, and some truths among, is, that this, and the like places affirm, “that they winked with their eyes, lest they should see,” “for which cause, God gave them up to this reprobate sense.”
That is, (they being interpreters,) for winking with their eyes lest they should see, God gave them up to wink with their eyes, lest they should see. Thus, by this untoward construction, the same thing is the cause and effect of itself; their “winking with their eyes,” of their winking with their eyes. It is certain, that this reprobate mind in wilful ignorance, and obduration was their proper sin; and as certain, that, it was God's just judgment upon their former sins, by his ordering thereunto their corruption; and therefore Christ spake to them in parables, which were dark without exposition, and expounded them, when he was alone, to them which were about him, Matt. iv.10, 11: rendering thereof this reason, because it was given to them, namely to his disciples, to “know the mysteries of the kingdom of God,” Matt. xiii. 11, but unto them that were without, all things were done in parables, that“ seeing they might see, and not perceive,” &c. And so Matthew saith, xi. 26, this was given to the one, and not given to the other: whereof also, elsewhere, he rendereth the highest reason, “because so it seemeth good in God's sight:” who “hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth.” Rom. ix. 8.
Their alleging of Austin against the heathenish destiny, which they held to come from the stars, is frivolous, and impious against God's infinitely wise and powerful providence, in governing all things in heaven and earth. In regard whereof, the same father saith, that the things which are done against God's will, are not done without his will: viz. ordering and directing them to their ends. And if the penners of this book were not void, either of all knowledge of the author's judgment, whom they cite: or modesty in themselves, they would never allege Austin and Ursinus as patrons of their errors about the Divine predestination, and other points thereupon depending: than whom the Synod at Dort hath none, the one of former, and other of later times, more clearly witnessing with it, and all the best reformed churches, in those matters.
Their first head of predestination being ended, they come next to election: which they consider, not as a part of the former with the Scriptures, and all good authors; but as clean another thing. But what, may rather be guessed, than gathered from their words.
And first, in laying down the supposed errors of their adversaries concerning election, they do us and the truth manifold injuries, as the reader may evidently see, who pleaseth to compare with their calumnies, the Confession of the Synod thereabout, which is, Electio autem est immutabile Dei propositum, &c. “Election is the unchangeable purpose of God,” by which, before the foundations of the world were laid, out of all mankind, fallen, from its primitive integrity into sin, and destruction, by its own fault, according to the most free good pleasure of his will, he out of his mere grace, hath chosen to salvation in Christ, a certain multitude of such as were neither better, nor more worthy than others, but lying in the common misery with others; whom, to wit Christ, he hath appointed from eternity for Mediator and Head of the elect; and accordingly to give them to him to be saved, and to call and draw them effectually to fellowship with him by his Word and Spirit: or hath decreed to bestow upon them true faith to justify, sanctify, and at the length being powerfully kept in the fellowship of his Son, to glorify them, for the declaration of his mercy, and praise of the riches of his glorious grace, as it is written: “He hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame in his sight, with love; 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, wherein he hath made us accepted in that beloved one.” Eph. i. 4—6. And elsewhere; “whom he hath predestinated, them also he hath called; and whom he hath called, them also he hath justified; and whom he hath justified, them also hath he glorified.” Rom. viii. 30.
And by this joint confession, all equal readers will judge of the faith of the evangelical churches in this point, and not by the partial and perverse relations of such adversaries, as catch here and there a piece divided from the rest, and sometimes altering the words, always perverting the meaning, thereby cast stumbling-stones in their own, and others' way.
impartial bestowment of divine blessings.
These things premised, the particulars follow: the first whereof, is a similitude brought, as they say, by us to exemplify our opinion by, of a physician entering into the house of sick men, and curing some, and that for nothing, who are bound to thank him; and not curing others, who have no cause to complain of him, because he owes them nothing. This similitude they except against, as that in which comparison is made between a physician, who hath little mercy in him in healing but a few, and leaving infinite numbers unhealed; and God and Christ, who are most merciful, saying, “Come unto me all that are laden, and I will ease you.” Matt. xi. 28. They, therefore, to correct this, will have Christ compared to a physician truly merciful, that, going into the house of sick men, proclaims, that he will heal all that will take a medicine; which some taking, are cured; others refusing, because it is bitter, as to deny a man's self, “take up his cross and follow Christ,” remain uncured. Matt. xvi. 24.
First, the Scripture by them cited for their catholic cure, is violently stretched above its reach. For, neither are all in the world, no nor a handful, in comparison with the rest, laden, as Christ there speaks; that is, feeling and groaning under the intolerable burden of sin, and of the wrath of God due thereunto. This did very few of the other Jews, and fewer of the Pharisees, who thought themselves righteous; neither doth Christ so call, and therefore not offer to cure, by the preaching of the gospel, every particular person in the world, from the beginning to the end thereof. This truthless and shameless assertion we shall have occasion hereafter to confute at large. In the meanwhile, the place alleged proves only thus much, that Christ, the good physician, offers to cure all that come to him, by the preaching of the gospel, with feeling of their sins and faith in his death, and no more.
Secondly, even for them that come to Christ, and are effectually healed by him; these men err, “not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God for the conversion of sinners,” in affirming that he doth no more but provide the medicine of grace, and outwardly persuade to the receiving of it: or that there is, which they take wrongfully for granted, the same natural power in a wicked man to receive grace offered by the gospel, that there is in a sick man to take the medicine offered by the physician. This capital error of theirs is, in this place, to be refuted, and the contrary truth to be cleared; namely, that for the effectual converting of men, God not only provides the medicine, Christ and his benefits, and by the gospel exhorts to the receipt thereof; and so leaves men to their own freewill indifferently without further doing. But that, withal, and above the former, he, by the inward work of his Holy Spirit given them, makes effectual the outward means, in “opening the heart to attend to the things spoken,” with, reverence; in enlightening the understanding to discern and assent unto the same things as true and good, and that with particular applications; in bending the will efficaciously to consent to the same: and all the affections of the soul to love and like them.
But before this be done by us, it is meet we answer an objection or two, rather insinuated, than expressly made by them. Their words are, which also, as appears by the mark in the margin, they would have accounted remarkable, that “Christ is willing and able to cure men by the means by which they are curable, but not by the means by which they cannot be cured; for his power herein is subject to his will, and his will is that they should take the medicine.”
The substance of their objection is, that God will not, and, therefore, cannot cure men otherwise than by their receiving the medicine offered, Christ and his benefits. Very true; God will not, nor can so do by his revealed will, which to us.is the rule of his power. But where they say, that God's power is subject to his will, this must be otherwise understood, than as they do; conceiving it to be of that work of his will, by which he appoints others what they shall do; whereas it is to be understood of that work of his will, by which he appoints in himself what he will do, in or about others. As where it is said, “the Lord is in heaven, and doth whatsoever pleaseth him,” Psa. cxv. 3, that is whatsoever he wills: the meaning is not, that he doth, or that his power is ruled by what he commands others to do; but by his will or purpose of doing himself what pleaseth him. God so wills the conversion of all, to whom the gospel comes, as to command the same, and to approve it where it is: but he wills the conversion of some, namely the elect, with another and further intention of will, setting a-work the power of his Spirit in their hearts effectually, and as they speak irresistibly to convert them, “by taking away their stony heart, and giving them a heart of flesh, and by putting his Spirit there, and causing them to walk in his statutes.” Ezek. xi. 19—36; xxvi. 27. God's power, then, is not subject to his commanding will, always to work alike, where he commands alike; but it is subject to his purpose of will in himself, according to the good pleasure thereof to work, or not to work by means of his commanding will. Matt. xxv. 29; Rom. viii. 30; Eph. i. 9. The arguments of proof directly follow.
Arg. 1. To receive Christ and his grace, is to believe in him; this believing, or faith by which we are saved, is “the gift of God, and not of ourselves;” John i. 12; Eph. ii. 8. So as not only the medicine itself, and offer of it, but also the hand to receive it with, which is faith, and a believing heart, is God's gift. The physician offers and gives to the receiver the medicine, but not the heart and hand to receive it; but God gives these, also, to them that do receive Christ's justification and sanctification and salvation by him. If it be said, that God gives faith by preaching, and exhortation to receive it, though he add no farther work: I answer, that then God gives this gift and grace of faith, as well, and as much to them that receive it not, but remain still unbelievers, as to them that believe; yea more, to many unbelievers, as having more, and more excellent outward means, than many that receive it. It is therefore absurd to say, that God gives faith, or to believe, unto him that never believes; specially, faith being such a gift, as hath no existence, but in the heart of him that believes.
Arg. 2. The apostle elsewhere pronounceth all men, either “spiritual or natural:” of the “natural man” he testifieth, that he doth not, nor can discern the things of God, but that they are foolishness unto him. 1 Cor. ii. 14, 15; but of the “spiritual “that he discerns of such things and receives them. The natural man he neither doth nor can, the spiritual he both can and doth. What is it, then, that of the natural, makes the spiritual man, that can do these great things, the bare publishing and proclaiming of this spiritual and gracious medicine in and by Christ ? Not so; for too many, alas ! remain natural still, to whom the gospel of grace is very plenteously preached. What then? Is it his free-will to receive it, to whom it is preached ? Not so, neither; for his will is but the will of a natural man, who neither doth, nor can discern and receive the things of God, till he become spiritual. It is then God's Holy Spirit, which he gives to one that hears the gospel, and not to another; which makes one hearer spiritual, and not another: thereby changing both the will, and whole man of him to whom he gives it.
Arg. 3. A third is taken from 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7, “Paul plants, Apollo waters, but God gives the increase. And neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” The Corinthians did too highly advance the ministers, by them factiously adhered unto, as is evident; setting them in Christ's and God's place; the apostle thereupon pulls them down, and sets them in their own place, showing, that except God add a further work than their preaching, how sound and excellent soever, all is nothing. But by these men's device, there needs no further work of grace from God, than the gracious proclamation made by preaching, to be received by man's free will: and so God's further work of giving the increase is quite shut out.
Arg. 4. When the Jews, John vi. 44, “murmured at Christ's words,” he to stop their mouths, and to prevent his disciples offence-taking, saith, that “no man cometh unto him, except the Father, which sent him, draw him.” If any say, that God draws men to Christ by preaching of the gospel, it is true, but not to the purpose of the place: for so the Jews were drawn that came not, as well as they that came and believed. There is then requisite, “that men may come to Christ, or believe on him,” ver. 47, a further drawing than that, by the outward preaching only. Not that God draws men, as horses draw a cart, or by any violence, or compulsion against, or without their will; but that he makes them by the inward work of his Spirit, joined with the outward word, of unwilling, willing; effectually driving away ignorance and rebellion, and so enlightening the mind, as to assent, and the will, to consent.
Arg. 5. Lastly, these adversaries, suffering their merciful physician to go no further than the proclaiming and offering of the medicine of grace to the sick of sin, 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25, do, therein, make many despisers of all grace and goodness, so living and dying and perishing for ever, more bound and beholden to God, and his grace, than many other the most faithful, holy, and happy servants of Christ. The reason is plain; for that many living and dying impenitent, have had the gospel in a far more full and plenteous manner and measure, published and preached unto them, with all other outward motives and provocations of grace, than many that truly believe and repent. These adversaries to the grace of God, would make the faithful servants of God more pharisaical than the Pharisees themselves; with whom they consort in divers points of their faith. The Pharisee that went up with the publican into the temple to pray, yet “thanked God that he was not like other men, as extortioners, unjust,&c., nor as the publican.” Luke xviii. 10, 11. But by these men's doctrine, we should thank ourselves, if we be not like the wicked and graceless men, and not God; for God, by their saying, hath not done so much for many of us, as for many of them, who have enjoyed more excellent outward means of grace offered, than many of the others. Oh ! you the followers of these guides; yea, you the guides yourselves, call to remembrance the days of your ignorance, and profaneness, specially divers of you, before your first conversion to the Lord; and consider whether you were not deeper rooted in sin, than many others, who yet have not received the grace which you have done, to believe, and repent; and give the glory to God's grace, and not to your own freewill, that you believe, repent and obey, rather than they. Be not unmindful of this unspeakable mercy of God towards you above others, equal and above you, in the enjoying of outward means, lest it come to appear in time, that you were never indeed partakers thereof.
many called, but few chosen.
Next, they come to show what election is, laying down for that end, at large, the “parable of the marriage of the king's son,” Matt. xxii.; and insisting specially upon the Lord's conclusion, ver. 14, “Many are called, but few are chosen:” inferring, therefrom, that it was the king's will and pleasure, that all the bidden guests should come and bring their wedding garment.
The scripture we acknowledge, and their inference: but both affirm and have proved, that, besides and above this will of God in bidding, and inviting the guests common to those that came not, and that came; and to those that came with, and without the wedding garment, there was a further work of God's pleasure, and will towards the elect vessels of mercy, setting a-work his powerful Spirit in their hearts, to make them willing to come, and that, furnished, as they ought. And so oft as these men, as they do it very often, do urge the will of God, that men should believe, repent and be saved, so oft, the reader must call to mind this distinction: First, that this will of God extends but to such persons, as to whom the gospel, the only means of inviting men, is preached. Secondly, that towards those that do effectually believe and repent, there is also a further degree of God's good will and pleasure, according to which he reveals unto them effectually heavenly things; opens their hearts to attend to the things spoken, and gives them to believe and repent upon their hearing; as the peculiar fruit of their eternal election. Matt. iii. 25; Acts xvi. 14, xiii. 48; 2 Tim. ii. 25.
Their spiritual sense also of the parable I acknowledge. But, whereas, Ereunetes sees “that election consists in this wedding garment, the righteousness of Christ, which is Christ himself, whom the faithful do put on by faith and obedience; ”he sees that which is not to be seen, and sees not that which is plain enough. Who having common sense will say, that “Christ and his righteousness, and the choosing of a man, or his election, are all one ? “Christ is not our election, but he in whom we are chosen, or elected, Eph. i. 4. Neither is our putting on of Christ by faith and obedience, our election; as they unskilfully make it. Election is God's work, not ours; for it is God that chooseth us, and not we ourselves; but the putting on of Christ by faith and obedience, is our work by God's grace, and not God's. God doth not believe and obey, but we, by his grace.
Now before we come to refute their opinion about election, hereafter laid down more plainly, but here more confusedly, with certain scriptures rather heaped together, than orderly brought for their purpose; it is expedient we examine a distinction brought by them of this Divine election, by occasion of an objection from Eph. i. 4, which is that “election is either in the decree or purpose of God only; ”or else “effectually and particularly made,” as they speak. This distinction, in a good sense, but not in theirs, is good and true. For God elects men before the world, or before they be, in his decree and purposeonly. But it must withal be considered, that this election is also, in God's purpose, actual and particular before the world. Nothing in God is potential, but all actual; otherwise there should be imperfection in God, as all potentials are, being to be perfected by their actualities. They should therefore say, that God's election of some particulars, was only in his decree, before the world, and is by him, in time, brought into actual execution. And here also it must be minded, that whereas all the question, in effect, amongst all, is about election, as before the world, and in God's eternal decree; they, in effect, pass that wholly by, and only treat of it, as God, in time, puts that in decree in actual execution.
Now, though their reasoning of election here be full of confusion and contradiction, as any judicious reader may see, and such as out of which their meaning can hardly be picked; yet this is plain, that they will have it to depend upon the condition of faith and repentance going before, affirming expressly, that those persons in whom God findeth faith and obedience, them he electeth to salvation in his Son, of mere mercy, for the quality which he findeth in them. But now, wherein, this election properly stands, they neither show us, nor understand themselves, as is plain by their cross and inconstant assertions of and about it; wherein yet they are so peremptory and bold, as if they carried all by plain demonstration of undoubted truth. What course then are we to hold with them ? Considering it is with them as Solomon speaks of the harlot, who was “loud and stubborn, whose feet abode not in the house,” Prov. vii. 11; but “she was now without, now in the streets, and lying in wait in every corner;” I have no other way but to pursue them into, and hunt them out of every corner, where they lie in wait to deceive.
First, then, for Matt. xxii. “Many are called, but few chosen.” It must be noted, that there are three degrees of men's calling to Christ. The first, when the gospel is preached, but the so called refuse wholly to answer and come; so were the first guests called, ver. 3. The second is, when men are persuaded to come after a manner, and in some show, but without truth of faith and repentance; and so he came who “wanted the wedding garment,” ver. 1. The third is, when men come in true faith and obedience as they ought; and so the rest of the guests came. Of this third and last degree of calling the apostle speaks, saying, “Whom he predestinated, them also he called; whom he called, them also he justified; and whom he justified, them also he glorified.” Rom. viii. 30. This cannot be said of either of the two former sorts of called, but of the latter only.
And for the election here spoken of, it may well be understood of the eternal election, in God's decree; the fruits and wholesome effects whereof, this unprepared guest shows himself not to be made partaker of, though he participated of the outward calling, even to the making of some show of that which in truth he wanted. And as the apostle affirms of the Ephesians, that they were “elect of God in Christ before the foundation of the world,” Eph. i. 3, 4, 5, 13, in regard of the faith and holiness appearing in them: so might the Lord well say of this, and other, his like, hypocrites, and unsanctified ones; that they are not of the number of the elect, or chosen in God's eternal decree, so far as their present state manifests. Neither is it the meaning of the Lord in those words simply to reprove him for not having on a wedding garment; but for coming thither and not having it on. “Friend, how camest thou hither, not having on a wedding garment ?” Matt. xxii. 12; and so to warn others to make sure their election, and not to content themselves with the show of obedience, without inward truth. And taking the words thus, they make for our, and against their opinion.
Or take the words as meant of the actual execution of election, and that, in the largest sense, so as in the same be comprehended whatsoever God doth in time, for the effectual procuring of a man's salvation; as of the giving of Christ for him, of the gospel to him, and by it faith and holiness, and the Spirit of adoption, and so glory in the end: and we say, all this he doth according to his eternal purpose of election, effectual only in those who are made partakers of the inward calling, and wedding garment thereby, and not in all that are called outwardly. “For known unto the Lord are all his works, from the beginning of the world,” Acts xv. 18. Whatsoever God doth in time that he purposed to do from eternity, as he doth it. But take election as these men do in most places, and which seems likewise to be upon best advice, for that first work of mercy in God by which he actually and particularly, as they speak, chooseth persons to salvation; they err with great error, in holding that this election is for the quality which God finds in persons, and upon the condition of faith and repentance going before, and that God only chooseth and electeth where he finds faith and obedience to his Son.
For first, the apostle teacheth, Eph. i. 4, that “we are chosen in Christ,” to wit, as the Mediator and means of communicating all spiritual blessings with us, “before the foundation of the world was laid, that we might be holy and unblameable in love before him.” This is meant, our adversaries granting it, of the decree of election: the meaning therefore must needs be, that God hath from eternity decreed to elect or choose us, in time, actually, not because we should or would be holy, as these men perversely imagine, but that we might be holy. As God from eternity purposed to choose men, so he chooseth them actually in time: but he purposed, from eternity, to choose men that they might be holy, and therefore actually, in time, chooseth them, that they might be holy, and unblameable before him: and therefore not because they are holy, or believe and obey. God's actual choosing therefore goes before our actual faith, holiness, repentance, and obedience, as the cause; and follows them not as an effect, as they mis-judge. The same is confirmed from v. 5, where we are said to be “predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ:” with which join that, Rom. viii. 30, “Whom he predestinated, them also he called, and whom he called, them also he justified, and whom he justified, them also he glorified.” To be elected, to wit, in decree, and to be predestinated, in the good part, as here, are the same in substance: only, we are said to be predestinated in respect of the supernatural ends, and means leading thereunto, unto which God in time bringeth us: and to be elect, or chosen in respect of others, from whom God selecteth us. Now, if we be predestinated of Christ to the adoption of children, then, not because we are children or believe, which are the same, John i. 12. To this purpose it is, that the Lord so oft by Moses beats upon this, that he chose the Israelites to be his people, out of his love to them, and love and promise to their fathers: excluding all other motives, and placing the cause of his choosing them in himself alone, and his love, and the stability of his purpose and promise. Moses testifieth, that God chose them “that they might be a holy and peculiar people unto the Lord.” Deut. iv. 37; vii. 7, 8; xiv. 2. But these men will make God begin at the other end, and choose men because they are an holy and peculiar people, that is, having faith and repentance going before.
Join we with this, that in the Psalm: “Blessed be the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, of thy holy temple.” Psa. Ixv. 4. Faith, then, and holiness are not the fore-found conditions for which God chooseth a man: but the- actual conferring and giving of them, according to an eternal purpose, is the very actual choosing of him: even that by which God severs, elects, selects, and chooseth him out of the mass of the wicked. Every man's common sense will teach this. All are of themselves, and by nature, sinners, and subject to wrath. Now what is it for God actually to choose some from the rest, but to bestow that, upon them actually and effectually, by which they differ actually from the rest, which is faith and repentance? God doth not, therefore, as these adversaries imagine, choose, upon condition of faith and repentance going before: but doth by the very bestowing of these graces of faith and repentance, which others want, choose, elect, select, and sever actually from others, the elected from eternity in his decree.
Lastly, by the cross doctrine of these men, we should choose God, before God choose us; for by believing and obeying, we choose God to be our God; and for this, by their crooked rule, God after chooseth us to be his people. Thus proud flesh will needs be beforehand with God. But Christ our Lord leads us another way, saying, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” John xv, 16, to wit, first, which he speaks, not only of their apostolical, but of their Christian state also, as the words following make it plain, “that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you,” unto the state of faith and obedience only doth this promise appertain, James i. 6; 1 John iii. 22.
Their assertion thus disproved, we will come to their proofs, which are partly impertinent, and partly against themselves. The first is, “the Lord chooseth to himself a righteous man,” the place, which is Psa, iv. 3, they note not, for what purpose they best know: but all may know it is grossly perverted, as not being meant of David's election to salvation, but to the kingdom of Israel; whose glory that way, his adversaries would have turned into shame, but all in vain, v. 3. But consider we, this choice in proportion to the other, and see what followeth. God's actual choosing of David to the kingdom of Israel, was that by which he had first actual right to that kingdom, to which he had right before, only in God's decree, and of which afterwards he had possession. So God's actual choosing of a man to the kingdom of heaven, is that, by which he hath first actual right to that kingdom, to which he had no right before, save in God's decree. God's choosing a man therefore actually, as they speak, to the kingdom of heaven, is the very giving of him faith and holiness; for by these, he hath this actual right to eternal life and glory. If therefore God's choosing men actually, opposed to his choosing them in decree, be his giving them actual faith and repentance, then their faith and repentance goes not before God's choice, but on the contrary, his choosing before their believing. The giving of the grace by God, must needs go before the having of it hy men.
With like success, they quote Rom. ix. 15, and 1 Pet. ii. 10, &c., which have no show of ground, whereon to build their assertion, that God chooseth men actually and particularly because they believe and repent: but most firm foundation for the contrary truth; men become God's people, and beloved actually, by actual faith and repentance, which before were his and beloved only, in the purpose of his will, according to election, Rom. ix. 11, 13, and elect, according to God's foreknowledge, 1 Pet. i. 2; God, therefore, actually choosing men, and making them his people, and beloved, which are all one, by giving them to believe and repent: their believing and repenting cannot go before his choosing them, but the contrary. Ephes. ii. 8; 2 Tim, ii, 95. The giving of the gift, is in nature before the having and using of it by him to whom it is given; and therefore God's choosing them, which is his giving them faith and repentance, is before their believing and repenting.
The next place, being Rom, ii, 5, 7, they set down craftily thus: v. 5. If they seek righteousness by faith, and these are the elect according to the election of grace. The words of the apostle are, “so then at this time also, there is a remnant, according to the election of grace;” and v. 7, “the election hath obtained it, and the rest were hardened.” The thing obtained was, the righteousness of God, and of faith, Rom. x. 3—6, the wedding garment, the righteousness which Israel obtained not, because they went about to establish their own righteousness; but the election obtained it by believing; even that remnant whereof Paul was one, according to the election of grace. What can be more plain against these men ? Or how can any more directly cross the apostle, than they do? The apostle saith, we obtain the righteousness of faith, which is the wedding garment, according to the election of grace: they say, we obtain the election of grace according to the wedding garment, and righteousness of faith and obedience. The apostle saith, the election obtains the righteousness of Christ by faith: they say, the righteousness of Christ by faith obtains the election: turning God's work upside down, that they may establish their own. Besides this proud exaltation, and Babylonish building of men's work against God's grace, for if it be of obedience, as they say, then of works, to wit, the works of obedience, the apostle, v. 6, clean overturns, saying, “if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace: but if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise works is no more works.”
In alleging from 2 Pet. i. 10, that this election must be made sure, they, as before, craftily conceal part of the apostle's words, which being laid down, as the text hath them, overthrow plainly their error. The words are, “give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” He joins calling and election together: they leave calling out. .And herein I commend them, as the master did the unrighteous steward, for doing wisely, though not honestly. For who knows not, that God's calling us, goes before our answering him by faith, and obedience, as the cause thereof? God calls, and also elects, men to faith and obedience, and not for them. The apostle's meaning is, that the faithful should use all godly care for the establishing and confirming of themselves in the grace of God, to which they were formerly called and chosen. 1 Pet. i. 2; James ii. 5; Eph. i. 4; 1 Cor. i. 2; 2 Pet. i. 3.
The like profane boldness, they use towards 1 Thess. i. 4, where for the apostle's text, “Knowing, beloved, your election of God;” or, knowing, beloved of God, your election, they put their own gloss, the household of faith, the church of God, are the elect of God. The apostle, v. 4, mentions his knowledge of their election, and v. 5, 6, the ground of that his knowledge, and persuasion, which was their faith and obedience by receiving the word by him preached. They were not therefore made elect of God, by faith and obedience, but thereby known for such by men.
Col, iii. 12, makes against them also; where their election is mentioned as a reason to move them to put on bowels of mercy, and all goodness. As indeed the gracious purpose of God's election, with his effectual calling followeth, and manifesteth, is the only evangelical motive to all earnest study of obedience.
Their assertion following, that “election is not of particular persons, but of qualities,” is monstrous, and most cross to the Scriptures, which never mention election of qualities, but always of persons. Is the meaning of Christ, Matt. xxii. 14, “Many are called, but few chosen,” that many qualities are called, and few chosen ? What quality but of sin, and misery, sees the Lord in them whom he calleth ? Or how can qualities be either called, or chosen to grace or glory ? Christ tells his disciples, that he had chosen them out of the world. John xv. 19. If they were chosen out of the world, which lieth in wickedness, and hates the good, 1 John iii. 13, 19, for what good qualities, trow we, were they chosen ? If they were chosen out of the world, and so were of the world before they were chosen out of it; how had they faith and obedience, for which these men will appoint God to choose them, or else not ? That we are God's generation, viz., by creation, is true, but impertinent. Of God's working good qualities in men by his Word, and Spirit, and of their resisting, or not resisting, we have spoken, and shall speak elsewhere: Rom. viii. 29, makes for them as the former places; showing plainly, that our predestination or election goes before our calling, our calling before our justification, our justification before our glorification.
The note in the English Testament, upon Eph. i. is the same which the Synod at Dort, and all evangelical churches profess. Only these men's error is, in their not putting a difference between God's decree to save, and his actual saving of them that believe, whether by justifying or glorifying them. God's choosing a man, whether in decree from eternity, or by actual and effectual calling, and calling of him out of the state of sin, by giving him the spirit of faith and grace, goes before his believing, for he cannot believe before he have faith, nor have it, before God give him it: but his actual saving by justification and glorification, follows after faith.
The discourse which here they fall into, touching “God's deliberating, and decreeing to make man,” &c., is impertinent, considering that our question is only of that decree which is evangelical, and of mercy, and so presupposeth man fallen, and in misery by reason thereof; so is the deliberation which they imagine in God, incompetent to his infinite wisdom and providence. They make God like a weak man, contriving his purposes with ifs and ands; as though he stood in a mammering, and unresolved, what to do, till he found by experience, what men would do first.
And here I demand of these men, what, if some of those so actually, really, and particularly chosen to salvation, as they speak, upon their faith and obedience, and to whom God hath so fully purposed, without ifs or ands, to impart the kingdom of heaven, do afterwards wholly fall a way, as they hold any may, and many do, then all this actual, real, and particular choosing, and settled purpose of God, is void and frustrate; and God must unpurpose what he had formerly purposed really, actually and particularly; and undecree what he had formerly decreed. They should therefore have learnt in this place, from their more learned masters, to have added the condition of their persevering to the end, without which it is certain, none shall be saved. But then they must needs rush upon the same desperate rock, with the other; which is, that none are thus actually and particularly elect or chosen, till they be dead, seeing they deny all certainty of perseverance, to the living, not acknowledging any thus elect, either before the world, or in it, but after the world, and in heaven.
The Scriptures here produced to prove that men are not “actually, really, and particularly God's people, and partakers of the grace of Christ before the world” and they, also, be, and “before they have learned Christ,” might well have been spared, as proving that only which no man doubts of. Only they must learn, that it is one thing for a people to become actually God's people, and partakers of his grace, and another thing for God actually to purpose in himself from eternity, in time to make them such. Nothing in God is potential, but all actual.
Their proofs of an universal calling in the means of salvation, we will presently examine; noting only by the way, their apparent contradiction of themselves, and unjust insinuation against us. They contradict themselves in saying, that God chooseth all men, good and bad, upon condition of faith and obedience, the partition-wall being broken down. To choose, is to take some from the rest, and not to take all. He that takes all alike, chooseth none. Besides, by this, the same persons are both elected and reprobated, chosen and refused: and every one alike either of both. Than which nothing is more absurd. The insinuation is, that we make “God an accepter of persons,” in saying, that he “chooseth men that have not put on Christ.” Nothing less. To accept persons in the Scriptures, is to judge of, or do to a person, better or worse, by some by-thing in or about him: whereas God in choosing one before another, whether in the decree, or actual application, of grace respecteth nothing in the chosen, but only the good pleasure of his own will, in himself. Eph. i. 4, 5; Matt. xi. 25, 26. This is the highest cause that God would have us take knowledge of; though we also know in the general, that God is no way wilful in his will, though he be most free, but always most wise and holy. To remove a little further out of the way this stone, at which divers stumble.
First, we know, that all by nature, and of themselves are subject to sin and condemnation, and so might in justice have been left of God, without remedy of redemption. If, then, it had been but just with God to have left all in that state of sin and misery, into which they have cast themselves, it is then mere mercy, that he hath chosen any in his Son, or given him for any. Now if, of all men indefinitely considered as fallen, God have purposed in himself from eternity, to raise up some, by working effectually in them faith and obedience, so to save them; and not to work the same in others, but to leave them to their own affected and effected pravity, and sin, and so in justice to condemn them for that their wickedness by them freely committed, and obstinately continued in; I would know, in regard of whether of these two works we can be said to make God a respecter of persons ? The one being a pure work of his mercy and the other of his justice.' Why God should thus choose some, and pass by others, in the general, we see reason, both by the light of nature, and the Scriptures; namely, that the glory of his power and justice might be seen in the one, and of the riches of his mercy in the other. Rom. ix. 21—23. But why in particular, the Lord God should rather choose this man or woman, than that, we leave unto himself to know, till the day of revelation of hidden things. Only, let our care and diligence be in the mean while, first, to know assuredly, that we are ourselves of that blessed number, and by such marks, as cannot deceive; and so knowing, both to have in our hearts, and to express in word and deed all thankfulness unto our good God, and most gracious Father, who hath vouchsafed unto us, above many others, such singular mercy.
the refusal of salvation by the lost.
(Pages 44, 45.)
It now remains, we come to examine, whether (to use their own words) “the wicked that come to damnation, had by this purpose of God (spoken of before) means of salvation, if they had not refused it.”
First, if this of outward means were granted them, it would not help them to prove the purpose of God to save all; except they could also prove, that there needed nothing on God's part, but the outward means. This, as they cannot do, so have I formerly proved plainly the contrary, and that though God so provide, that even Paul plant, and Apollos water; in the most full, and free offer of the outward means that can be; yet except the same God, by the inward and effectual work of his Spirit, give the increase also, all is nothing. Secondly, I deny, that the wicked who perish, all, and every one of them, have had, or have the outward means of salvation offered them.
But here, before they come to that which they promise, they offer, and enterprise the proving of another thing, which is, that “Christ died unfeignedly for all without exception; by whose death all might be saved, if they did not reject it.”
First. I here acknowledge, that the death of Christ, being God, Acts xx. 28, Rom. v. 10: is in itself sufficient for all, and every person in the world; and so might have been an. effectual price for all, if it had pleased the Father, and him so to have ordained. But that it was the Father's purpose in giving his Son, or his, in giving himself to the death, to pay the price of the sins of the whole world, and of every particular person therein, and to satisfy God's justice for the same, we deny, and they in vain go about to prove. That Christ died for sinners, and the ungodly, and such as were dead, Rom. v. 6, 8, we grant, as being the apostle's assertion: but that he died for all such, is their bold addition; and, which is worse, plainly against the drift of the place. The apostle having before treated, at large, of justification by faith, shows in this chapter the singular benefit accruing thereby to the faithful, as peace with God, access into grace, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, and that also, in tribulation: that their tribulation was working patience; their patience, experience of God's power and grace in sustaining them; that experience, hope that they should never be confounded, as having such assurance of the love of God in their hearts by the Holy Ghost given of God unto them. The ground of all which he layeth, v. 6. 8, for that Christ died for them, being ungodly and sinners: and thereby appropriates this dying of Christ, unto these sinners, who are in their time thus justified by faith, have peace with God, &c., which limitation the apostle most plainly makes, where he saith: For “when we were yet without strength, God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He speaks of them, and them alone, in this place, as died for by Christ, who were justified by him. And let me here turn into the very bowels of these men's error, the sword of the Spirit, which the apostle, in this place, puts into mine hand; and prove briefly, but evidently, that Christ died not for all and every person, as is said; but only for them, and for all them who in the end are saved, and obtain eternal life by him. These men, and rightly, in this very place, make it all one, for “Christ to die for sinners, and to be their reconciliation:” as the apostle makes them all one who are justified by faith, and for whom Christ died. Shall we then make doubt to conclude with the apostle, that they which are justified by Christ's blood, which are the sinners, for whom he died, v. 9, shall be saved from wrath through him, v. 9, or that they which are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, that is, say they, for whom he died, shall much more be saved by his life ? For which purpose also he after enters into comparison of the first and second Adam, showing, that as by the offence of one all were dead: so by the righteousness of one, the gift of grace should abound to many, or to all, v. 15, 16, 17: by which gift afterwards he shows himself to mean both justification, and reigning in life. He puts the two Adams as two common roots, the former as a natural root, and the latter as a spiritual: and affirms, that all that were, and are, in the former, and naturally growing of him died by his sin; and proportionably, that all in the latter, live by his righteousness. I say, that were in the first Adam; for Eve, though she were of mankind, yet died not by Adam's sin, because she was not in him, when he sinned; neither yet Christ, as man, not coming of him by natural generation, but by miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost. So, on the contrary, they, and only they, who by faith are planted in Christ, and justified by his blood, shall he saved from wrath through him, and receiving of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by him, v. 9, 17.
The apostle's meaning, therefore, is not, that Christ died for all particulars, but that all for whom he died, shall be saved by him: which seeing all are not; it followeth that he died not for all, as they mean.
For the right interpretation of 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, “For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again: “and of many the like places, the common and true rule must have place; that note of universality, as all whatsoever, and the like, must be restrained to the matter in hand: as, “whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do,” John xiv. 13: that is, whatsoever according to my will, 1 John v. 14. So, whatsoever they, the Pharisees, bid you do, that do, Matt, xxiii. 3; to wit, according to Moses. So, “they that believed, had all things common,” Acts ii. 44: that is, all things lawful, and for necessity. Likewise, Luke iv. 1, All the world should be taxed, that is, all under Cæsar: which a great part of the world was not. So, “all things are lawful for me,” and I become all to all: that is, not all absolutely, but all things in themselves indifferent, and of that kind, of which the apostle speaks. I then answer, that by all in this place, he means all of that sort, of whom he speaks: all, whom the love of Christ constrained: all, that so judge of Christ's death: all, that were dead; that is, were dead, but are alive by grace, and so should not henceforth live to themselves, but unto him which died for them: Christ, that one Mediator, died for all of them.
To 1 Tim. ii. 6, Christ “gave himself a ransom for all,” we answer, that by all is not meant all particulars in the world, but all sorts of people, as well kings (which many Christians, considering their cruel hatred of Christ, and other enormities, thought rather to be prayed against, than for) as others. The apostle here informs them better, and that Christ died for all, and would have all, that is, men of all sorts saved, even kings as well as others. It is not possible for any Christian to pray for every particular person in the world: nor lawful to pray that God would save all in general: seeing we know by the Scriptures, that all shall not be saved, and are, also, forbidden to pray for some in particular. Luke xiii. 23, 24; 1 John i. 15; Matt. vii. 6; 2 Tim. iv. 14.
The apostle, 1 Tim. iv. 10, speaks not of Christ dying for all men, but of God's saving “of all men, specially them that believe.” If he speak of salvation by Christ's death, God should save unbelievers so living and dying: for he saith not that God would be, but that God is the Saviour of all men. He speaks apparently of God's providence over all, preserving good and bad; yea; saving man and beast: specially them who suffer reproach because they trust in the living God. To conclude, those for whom Christ died, he died alike for; and therefore not specially for any, above others, but alike for all for whom he died.
To 1 John ii. 2, I answer, that he speaks not only of Christ, as dying for us, but also as he is our advocate in heaven with the Father, propitiating, v. 1, 3, or pacifying his anger towards us, in procuring actually the forgiveness of our sins, and acceptance with him. By the “whole world,” therefore, he understands such as confess their sins, such as whose sins God forgives, cleansing them from all unrighteousness, such as have Christ their advocate with the Father, for whose sins he is a propitiation, &c., which are only the faithful, and that riot only of the Jews intended in these words, and not for ours only, but of the Gentiles also, as the whole world, here and elsewhere by Christ and the apostles opposed to the Jews, Mark xvi. 15; John iii. 16, specially, Rom. xi. 12, where, as here, by the world is meant the believing Gentiles obtaining salvation, opposed to the Jews. And this our limitation in just proportion, the very next place cited by our adversaries, confimeth; The whole world lieth in wickedness, 1 John v. 19, that is, all such Jews and Gentiles as are not born of God, v. 20, not John, or other believers, one or other.
The apostle Peter, 2 Epist. iii. 9, speaks not at all of Christ's death, but of God's patience, that none might perish, but all repent. By which all he means all the elect which were in their time to repent, and so to be saved; for whose sakes, and not in slackness, as the mockers accounted, he deferred his judgments. Rev. vi. 11, we have this point notably exemplified. “And it was said un to them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also, and their brethren that should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled.” For which purpose it must be minded, that Peter saith, “The Lord is long suffering towards us, not willing that any should perish,” opposing us as the elect, to the reprobate scoffers at God, both in his word and works.
The last place, being 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16, is impertinent, as neither meant of Christ's death, of which the question is, nor of man's salvation by it: but of a bodily and visible judgment: in which kind of works God tieth himself to no certain form of proceeding.
Against this error of universal redemption by Christ's death, I thus argue: Them whom God and Christ love, to wit, with that special love of mercy, they “love unto the end,” John xiii. 1; and therefore never come to hate them as they do the wicked and damned. But, for whomsoever Christ died, God in giving his Son, John iii. 16, and he in giving himself to the death for them, Rom. v. 6, love with the most special love of mercy that can be; therefore, they for whom Christ died, never perish, but in time have wrought in them faith and repentance, and are kept in the same, by the power of God to life. Christ, therefore, died effectually, and in his, and his Father's intention of love, for them only that are saved, and perish not. This is also more manifest, John xvii., whence may be drawn many arguments to prove that all for whom Christ died, are saved, seeing “all that are given to Christ of the Father, keep the word of God, and have eternal life given them by him.” Now it cannot be denied, but that all for whom Christ died, are given him of the Father, that he might redeem and save them by his death. Furthermore, the death and bloodshed of Christ is everywhere called the price of our redemption, and a ransom for sinners. 1 Cor. vi. 20;1 Tim. ii. 6: Matt. xx. 28; Ephes. i. 7. Upon this holy foundation most clearly laid in the Scriptures, these men, and others would build a more hateful Babel than that of old in the east: by which they would, as it were, scale heaven, and deprive God of divers his most glorious attributes; by name, his wisdom, his power, and his justice. His wisdom, they impeach, in affirming, that he would buy with so rich and precious a price as the blood and death of his only begotten Son, that, and them whom he certainly knew before, he should never possess by it, for that end, for which he bought them, their justification, sanctification, and salvation. Secondly, it impeacheth God's power, and makes him unable, do he what he can, to save any more than he doth save, though he desire it never so much. For look, for whom he would do the greatest thing that possibly he could, which was the giving of his only begotten and beloved Son to the cursed death of the cross for them and their salvation, without all doubt, he will do whatsoever other good, as less, that possibly he can. Whereupon it should follow that God cannot possibly give the Gospel to more than he doth, and by it convert and confirm them to and in his grace, which are less things than the former; it, being the foundation, they, but the building upon it: it, being meritorious and deserving cause, and they, effects thereof. Thirdly, this conceit makes God unjust, in taking a full price and ransom for men's sins, at the hands of their surety, Christ, as was his death and obedience, and yet not resting satisfied with it, but exacting the debt of their sins at their hands, by eternal punishment; which is the condition of many thousands in the world.
the apparent frustration of the divine purposes.
Other things follow, tending to prove God's purpose to save all, even such as slew Christ, blasphemed and resisted the Spirit of God, to their condemnation, &c. Acts iii. 25, 26; v. 30, 31; vii. 51; xiii. 46; xviii. 6.
I answer, that the persons of whom those Scriptures speak, were the peculiar people of God, and not yet wholly cast off by him. The argument, therefore, from God's will and work for the saving of them, is stretched beyond its reach, to prove such purpose, will or work of God to save all which are not his people, as they were. Secondly, I grant, that where the gospel is preached, there the Lord truly wills, that is, commands the conversion of sinners, and their “turning from iniquity,” as the text hath it; approving and rewarding the same with salvation in them, in whom it is found, as it is ordinarily in some of them to whom the gospel is preached; and so was in some of the persons to whom the men of God spake in those places; who before were elect of God, and redeemed of Christ, and were in their time effectually called to that grace, whatsoever before they had done or been. Now the apostles not knowing which, in particular, were elect, and redeemed in the secret purpose of God and Christ, were to sow the seed of grace upon all grounds, and to preach to all indifferently, as they had occasion; hoping in charity that this, and that, and any one particular, might be of the elect vessels, and good ground in God's destination; by whose preaching such as were pre-ordained to life, believed actually. Acts xiii. 48. The Lord tells Paul, abiding in Corinth, that he had much people in that city, Acts xviii. 10, and that therefore he should speak the Word there, and not hold his peace. He saith not, as they would have him, that all in that city were his people in that sense, but much, or many. Now Paul not knowing which were they, which not, preacheth indifferently to all; and the Lord by giving an increase to his preaching, 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7, shows in time which of them were bought with the price of Christ's blood,1 Cor. iii. 6,20; they becoming members of Christ, and joined to the Lord; which he notes as singular privileges of the elect from eternity, above others. And in this I have been something the longer, because being well noted and applied, it may serve for an answer to all the Scriptures brought by them for the establishing of their universal grace from the preaching of the gospel, though it were as universal as they erroneously make it.
More particularly, to their first proof from the similitude of marriage, Matt, xxii., I answer, that it makes nothing for them either in drift or words, The drift of the parable is not to show that all and each person in the world are called, but that few of them that are called, do rightly obey. Neither saith Christ, that all are called, but many. I add, that this place by rebound utterly overthrows them: as showing plainly, that the Gentiles as the latter guests, were not called, till the Jews, the first guests, refused to come. Many thousands therefore of them in former ages, lived and died being uncalled by the gospel. The places, Matt, xxviii. and Mark xvi. speak also of the time after Christ's ascension, and not before, and so overthrow an universal calling of all, at all times: God showed his Word to Jacob; but dealt not so with any other nation, Psa. cxlvii. 19, 20. Besides, their meaning is not, that the apostles should preach to every particular person in the world; for that neither could they possibly do, neither can they be imagined, without madness, to have done it, but to show, that as God had formerly by the prophets taught that one nation of the Jews; so now he would have all other nations taught, as there was opportunity and occasion, By that Rom. x. 18, the apostle means not, that the gospel was preached in all ages to every person in the world. He quotes Psa. xix. which speaks apparently of the creatures preaching, specially the heavens and firmament, which the Holy Ghost here applieth to the apostles' preaching in their age, either by way of argument, or allusion. And yet even this very apostle in this epistle shows that then there were places, where Christ was not named, nor spoken of, and where men had not heard of him. Rom. xv. 20, 21.
To the other places brought, the former answers suffice. Where it is said, the gospel is now preached to all nations, and through the whole world, and to every creature, and the like, first, the note of distinction now, is to be minded, intimating, that before now the gospel was not preached to nations, but to that one nation of the Jews only. Secondly, we are not to imagine, that by all nations, and the like, is meant every particular nation without exception, much less, every particular person in every nation, but to take the words as indefinitely spoken, as opposed to the preaching to that one nation, as there was occasion for the apostles or other teachers to come unto them. Where it is said, Acts ii. 5, that “there were dwelling in Jerusalem devout men out of every nation under heaven,” shall we imagine that there must needs be English and Irish and Japanese there? The particular enumeration of many, v. 9,10, 11, shows what is meant by all. When the Jews of Asia, Acts xxi. 28, accused Paul to teach all men everywhere against the people, and law, and holy place, shall we be so senseless as to think their meaning to have been, that he so taught every particular person in the world ? What is it, if this be not, for the “unlearned and unstable to pervert the Scriptures to their own destruction?”
Lastly, their passionate outcry against our doctrine, as blasphemy, and as making God to dissemble in all these his sayings, as having “left the greatest number in sin, without any means of reconciliation, because he would have them damned,” is to be taken as a fit of their raving, by reason of that spiritual burning fever which possesseth and distempereth their hearts, and brains, and whole man; we do not say that God doth anything at all either tending to, or in the condemnation of men, because he would have them damned, but that he performs all his most just though fearful works about reprobates, to show his wrath, and make his power known, Rom. ix. 22, against sin and sinners, to the glory of his justice, in their deserved condemnation. Which his unsearchable judgments and works, we do not furiously oppugn, as these their, and our adversaries do, but admire with fear and trembling, as we are taught by the apostle's exclamation, “ O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Rom.xi.33. And what if the holy and just God had left all men universally, as having defaced his image in which they were at first created and made, without any means or hope of remedy, as he did the angels that sinned, had it been any more than justice in him so to have done? 2 Pet. ii. 4; Jude 6. And will these malaperts then sue him at the law, if he have held that course of justice towards some, which was due to all ? Will they miike the grace of the gospel a debt from God to men, or a matter of mere grace, and mercy ? Is it not of mere mercy that he calls any to life? and but just if he leave all to, themselves, and their own affected ignorances and, lusts ? We do not then impute either dissimulation or cruelty to God in anything which, he saith or doth, but deny him to say or do as they dream.
Upon the objection here framed in our name, that there are “many which never heard of Christ,” we do not demand as they fondly make us, how then the Scriptures, cited by them, are verified,? but do affirm that the same Scriptures are by them perverted against their right meaning. But now, how do they satisfy this objection put into our hands by the apostle himself, Rom. xv. 20? Do they set themselves, as is meet, to a plain and direct answer ? Nothing less. But as a crafty guide meaning to deceive his inexpert passenger, leads him by many turnings, and the same perplexed, and hard to find, in which he may easily lose his aim: so do these deceivers here, and in many other places, instead of giving a direct answer, fetch compass about, by bringing in by-things, some true, some false, none pertinent, in which the weaker sort of readers cannot but lose themselves, and forget the force of the argument brought. And by this means they rather escape arguments than answer them.
The discourse about the law, into which they here wander, may be admitted; only one particular greatly weighty in itself, and as greatly by them mistaken, excepted.
the law of conscience in relation to infants.
“Adam's posterity, as they came to understanding, had a law.” And again, “The law is given to a man when he comes to understanding, and when his conscience gives him peace by keeping it, and war for breaking it, and not till then: which qualities, say they, are not in babes: for they discern not earthly things, and how then should they discern heavenly,” &c., seeing “there must be a conscience unto which a law is given, which infants have not.”
This error in the latter part of their speech, must the more carefully be observed, and clearly refuted by us, because it is laid down as the ground of divers other errors, and the same not small, as will appear hereafter. Neither needs there in truth more, nor can there be any thing more clear against them, than that which themselves bring from Rom. ii. Their words are, “The law is written in the hearts of men in nature, who have a conscience to excuse them, if they do the things of the law,” &c. This form of speech, used by the apostle of the law, as written in men's hearts, is borrowed from God's writing the law in tables of stone, which had first, and by creation, been written in men's hearts, out of which it was almost quite blotted by sin. Now what is it for the Gentiles, to have had the law written in their hearts, in or by nature, as the apostle speaks ? This must needs be in nature created: for in nature, as corrupted, there is no writing in, but blotting out of the law. If by nature created, then as infants have this nature, so have they this natural manuscript, or writing of God's hand. This also the very word nature imports, signifying that which is born with a man, or with which he is born: coming of a word in Greek that signifies to beget, or produce, as parents do children, and each living creature its kind: and seeing the apostle here speaks of a law by which men discern the difference between right and wrong; good and evil; honest and dishonest, in moral and main matters; whence, and with what hand, should all, and every man and woman living in the world, even there where is no law otherwise written or preached, have this law and conscience thus written in their breasts, save by the finger of God in creation ? This knowledge and conscience being the remainders of that image of God, in which all men, in Adam were made. By all which it appears evidently, that infants bring into the world with them this law of nature, and those footsteps of God's image in their reasonable souls; who having in them faculties of understanding and will, cannot possibly be devoid of all law for the ordering of the same; to which law, they are necessarily either disposed, or indisposed. It cannot be, that the reasonable faculties of understanding and will, in any of mankind, should be void of all virtuous, or vicious disposition, and inclination at least, to the things of the law of nature, that is of God, the effects whereof they show forth actually in their time. And this truth themselves, elsewhere confirm undeniably, though they think it not; where they say, that Adam's posterity, originally, (for of that state they there speak), have weak natures, by the which when the commandment comes, they cannot obey. This original weakness then, is a contrary disposition to the law of God, and to that which they were created: else it could not hinder them from obeying God actually afterward; at least internally, and in their hearts. Surely nothing but the law of sin is contrary to the law of God, warring against it, and against the law of the mind agreeing with it, as the apostle speaketh. Rom. vii. 22, 23, 25.
Neither follows it, that infants have no law, because they have not peace or war of conscience in them; nor can discern of earthly or heavenly things. The showing the works of the law, and doing the things contained in the law, and so the having a conscience excusing or accusing for the contrary, as the apostle speaks, are not simply requisite for the having of the law, nor for being conformable to it, but for the actual obedience thereunto, in particular actions. Persons are, in three respects, conformable to the law of God; first, in habit, and so a godly man is a godly man, and conformable to God's law when he sleepeth; secondly, in disposition or inclination, and so infants considered, either in state of creation, or regeneration, are conformable thereunto; thirdly, in performance of particular acts of obedience, by men of discretion, for which the conscience excuseth and accuseth for the contrary. As well may these men deny, that infants are reasonable creatures, as that they are lawless. They can perform the works of neither; but have the faculties and dispositions of, and to both, which in time, and in their effects they manifest.
christ offered to all men.
In the next place, follow their promised proofs, that “Christ hath been, and still is offered to all that have sinned, and that they have put him away, and the fault is their own, and condemnation from themselves; and God freed from partiality.”
Belike then, if God show that mercy to one in calling him to his grace in Christ, which he doth not to another, it is partiality with them: from which, to free him they take this pains, as if the Lord stood in need of their patronage; whereas in truth, they but forge lies for God, as Job's friends did, and talk deceitfully for him. Let us consider of their proofs, admitting of such as have in them either apparent truth, or probability, and reproving the rest as there is cause.
And first they err, in saying, that the generation of Adam and Eve took notice of Christ, as they took notice of their sin; seeing the notice of sin, specially, of that which is more gross, is natural, and the effect of the law of nature written in all men's hearts, Rom. ii. 14, 15. Whereas the notice of Christ, is by supernatural revelation.
The like vain presumption, and apparent falsifying, is in the words following, that “all the sons of Noah could do no less, but take knowledge of Christ, to convey it by tradition to all their generations.” If it be meant, that indeed they did so. How many thousand thousands are there at this day, which never so much as heard of Christ, at least, as God and man; and Redeemer of mankind by his death!
For this their presumption of the ages before Christ's coming in the flesh, they bring not any show of reason, or testimony, Divine or human. Only they allege the sacrifices of the Gentiles, which, say they, they either had from their ancestors, in their generations; or as being moved by a troubled conscience, which must be quieted by sacrifice. And these sacrifices, they tell us, were the remembrances of Christ, and kinds of acknowledgings of him; though in the end, they account them no better than remembrances of a false Christ instead of him.
As their opinion is not improbable, touching the general beginnings of the Gentiles' sacrifices; so, considering them in their particulars, their own words will judge them guilty of gross error in instancing them, as they do. The question is, of God's offering of the means of salvation to all, even to the very heathen before Christ's coming in the flesh: .their proof for the affirmative, is, the sacrifices which the Gentiles had; which yet they grant to have been remembrances, and acknowledgments of a false Christ. And are remembrances of a false Christ, means of salvation ? Is there any other name under heaven, by which men are saved, than by the name of the true Christ, Jesus the Son of God, crucified by the Jews, Acts iv. 10, 12, and raised again by God from the dead ? 1 Cor. xv. 2, 3, 4. If the remembrances of a false Christ be means of salvation, then is salvation had by a false Christ. The apostle maketh the sacrifices of the Gentiles, means of fellowship with devils; these men make them means of fellowship with God. The apostle teacheth, that they cannot stand with the remembrances of Christ's body and blood, the cup of the Lord, and the Lord's table; these men make them the same in effect, and remembrances of Christ. The apostle, means of provoking the Lord to anger, and so of condemnation; they, means of pacifying God, and of saving men. Else where, these men in their hot zeal, will have all, even the most zealous ministers in the Church of England, preach and pray, and do all other things by none other spirit, but the spirit of the man of sin, and that all the effects of their so preaching and praying is, but the false enlightening and heat of a false spirit. And yet here, in their hot charity towards the heathen, they will have their sacrifices, in which they offer to devils and not to God, Deut. xxxii. 17; 1 Cor. x. 20: yea, those in which they sacrificed their sons and daughters unto them, Psa. cvi. 35, 37, and that as histories mention, by the devil's special direction in his oracles; these they will have means of salvation, by which God calls his guests to the marriage of his Son, and as a good physician offers to heal the sick of sin. Thus transforming God into the devil, the true Christ into a false, the gospel into heinous idolatry, and the means of salvation into the highway, and most effectual cause of utter perdition.
To conclude this point. If in religion, that which is false be none, which, elsewhere, they make the ground of their re-baptizing, how had or have the heathens any means of salvation, which have only the means of knowing, and acknowledging a false Christ ?
For the time since Christ's coming in the flesh, their first proof is Luke iii. 6, “All flesh shall see the salvation of our God:” but I demand, of what sight of Christ John here speaketh ? Not of bodily, without doubt; neither availed it them, if he did. Of spiritual, then. But so to see, is to enjoy, as John iii. 36; Psa. lxix. 32; 1 John iii. 6. Neither doth the bare' offering suffice to give sight of Christ and of salvation by him, except there be withal an opening of their eyes to whom he is offered, so as they discern, and acknowledge him and salvation, in the means so offering him, to wit, the gospel. But to let pass them that never heard of Christ, how many are there that understand not the gospel, preached, to them, Matt. xiii. 13, 14, 19; yea, to whom it is mere foolishness ! 1 Cor. i 23. And how do these see the salvation of God in Christ? The meaning then of the words is, that the Gentiles indefinitely, as well as the Jews, and in greater number than they, should believe in Christ to salvation. By all nations is meant, as we have formerly showed, not every particular nation without exception, much less every particular person, but commonly the Gentiles with the Jews. The sun and moon teaching God, was as well before, as since Christ, but never taught Christ the mediator, but only God the creator, and governor of the world. Neither is the gospel, which is not known but by supernatural revelation of the Spirit, Ephes. iii. 5, so common as the law, which is natural and written by creation in the heart of every man. Neither should it be a fault, if God offered not Christ to all, as they most absurdly insinuate. He owes not the offering of him to any, more than the giving of him for any. All is of mercy, and therefore no fault, but justice only where no such offer is.
Where they affirm afterwards, and truly, that some to whom Christ is offered, put him away quite, as Jews, and Turks. I demand, how, then, they keep and practise any remembrances of him, or make any acknowledging of him, which even now they affirmed every man in the world to do ? Or if the fathers put him quite away, how can the children have, or make any remembrance, or acknowledgment of him, having no new offer of him ? Can that which is quite put away be still continued ?
That Christ might have been manifested to every particular person whatsoever, to wit, if God had so pleased; is true; but, both besides the question, which is not what God might have done, or doth, but what he hath done, or doth; and also against themselves; for to say, God might have done a thing, is to insinuate that he hath not done it.
In adding, that if the means of salvation have not been offered to “every particular soul of reason and understanding” the Scriptures are not true, they are like themselves; but the Scriptures are true, and their gloss upon them false. God is true, and all men liars: even such as tell a lie for God, as they do, whom God will reprove therefore.
The two last kinds of their proofs are strange, and either brought by them in cunning, to deceive the undiscerning reader, with the truth in itself, but nothing to the main purpose, yea, plain against it; or in weakness and want of judgment in themselves to discern what makes for them and what against them. Let us consider the particulars.
They profess and promise proof, that “Christ hath been offered in mercy to every particular man,” to whom the law, either written in men's hearts, or in tables of stone hath come, for reconciliation: but instead hereof, as Balaam blessed when he meant to curse, they both affirm and prove the plain contrary, and that God hath not vouchsafed this mercy to many, but in just judgment hath kept it from them. Sundry true grounds they here lay down, and prove; to which we willingly assent: as first, that God by creating the heaven and earth, and by their teachings, sends men “to seek out the work-master.” This we grant; and that the heathens should by this light, Rom. i. 19, not of Christ to salvation, of which our question is, but, of God's power and Godhead, have groped after God, Acts xvii. 27, and the further revelation of his will; as he, that lying in a dungeon, sees some little glimpse of light, and gropes after it, by the wall, hoping to come in time to some door or window. A second is, that the terrors of conscience accusing them for sin, should have caused them to seek after God with earnestness, for reconciliation. And to this, we assent also. A third is, that it is not God's fault, but their own, that they are ignorant of the means of reconciliation and salvation. And of this also we are persuaded, as they, so far as there is a fault. But now what did those heathens in this case ? “They became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts” were full of darkness, so as they turned the glory of the incorruptible God to idols; satisfying themselves in their own inventions: And this also as consonant to the Scriptures, we willingly admit of. And what then ? God for this, say they, delivered them up to a reprobate mind, that they never knew more: (for what, should he that is not faithful in a little he trusted with more ? Luke xvi. 10,) and gave them up to their own hearts' lusts, and so they became past feeling. And to consent with them herein also, the Scriptures lead us very directly. But what now follows of all this for conclusion ? Namely, that all “nations, cities, houses,” &c., that is, “every particular man, and woman, hath had the mercy of God in the offer of Christ afforded them: that all were bidden to the marriage”? Nay, the plain contrary; and that all were not hidden: but that many instead of this mercy to the bidden, were in justice left to themselves, and given up to their own vain imaginations; the Lord suffering all the nations to walk in their own ways, Acts xiv. 16, as the apostle saith, and refusing, as themselves confess, to trust them with much, which had not been faithful in a little, so as they never knew more. And whereas they cunningly shuffle in, now and then, that men might have had Christ given unto them, or offered them, and that Christ might have been manifested to every one if they had, would, how congruously to the Scriptures they speak therein we now dispute not, is, not only besides the matter in controversy; which is, what was and is, and not, what might have been done; but to their own prejudice, seeing that which only might have been, is not, specially that bar being put by men's own default, which effectually hinders the being of it, as in this case.
Having thus showed that these men either fight busily with their own shadows, in proving at large things never called into question by us; or may easily have their weapons turned upon themselves, in the main matter: I will even now proceed, after that I have briefly observed some particular mistakings by them. And first, they both add to the text, and err in applying that which is written, Rom. xi. 32. The Scripture is, “God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all,” they add, of their own, every person: whereas the apostle neither speaks of every person; but only of the Gentiles indefinitely at one time, and of the Jews at another, which he there opposeth the one to the other: neither speaks he of the offering of grace and mercy only, as they deem; but of the actual conferring of it upon all, of whom there he speaks, who believed and obtained mercy; the other remaining in unbelief. And this, both the drift and words of the place expressly manifest, ver. 30, 31, 32. Neither doth that other place alleged, Tit. ii. 11, speak of all, and every particular person, but of persons of all sorts, servants as well as masters, or any others. The apostle, ver. 9 and 10. provokes believing servants to obedience to their masters; rendering this reason of encouragement, ver. 11, “for the grace of God which bringeth salvation unto all, hath appeared,” &c.; as if he should say, that even they, though poor bond-slaves, if they continued in faith, and faithful obedience, should have their part in the salvation of God, as well as any others. Secondly, as I will not simply deny, that God punished the heathens' other sins with the want of preaching Christ unto them; so it is certain, that great sinners, and deeplier drowned both in idolatry, and other lusts, none in the world were, than the Corinthians, Athenians, Ephesians, and others to whom Christ was preached, and faith thereby given to many unto salvation. The Lord tells the prophet, that though the house of Israel, to whom he was sent, would not hear, Ezek. iii. 6, yet if he had sent him to the heathens, surely they would have heard him: so the Lord Jesus upbraids the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, where he both preached, and wrought most of his mighty works, Matt. xi. 20, 21, 23, that they were deeper in the contempt of God, and further from all disposition to use aright the means of salvation, than the heathenish cities of Tyre and Sidon, yea, of Sodom itself: unto whom yet he vouchsafed not the means of repentance, and revelation of grace, which he did to the former. By which, it doth appear, that the Lord doth not observe the order prescribed unto him, by these men, for the dispensing of his favours this way, in “trusting them with most, who are, of them, faithful in a little; that is, wholly faithless indeed; but as the wind blows where it lists, John iii. 8, so doth he by the sweet gusts of his gospel, and Spirit, “according to the good pleasure of his own will,” Matt. xi. 25; and not according to the good pleasure of men's will, Eph. i. 3, 4, 5; in their use of natural light and conscience, dispense supernatural grace, both for means, and efficacy. Lastly, as they here contradict their main ground of universal calling, in supposing some nation to have no means of knowing Christ; so I would learn of them, how the Gentiles, wholly void of faith, could rightly examine all things, touching the offence of God, an accusing conscience, and the satisfying of God's justice, as they would have them; or in so doing, could promise to themselves the revelation of Christ by one means or other, as they liberally undertake for them? They tell us, “He that seeks shall find,” Matt. vii. 7. But we answer them, that Christ there speaks not of a seeking by blind, and unbelieving Gentiles, but by his faithful disciples. Matt. v. 1, 2.
Now, albeit, the eternal and unchangeable election of God do not manifest itself, in time, in the bare outward calling of the so elected, common to many others with them; but as the same hath joined with it the effectual work of true faith and repentance in the heart, peculiar to them alone; yet seeing these adversaries labour, upon presumption of an universal grace offered to all in the preaching of the gospel, to establish an universal election of all, that is, in truth, to overthrow all election, I will here annex, to the things formerly laid down, two or three plain testimonies for their further conviction. The first is from Psalm cxlvii. 19, 20:—“He showed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for his judgments, they have not known them.” The heathens, therefore, if we will give credit to the Word of God, had not the knowledge of God's Word, and so not of the gospel, which is most hidden, as being of supernatural revelation only. Of the same Gentiles the apostle testifieth, that “God in times past suffered them all to walk in their own ways:” that is, did not manifest Christ unto them for faith in his blood, and repentance through him, but only his power and Godhead, Rom. i. 20, giving them rain from heaven, and other bodily blessings to witness the same. With this accords that elsewhere. The times of this ignorance, which had been amongst the Gentiles before Christ, “God regarded not,” or “winked at,” Acts xvii. 30; but “ now commandeth all men everywhere,” as well Gentiles as Jews, to repent. The apostle opposeth the time now, in which he preached, to the former times; and shows that God now, and not in times past, called all to repentance by the preaching of the Word. To conclude, the same apostle expressly teacheth, that there is “no salvation but by believing in the name of the Lord Jesus,” Rom. x. 14, 15, by the preaching of the Word and Gospel, by preachers sent of God, for that end. But now for any to say, that every particular person in the world hath had, or hath the word of the gospel preached unto him by a preacher sent of God for that purpose, were an assertion of him whose impudency better deserved a club, than any grounds, that possibly he could lay, a refutation; considering both the infallible experience of all ages, and testimony of Scripture to the contrary, and that there were places even in the latter end of the last apostle's time, where Christ had not been named, nor spoken of.” Rom. xv. 20, 21.
Next follows to be examined their exposition upon Rom. ix., in the introduction whereunto they mingle truth with error. They deal craftily in bearing the reader in hand, that the disputation of Paul herein is hard, and the matter darkly handled, that so they may turn the thoughts of the reader from it; or at least dim them with prejudice against that plain and evident truth of God's free election, and reprobation joined therewith; both which things he sets down most clearly, though the reason of the Lord's different dealing towards them, that are in themselves alike, he makes unsearchable, and determines in the free purpose of his will, if men did not trouble the pure and clear water of God's sanctuary with the foul feet of their corrupt gloss. They also err in making this one of the places in Paul's epistles, of which the apostle Peter speaketh, 2 Pet. iii. 16. Peter doth not say, neither will the Greek text bear it, that there are things hard in Paul's epistles; but that in those matters in his epistles (to wit, about the day of the Lord's coming, and the dissolution of the heavens and elements, and the new heavens, and the new earth promised) were things hard to understand, &c. Their perverting of the Scriptures, which they lay to the charge of others, both in the epistles of Peter and Paul, and everywhere else, we have formerly disclosed. Neither do we affirm, as they here charge us, that God reprobates either the greatest number, or any, as they understand, and elsewhere expound themselves, that is, predestinates them to condemnation without any condition. He predestinates none to condemnation; or which is all one, purposes to condemn none, but for sin freely by them to be practised, as the foregoing condition, and only deserving cause of condemnation. Neither say we, as they slander us, that God denieth means of salvation to men, because he would have them perish; but as the apostle teacheth, that he hardens, by that and other his holy dispensations, “whom he will, that he might show his wrath, and make his power known upon the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” Rom. ix. 18, 22.
exposition of romans, chapter ninth.
Let us now come to their exposition. “The scope,” say they “as of the whole epistle, so of this chapter, is, that not the law, but the gospel is the power of God to salvation; and that we are not justified by the works of the law, but by faith, even that faith which Abraham had.”
As the proper and particular scope of divers parts of this epistle, is diverse; so do they miss of the drift of this particular chapter which is not, as they conceive, to prove justification not to be by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ in the gospel: but to show that the first and highest cause, why, of all mankind fallen in Adam, one is cleared, and another not, is only the good pleasure, and free will of God, and not man's deservings; and yet that God in so choosing, or electing one before another, doth nothing unjustly, as shall appear in the particulars hereafter to be explained; and may in the meanwhile be gathered by these three general reasons.
First, for the apostle, when of purpose he handles the matter of justification by faith, chap. iii. and iv., doth so oft and again iterate and inculcate the terms of faith, and justification, almost in every verse, whereas here, he never so much as once mentions either of them in the disputation itself, which is to the end of ver. 24, where he descends from the matter of election to the calling of the elected, both of Jews and Gentiles.
Secondly, it is unreasonable to conceive, that the apostle, having in the third and fourth chapter so fully handled, and so expressly concluded that matter of justification by faith, and not by works; and chap. v. the effect and end thereof, peace with God, and perseverance to salvation; and chap, vi., the matter of sanctification; and chap, vii., the imperfection of that sanctification in this life; and chap, viii., the afflictions of the faithful, and their perseverance notwithstanding to the death; should now again without any occasion, and against all order, return to the same matter of justification, so fully handled and ended before. This might well agree with these men's wanderings in this their treatise, but agrees not with the wisdom either divine or human wherewith the apostle was furnished. Much more absurd is it to imagine, that having formerly handled that subject-matter of justification so plainly as he hath done, chap. iii. and iv., he should return to handle the same matter so darkly and obscurely as all the adversaries to the truth, and fautors of this conceit, are compelled to confess he hath done in this place.
Thirdly, if this were the apostle's proper drift, what needed he to have made such deep protestations of his hearty sorrow for the Jews as he did, more in this place than in the former, where he handled that matter more clearly than here ? It was, in truth, no other thing that moved the man of God to these sad and sorrowful protestations, than to remove the offence which might be taken at the Jews' rejection, and calling of the Gentiles in their stead; of which, and the highest cause thereof, he was now to speak in the 9th, 10th, and llth chapters.
Lastly, we shall, God willing, make it appear in sundryparticulars, that these adversaries, by wresting of some things, and omitting of others, pervert the apostle's words to a strange sense, howsoever they think to get advantage by striking others first with that imputation.
And first, though they account it plain and without difficulty, that the apostle's meaning ver. 5 and 6, is, that not all the Israelites, “not all the children of Abraham's flesh” specially, not such as boasted of the observation of the law, were therefore in the state of salvation, or should be saved: yet in truth, he plainly means another thing; namely, that all Israel, all that were the seed of Abraham, and children of the flesh, were not that Israel, that seed, those children to whom the promise was made: that is, were not they touching whom God by his promise declared his purpose of election mentioned, ver. 11. For though all are saved that receive the promise by faith, and none by the works of the law, yet the apostle in this place, neither speaks a word of salvation, as the effect of the promise, but of election, as the cause thereof: nor yet of men's receiving the promise by faith; but of God's making it, according to election; that so the purpose of God, and promise manifesting it, might stand according to election, ver. 11, that the word of God might take effect, ver. 6, even the word of promise: “at this time will I come,” &c. ver. 9, they are then called children of the promise, not because they received, but because the promise, “Sarah shall have a son,” &c., was made unto them, according to the election of grace and stableness of God's purpose, ver. 8, 9, 11, which promise also, they did in time, receive by faith, according to the election of that remnant from the rest, the promise following the purpose of election; and faith, and salvation by it following the purpose and promise. Though Israel, that is, all which were of Israel “obtained not that which he seeketh for, yet the election hath obtained:” even the remnant of Israel, to whom God's promise is, according to the election of grace: chap. xi. 5, 7; in regard of which remnant according to election, the word of God is effectual, and the promise fulfilled touching the younger son of Rebecca: of whose two sons, it was said before they were born, or had done either good or evil, the elder shall serve the younger.
And as they truly affirm, that neither birth nor works did prefer with God: so I demand here, what those works were, by which Esau sought for justification ? The Scriptures expressly term him a profane person, Heb. xii. 16, that is, a despiser of goodness; yea, of his very birthright, Gen. xxv. 32, 33, which was a special legal privilege. How then sought he to be preferred with God, and justified for birth or works ? Or how doth this example of Esau fit their imagined plain exposition ? specially to prove that the children of Abraham's flesh were not in the salvation, who so much boasted of being Moses' disciples in the observation of the law: whenas the law of Moses was not yet given, nor the lawgiver born.
Their words following, that God purposeth to prefer those that seek it by his free election, through faith in Christ, are true in themselves, but not in their sense. Their meaning is, that God purposed to save them effectually that should believe in Christ Jesus: whereupon should be meant in this place, only such a purpose of God as was no more towards Jacob than towards Esau: for God, by their doctrine, purposed to choose Esau if he believed; and not Jacob, but upon his believing first. But the apostle speaks more than evidently of such a purpose of God, as was towards Jacob particularly and alone, excluding Esau.
Besides, the standing of this purpose and election, are here noted as two distinct things; of which, election is the former, and that according to which the purpose of God stands: whereas they make them one and the same, accounting election nothing but the purpose of bestowing salvation upon them that believe.
Thirdly, the apostle cannot mean such a purpose and election as presupposeth faith in Christ, which they would have, seeing he expressly affirms it to have been when the children had done neither good nor evil. Is to “believe in Christ, to put on the wedding garment by faith and obedience, to submit to the righteousness of God,” which they will have the condition upon which election depends, and the quality for which God elects the persons in whom he finds it, are these to do no good with these men? and is the doing of the contrary to do no evil ? Lastly, he saith not, that the purpose of God, according to election might stand, not of works, but of faith, as they say: but not of works, but of him that calleth; that is, as followeth, that “will have mercy on whom he will have mercy,” ver. 15. By which it is plain, that Paul doth not in this chapter, as chap. iii. and iv.; and Gal. iv., oppose works and faith; but works, and God's calling: he should have said for their purpose; that the purpose of God stands not of works but of faith, or of him that believeth: and not, as he doth for the purpose of the Holy Ghost, of him that calleth: showing thereby his meaning to be in this whole discourse, that the obtaining of righteousness, or standing of God's purpose in its actual effect, depends upon God alone, according to three degrees here expressed: first, his gracious purpose of election in himself towards some: secondly, his free promise manifesting his purpose: thirdly, his effectual calling, in which his word of promise hath effect, and his purpose stands firm and undisappointed, notwithstanding the unbelief of the body of Abraham's seed.
Their making Jacob and Esau types as they do, is like the rest, or worse. The Scriptures are not to be drawn from their natural and simple sense, without apparent warrant. It is the highway to heresy, to be bold in framing typical expositions. And with what spirit these men are led this way, appears by their expounding the parable, Luke xv., making the Jews the elder brother, who sought salvation by works; and the Gentiles, the younger in the offer of the gospel, seeking salvation only by the free promise of God: whereas the plain meaning of Christ is, only to avow his preaching to the publicans and sinners resorting unto him, against the pride and envy of the Pharisees; those publicans and sinners being Jews as well as the other.
Secondly, I demand, what it was, in which Jacob typed out believers, seeking righteousness of God ? and in which Esau typed out workers, seeking justification by their own works ? The contrary in Esau is expressed in the Scriptures.
Lastly, seeing it cannot be denied, but that Jacob as a faithful and godly man was in time actually beloved in God, and Esau, as godless and profane, actually hated; it must needs follow, that God before the world was, purposed in himself accordingly, to love the one and hate the other: seeing whatsoever God in time doth, by way of emanation or application to, and upon the creature, that he purposed to do, as he doth it, from eternity.
If the apostle, ver. 13, “Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated,” confirms his former doctrine, as they say, then he confirms the doctrine of God's eternal and stedfast election from eternity. And their boldness is excessive in calling them perverters of the words of Paul, which will have this to be before Jacob and Esau were born; seeing the apostle adds this scripture out of Malachi i. 2, 3, to show the reason of that contained in the former, which both Moses and Paul with him, expressly affirm to have been before the children were born: namely, that the highest cause of the elder, to wit, Esau's serving the younger, to wit, Jacob, was God's love to Jacob, and hatred of Esau, Gen. xxv. 33; Rom. ix. 11.
That following is partly true, namely, that ver. 12 and 13, is not showed for what cause God loved Jacob and hated Esau: for that is showed so far as God would have us see, ver. 15—18. But false, where they say, that they show not when this was. For this love and hatred was, and before, when God said, The elder shall serve the younger: and this he said, when the children were not yet born: the effect of which was, that the purpose of God according to election might stand in after time, and that both in respect of the two persons themselves, and of the bodies of the nations to come of them, though not of every particular. And so indeed they are to be considered, both as instances in their persons, and heads of their nations; the Scriptures accordingly everywhere testifying, that God loved and chose from the rest, the Israelites in their father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, according to the tenor of his gracious promise and covenant of being their God, and the God of their seed, expressing his eternal, and most stedfast purpose of will. Gen. xvii. 7, 8; Exod. iii. 6,7, Deut. vii. 7, 8—29; 12, 13, 14.
That which they add in the last place of God's not hating, to wit actually, and destroying without desert, is most true. But when we speak of God's loving or hating any before the world, we mean only of his decree of loving which he actually exerciseth in time for Christ's righteousness by faith applied upon the so loved; and so of his decree of hating, which hatred he comes not to exercise actually, but for sin deserving it. God from eternity purposed in time to glorify his justice in the deserved destruction of Esau, and not of Jacob. Of this different decree of God, touching Esau, and not Jacob, and his leaving him in and to his own corruption, and hardening him in the same, rather than Jacob, our reason is, the will of God; but of God's actual hating and destroying of him rather than the other, the Scriptures show sufficient reason, to wit, his obstinacy in sin, the only cause of his destruction.
Ver. 14, upon the premises, that God of two alike in themselves, and without respect of good or evil, in the one, or other, had loved the one, and hated the other, an objection is framed',that by this, injustice might seem to be with God: which the apostle- denies, with “God forbid!” This objection our adversaries.understand “to be upon God's rejecting the fleshly Israelites, for contemning their salvation offered them by faith in Christ, as Esau was rejected for contemning his birthright.” But herein, as children skip, where they cannot read, they leave out the principal part of the objection, which is not only moved upon God's rejecting some, but withalillegibleupon hi* receiving of others. The apostle in the words ‘before going, which occasion the objection, mentions not only Esau the elder hated, and serving; but also Jacob the younger loved, and served; so in answering the same objection, he speaks first and most, of God's showing mercy and compassion, and last and least, of his hardening any. Now whether they have omitted this part of the objection in cunning, or inconsiderateness, themselves best know. This is certain, that the adjoining it, quite overturns their exposition. For comparing together two such persons, as whereof the one glorious in his own righteousness, as perfectly answering to the holiness and righteousness of the law: justifying himself, when the law condemns him; despising the grace and mercy of God in Christ offered, and making him a liar in not receiving the testimony which he gives of his Son and joining with these, blasphemy and persecution, and all injurious dealing against them that do receive this grace of Christ: 1 John v. 10; 1 Tim. i. 13; Gal. iv. 29: all which those proud justiciaries, and carnal Israelites did: and the other, as honouring God's justice and holiness, in the sense, and confession, of sin, and misery due therefore; flying to the mercy of God in Christ, and by receiving the testimony of his Son, setting to his seal that God is true, John iii. 33: and therewith repenting with all his heart, which every true believer doth that God now should show mercy upon the latter of these and not upon the former, cannot minister to any man, indued with common sense, occasion of objecting injustice to God; seeing the light of nature teacheth every natural man the reason of a difference. And if any should be so senseless, as to object injustice to God in such a case, as they conceive the objector to be, yet was not the apostle so witless, as to fly for answer to the absolute will of God, and to plead, that God will do so, because he will or pleaseth to do it, as ver. 15, 18, “I will have mercy, on whom I will have mercy,” &c. Which answer of the apostle also ministers matter of further and more difficult objection, as appears ver. 19, 20. Whereas if the objection had been cast in their mould, a child could have answered it, and said, that it had been a most just and equal thing for God to have received and loved the one rather than the other; considering how the one honoured the holiness, justice, truth, and mercy of God; which the other dishonoured and despised. They err therefore in applying to this purpose, Rom. ii. 4, 5. Neither doth the apostle there speak of a mercy and bounty, to be showed to them that believe, and repent, as they conceive; but of that which goes before repentance, as a means to lead unto it: but here he speaks of a higher work of God's showing mercy: namely, the purpose of his will according to election to glory; and the means thereunto.
And truly, these men's boldness is too great in putting, for, “God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy;” God hath mercy on them that seek him by the means that he himself appoints. ‘For though it be most true, that God hath mercy on such; yet the apostle here speaks no more of God's appointing or commanding will for his showing of mercy, than of his appointing or commanding will for his hardening, ver. 18, “whom he will he hardens.” He speaks of that will, according to which he himself works in love or hatred: not of that according to which he commands and appoints men to work. These men, in truth, confound all things, setting man's will where God's should stand. God saith, “on whom I will:” they say, on him that himself wills, or seeketh as he ought, &c. The same idol of man's will they advance and set up, ver. 16, where instead, of God's showing mercy; they put, man's believing mercy. The Lord, “by willing, and running,” ver. 16, excludes whatsoever is of, or in man, and either within or without him: and draws all to himself alone. In the stead of God showing mercy, they put themselves, and their free-will receiving mercy by God offered, as the proper cause of difference between man and man.
The 17th verse, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh,” &c., they handle very slightly: saying something, such as it is, about God's hardening Pharaoh's heart; but not meddling at all with the place, according to the coherence which it hath with the words going before: unto which, yet the Holy Ghost strongly tieth them, in saying, “For the Scripture saith,” &c. And herein they are in truth, wise in their generation. These words must needs answer to the latter part of the objection of unrighteousness with God in hating; that is, as they interpret it, in rejecting such as seek righteousness by the works of the law, as did the fleshly Israelites. But wherein, I wonder, did Pharaoh so? How sought he justification by the works of the law? Who so professedly despised the God thereof, saying, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?” Exod. v. 2. Did they see, that this example of Pharaoh, and their exposition of the place could not stand together; and therefore chose to cut off the coherence so firmly tying the words together, rather than to let fall their preconceived erroneous exposition? Whatsoever they intend herein, we know it is brought for an example of God's absolute, but righteous, power of hardening, rather than another, whom he will; and not'whom he finds most deserving it; for whom' finds he not too much deserving it, if he would deal in like manner with all? as it is said, “whom,” that is, which rather than other, he will, “he hardeneth,” ver. 18.
And let it be diligently minded, that the apostle here opposeth God's showing mercy to some, and his hardening of others. The adversaries, by God's showing mercy, would have us understand his saving of such, as believe and repent. And then, on the contrary, by God's hardening, should only be meant his not showing mercy to, but punishing and condemning such as do not believe, nor repent. But we know, that the not hearing God's voice, not believing and repenting follow upon hardness of heart. Whereupon the Lord promiseth, that in the day of his mercy, and pity, he will take from his people their strong and hard hearts. Heb. iii. 7, 8,15,18, 19; Rom. ii. I; Ezek. xi. 19, 36; xxi. 26. And so touching Pharaoh, the Scriptures expressly show, Exod. iv. 7, 8, &c., that his hardness of heart was the cause of his unbelief, and disobedience. Whereupon I conclude, evidently, that the apostle here speaks not of such a mercy only, as follows faith, as the adversaries would have him, but as goes before it also: as he speaks of such a hardening as goes before unbelief.
Note we here also, that the apostle in this place propounds God's will as the cause of his dealing diversely with divers persons; and not of his saving such as are to be saved, after a diverse manner from that, which some, namely the carnal Israelites imagined.
hardening of pharaoh's heart.
Now to return to them, they lay down a question thus: “What is the meaning of the hardening of Pharaoh?” And in their answer wholly pass by God, as no doer in the business. They make Pharaoh a doer in hardening his own heart, which is true; and Satan a doer in hardening Pharaoh's heart, and this is true also; but God no doer, but a sufferer only in giving him up, that is, as elsewhere they expound it, in leaving him to himself, and to Satan, to be hardened.
But first, the text imports a further thing in God, whom it brings in thus speaking. “For this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared through all the earth.” Exod. ix. 16; Rom. ix. 17. Is God's raising up, which is his hardening, ver. 8, nothing but his letting a man lie still, and fall down lower than he was before ? Besides, the end, which was the glory of God's power and name, shows God to be a worker. Every end must have an efficient or “working cause. The glory of God was not the end of Satan's work, nor of Pharaoh's work; and therefore of God's work in it. Thirdly, God hardened Pharaoh's heart, by sending Moses and Aaron unto him, as by an occasion, though not a cause; as the law is, the occasion of sin, Rom. vii. 8; and the gospel the occasion of strife and variance. Matt. x. 34, 35. Fourthly, God deprived Pharaoh of the use of common sense and reason; otherwise it could not have been, that after so many experiments by him taken of God's powerful hand against him, and for the Israelites, he should so furiously as he did, have followed them into the midst of the sea. Lastly, besides, and above all these, God, “in whose hands the hearts of kings are, as the rivers of waters, to turn them whither he will,” Prov. xxi. 1, hardened Pharaoh's heart, by ordering his pride, cruelty, and contempt of God to this effect of obstinacy, appearing in his most desperate course; without which powerful and unerring hand of God, all the former notwithstanding, it might have come to pass that Pharaoh's heart might have been softened by the miracles and means used; and so God's word, which before had foretold his hardening, might not have taken effect, ver. 6; which is contrary to the truth, and drift of the apostle hi this place. God therefore was not only a sufferer, but a doer in the hardening of Pharaoh.
resisting- god's will.
Their next question is, “How consider you these words ? ‘Who hath resisted his will?’” ver. 19. Unto which they frame this untoward answer, viz. that those Jews seeking salvation by those works of the law did not resist God's will, and gave him no cause to complain.
Nothing less, we have showed, and shall further manifest by and by, from the apostle's answer, ver. 20. The meaning is plain. The words, ver. 19, “Thou wilt then say unto me, Why doth he yet find fault, for who hath resisted his will?” are an objection against that which immediately went before; “Whom he will, he hardeneth.” Now against this, it may colourably be objected, that if God hardens whom he will, he hath then no reason to complain of men's being hardened in disobedience; for who can resist his will, if he will harden them? A piece of an eye is sufficient to see the plainness of this exposition, and coherence. Their discourse then following, that God would save all, and have all repent, amend and believe, is frivolous. The objection is of God's will to harden men; their answer is of God's will to soften them by repentance.
hating esau and pharaoh.
(Pages 69, 70.)
Here they lay against their adversaries, God's friends, two false accusations: First, that they make God hate Esau, and Pharaoh, and the reprobates before they be born: “from which hatred he decreed their damnation,” and that, by his secret will, which cannot be resisted; to which the will of God declared in the Scripture, is contrary: Secondly, that God compelled Pharaoh to trespass, and so to suffer.
By the law the false accuser must be done by, as he would do by his brother, Deut. xix. 19. These men's slanders therefore, being false, are as odious in them, as were the opinions odious in us, if true.
First, we know that God hates none before the world, otherwise than they are, and that they are no otherwise than in God's decree, and foreknowledge. He hates none actually, or by application of hatred, till they have actual, yea sinful being; but hates them before in decree only, as they are only in decree and foreknowledge. This decree of God we consider according to two objects, sin and condemnation: for sin, we say, that God decrees to suffer the sin, which he could hinder by his Almighty power, if he would, and to order both sin and sinner, both before he sin, and in sinning, and having sinned, to his own holy ends. For damnation, we hold, that God decrees it towards none, but for their sin, by him infallibly foreseen, and by them freely to be committed and continued in without repentance. For though God be moved only from within himself, and the love of his holiness, to decree the condemnation of a sinner; yet doth he not so decree to condemn him, but for sin, as the deserving cause, foreseen, and by him to be practised. Neither yet do either of these decrees pass forth from God for themselves, but both the one, and the other for the glory of his power and justice to be made known to men and angels, ver. 22. Neither is the secret and revealed will of God held by us, contrary one unto another, as they misjudge: no, not though he will that by the one, called revealed, which can be resisted, and will not, but nill that by the other, called secret, which cannot be resisted. I say, though God will the same thing by the one, which he nills by the other: for some things God wills by both; for example, the repentance of Paul and Peter, and of all that ‘do repent. It is his revealed will which requires it; but his secret and unknown will to give it, till he make it known by giving it. Neither doth the Willing and not willing, no, nor nilling, which is more, of the same thing, make two contrary wills, save as they cross one another in the same respect, else they are but divers in respect of divers objects in consideration.
To open this a little further. It was the revealed, or commanding will of God, that Pharaoh should let Israel go: but so it was not his secret, or working will; that is, God did not so will this, as that he would use his omnipotent power, and do what he could to bring it to pass: God who turned the heart of Laban, persecuting Jacob, Gen. xxxi., and of Saul, persecuting the Christians, Acts ix.; and “in whose hands are the hearts of kings as the rivers of waters, which he turneth whithersoever he wills,” Prov. xxi. 1, could, had it so pleased him, by his irresistible power have softened Pharaoh's heart towards his people Israel. It was God's revealed will, wherewith Moses acquainted him, that he should let the people go: his secret will, which he knew not, till he felt the woful effects of it, to harden his heart for the declaration of his power in his deserved destruction. So for Abraham's offering up his son Isaac, Gen. xxii. 2, it was God's revealed will, that he should offer him up for a burnt offering, as is plain, in that he commanded him so to do, ver. 1,2; yet withal, it was God's secret will, that he should not offer him, nor lay his hand upon him, nor do anything unto him; as he also revealed unto him in due time, but purposed in himself before: God being without variableness, or shadow of turning, James i. 17, and not to be conceived to have changed his mind, as vain man doth; yet were not these two wills contrary one to another, but diverse, not in God in whom all things are one, even one God, but in respect of diverse objects and ends. God willed Isaac's offering, so far as the commanding will reached, for the trial of Abraham's faith and obedience, and this he revealed: but now God would not have him offered, in regard of the event of the thing: but this as secret for the present, and till God revealed it in its time. Neither do we, or the apostle whose steps we tread in, by teaching that God hardens men by a will that cannot be resisted, say, as they ignorantly accuse us and him, that God compels men to trespass, and so to suffer. There is no compulsion of any, but of him that is unwilling: but he that is hardened, is willingly hardened, as well as necessarily. His hardening of himself in a course of sin, is as voluntary, as is God's hardening him by way of punishment, necessary and irresistible.
The apostle teacheth, how it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, &c., if they fall away to renew them again to, or by repentance. Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. If it be impossible for them to repent, then they remain impenitent necessarily by God's just judgment upon them, and yet I suppose voluntarily also, even our adversaries being judges. Their impenitency, therefore, and hardness of heart, though in regard of men a sin, and therefore voluntary; it is in regard of God a punishment, and therefore necessary and irresistible; except we will say, that men can resist God's judgments: and do that which the apostle affirms to be impossible.
Neither needs this deep and divine mystery of God's judgments trouble any that consider aright of these three things: first, that as the sun puts no ill savour into the dung-hill, though the stink thereof be increased by its shining; so neither doth God add any hardness, or impenitency to any, but only leaves unrestrained, occasions, stirs up, and orders the corruption which he finds in men to this event. Secondly, that man is more willing to be impenitent, and hard-hearted, than God is to have him so. Thirdly, that this, in regard of man is a sin: in regard of God, a punishment of former sins.
The apostle's answer to the objection now followeth, ver 80: “Nay, but O man, who art thou that disputest with 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, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another to dishonour?” Wherein, 1st, he represseth man's insolency, who being but man, yet dare presume to call God's doing into question. 2nd, he justifies the Lord's doing by his absolute power over the creature, as the potter hath power over his clay.
And by this answer of the apostle it appears, how these men mistake his meaning in the question. His answer is not at all, of this or that manner of saving men, as they imagine and maintain, but of the saving of this person rather than, that: they being both alike in themselves, and as the clay of the same lump. If Paul's answer should be shaped according to their misformed question, then the meaning must be; that the potter might choose which way he would make a vessel of honour, whether by the works of the law, or by faith and obedience to the gospel: and so not of the same lump, but of two contrary lumps: the one believing and obeying; the other, not turning from his wicked way, and yet seeking salvation by his works. The apostle here plainly pleads the Lord's power over the creature, to make him a vessel of honour or dishonour: they plead the Lord's power over the means only, by which he will do this: he, the Lord's power over the clay of the same lump: but they, over clay of clean contrary qualities. Besides, if Paul meant here to bring in the Jews defending themselves that God had no cause to complain that they stuck to the law, that is, looked to be justified by it, seeing God's will was that men should obey his laws, and so live in them, what needed he to have sought so far for an answer, as the absolute power of God ? seeing he had an answer at hand which might have stopped all mouths, and which he ever presseth when question is of justification by the works of the law ? which is, that they could not fulfil the law, and therefore could not psssibly be justified by it. Rom. iii. 23: iv. 15; Gal. iii. 9, 10.
Lastly, their exposition of these words, “Why hast thou made me thus?” that is, “that I cannot obtain salvation by the works of the law,” directly crosseth the apostle, who grants that God made men, as is there objected, and justifies him in so making or framing them, both in his decree, and work of holy providence, by the power which he hath over men, as the potter over his clay. “Hath not the potter power over the clay?” ver. 21, &c. Besides, men make themselves incapable of salvation by the law, in that, they keep it not. But the apostle here speaks of God's making men, Vessels unto dishonour, and not of men's making themselves; and of the potter making the vessel, and not of the vessel making itself thus, or thus. It is plain Paul grants the objection, that no man can resist God's will; and yet justifies his complaining, considering his power over his creature to decree, and so bring unto most contrary estates by just and convenient means, persons in themselves alike, and as the clay of one lump, ver. 21,22, 23.
the potter's vessels.
In the opening of these verses they follow their usual, but ill custom of carrying the reader away to other places, and things; and enter upon a tedious discourse upon Jer. xviii., from whence they affirm, the apostle hath these words, and so speaks of the same “making of a vessel of dishonour” with the prophet in that place.
I deny their peremptory assertion, and require their proof. If they say the same words are there; first, that is not simply true; for part of them only are there to be found, and so are they in other places, by name, Isaiah xlv. 9, where it is evident, the prophet speaks of another matter. It is too weak a collection, that because the like phrase or form of speech in part, is to be found in two places, that therefore the one is taken out of the other, and that to the same purpose. And to put the matter out of doubt, it is evident that the prophet, and apostle speak of clean divers things: the prophet speaks of marring the vessel, and making it again; that is, of destroying persons or peoples, if they repent not; or doing good to them which repent: the apostle, of making the vessel out of'the mass, or lump, honourable or dishonourable. The prophet speaks of the making or marring of one and the same vessel: the apostle of divers vessels, and the making of one to honour, and another to dishonour. Lastly, the apostle here speaks of the Lord's purpose and work, without respect to good or evil done by the persons, and considering them as clay of the same lump: the prophet, of God's dealing with persons, according to the good or evil which he finds in them, and so being diverse, yea clean contrary lumps. And where they insinuate, that we hold the making of the clay to be in creation, which they affirm to be in vocation; they speak untruly in both. No man ever held that God in or by creation made any vessel to dishonour; neither can they ascribe this, as they do to vocation. God's calling men is not to dishonour, but to honour only. It is the devil, and his instruments, and not God, who call men to dishonour, which these men also prove against themselves at large, in the two pages following; and therein pull down with the one hand, what they have built with the other, as children use to do with their cob-castles.
That which followeth, ver. 24, 25, &c., is not to the thing in hand. The disputation about election ends, ver. 22, and that of vocation followeth: which latter is an effect of the former, declaring indeed the persons, but not confounding the things.
And thus, if these men may be their own judges, and may have the praise which their own mouth gives them, they have very sufficiently explained the ninth chapter to the Romans, and to full satisfaction of him that doubts, resolving him in every difficult place thereof, as they blow the trumpet, or rather the bladder of their own praise. But if the Scriptures in their true sense and scope may be judge, and give sentence, they will be found neither to know them, nor the power of God over his creatures. Which power, yet, ver. 23, is declared not to be tyrannical, but most just, never punishing, but after the enduring of the vessels of wrath having sinned: as is his mercy also richly glorious in the salvation of the vessels of mercy, ver. 23.
ordained to eternal life and believing.
The last place which they take upon them to answer is, Acts xiii, “So many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” that is, say they, so many as believe, and obey the truth, are ordained to eternal life.
A strange perverting of .the Scriptures, setting the head in the feet's place, and the feet in the head's. For although the thing which they affirm be in itself true, yet is it not the evangelist's meaning. Luke descends from the cause to the effect; they crossly ascend from the effect to the cause. The evangelist's meaning is, that Paul's preaching in Antioch had a diverse event with divers: of whom so many as were pre-appointed, or ordained to life believed, that is, of unbelievers, which they were before, became believers in Christ: according to that, Rom. viii. 30, “whom he predestinated them also he called:” that is, he gave them to believe and repent. Their pre-ordination or predestination to life therefore, went before their effectual calling and believing, as the cause before the effect.
Their assertion in the application of their similitude, of a merciful rich man, offering money to so many as come, that they who proudly refuse the rich man's gift were ordained to have it, as well as any that received it, is most erroneous, being applied to the matter in hand, and strikes directly against the text, which saith, that “so many as were ordained to life did believe;” that is, did come and receive eternal life by believing in Christ. John i. 12; 1 John v. 11, 12. If all, or so many as were ordained received it, then they that received it not, were not ordained. Neither doth, ver. 46, as they affirm for a conclusion, that their end may answer their beginning, testify any such thing: but only that they who thought themselves unworthy of eternal life, had the Word of God preached unto them: but that they were therefore ordained to eternal life, is not the testimony of the text, but their unskilful gloss. The Holy Ghost expressly opposeth unto them to whom Paul speaks, ver. 46, them that were ordained to life, ver. 48.
of falling away.
The third head questioned is, according to their order whether a man may fall from life eternal, but is more plainly and fully thus laid down; whether a man truly and effectually called, justified, and sanctified, may wholly fall away from the grace of Christ ? They hold the affirmative; and that a man may thus fall away; though they set down their opinion both in improper and doubtful terms, where they say, that the “promise of God's election is continued unto us upon continuance in the same condition” of faith, and obedience to Christ's gospel.
scripture cautions and exhortations.
Their arguments are of two sorts: the former drawn from such scriptures as teach, as they say, that the godly may fall away: the latter from such, as exhort and admonish godly men to keep them from falling away. The latter of these two they prosecute in the first place, upon this ground: that if there were not danger, and great need of warning, the Lord, who saith not in vain unto his people, “Seek ye me,” Isa. xlv. 19, would not so oft move them to take heed, beware, and the like.
As they are deceived, by the translation which they follow, Isa. xlv. the Lord not speaking of his not saying in vain to his people, “Seek ye me:” but of their not seeking him in vain; seeing all his words tend to righteousness: so the ground which they lay is true in itself; namely, that were there no danger any way, then it were in vain, to warn to take heed, which to affirm of God, derogates from his wisdom. We are therefore in the first place, by way of distinction, to consider a faithful man, either in respect of himself as restraining himself: or in respect of the grace of Christ sustaining him. Considering him in himself, we willingly grant, that a faithful man may as easily fall away, as did the angels in heaven, and Adam in Paradise, being left to themselves: grace not being, as is reason, an inseparable property, but that which is separable from man's nature. But now considering the same faithful person, as a living member of Christ's body, receiving nourishment from him the head; and given to Christ by the Father, that he might save him; as having the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him; and as kept by the power of God, through faith to salvation: Col. ii. 19; John xvii. 6, 8; Eph. ii. 22; 1 Pet. i. 5; in that regard we deny, that it can come to pass possibly, that such a one should wholly fall away from the grace received. And this diverse consideration of one, and the same person, is founded in the Scriptures, and light of reason. The apostle teacheth, that both he and all others are insufficient of themselves, to think anything, as of themselves: but sufficient, 2 Cor. iii. 5; 2 Cor. xii. 9; 1 Cor. xv. 10; as of God; that the faithful may be weak in themselves, and have God perfecting his strength in man's weakness; that not a man's self, but the grace of God in him may labour abundantly, that is, he by it, and not by his own strength. Thus, to open the distinction yet fullier, might Christ's flesh have seen corruption, Psa. xvi. 11, considered in itself as being made of the same mould with ours: but so could it not possibly in regard of God's purpose, promise, and work of providence to the contrary. So considering his bones in themselves, and their natural strength, it was as possible . they should have been broken by the soldiers, as the bones of the two thieves, crucified with him: but yet this was impossible in respect of God's precedent word and prediction, “Not a bone of him shall be broken;” and of his present work of most powerful providence, according to his word. Numb. ix. 12; Exod. xii. 46; Psa. xxxiv. 20; John xix. 36.
If now with this consideration, that a believer may of himself fall away, we conjoin this other, that the exhortations, and admonitions in the Scriptures, are means sanctified of God to keep, and preserve all his from such apostacy, how should it seem strange unto any, that God should infallibly obtain his own end, the perseverance of his saints, by his own means, which these exhortations are ? Is it a good argument that God may fail of his end, because he useth effectual means whereby to obtain it, as exhortations and warnings are to perseverance ? Is it a good argument, that the conduit may want water, because a man, skilful in water-works, layeth the conduit pipes with all diligence, and art, between the spring-head and the conduit; or that the child, whom his father holding him fast by the hand, in a slippery way, and bidding him look that he fall not, can fall out of his father's hand ? Nay, though left to himself, he may, yea cannot but fall; yet considering his father's strength supporting him, one that cannot fall himself, whereof the child is made partaker for his supportance, he cannot fall: such a holding, and helping hand of God are these exhortations, made effectual by his Spirit in the hearts of his children, true believers. Unto whom, as the Lord saith, “Seek ye my face;” so they answer, “Thy face Lord do we seek,”Psa. xxvii. 8: the Lord saith in his Word, “Take heed, stand fast, beware that ye fall not away,” and the like. Unto which their godly hearts answer, Lord we do take heed, do beware, &c. For by “these the servant of God is warned,” Psa. xix. 11. They are as “seed sown in good ground, which brings forth fruit with patience to the harvest,” Luke viii. 15. So as in truth, the clean contrary doctrine to ‘ these men's collection, is true; that therefore the truly faithful cannot fall away, because they, they, I say, being faithful, obedient, and of honest hearts, are by such exhortations, and admonitions, armed against such evil of apostacy.
To conclude this point. The Lord Jesus gives his apostles in charge to teach all nations whatsoever he had commanded them, Matt, xxviii. 19, 20: adding thereunto, the promise of his presence with them, if they did so, to the end of the world: against whom also a woe was denounced if they did not preach the same gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 16. I would now know whether it could so come to pass, that these apostles should not, and that willingly, preach this gospel, and the truths thereof? This to affirm were to blaspheme the Holy Spirit of God, by which they were immediately and infallibly guided in their ministry. Promises therefore and threatenings are not in vain for the provoking of men unto those duties, which by reason of the Spirit's powerful work in them, it is not possible but they should perform.
esau's loss of birthright, and other instances.
The scriptures brought by them for their assertion, follow. The first is, Heb. xi. 15, whence they gather, that, as Esau lost his earthly inheritance, to which he had. right, so may the saints lose their heavenly inheritance, which they have right to.
The apostle doth not so conclude, but exhorts them only to take heed thereof: and of that matter we spake_even now at large. Esau was a profane person before he sold his birthright, Gen. xxv. 23—27, and never other; no doubt but a profane person, or hypocrite, nourishing in himself the root of bitterness, though living in the church, may lose whatsoever right he had; and of such the apostle here speaks. If it be further objected, that Esau had right indeed to the birthright, by them unskilfully called the inheritance, I answer, that he had never right to it spiritually, nor in God's appointment, but only in outward course, and in regard of men: and such a right to the heavenly inheritance may be, and is, by too many lost, as the apostle here insinuates. Lastly, who sees not the difference between the inward grace of faith and holiness in the heart of a true believer, and the carnal right to that which is common to good, and bad.
In Matt. v. 15, Christ saith, not as they accuse him, that salt may lose its savour, but if the salt lose its savour, as he saith, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me:” Matt. xxvi. 39; which yet, all things considered, could not be. Of which form of speech we have lately treated, and shall more hereafter. I suppose it was never seen, that salt wanted saltness: and if it do, how is it salt ? Besides, Christ calls not his apostles salt, and light, in regard of the grace of faith in their hearts; but of their preaching the gospel, therewith to season and enlighten the world. 2 Pet. ii. 20, they pervert as the former places: making that absolute which is but conditional, and with an If. They, say they, which are washed, may return with the sow, to wallow in the mire, and their latter end be worse than the beginning. The apostle saith, “If after they be washed,” &c. These forms of speech, whether hi Scripture, or other where, if this, then that, do not necessarily prove, that either this or that is so indeed; but only, that if this be so, then that also. Both this and that in themselves may be impossible, and yet the consequence good: as if I should say at midnight, If it be day, the sun is rising; or at midday, If it be night, the sun is set: so in the Scriptures, Luke xix. 40; 1 Cor. xv. 13, 14, 15, 16, &c., Gal. i. 5, 10, and in infinite other places. It is sufficient for the truth of a conditional proposition, that the latter part follow infallibly upon the former; if it be; but requires not that it should be. These men and others herein labour of the same mistaking with the disciples, John xxi. 22, 23, who upon Christ's words to Peter touching John, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee ?” concluded, that John should not die, but should survive till the second coming of Christ; which fancy also continued a long time in the minds of many. But the evangelist in the same place, ver. 23, teacheth them that will learn, not to interpret conditional speeches, as absolute. Jesus said not unto him, he shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, or die not.
If it be further replied, that the apostle aims at certain particular persons, which “denied the Lord that bought them, whose pernicious ways others followed,” and “unto whom it did happen according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his vomit again:” which same persons Jude, verse 4, also chargeth to have turned the grace of God into wantonness; I willingly grant the thing so to have been; but deny the conditional form of speech to prove it absolutely. And for the thing, I answer, that the apostles there speak of men's being purged and washed, and the like, according to the outward profession only, which they formerly made, and which the church took knowledge of: and not according to the inward truth of the heart, which they knew not, but God alone. I add, to put the matter wholly out of question, that these apostles thus speaking, do in the same places both gather themselves by the event, and teach us that these persons, of whom they speak, were never truly and effectually sanctified, but only in their own, and other men's opinion; as where 2 Peter ii. 7, 8, 9, opposing righteous Lot to the wicked Sodomites, addeth, that as God delivered him, so he knoweth, that is, can and will “deliver the godly out of temptations,” and “to reserve the unrighteous to the day of judgment” for punishment. Likewise, ver. 21, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” They were always then, in truth, but dogs and swine, though sometimes vomiting dogs, and washed on the outside as swine are in the waters. And yet more plainly, of the same persons Jude saith, verse 4, that they were “ungodly men, and before of old ordained to that condemnation,” and such as crept in unawares. They were at the best but hypocrites, in truth, and such as crept in unawares, though seeming for a time to others, and it may be to themselves also, sanctified and purged, by their outward profession, which profession formerly by them made, the apostle upbraids them with, to their greatest confusion.
To Heb. x. 29, the same answer serveth. The form of speech is but conditional, “If we sin wilfully,” &c.,ver. 26, which proves, that if any so sin, then there remains no more sacrifice for him: but proves not that any truly justified and sanctified, doth so sin. If it be asked, to what end then serves the fearful denunciation used ? I answer, first, to keep the truly faithful from so sinning: second, to awaken even the secure, if not desperate: third, to point out the fearful state of incurable hypocrites and apostates. And as the particular persons unto whom the apostle there hath reference, could not by him certainly be discerned ever to have been truly and inwardly sanctified, “for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in him?” 1 Cor. ii. 11. So by their after course of apostacy from Christ, he seemeth not obscurely to gather, and pronounce of them, that at their best they were but hollow hearted; as ver. 38, 39, making an opposition between the truly just that lives, and perseveres notwithstanding all temptations, by faith; and those withdrawers to perdition. So, chap, vi., speaking of the same, and like persons, “if they fall away,” ver. ‘6, he insinuates against them, ver. 8, that they were never other than thorny earth, opposed to good earth, bringing forth herbs meet for him that dresseth it. As also, ver. 9, 10, he makes it a point of God's righteousness not to forget the work and labour of love of the truly faithful, or beloved; viz., so as to suffer them to fall away from the things which accompany salvation. With which accords that elsewhere, “Faithful is he that calleth you, which will also do it,” 1 Thess. v. 23, 24; that is, will preserve the truly faithful blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ: as doth that also in the parable, where only the seed sown in the stony or thorny ground withered, and was choked before the harvest; but not any one corn sown in good ground. Matt. xiii.; Luke viii.
To 1 Tim. i. 19, where it is said, that some, as Hyomeneus and Alexander by name, have put away a good conscience, and made shipwreck of faith, I answer, letting pass other things, that Paul speaks no more of them than he knows: and so not knowing their heart, and inward man, which only God doth, he speaks of their faith, and good conscience, not as considered in their hearts, which he knew not; but in outward profession, whereof he had taken knowledge. The same answer serveth to 1 Tim. v. 12, if by the first faith there be not meant these women's former promise of serving the church, in the widows' or deaconesses' office; and then it is nothing to the matter in hand.
It is not said, Exod. xxxii. 32, 33, in the text, but in their gloss, that some written in the book of life may be blotted out. Moses only desires there that if God would not pardon his people's sin, and bring them into Canaan, he would “blot him out of his book.” But the Lord answers him in the same place, that that cannot be, but that he that sins against him, he will blot out. Is it to be conceived, that Moses for the sin of others; whereof he was altogether innocent, yea for his holy zeal and love towards God's people, should be blotted out of the book of life ? If you say, that yet some, to wit, sinning may be blotted out, I grant it in God's sense, but not in theirs. For first, this is meant of temporary, and not of eternal life, of the “blotting their name from under heaven,” Deut. ix. 14; of the destroying them, and making of Moses a nation greater than they. Of that of which God is said to repent upon Moses' prayer, ver. 14, which was only in regard of their temporal state and life. 2. It is not only vanity, but impiety also to affirm that these persons were ever truly justified and sanctified. Not only Moses and Aaron, but God himself upon this very occasion testifies the contrary, ver. 9, 22: Deut. ix. 7, 13. To Psa. Ixix. 28, I answer, that David means no more, than that his adversaries should no longer be continued in the church and fellowship of God's people, the latter part of the verse expounding the former, “Let them not be written with the ‘righteous; “which the prophet Ezekiel terms, “not being written in the writing of the house of Israel.” Ezek. xiii. 9. And seeing David here speaks of certain particular persons his adversaries, let these men show the marks by which he knew certainly that they were once truly justified and sanctified, or by which they know them so to have been. They take that for granted, in which the main question lieth; and laying such foundations, what can their building be ?
As the blackamoor changeth not his skin; so neither do they their bold manner, in putting their gloss for the scripture; as appears in the next place cited by them, Rev. iii. 5: Christ there teacheth, that some, namely, they that overcome, shall not have their name blotted out of the book of life. They bring him in saying, that some written in the book of life may be put out. God blots not out their name that overcome: and if any overcome not in the spiritual warfare, it shows his name was never written there. “All that dwell on the earth shall worship the beast,” Rev. xiii. 8—11, “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb.” On the contrary, the saints indeed, and elect, get “victory over the beast, by faith and patience.” Rev. xv. 2.
That by the talents given to the servants, Matt, xxv., is meant the graces of justification and sanctification; and not the gifts of the Spirit given for the edification of the church, as 1 Cor. xii. 7; and Eph. iv. 3, is their presumption. Justification and sanctification make men the servants of Christ at first; these talents were given to them that were servants already; and that according to their several ability for their special places. Besides, the taking away of the talent here spoken of, is not in this life, but at the day of judgment; and therefore is unskilfully brought for their purpose.
Touching Paul's affirming that the saints at Rome were justified by faith, Rom. v., and yet threatening, that if they continued not in the bounty of God, they should be cut off, chap. xi. 21, I answer, as before; first, that the threatening is conditional, as Gal. i. 8, “If we,” &c. Was it possible that Paul should preach any other gospel? Or were he an angel from heaven, or of God, that should do so?. I suppose no, but an angel from hell rather, and of the devil. Chap. iv. 14. The question is not whether if any should not abide in the bounty of God, they were to be cut off or no. But whether any with whom he hath dealt so bounteously, as indeed to justify and sanctify them, have not also a promise, by his power, to be kept in that his bounty, by the means which he hath appointed? Secondly, Paul pronounceth those Romans justified, not from the judgment of certainty, but of charity. Of whom as some were undoubtedly sincere, whom God did by this and the like warnings, preserve and keep in his grace: so for the hypocrites mingled amongst them, it was but that which we say, if in their time they were broken off from that which formerly they seemed to others by their profession, and it may be to themselves also, to have had.
And indeed, this very place, if it be well minded, ministers full answer to the most of their arguments. This warning, though immediately given to the Romans, concerns all Christians as well as them. And being founded upon an example of the Lord's dealing with the Jews must be, expounded, and applied accordingly. Who then were these exemplary Jews, formerly cut off by the Lord from the olive tree ? Were they such as had once truly believed, but had after made defection ? I suppose not even in these men's judgments; but such as occupying a place in the church, yet were, in truth, faithless hypocrites, and as chaff in the Lord's floor, which “the Son of man coming with his fan in his hand purged out.” Matt. iii. 11, 12. And in these we may see, what kind of branches they are, which in time come actually and visibly to be broken off from the olive.
The instances following of Eli's house losing the priesthood, Saul the kingdom of Israel, and the Israelites Canaan, serve only to fill up the room. The priesthood, kingdom, and Canaan, were not the graces of faith, and sanctification in the heart; nor the loss of them sin, but punishments only. Only the last place, Matt, xviii. 32, where debt forgiven, is, as they say recalled, were something to the purpose, if the drift of the parable were to show, that God indeed forgives sins, and after unforgives them: which were lightness unbecoming any grave and honest man. But the scope of the parable being no more than that we ought to forgive such as offend us, and that otherwise God will not forgive us: to draw more from it is to forget that it is a parable, and to take the high way to most grievous error. Besides there is in this parable no colour for falling away from grace, and true godliness, formerly had; but only, even their exposition being admitted, that a man may have his sins pardoned, who yet wants all brotherly love and goodness, which the Scriptures everywhere deny, Matt. vi. 14, 15; Mark xi. 24, 25; 1 John iii. 14, 15; Rom. viii. 1; Psa. xxxii. 1, 2. Thirdly, by these grounds, no man can certainly know, that his sins are indeed pardoned, whilst he lives in the world, because he may still fall away, and so have his pardon recalled, though sealed up unto him by the very Spirit of God itself. Eph. i. 13. And so all our faith must be but adventure whilst we live in the world, whether our sins past be in truth pardoned or no; contrary to the Scriptures. Lastly, this impeacheth both the justice of God, and his truth. His justice in making him require double satisfaction for the same debt; first, of his Son, even the price of his blood, and the same also by faith, applied to the person that hath sinned and believeth; and after of the person himself. Of his truth, and that both of his word absolutely promising forgiveness of sins to him that believeth, and also of his Spirit, by which he seals up the same unto their hearts. Rom. iii. 25; Eph. i. 13.
Their second and third reason, taken from the fall and sin of Adam, and all men's falling, and sinning in and by him, are wholly beside the question; which is only of falling from the grace of God in Christ; from election in him, Eph. i. 4, from the love of God towards us, when we were enemies, Rom. v. 8, from mercy, Rom. ix. 15, which presupposeth sin, and misery, and is properly evangelical. God gave Adam his portion in grace by creation, and left it in his own keeping, which he soon misspent: but hath dealt more mercifully with us in making his Son our feoffer in trust that he as our head, might keep and improve the grace of God belonging to us, as is meet for us: lest we having all at once, and that same left in our own hands, should misspend all, as Adam did.
To that which they allege from Eph. i. 4, compared with Rev. ii. 4, 5, I answer, first, that Paul styles those Ephesians elect only as he knew them so to be: which was by outward appearance of holiness. Secondly, that the leaving of their first love was not a total falling from grace, but only a decaying of their former zeal. Thirdly, the threatening of the candlestick's removing, was to the truly called, an effectual means of drawing them to repentance. When these men can make it appear that any one of the truly elect and sanctified Ephesians did wholly despise this and the like means of their bettering, I will then grant their proof strong. It may as well be concluded, that therefore the fire goes out, because it hath good and fresh fuel put unto it, and is diligently blown. For these exhortations and admonitions are as fuel and blowing to preserve from going out the sparks, and fire of grace in the hearts of believers.
That only “he that continues to the end, and overcomes shall be saved;” and that the promise of acceptance, and salvation, by them miscalled “the promise of election,” is no otherwise intended to us, than upon our abiding in the faith and obedience of Christ. We believe and confess with them, according to the Scriptures, but withal are taught, and believe according to the same Scriptures, that God keeps all his holy ones unto the end, and gives them to overcome; that he “puts his fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from him; “Jer. xxxii. 40; that the seed sown in good ground shall neither wither by persecution, nor be choked by cares of the world, or deceitfuless of riches, or otherwise; Matt. xiii. 23; but shall grow up to the harvest; that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, Matt. xvi. 18; or any one member thereof, built upon the rock of Peter's confession; that, God is faithful, who with the temptation will give a way to escape, 1 Cor. x. 13, for all his; that they are kept by the power of God, through faith to salvation; 1 Pet. i. 5; and that being born of God, they do not sin nor can (to wit, as the children of the devil do) because his seed remaineth in them. 1 John iii. 9,10.
Their objections following, that by our doctrine men need not fear falling into condemnation, though they fall into notorious sin, nor repent having committed such sins; are of no weight; seeing God, though he promise salvation to the truly called, certainly, yet he neither promiseth it, neither are they to believe it immediately; but by means of fearing to sin, and of repentance when sin is committed, which he also promiseth to work, and put in their heart that they shall not depart from him. Jer. xxxii. 40. The Lord promised by the prophet Jeremy, that after seventy years of the Jews' captivity accomplished at Babylon, he would visit them, and cause them to return to Jerusalem. And, whereas it might be objected against the certainty of this promise and event, What! shall they return though they repent not, nor seek the Lord, but remain rebellious, as they have been, and their forefathers before them? He answers, that then they shall call upon God, and pray unto him, and seek unto him; and he will hearken unto them, be found of them, and return their captivity. Jer. xxv. 12, and xxix. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. He promiseth both the end and the means; and he that promiseth is faithful in performing, and providing for both temporal and eternal deliverance, and the means thereof.
Their argument taken from exhortations, and admonitions in the Scriptures, that we receive not the grace of God in vain, 2 Cor. vi. 1, and the like, hath formerly been fully answered. They are not in vain, either in respect of elect or reprobate; neither yet will we own their absurd answer here fathered upon us, and the whole Scriptures are given to keep both elect and reprobate from falling into gross sins; yet that neither the elect can be damned by transgressing them, nor the reprobate saved by observing them. The Scriptures have divers ends; and amongst others, are given to keep all, not only from gross, but from all sins. Neither do we affirm, that the elect cannot be damned by transgressing them; or that the reprobate cannot be saved by observing them, as they, like deceitful proctors, plead for us, or rather for their own advantage. But this we say, that the elect and truly sanctified are so kept by the power of God in his fear, that they never transgress as the wicked do; nor can, because his seed remaineth in them; that they continually renew their repentance; particular, for sins known, into which through infirmity they fall; and general, for sins unknown, as David did, 2 Sam. xii. 13; Psa. li.; and that even by means of those exhortations and admonitions, Psa. xix. 12, which God opens their hearts to attend unto, Acts xvi. 14, and gives increase accordingly, 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7. And the contrary, the reprobates, being left to themselves of God, have by their own and Satan's malice, their eyes so blinded, and hearts hardened, as though those means of exhortation come unto them, they either understand them not, or believe them not, or despise them; but never observe or obey them aright.
Their curses of the doctrine in this point, received in all reformed churches, atheistical and damnable; and their blessing themselves from it, is here as everywhere, the fruit of that wild zeal, wherewith their ignorant hearts are possessed.
Their answers follow to the Scriptures brought against them. The first is, Matt. xxiv. 24. “If it were possible they,” the false teachers, “should deceive the very elect.” Whence we conclude, as they say, that it is not possible the elect should perish. And here first they show, who are the elect of God; noting indeed the persons, but perverting the order of grace. If in saying, as they do, that the elect of God, are those that receive and obey the truth of Christ, and abide in him unto the death, they meant, that such as are chosen of God in his decree before the world, and actually and effectually, chosen and called in time by the Word and Spirit, to believe and obey, did so abide to the death, it were but the truth, which the Scriptures teach and we profess. But intending as they do, that men have only the promise of actual and particular election till then, but are not absolutely elected, and that absolute election follows this abiding in Christ till death; they are like the foolish builders, which would lay the foundation upon the roof of the house. But their comment upon Christ's words, men should be in danger to be seduced by false prophets, when they have abided in Christ unto death; for till then they will have none elect; and the elect are here said to be in danger to be seduced.
That which they gather from the manifold warnings in the Scriptures to the elect, that none deceive them, &c., is true; namely, that the elect may fall from their election, or rather from the grace received, if they take not heed. But they should withal prove, that God doth ever, so far leave and forsake any truly justified, and sanctified in Christ, as that they take no heed at all, as they ought. It is certain that if the very elect angels in heaven, or Christ Jesus upon earth, had taken no heed to God's commandments, they could not have observed them.
That which is added, that many may fall away, not by being deceived, but willingly forsaking the truth; and again, that many fall away willingly, not being deceived, is neither pertinent, seeing the place in question speaks only of such as are deceived; nor true, seeing a man cannot will any evil, but under a show and appearance of good, so presented to the will by a deceived, and erring understanding. And so the Scriptures everywhere ascribe all manner of defection from God, and his holy commandments, to error, either in the general ground, or particular case. Psa. xcv. 10; Isa. liii. 6; Prov. xiv. 22; Heb. iii. 10; 2 Pet. iii. 17, &c.
The next place is John x. 27, 28, “My sheep hear my voice, and they know me, and follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any take them out of mine hand. My Father which hath given them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”
They here conceive the purpose of Christ to be to confirm his sheep, so long as they continue his sheep, &c. But herein they draw violently Christ's purpose to their own. For Christ, as may be seen, by comparing herewith ver. 16, 26, 27, is to show how it came to pass, that some of his hearers believed and obeyed his voice, and some not. Many of the Jews believed not, because they were not his sheep: some did, being his sheep, to wit, by destination of God. Christ saith not, that they are not his sheep, because they believe not; but that they believe not, because they are not his sheep; that is, not being of the elect of God, they are left to their own impenitent and unbelieving heart, which they also willingly harden against Christ's voice. Where ver. 16, he saith, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold, whom also I must bring,” &c., he means the elect amongst the heathens destinated to that one sheepfold, under him that one Shepherd, and by his voice to be brought thereto. This is yet more plain, ver. 15, where he saith, “I give my life for my sheep.” Christ died for the ungodly, Rom. v. 6, 8. By his sheep therefore in this place, are meant the elect for eternity, for whom he died; the fruit of which election of God, and death of Christ, showeth forth itself in their timeous faith and obedience.
Further, note we for the thing in hand, that Christ gives unto his sheep, that hears his voice and obey him, eternal life: ver. 28: as elsewhere also he saith, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” John iii. 36. If this life which they have given them, and have (in the beginnings of it) even in this life, be eternal and everlasting; how can it be broken oil afterwards ? Or if it can be interrupted and broken off, how is it everlasting and eternal?
Lastly; if none be able to pluck Christ's sheep out of his, and his Father's hand; then no sinful person, or temptation, no malice of Satan can turn them from God: for if they can, then they can pluck them out of God's hand. Is not the destroying and corrupting of men's faith and obedience, the plucking them out of the hand of God ? ver. 12, the same word is used, “The wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep,” that is, corrupteth them, as Matt. vii. 15; Acts xx. 19; where the same word is used also. As they are elsewhere too prodigal of Christ's benefits to all the goats in the world, so are they here too niggardly of them to his own sheep. Although in truth they grant, though unawares, as much as we plead for, in saying, that those sheep, so long as they continue his sheep, have spiritual peace, and safety, &c. Spiritual peace and safety is against all assaults of all spiritual enemies, labouring to subvert the spiritual state of God's people.
To the scriptures here alleged by them for their purpose, the answers formerly given touching conditional threatenings, and God's people in appearance, must be applied.
Of the former of the two scriptures following, which is John xiii. 1, “Whom he loveth, he loveth to the end,” they speak as the thing is, of God's love: but as loth to be too much beholden to him for it, and desirous pharisaically to justify themselves, they pull down what they formerly built, in saying, that the question is not of God's and Christ's love unto his, but of the continuance of our love unto him; wherein they both gainsay themselves in this whole treatise, and the Scriptures throughout. They put the question themselves of God's election, and of the promise of election. And is election, and the promise of election a work of our love to God, or of God's to us ? Eph. i. 4, 5. The Scriptures also ascribe the whole work of our salvation, as election, redemption by the blood of Christ, vocation, revelation of heavenly things, justification, sanctification, adoption, faith, repentance, and the giving of the Spirit, issue out of temptations, and continuing blameless to the coming of the Lord, unto the good pleasure and love of God alone. It is true, that we must also love God, as they say: but we must know withal, that this our love of God depends upon his love of us first, and the same shed abroad into our hearts by his Spirit, which gives testimony thereof to our spirits: which, as it were, forceth love again from us to God, and the continuance of it the continuance of our love; according to that of the apostle, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” Rom. v. 8, 10; Gal. i. 15; Rom. ix. 11; Matt. xi. 25; Rom. iii. 24; Gal. iv. 5, 6;' Rom. viii. 15; Eph. ii. 8; 2 Tim. ii. 25; 1 Cor. x. 13; 1 Thess. v. 23; 2 Cor. v. 14; Rom. v. 5. For as the beams of the sun shed into the bosom of the earth first heat it, and so cause it to reflect heat again towards heaven: so by the love of God shed into our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given us, our hearts are most effectually drawn, and persuaded to love God again, and men for, and according to him. Which I further also manifest thus. Our love, whether to God or man, ariseth from faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. i. 5. Faith stands in the assured persuasion of the heart, by the Holy Ghost, of God's love to us: whereupon I conclude, that our salvation depending immediately upon our faith, love, and obedience, as conditions requisite by God's ordination, and they upon God's love, and the same known to us, and so the continuance of them upon the continuance of it; the question is properly and principally of the love of God to us, and the unchangeableness thereof.
For, Rom. xi. 29, they dream waking, that the meaning is, that God will never repent of saving all persons at all times, in all places, that seek salvation by faith ia Christ, and continue therein. If this were all, what needed the apostle, ver. 33, to break out into that admiration of the riches of the wisdom, and knowledge of God, and of the unsearchableness of his judgments ? What strange thing is it, that God should not repent of so gracious a purpose and promise, as is that of saving such as believe in his Son ? Secondly, it is more than evident, that he speaks not here of saving all, at all times, but of the saving of some at some times; namely, of the Israelites in their time, and of the Gentiles in theirs. Rom. xi. 25, 26, 30, 31. Thirdly, the apostle speaks not of saving them that believe, but of giving the election to obtain mercy to believe. Lastly, the words are a reason of that which goes before, the Israelites touching election, are beloved for the fathers' sake, ver. 28. For, or because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, as if he should have said: though for the present, the body of the Israelites be enemies of the gospel, that is, in not believing it, till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; yet the election, such as are that Israel, according to election, and God's people which he foreknew, ver. 2, them he loves in his decree unchangeably, for their father, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's sake, and without repentance; and so will in their time make them actually partakers of his most gracious gift and calling. They here add certain scriptures, and may do many more, proving that God denies the effect to conditional promises, men breaking the conditions first:,but as the scriptures cited by them, speak not all of salvation in Christ; so neither do any other show, that God ever alters purpose, or promise of saving any, whom he once loved in Christ, whether in decree, or application of love.
The last place which they-labour to elude, I John ii. 19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be manifest, that they were not all of us.” And here, instead of answering directly to the place, they make out-leaps, as their manner is: making us to affirm that God hath predestinated some persons to salvation, and some to damnation without any condition: and that these persons, the elect, making never so great show of wickedness, and walking in the ways of Belial, are still elect, and can by no means fall out of their election: the other persons having never so many testimonies of godliness, and walking in the church of Christ, yet can never but be reprobates, and if ever they fall away from the church, or truth, that they were never truly of it.
We affirm, that God predestinates none to salvation but with condition of the death of Christ, and the persons' coming to years of discretion, faith, and repentance, and continuance therein to the end, to go before that their salvation: nor to damnation, but with condition of sin and impenitency therein to go before that their damnation. But our adversaries being bold and presumptuous, speak evil of the things which they neither know, nor are willing to understand. Only, these two things we further hold in this case. First, that the former conditions, Christ, and faith in him, are God's free gifts also, infallibly and effectually obtained by the former persons; the latter condition, impenitency in sin, the certain effects of Satan's malice, and their own corruption, being left of God thereunto. The second is, that other reason why God hath, of two alike corrupt in themselves, pre-ordained the former to salvation, by the former means; and the latter to condemnation, by the latter; the Scriptures do not acquaint us with, then, the mere pleasure of him, who “hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth;” and who hath loved Jacob, and hated Esau, to wit, in decree, the children not being yet born, neither having done either good or evil. Rom. ix. 11, 15, 18. Secondly, we say not that the elect so remain, though walking in the ways of Belial; but deny, that ever they so walk after their effectual calling, though, through the remainders of corruption, in some more strong than in others, they have not only their common slidings, but often their greater falls, from which they recover themselves by repentance: the spirit always lusting against the flesh, and they in regard of the law of their mind, and spiritual man, not allowing, but hating the evil, which through the sin dwelling in them, they do, Rom. vii. 15, 17, 23.
Neither, on the other side, do the reprobates ever show any one, much less many, true testimonies of godliness; though many seeming such oftentimes, both in their own judgments of themselves, and other men's of them. He that should challenge a man for affirming, that it could not but be light at midday, nor but be dark at midnight, in comparison, that he affirmed, that it could not but be light at noon, though the sun should not be up; nor but be dark at midnight, though the sun were not set; should but use slanderous cavillation: even such, and no better, is their collection upon our assertion.
Where they add, that as all men's estates are one by creation, and one by transgression, all being dead in sins; and that, as all are shut up in unbelief, so he hath mercy on all, to wit, every particular person alike, they misinterpret the scripture, as hath been formerly shown; mistake the proportion of nature, whether by creation, or corruption, with that of mere grace; and are most impious against God's mercy, which they make all one towards Pharaoh and Moses; Herod and Paul. Besides it should follow hereupon, that God hath mercy actually on all and every person in the world, in taking away their sins, and saving them; for the apostle whose words they cite, speaks expressly of such an “all” as obtain mercy that way. Rom. xi. 26, 27, 30, 31. With like truth do they after affirm, from Matt. xiii. that the sower soweth the seed of salvation upon all. It cannot with modesty be denied, but there are, and have been many millions, unto whom the gospel, the only seed of salvation, was never preached. And as they begin, so go they on with this parable; as being of them, in whose mouth a parable is like the legs of the lame that are lifted up, and like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard. Prov. xxvi. 7, 9. As first, where by the good seed they understand the seed of salvation, or gospel, and by tares, false doctrines: as if they knew the mind of our Saviour, better than he himself: who expressly teacheth, that the good seed are the children of the kingdom, so called, because they are the heirs of their Father's kingdom, in which the righteous are to shine forth as the sun, ver. 43, and the tares the children of the wicked one, which do iniquity, are to be gathered by the angels in the end of the world, and cast into the furnace of fire, &c., ver. 38—43. And if the good seed were the gospel, and the tares false doctrines, as they, transforming persons into things, would make them; yet is it untruly affirmed by them, that the persons of them who receive the good seed were no better than the other, nor the persons of them who receive the tares any worse than the other. That both are alike, to wit, dead in sin, when God offereth the gospel, we willingly grant, and are glad to hear them confess: but to say they are both alike, when the one receives the gospel, and the other refuseth it, and receives the tares contrary unto it, is to say that the good ground, and the bad, are both alike. For what makes them that are alike, when the gospel comes alike unto them, not to remain alike still ? And what is the reason why the one receives it, and not the other ? They say, because the goodness of the sower first sowed it, and therefore he hath cause to praise him only. But, say I, this goodness is alike to both the two in sowing, or offering the gospel's seed: whereupon it must follow, that he who receives this good seed, hath no more cause to praise God the sower, than he that receives it not: for it is sown alike in both, in regard of outward offer; but for the one's receiving of it, rather than the other, he hath cause to thank himself alone, and his own free-will. And indeed this is the mark at which all those adversaries' arrows are shot. But the Scriptures teach us a further thing, than these ungrateful persons will acknowledge; which is, that besides, and above the offer common to both, God gives the increase, 1 Cor. iii. 7, to some, without which, all preaching is nothing: even by opening of the heart to attend unto it, as he did the heart of Lydia. Acts xvi. 14. And as persons receive the Word of God into their hearts by his opening them first, so in that his gracious work in them, he makes them which were before alike, in spiritual consideration, to become unlike, and better than others; and so more beloved than others for the godly qualities, as they call them, which he hath wrought in them. Neither doth the Lord hate only the works of wicked men, as they say; but also the workers of iniquity, Psa. v. 5, 6: not with a passion of the mind, as hatred is in man, but with a holy will to punish the violation of his righteous law. And though with a general love of the Creator to the creature, he always, after a sort, loves the persons of men, as being his generation, yet he loves, as is meet, the honour of his holiness, more than the happiness of his creature, having violated and profaned it without repentance.
They further betray their ignorance, where they think to mend the matter, in saying, that God hates the persons, as weapons, and instruments of those wicked qualities. Where hath God ever so spoken, or any other man before them? The godly qualities, or graces of knowledge, faith, love, patience, and the like, 2 Cor. vi. 6, 7, are the spiritual armour and weapons of godly men, Eph. vi. 13, &c.; the members also of men are called the weapons of righteousness, or unrighteousness, Rom. vi. 13, for that with them they practise and perform the works thereof. But to say, the persons are weapons and instruments of the qualities, is to put the person in the hand of the weapon to be used by it; whereas on the contrary, all know, that the weapon or instrument is in the hand of the person, and to be used and exercised by him. They here, in desiring the reader well to observe what they have said, as being a most blessed truth, are loth that their nakedness should not be seen in their spiritual drunkenness.
apostacy in general.
Now for the words of the apostle, to which they return after so long wandering; their comment is, they went out from us, &c., that is, say they, “those lying spirits, those persons who had once the spirit of truth in them, went out from the apostles and other saints.” And again, those “lying spirits and antichrists in men's persons, went out from the truth and were never of the truth,” the sum of all being, that lying spirits, and antichrists in men's persons, went out of the truth. 1 John ii. 19.
A riddle, better fitting H. N. than the professors of the truth in simplicity. It behoves us therefore a little to insist upon the text, opening it according to the apostle's meaning, and to ours with him; and first proving against them, that by those that went out, are not meant the lying spirits in the persons, but the persons themselves.
And first, these words, “they went out from us,” or better, from out of us, show, that those out-goers were formerly of them in a respect; else how could they have gone out from them? But lying spirits were never of the apostles and saints; but the persons themselves were. Secondly, he saith not, as they corrupt the text, “if they had been of the truth,”but “of us;” nor “they would have continued with it,” but “with us:” nor, “but they are not of it,” but “they were not of us:” all carrying it to persons so, and so qualified. Thirdly, is it to be conceived, that the apostle would complain, as here he doth, that lying spirits did not continue with the churches ? Fourthly, in saying, “they went out of us, that it might be manifest that they were not all of us,” he shows that by their out-leaps, something was manifested which was hid before. But it was plain before, to the apostles and saints, that lying spirits were not of the truth. He speaks therefore of the persons of hypocrites, whom by this their professed defection, God discovered. Fifthly, in saying, “they were not all of us,” he insinuates that some of them were; what! some lying spirits of the truth ? No; but that not all the persons that formerly professed the truth with them, were true members of Christ's body, which they were. Lastly, ver. 20, he makes an opposition between them of whom he writes, and to whom. “But ye:” What? ye spirits; and so, ver. 28, “little children,” that is, little spirits. All may see with what spirit these men are led. He then speaks of the going out of persons, not of spirits, as they mean; but being indeed antichrists, as, ver. 18, in regard of their spirits, and doctrines, for which they pretend the spirit of Christ.
That which they add of the spirit of Hymeneus, together with his person, being in fellowship with Paul, is like the rest. By his spirit it seems they mean his faith, in saying faithful Hymeneus was of the truth; erroneous Hymeneus was never of it. Hath the faith of a person fellowship with the saints ? Or did Hymeneus ‘faith, 1 Tim. i. 19, 20, sometimes hold faith and a good conscience, and after put them away ? Or are not these things plainly spoken of the persons of men ? Paul speaking that of Hymeneus, and others, which he knew in regard of outward appearance, and not that which he knew not of, the inward truth in the heart.
The meaning of John is plain enough, that these antichrists went out of the church, 1 John ii. 18—22; iv. 1, not by making any separation, or schism from it, as some think, for they still continued in the outward fellowship, preaching, and prophesying and deceiving; but in it, by heresy and profaneness, contrary to that outward profession of faith, and holiness, which they had formerly made: by which their defection they showed, that they were never truly regenerate, and inwardly and indeed living members of the body: but having been hypocrites, at their best, God so ordered, that they should hereby discover themselves. For had they been indeed of the number of the faithful, they had so continued to the end. Which truth this apostle confirms further, 1 John iii. 9, very evidently, saying, “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin:” for his, that is, God's seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. He doth not say, as some would have him, he cannot sin, or commit sin, that is, give himself to sin, as the wicked do, whilst the seed of God remains in him, or whilst he is born of God; but for, or because, this seed of the new birth remaineth in him.
One observation I will here annex, and so conclude this head. It cannot be, saith Christ, but offences will come. Matt, xviii. 7. And of all offences, none is greater, and which more wounds the tender heart of a weak Christian, than when he sees such, as by their former profession and appearances, have purchased to themselves the opinion of piety and godliness, to apostate and fall away from that their former profession; either to gross error, or profaueness. This occasions him to suspect, Satan by suggestions of unbelief, furthering him herein, that there is not in the course of Christianity, that power of grace, stableness, and true comfort, which it promiseth. This stone of offence, which Satan's malice casts in the way, God's Spirit removeth in providing, that where there is in the Scriptures, either mention, or insinuation of man's falling away from the grace of God, there is withal commonly an item given in the same place, that such persons were never effectually sanctified, but hypocrites, at their best, whatsoever they seemed either to others, or to themselves. Thus, where some at the first, receiving the word with joy, are after, when tribulation or persecution ariseth, offended, Matt. xiii. 20; others have made some growth, yet become unfruitful by the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches: the Lord would have us take knowledge, that such were never better than stony and thorny ground. Thus, that Judas being lost, was none of them whom the Father had given unto Christ, but a child of perdition. John xvii. 12. Thus where, Israel did not obtain that which it sought for, but was broken off, yet that the election obtained it: “the gifts and calling of God being without repentance.” Rom. xi. 7, 17, 29. Thus, that they, which fall, are such as think, that is presume, that they stand, rather than even do so indeed. 1 Cor. x. 12, 13. Thus, that though some come to err concerning the truth formerly professed by them, yet the foundation of God stands steady, having this seal: “the Lord knoweth who are his.” 2 Tim. ii. 18, 19. Thus, that if some enlightened, and tasting of the heavenly gifts, &c. fall away, it is they that are dull of hearing, like the earth, that beareth but thorns and briars, notwithstanding the rain's falling upon it. Heb. vi. 4—6. Thus, that false teachers, and such as follow their pernicious ways, were at first and best, but men creeping in unawares. 2 Pet. ii. 1; Jude 4. Lastly, that such as went out of the fellowship of the apostles and churches, in the outward profession of faith, and holiness, were never truly, aad inwardly of them, as was made manifest in due time.
After a loud blast in the beginning, as formerly, of their full and sufficient dealing in the former point, our adversaries begin this with a false, and foul accusation.
are men compelled to sin?
The Calvinists hold, that wicked men “are compelled to sin by God's power,” and again, that men “are compelled by the power, force and compulsion of God's predestination to all wicked, and cruel crimes.” Against which they allege out of “Bastingius,” and “Thes. Genev.,” that “man by evil was spoiled not of his will, but of the soundness of his will, therefore that which in nature was good, in quality became evil:” and that, as Bernard teacheth, “there is in us all power to will, but to will well, we had need to profit better; to will evil we are able already by reason of our fall:” as also, that there remains freedom “in all good, natural, civil, moral, and judicial things, but not in spiritual.” These things, they say, “if we will stand unto, they require no more.”
Both we will stand to them, and they must fall by them, as they might evidently see, if they considered, that all our question is about freedom of will in spiritual things; which alone we deny.
The ground of their error here is, that they unskilfully confound necessity and compulsion; and conceive not how a thing, both free and casual in itself, may by the overruling hand of God's providence be determined necessarily this way, or that. The difference between necessity and compulsion I have formerly both proved and opened at large: showing how man's free-will in choosing that which is evil, and God's powerful hand in governing him in that his choice, according to his wise counsel, to his holy ends, may well stand together. And for that which is good, God works it by inclination, by his Word and Spirit; which inclination cannot be compulsion, seeing compulsion and violence is only against the inclination of the thing, and not the inclining of it. God herein first takes away the former corrupt inclination, that it reign not, which is the cord wherewith a man is tied, as they speak, and then gives a new inclination contrary to the former, not hauling up a man by main force, as they mis-shape a similitude for us, but giving inward will and strength of grace for the man to raise up himself by. And if all kind of necessity abolish all kind of freedom, then in truth a man doth nothing freely; for whatsoever he doth, he doth it necessarily, when he doth it.
They do here in vain heap up scriptures like medicines upon a sound stomach, to prove that election, and choice cannot be but in, or rather with liberty. We acknowledge that whatsoever good or evil a man doth outwardly, or inwardly, where the will comes to work (for there may be acts of the understanding, and motions of the affections before and without the will's working), he useth liberty and freedom in choosing, or refusing: that is, he doth it not by any violence or compulsion, but from the inward principles of his mind; the understanding directing, and the will consenting; though yet the wicked, being left of God, cannot but do wickedly, any more than the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots, Jer. xiii. 23; nor the godly but do godlily, by the grace of God effectually inclining him thereunto. Neither doth our affirmation make void, or unmoving the threatenings of God; but makes both threatenings, and promises, and precepts, and all, most effectual; God by the inward work of his Spirit giving an increase to the outward preaching, and opening the heart to receive the same. One can move another by outward motives, works, and the like. Will these men afford God no more, or other work ? Will they deny any inward work of God's Spirit at all, above the Word's work, though in and by it ? Numb. xi. 25, 26; Judges xiv. 5, 19 ? What mean then the Holy Scriptures, speaking so frequently of this Spirit's work in men, with means, without means; for ordinary, and extraordinary operations, both gifts and graces? Or if there be such a Spirit of God dwelling, and working in men, why do they deny unto it, a prevailing power, wheresoever it pleaseth God to bestow it ? And for those that cannot repent, as they plead for some; God, and their consciences will plead against them, that they will not repent: and so are not tied with a cord by others, and violently withheld, as they plead for them, but do willingly cast, and keep the cords of iniquity, and rebellion upon themselves. Psa. li. 11, 12; Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26, 27; Luke i. 15; Acts i. 8, ii. 17, 18; Rom. viii. 9, 18, 26, 27.
We acknowledge also, and they therefore prove in vain, that to whomsoever the Word comes, them “God would have gathered unto him, hearken unto his voice, repent that they might live and not die,” to wit, in that degree of willing, which stands in commanding those things, and approving them if they follow; and “that the fault is only in men's obstinacy, if they repent not.”
Neither do the Calvinists, as they surmise, make either God's decree, or the defect of his grace in fault, if men repent not; because they affirm that God decreed not to give them the grace to repent, nor doth give it them; except either God may not require repentance at all, or be bound to give it to all. It is not my fault, that a drunkard falls and lies in the street, though he cannot but both fall and lie there, except I hold, and help him. up; except withal I be bound so to help him: nor my fault that a prodigal spendthrift comes into debt, and is cast into prison, and cannot escape the one, or other, unless I pay his debts; except withal I be bound to pay them: so neither is it God's fault that men remain and perish in that impenitency, out of which they neither will, nor can come without God's special gift of repentance, except it be God's bounden duty, as these men seem to make it, to bestow that grace upon them.
The two places, Isa. v. 1, 2, 3, &c., and Matt. xi. 21, 22, we will a little more particularly examine. In the former where God saith, he could do no more to his vineyard than he had done, he speaks only of outward means, as the text makes it plain, “I fenced it,” &c. I would ask these men, whether there be not requisite, that the natural vineyard may bring forth fruit, something besides the fencing, gathering out of the stones, and the rest there mentioned ? It cannot be denied, that, except besides, and above all these, God gives the increase by an inward blessing, all planting, and watering, and outward dressing whatsoever is nothing: so is it in the spiritual vineyard much more though planted by Paul himself, yea by Christ himself in the outward ministry. And where God saith, He expected sweet grapes, but it brought forth wild, ver. 4, we must not imagine, as our adversaries seem to do, that God is deceived in his expectation, as men often are: but only, that the Israelites did not perform that which God required, and they ought.
Touching the repentance of Tyre and Sidon. First I would know how they prove that Christ speaks of other than legal repentance, such as Ahab manifested in sackcloth ? 1 Kings xxi. 26: which was not from a godly sorrow for sin; but from a servile fear of punishment. Secondly, either this repentance should have been wrought by those mighty works alone, or by them with other helps. Mighty works alone cannot work faith, and repentance, which must come by hearing, and instructions of the Word, which they serve to confirm unto men. Mark xvi. 20; Rom. x. 17; 2 Tim. ii. 35. If Christ speak of his mighty works, as means though not sufficient of themselves, yet available, with other requisite helps, he excludes not the Spirit's work, but includes it. But, in truth, the meaning of Christ seems to be no more, but to reprove the obstinacy of Chorazin. in a form of speech like that unto Luke xix. 40: “If these should hold their tongue, the stones would immediately cry out.” And as it were a vain thing hence to dispute about the speaking of stones; so is it, to gather anything thence of the Tyrians' repentance. The meaning of the Lord here is not to commend the Tyrians at all, but to upbraid the Chorazites, and to show their hardness of heart to be greater than the others. The like form of speech we have to the like purpose, Ezek. iii. 6. And if so be there were in these Tyrians this proneness to repentance, if they had enjoyed the means which the others did, but they wanted; and withal, that God so desires the repentance and salvation of all; how came it to pass, that God did not afford those helps unto them that were so prone and willing to have used them aright ? It seems the former case is now altered, and that men might say to God, that they would, but he would not.
can man change his own heaet ?
Their invincible argument serves only to betray their incurable disease in heaping together many scriptures to prove that, which no man doubts of; namely, that the “works wrought in us by God are attributed to us also;” as the cleansing of our hearts, &c.; wherein yet they mingle with God's truth their own errors, and that in particular, hi affirming, that God takes it to himself “as a proper title,” to justify a sinner: and yet that David saith, he justified his heart. Psa. Ixxiii. 13.
First, if it be proper to God to justify a sinner, how is it common to David with him ? Secondly, they slander David in making him say, he justified his heart. Could David forgive the sin of his heart, which God doth in justifying a sinner? David, Psa. Ixxiii. 13, speaks of sanctification, not of justification.
They ignorantly apply the scriptures, Psa. cviii. 12, and Psa. cxviii. 13, to God's working grace in men, being meant only of his working deliverance for them.
They vainly, and deceitfully affirm, from Acts vii. 51, and-xiii. 46, that man may resist the grace of God, wrought by his Word and Spirit. The places speak not of any grace wrought by either of them. The former speaks only of resisting the Spirit; as the author of the Word in the prophets and others. The latter of resisting the Word of God; not working, but offering grace only. Besides, they notably abuse those scriptures cited, in making them plainly to show that man hath free choice, to wit alike, to work with God, or against God in the work of his grace. It is true, that men whether receiving or refusing grace, do it freely, and without compulsion: but the latter freely of themselves, being left of God to themselves; the former freely, by God's special grace, and Spirit, giving them, and effectually drawing them to Christ. John vi. 44. I say more effectually, though not violently, than any one creature can by violence draw another. Oh, that any made partakers of this free grace of God's Spirit dwelling in them, should deny the powerful work of it, to establish their own free-will !
After scriptures, they come to experience. And first, they err in thinking, that liberty and necessity of sinning in wicked men cannot stand together. It is certain, that the more wicked either man or devil is, he sinneth both the more freely and the more necessarily. Their similitude, of a man's drinking poison, is against themselves, so far as it is pertinent. I would know of them how the drinking of poison by any is unavoidable ? If they say, because he knows it not to be in his drink, therein they grant that sins of ignorance are done unavoidably, and yet not by compulsion, as they conclude. Secondly, who would think that any, after the profession of the knowledge, and obedience of the gospel, which these men have made, so many years, both in the Church of England, and elsewhere, should so far apostate therefrom to popery, and Pharisaism, as to think it as easy a thing, for a man, yea, though never so wicked, to keep himself from all sin, as from drinking of poison, which he knew to be in his cup ? For he that knows it not cannot avoid it. How grievously err they, in affirming, that all men are able to keep the law, to wit, without the least failing, all their life long, in thought, word, or deed! For this they plead in this whole section, that except it be possible for every man thus to keep the law, neither his conscience can accuse him, nor God justly punish him for breaking it.
Neither do the Calvinists hold, as they barbarously speak, and unjustly slander, that men commit evil “by force of God's providence,” or are decreed to do evil, or “compelled to sin by power.” But they believe, as the Scriptures teach, that all men in Adam have sinned, Rom. v. 12—15; and by sin lost the image of God in which they were made; so as the law is impossible, Rom. viii. 3; unto them by reason of the flesh, and so cannot possibly but sin, by reason of the same flesh reigning in the unregene rate, and dwelling in all: which these light persons, expressly confess in the sequel of this book: and that this so comes to pass by God's holy decree, and work of providence answerable, not forcing evil upon any, but ordering all persons in all actions, as the Supreme Governor of all: and that the wicked, being left of God, some, destitute of the outward means, the gospel; all of them, of the effectual work of the Spirit, from that weak flesh, and natural corruption, daily increased in them, sin both necessarily as unable to keep the law, and willingly, as having in themselves the beginning and cause thereof, the blindness of their own minds, and perverseness of their will and affections; and so are inexcusable in God's sight.
Here with the loud boasts of their “large and undeniable proofs,” they join sundry errors. As first, in making the good things of creation to come from God's grace, viz., for salvation, of which our question is. The good things of creation the Scriptures account our own, and of ourselves, ever opposing them to the good things of grace, to salvation. Gal. v. 4; Eph. ii. 8; Rom. vii. 5. Secondly, they err egregiously, in saying, that what Adam had in creation, and lost in transgression for himself and his posterity, that is restored through Christ, to wit, to all; for so the question is. By this, all should be restored actually into God's favour, have his image repaired in them, and be wholly free from that weak flesh making the law impossible unto them. With like perverseness do they misapply to all Adam's posterity without difference, that which the apostle speaks of himself, and other godly ministers, and Christians only, Rom. viii. 3, 4; 2 Cor. iii. 5; Phil. iv. 13; as any that pleaseth to peruse the places, may see. Lastly, they most absurdly affirm, that the flesh through Christ is able to fulfil the law; whereas we fulfil the law no further, than as we kill, crucify, and destroy the flesh and lusts thereof by the Spirit. Rom. vi. 15, viii. 1, 8, 12, 13; Gal. v.17, 24.
divine influence in conversion.
To the question, “Whether a man can do anything in the work of his regeneration,” they answer, after much froth of words, “that faith and repentance is regeneration, and that it is most plain” (as what is not to their piercing eye) “that even in the work of regeneration, man may submit to it, or hinder it.”
An ignorant assertion, showing the ground of their error is not putting difference between God's work and man's. They may as rightly say, that the life and motion of the child is its begetting. To regenerate is nothing else, but to beget anew. Doth the child beget itself? Or doth not the parent only beget it? So God begets by the ministry of the Word, and man is begotten by him: according to that of the apostle, “Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.” 1 John v. 1. So James i. 18, “Of his own will begat he us, by the word of the truth.” By these men's doctrine we should beget ourselves of our own will. Begetting in creatures, is both in nature and time, before the being of the begotten. Men then before they be, must beget themselves, (by their saying.) And as God regenerates, and not man; so doth man, being regenerated, believe and obey, and not God. Whereas, if faith and obedience be regeneration, then God believes and repents; seeing God regenerates. Besides, as the outward means of regeneration may be, and are, by too many hindered from working, and made unprofitable: so where God pleaseth to add to the outward means, and motives of the gospel, the inward work of the Spirit, of which Spirit, we are born or begot anew, John iii. 5, 6, 8; 1 Pet. i. 23; of the Spirit, I say, though by the Word; by the same Spirit which he puts within him. He takes away first what might hinder their regeneration, even their “stony heart; and giving them a heart of flesh,” Ezek. xi. 19; “a heart to know God, and putting his fear in their hearts,” Jer xxiv. 7, xxxi. 33; and by “putting his Spirit in them, causing them to walk in his statutes,” Ezek. xxxvi. 27; he thereby regenerates them, or “gives them faith, and repentance,” Eph. ii. 8; 2 Tim. ii. 25; which they must have before they can believe or repent: as the child must have life before it can live, or do acts of life, and must be generated, or begotten, before it have life, or being. Regeneration, therefore, goes before faith and repentance.
This head they shut with answering three scriptures. The first, Matt. xxii. 9, but mistaken for Luke xiv. 23, which, as it is frivolously objected (if by any) so is it easily answered.
The second is, John vi. 44, “No man can come to me except the Father draw him.” This is not meant (say they) of violent compulsion. True, nor yet only, as they would have it, of outward teaching by heavenly doctrine: for thus the Father drew many that came not to Christ: whereas he speaks here, of such a drawing as is peculiar to them that come to him; who shall never hunger, v. 35, and whom he will in no wise cast out, v. 37. He speaks not, therefore, of the outward teaching only, but withal, and principally, of the inward teaching of the Spirit, as Isa. 13; Jer. xxxi. 33, 34; 1 John ii. 27. The most of them whom the Father drew by heavenly doctrine, that is, to whom Christ preached, murmured at him, v. 41: this he reproves, v. 43 and v. 44, takes away the offence which might arise, at the consideration of the small effect which his words had with many, considering what he testified of himself, v. 39, 40, showing that such was man's perverseness in spiritual things, as that except God, to the outward word, adjoined the inward work of the Spirit, thereby drawing him, his obstinacy could not nor would not be tamed, nor he turned to God.
Lastly, to Phil. ii. 13, “It is God that works in you both the will and deed,” after much impertinent discourse, and many errors mingled among, they answer, that God doth this in men by reasons and persuasions, that they would choose life, and avoid death.
And first they conclude without and against reason, that if the unregenerate have power to resist, they have power not to resist: which is, as if a man should say, if a fool can do foolishly, then he can do wisely, or the like.
Secondly, it is a slander upon the Calvinists, that they are divided in this point; or that any of them affirms, that the elect, though unregenerate, cannot resist good. Whilst they are unregenerate they can do nothing else but resist in spiritual things: but God in time, as he hath decreed, by the Spirit of regeneration, overcomes their corruption, and works in them, not to resist, but willingly to follow him, that calleth them.
Thirdly, I would know what they mean by these phrases, of God's sending his word and Spirit to work our regeneration: and again, of God by the power of his word and Spirit showing man the benefit of life, &c. If they consider the Spirit only as the Author of the word, speaking in the men of God, why do they not say the Spirit and the word, rather than, as they do, the word and the Spirit ? Or how doth God send the Spirit, thus understood, to work regeneration in men ? If they answer, that God is ready to give the Spirit, and so doth, to them that will receive it: first, to be ready to give, is not to give or send: secondly, they should understand, that to be willing to receive spiritual things, is a main fruit and effect of regeneration, and therefore not a cause, as they mistake. For the will, thus holily bent, presupposeth the understanding divinely enlightened, whose direction it follows, and without which going before, it is blind and brutish. Neither can a man possibly will a thing, but as he understands it to be good for him. If the understanding be divinely enlightened, and the will holily bent, then the whole man is before regenerated; that is, begotten before of God by the Spirit of regeneration. In truth, they but speak of “God's sending his Spirit to work in man's regeneration, as Sennacherib by Rabshakeh spake of God's sending him against Jerusalem,” 2 Kings, xviii. 25: he, to cover the pride of violence; and they, to cover the pride of free-will, in bending itself, of itself, to receive grace offered.
To conclude this head, referring the reader to the arguments of conviction formerly laid down, I only add thus much: that if “God only bend the will by persuasions of promises and threatenings,” and works not otherwise than by “force of reasons,” and “by using strong arguments and persuasions,” as they expressly affirm, then that, whose contrary, both the Scriptures and experience confirms, would ordinarily come to pass; namely, that the wise and prudent should have heavenly things revealed unto them, Matt. xi. 25, and discern them much more easily and effectually, than babes and weak persons, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27; and so should be converted sooner than they: specially sooner than harlots and light persons, considering how much better they mind and understand arguments and reasons of all sorts, than the other. We therefore conclude with the apostle, that God works in us both the will and the deed: not only by his word working on us, but by his Spirit working in us: not only by sending Paul to plant, by propounding strong arguments of persuasion, but also by giving the increase by the most effectual work of his Spirit, enlightening the eyes of the understanding to see the force of those arguments, opening the heart to attend unto them, and so writing them in the same heart, and most inward parts, as they cannot be blotted out. Eph. i. 18; Acts xvi. 14; Jer. xxxi. 34.
of the original state of mankind.
The main question here to be discussed is, whether all infants sinned in Adam, and so be guilty of death, and condemnation naturally, and without mercy in Christ or not ? This I will prove, God willing, against them; answering and disproving what they bring to the contrary, and that in their own order, as followeth.
did infants sin in adam ?
“Infants had no life, nor being,” as Adam had, “at that time,” when God gave the law to Adam; and therefore no law was given unto them; and therefore sinned not, nor were guilty of condemnation.
I grant, that infants had then no life and being, as Adam had; to wit, actual, and distinct: but affirm, that they had both, after a sort, and as the branches in the root. Odegos, the guide of the blind, as Rom. ii. 19, affirms, that mankind was in Adam “in bodily substance;” they had therefore being in Adam after a sort, namely, so far as they were in him. If they had being in Adam any way, they had life also in him: for nothing in Adam was dead, but all living: their being therefore, so far as it was in him, was a living being.
We read, Heb. vii. 9, that Levi paid tithes to Melchisedec in Abraham. But how could this be, might one say, seeing Levi had then no life and being? The apostle answers, that he was in the loins of his father Abraham, when Melchisedec met him. And reason teacheth, that none can do any act, but he must first be, nor do it otherwise, than as he is. Levi therefore, then, had a kind of being, and that living, and reasonable also, as he performed that act of paying tithes. He in Abraham as a particular root: Mankind in Adam, as in a general root.
2. That infants had a law given them, I thus prove. First, the Word of God, Gen. ii. 17, “In the day that thou eatest of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt die the death,” shows, that whom God threateneth with death, to them he gave the law. The punishment, Gen. iii. 17, 18, 19, reacheth to all Adam's posterity, and so the threatening, and by consequence the law. Secondly, the apostle teacheth, Rom. ii. 15, that the law is written in the hearts of the Gentiles, according to which law of nature written in their hearts, (though they had it not written in tables of stone, as the Jews,) they shall be judged at the day of the Lord, ver. 15, 16, 17. These Gentiles cannot be imagined to have this law thus written any other way, than as God in the beginning created Adam, and all mankind in him, after His image, in righteousness and holiness, in which respect also they are said, to do by nature the things contained in the law, having also a natural conscience in them, which without a law were vain: under which general law, binding the reasonable creature to faith and obedience in all things (in disposition before use of-discretion, and in act afterwards): the particular law, Gen. ii., is contained, and to be referred unto it. Thirdly, if infants have reasonable souls, then have they the faculties of understanding and will, though not the actual use of them, as men have. This understanding cannot be conceived by any to be without all disposition and proneness, either to the knowledge of God, or to ignorance, error, and doubting of him; nor this will to be without all disposition, and inclination to will according to, or against God's will. As the young whelps and cubs of lions, bears, and foxes, have in their natural and sensitive faculties, a proneness and inclination to raven; and every beast proneness to the things of its kind, after, actually performed, and practised by them: so have infants necessarily in their reasonable faculties, a disposition, one or other, to understand and will things, specially such as concern God, by reason of the most natural, necessary, and indissoluble relation, between the reasonable creature, and the Creator, and that specially in those most noble faculties.
The objection from Rom. vii. 1, hath in it no colour of truth; for neither are there any such words, that the law is given (especially only, which must be added) to them that know it: neither doth the apostle there intend at all to show to whom the law was given, or not: but only, that the Christian church at Rome, specially many of them being Jews, as appears, chap. xvi. to which he wrote, was not ignorant of the law, whether general or particular, to which he had reference in that place.
To Deut. xi. 2, besides things answered by Mr. Ainsworth, I add, that Moses there excludes not only infants, but many grown men, as appears, ver. iii. 4. The other two places, Matt. xiii. 9, and 1 Cor. x. 15, exclude, too, many men of years also, considering how few have ears to hear, or understanding to judge aright of spiritual things.
For the third head, “and that all sinned in Adam,” it is so plain from Rom. v. 12, as they have nothing at all to answer, though they object the place: only they bring certain other scriptures, in such a manner, as if they would disprove one scripture by another. And indeed what exposition can be given, or evasion found, considering the expressness of the words ? “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that,” or as the original hath it, in whom, “all men have sinned.” So ver. 19, “As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners,” &c. If they say, as some do, that all are made sinners by imitation only, they are clearly confuted; first, by daily experience, in which it is plain, that children coming to some discerning, will lie, filch, and revenge themselves, though they never heard a lie told, &c. It is, alas! too evident, that they bring this corruption into the world with them. Secondly, by the apostle's words, ver. 19, “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” If we be made unrighteous only by imitation of Adam's sin, and not by his performing it, as our root naturally, then we are made righteous only by imitation of Christ's righteousness, and not by his performing righteousness, and fulfilling the law for us, as our spiritual root, in which we are grafted by faith.
Lastly, these adversaries grant, that “by Adam's sin all his posterity have weak natures, by which when the commandment comes, they cannot obey, and live, but sin, and so die. Rom. viii. 3. Can they which are accustomed to do evil, do well ? Or will these men never leave their godless custom of corrupting the words of the text, for advantaging of an evil cause? For flesh, which the text hath, they put nature: whereas it is without all question, that by flesh, the apostle there understands properly, sin and sinful flesh, as he expressly calleth it, and as is plain in the whole context. In all which he opposeth the flesh to the spirit, and the sinful life of the one, to the righteous life of the other.
And I would know of these deep divines, what but sin could possibly make Adam's posterity unable to keep the law ? This flesh, or nature, as they will have it, must be Contrary to this good and holy law, and resist it. Rom. vii. 12, 17—24; Gal. v. 22. And is not that properly sinful and unholy, which resists, and is contrary to that which is good and holy? Lastly, this enemy to the law of God in a man, must be in his soul. And what else can it be, than, a disposition in the understanding, to ignorance and error, touching God and heavenly things; and an inclination in the will and affections, to evil? which is as properly sin, as their acts and effects are properly sinful. Infants therefore bring sin properly into the world with them.
Two things they here object: First, that Christ often accounts children innocents, as Matt. xviii. 3, 4, and xix. 14. I answer, first, not as they mean; that is, such as have in. them nothing virtuous or vicious; good, or evil; but as being humble, and without pride; and such, as unto whom the kingdom of God, and his blessing did appertain. Secondly, He speaks not of all children, but of those of, and in the church. Mark x. 14, 15, 16.
Their second objection is, that our souls being the subjects of sin, are created of God immediately. But to this objection, they that refer the soul's original, immediately to God's supernatural, and indeed miraculous work, do give divers answers, which these adversaries should have refuted. Amongst others, Mr. Ainsworth's answer is worthy the consideration. But let us consider their proofs for the soul's immediate creation. The first is, Acts xvii. 26, “Of one blood God made all mankind,” &c. But this place makes rather against them; seeing the body alone makes not mankind, but the soul with it, by which specially the man is. The next place is Heb. xii. 9, whence they gather that Adam is the father of our bodies, and God the Father of our spirits. But first, the text neither mentions Adam, nor can agree to him in the state of creation: seeing in that estate there was no use of correction. Secondly, it saith not, the fathers of our bodies, but of our flesh: nor the Father of our spirits, but of spirits. And the meaning seems unto me, with due respect had to other men's different judgment, only to be this: that if we give honour to men, our carnal or fleshly fathers, chastening us, as they think good: how much more owe honour to our spiritual Father, chastening us for our eternal good? And surely God, in his kind, is the Father of the whole man, not of the soul only: so is man, in his kind, the father of the whole man, and not of the body only. Lastly, seeing the drift of the place, is to show, that God, as a father, “chasteneth his sons which he loveth,” and on the contrary, that “they that are not chastened, are not sons,” ver. 6; and so have not God for their father, I see not how the apostle can speak of the creation of souls, seeing in that respect, wicked and godly, children and bastards, have God alike their father. The Preacher, Eccles. xii. 7, speaks of the manner of the creation of the first man Adam only; but no more proves that our souls or spirits are created by God immediately, than that our bodies are made of dust immediately. That (Eccles, iii. 8) hath no colour of proof in it.
Against our fourth and last assertion, that all by Adam's sin are guilty of death, Rom. v. 12, they cavil, that we were not in Adam to bring any soul to hell for the breach of that commandment, Thou shalt not eat.
Where, first, to pass by their incongruity of speech, they free Adam himself from the guilt of condemnation, of which our question is, as well as his posterity, by that his sin; seeing it brought not him himself to hell; but, secondly, and for the thing itself, they grant, according to the Scriptures, that death, as a part of the curse, came over all Adam's posterity for his sin. And will they then deny, that eternal death was also due by the same law of justice? Is not the justice of God infinite, and so requiring infinite satisfaction? To what reasonable creature soever, the smallest punishment is due from God; the greatest is due also in rigour of justice. And so the curse (as they grant) extending to Adam's generation by his sin; eternal condemnation, as the principal part of it, extendeth unto them necessarily, except mercy be showed to them.
Neither will it help our adversaries, that other creatures die also; seeing their absolutely mortal condition limits their punishment to this present life. But such is not the estate of infants; but their immortal souls unto which their bodies at that day are to be reunited, makes the whole capable of a more full declaration of God's justice, if he deal in severity thereof without mercy, as he may. Besides, the apostle saith, that “death passed upon all, for that all have sinned,” Rom. v. 12; viz., in that one man Adam. Doth death come over brute beasts because they have sinned in Adam ? They are brutish that see not the difference, which these men will not acknowledge. It is said elsewhere, that “in Adam all die,” 1 Cor. xv. 22. Do beasts die in Adam, as his posterity doth ? As all that are Christ's are in Christ, and made alive by him; so all Adam's posterity were in him, and die in him: which death also the apostle makes no less, than judgment to condemnation; to wit, if redemption be not obtained: to which he opposeth justification and eternal life. Rom. v. 16, 21. Join herewith, these men's confession, that all mankind by “Adam's fall are made unable to keep God's precepts, when he gives them, and so all fall under the wrath of God, and are therefore said to be children of wrath,” Eph. ii. 3, and there is sufficient for their conviction, as hath been showed. But I add, that the apostle means plainly a further matter, and that all are born children of wrath; for to be so by nature, and to be born so, are the same. We are children of wrath by sin only; if therefore all be children of wrath by nature, it is by the sin of nature, which we call original sin, and not by actual sin only, as they surmise.
Lastly, I demand whether, if Adam had not sinned, he should not have transferred to his posterity the image of God after which he was created, and a proneness to keep it, as, notwithstanding sin, he doth some feeble remainders thereof and, therewith, right to eternal life ? Rom. ii. 14, 15. If yea, why not then sin, and guilt thereof, by proportion, having sinned?
To Ezek. xviii. I have formerly answered. He speaks of the sins of immediate parents, not of the first sin of our first father, which was natural: whereas the other but personal; yea, not only other men's, but his after sins also. Secondly, it is plain, he speaks of such children, as seeing all their father's sins, consider, and do not the like, but do that which is lawful and right, keeping and doing all God's statutes. To such God imputes no sin. Ezek. xviii. 14, 15.
Their affirmation following is strange, that “infants shall receive no judgment,” because they have done neither good nor evil, according to which all judgment passeth. By this, they should neither be saved, nor damned; for what else is it to receive judgment of salvation, but to be saved? and so for the contrary. They do ignorantly exclude infants from a state one, or other, for wanting that condition, which is required of men of years only. They might as probably say, that infants shall be damned; seeing Christ saith, “He that believes not shall be damned,” Mark xvi. 16.: or should not eat, because it is said, “He that will not work, shall not eat.” 2 Thess. iii. 10.
To the place, Psa. li. 5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me;” they answer not directly, but by many ifs and ands; choosing many uncertain vanities, rather than one certain truth; which is that David in this whole context confesseth his transgression and sin. And as men ascend by the stream to the fountain; so doth he in those words to the fountain of all evil. As if he should have said: Lord, I am not only stained with, and guilty of these particular evils; but I am even wholly corrupt by nature from the very womb, and have brought a fountain of sin into the world with me, from whence these particular mischiefs have issued.
on being born in sin.
Their answers follow. The first is, that David confesseth that he is made, as Psa. ciii. 14, of weak flesh, and unable to resist the tempter, being dust, &c.
Doth man's being made of dust make him unable to resist the tempter? Then God making Adam of the dust, made him unable to resist the tempter also; which both crosseth the truth, and their own assertion. The Psalmist (Psa. ciii. 14,)speaks of bodily weakness and frailty only, which is nothing at all to the matter in hand; and which, if it had been greater in David, would have been more advantageable against that sin into which he fell.
Next, for their advantage, they corrupt the text, Rom. viii. 3, in saying, “Christ came in sinful flesh;” where the text saith, he came in the similitude of sinful flesh; he came in nothing sinful, but all holy, and pure from sin. So do they that, 2 Cor. v. 21,leaving out “for us:” which shows, how Christ became sin for us; that is, as our surety, and liable to the curse due to our sins; but not in sinful flesh, as they erroneously say. Thirdly, they absurdly affirm, that the sin of his mother, whether Eve, or that bare him, is that sin or punishment laid upon her, which he here confesseth, in saying, “I was conceived in sin.” David confesseth a sin as evil, whereas all punishments are God's good work; yea, his own sin only, of which he desires forgiveness. Neither do the words here at all agree with those, Gen. iii. 16, as they say. The reader that will, may see them opened at large by Mr. Ainsworth.
They add, that it is “frequent with the Holy Ghost to call punishments for sins, by the name of sins.” But first, not so frequent by a thousand times, as to call the transgression of the law, sin; secondly, the phrase “in sin;” is never taken but properly, as to be “in sin,” to “live in sin,” “to continue in sin,” to “die in sin,” and specially to be “bom in sin;” as John ix. 34, the Pharisees in so judging, followed the error of the Pythagorean philosophers: thirdly, where Christ is said to bear our sins, it is primarily in regard of the guilt, as he was our surety. Of what sin of his mother was David guilty?
They unjustly accuse us, as saying, “that David sinned in being born and conceived;” or that “the very matter and substance whereof David was made, was sin.” Vain are they in imagining such vain things of us. David was merely a patient in being born, and sinned not therein; neither yet did his mother sin, either in conceiving or bearing him. though she conceived and brought him forth in sin. But he having sinned in Adam, as in a general root, was so conceived and brought forth, by his mother, in sin.
Secondly, it is one thing to be conceived and born in sin, another thing to be made of sin. The former, David affirms of himself; the latter, they vainly impute to us, and refute in us, with many words.
That infants are under condemnation; that is, naturally guilty of, hath been formerly proved: that actual faith in Christ is required for their reconciliation to God, doth not follow hereupon. Actual, I say, for the seed of faith they have, and of all graces: (for but by God's Holy Spirit in them, which carries all graces with it, they cannot be holy; and so not be glorified, if they be not holy first;) but that hereupon they need actual faith, is their saying, without proof. Actual sins indeed require actual faith; but for sin in disposition (called original) why may not faith in disposition suffice, through the mercy of God, for the applying of it ?
About the infants of Sodom and Gomorrah they discourse marvellously; as first, in ranking them in their deaths with unreasonable creatures in theirs: secondly, in making them not only innocent, but godly also. The Scriptures teach, that besides the temporary death, those “cities suffer the vengeance of eternal fire,” Jude 7. Let them prove children not to have been of those cities. If God exempted them, or any of them, from that vengeance, it was not for any condition common to them with brute beasts, as they insinuate, but with respect to Christ; besides whom, the Scriptures acknowledge no other Saviour, nor no other salvation, but by him.
have infants any need of christ?
To a question moved by themselves, What need infants have of Christ, if they be not under condemnation ? they answer, “that through his redemption they live, and move, and have their being, and enjoy all other earthly blessings,” with resurrection from the dead, and glorification. 1 Cor. xv. 22.
Thus they make Christ and infants amends. But how prove they, that by Christ's redemption they live, move, &c. ? The scripture, Acts xvii. 26, to which they have reference is meant of the natural life of all, by God's work of creation and providence, which is nothing but continuation of creation, and nothing at all to Christ as Redeemer. The redemption for which Christ came is from sin, and so from the curse due for sin, as the Scriptures everywhere testify. “The first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam a quickening spirit.” Matt. x. 28; Heb. ix. 26, ad fin,; Eph. i. 6; 1 Tina. ii. 6; Tit. ii. 14; Gal. iii. 13; 1 Cor. xv. 45. We have therefore our natural life, motion, and being, (common to Heathens with Christians) by the first Adam; our spiritual and glorious life, by the second.
Lastly, the apostle saying, 1 Cor. xv. 22, “In Christ shall all be made alive,” speaks only of all believers, as is evident, ver. 14, 17, 18, 19, who have Christ for the first-fruits, and are Christ's, ver. 20, 23. Are any Christ's, but Christians ? Is not the lump and the first-fruits one ? Men should have risen again, though Christ had never come, or been promised; but to condemnation; our resurrection, only in regard to the glory of it, is from Christ's glorious resurrection. And if infants have glorification from Christ, then they have the pardon of sin from Christ also, 1 Cor. xv. 17, 23, and therewith his Spirit dwelling in them for sanctifying and quickening them. Rom. viii. 9, 10, 11. These men divide Christ, 1 Cor. i. 13, making him a king to some for glorification, to whom he is not a priest for redemption by his blood.
Next, to a question by themselves moved, How we must have the Son? they answer, By keeping his commandments; forgetting faith, by which alone we receive Christ, John i. 12; from which followeth love, purity of heart, and obedience, 1 Tim. i. 5; Acts xv. 9; which faith hath more properly the consideration of a condition, as a hand to receive a promise; than of an act of obedience to a commandment.
It is true, being rightly understood, which they add, that repentance is of all sin: to wit, particularly of all sins known; and generally of sins unknown. For, “who can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me from secret faults,” Psa. xix. 12, said he, that observed, and knew his ways better than either these men, or I. Do they think nothing amiss slips from them, in thought, word, or deed, or ever hath done, whereof they do not, or have not repented particularly ? Is their knowledge so perfect as they need not pray for further enlightening ? as Eph. i. 17, 18. Are they certain they are ignorant of, and err in nothing in the Scriptures, written for their learning? Rom. xv. 4. This their book sufficiently reproves their Pharisaical dream of perfection.
Where speaking of idolatry, they affirm, that God cannot be worshipped after a false manner, they expressly contradict the Scripture, saying, “The people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the Lord their God only.” 2 Chron. xxxiii. 17. Here was worshipping the true God; and him only, and yet after a false manner in a respect. The same apostle teacheth the Athenians, “The God whom you ignorantly worship, declare I unto you.” Acts xvii. 33. When Papists direct their prayers to God, the Maker of the world and Father of Jesus Christ, hoping the rather to be heard by means of the Virgin Mary's intercession, who doubts but they worship the true God, but in a false manner ? Neither doth Deut. xviii. 20, prove the sin one, of speaking in the name of a false God, and speaking falsehood in the name of a true God, but divers; though both deserving death.
Next, they in their wild order, come to treat of faith: where they affirm, that no man can have faith to justification, before he have repented. If they had said, that no man hath the grace or habit of faith before the grace of repentance, it had been true: God, by the Spirit of regeneration, infusing the habits of all graces at once: but that the act and exercise of faith in believing, is before our repenting, appears both by Scripture and common sense. We live the life of Christ, whereof our repenting is a part, by the faith of the Son of God. God purifieth the heart by faith: and justifies the ungodly by his faith. Gal. ii. 20; Acts xv. 9; Rom. iv. 5. In all which it is plain, that faith hath the pre-eminence and first work. So, 2 Cor. vii. 10,” Godly sorrow works repentance,” repentance then pre-supposeth godly sorrow. Godly sorrow, or whatsoever is truly godly, must needs please God, which without faith no man can do, Heb. xi. 6; but even everything is sin, Rom. xiv. 23. Faith working that which worketh repentance, must go before it. Secondly, godly sorrow is not only for the fear of punishment, for so the devils are sorry, but for the offence of God specially. Now none can be sorry for his offending God, except he love God; nor love him, except he know first that he be loved of him in Christ, in which faith consisteth. We believe therefore, before we repent, in the truth of the thing, and order of causes; though we can hardly discern this order in our own sense.
In the next place they come to baptism, in which they think themselves in their element, as a fish in the water. And beginning with John's baptism, they will have it so called, as Paul calls the gospel his, Rom. ii. 16, but they mistake. It was so called, because John was (under God) the first both instituter, and exerciser of it. By their rule John Murton might be called John Baptist. Secondly, they err in saying, baptism is repentance for the remission of sins, &c. Repentance goes before baptism, Acts ii. 38; 2 Tim. ii. 25: repentance is inward; the baptism outward, of which our question is. God gives repentance; men confer baptism: repentance is man's work; for it is man that repenteth by grace; baptism (considered as inward) is God's work; as outward, the minister's under God, They affirm, that the baptizing, or washing, of which we speak, is “an action of the hand.” Is repentance so with these men? Indeed, that repentance upon which they baptize, is rather the work of their hands, than of God's.
The Scriptures alleged, show what is required of men of years, before they be baptized; but are misapplied, as a bar, to the infants of believers. Divers of them might more colourably, though alike untruly, be brought to prove, that no infants could be saved; as elsewhere hath been shown them.
Their answer to the objection, is but the fencing of their own stroke. We willingly acknowledge, that the doctrine and practice for baptizing men of years, brought to believe by preaching, and unbaptized before, is perpetual. This was the state of the persons instanced; and this alone the places cited do prove.
scripture authority for infant baptism.
Against the baptizing of infants, they allege, that there is “neither commandment, example, nor true consequence for it in all Christ's Testament, which is perfect,” &c.
The perfection of Christ's Testament we avow, and that the estate of the church under the ministry, and institution of the apostles, those great master-builders, was more perfect as otherwise, so in respect of ordinances. But in saying that we grant, “that there is neither commandment, nor example for baptizing infants,” they take their own presumption for our grant. We grant that the Scriptures nowhere say, in express terms, Baptize infants, or that infants were baptized: but withal they should consider with us, that whatsoever can by just consequence be drawn out of the Scriptures, expounded in their largest extent, is contained in them first: else how could it truly be drawn out of them ? Whatsoever then can be drawn by true consequence out of a commandment, is commanded in it, though not expressly, yet truly, and as well, as if it were expressed. Else how could all duties towards God and our neighbours be commanded in the Decalogue, called the Ten Commandments ? Surely not; except things be commanded which are not expressed, if by consequence they can be gathered. Else how could Christ say from Deuteronomy, “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”? Matt. iv. 10. Whereas the word only, upon which the special weight of Christ's answer lieth, is not expressed, but the thing only included, and thence to be truly, and necessarily collected.
But let us trace their footsteps in disproving manifestly our consequences, and taking away clearly all our objections to every man's conscience, in the sight of God: if bold promises may be taken for. due performances.
And first, in observing what baptism is, they again untowardly confound the inward and outward baptism. Which though they ought not to be separated by God's appointment, yet are too oft by man's default, and should always by us be distinguished: the outward, as the work of man's hand, as themselves elsewhere confess; from the inward, as the work of God alone: the former being with water, the latter with the Holy Ghost, Matt. iii. 11; as John expressly distinguisheth his baptizing, and Christ's that came after him. John i. 31, 33.
The meaning of the English Primer, and of Ursinus, they mistake. They speak of the inward and outward baptism jointly: whereas our question is, of that which is outward, and in man's power to give, or withhold. So the faith and repentance, which they require in persons to be baptized, is actual indeed, in men of years, but in infants only in disposition. Neither doth Ursinus simply say, that the sacraments are no sacraments in an unlawful use, as they cite him, but that they are not sacraments, but to them that receive them with true faith, only they have benefit by them. In like manner, the apostle tells the Corinthians, that their coming together, was not to eat the Lord's Supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20; that is, not for the better, as ver. 17; else they did eat the Lord's Supper outwardly. So elsewhere, he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh, that is, not, that wherein God took delight; else, he was a Jew, and that was circumcision, after a sort. Rom, ii. 28.
I demand of these baptizers, whether Simon Magus, being baptized by Philip, and yet remaining in the gall of bitterness, and without all part in the ministration of the gospel, Acts viii. 13: and so whether those false brethren creeping in unawares, Gal. ii. 4; Jude 4, and being, without doubt, baptized by the apostles, or others, had that inward, and greater baptism or no ? If not, as is plain, how were their baptism a sacrament in the lawful use ? And if God gave any of them repentance afterward, were they to be baptized anew as being unbaptized before, because they wanted the inward and greater baptism, when they received the other ? I suppose no, even in these men's judgments. If any object, that the fault here was only in the baptized's unfitness in God's sight, he saith truly, but must withal remember, that notwithstanding the inward and greater baptism wanted, which by their ground should have made a mere nullity of the other. And note herewith as of special consideration, that baptism is most corrupted by an unworthy receiver: since both the baptism is ministered, and the baptism ministereth for the baptized's sake; who being impure himself, all things are impure unto him, Tit. i. 15: and that his baptism, no baptism of the Lord to him in right use, but rather a profane usurpation, till by his faith and repentance, God afterwards giving them, it become the Lord's baptism to him, for the confirmation of his faith, in the blood-shedding of Christ for his sins.
Neither is it requisite, that we prove, as they require of us, that infants have faith and repentance: but let them prove, which they presume, but prove not, that the actual having, and manifesting of these graces, being conditions requisite for men of years, are to be exacted of infants, if they be admitted to baptism. May they not as reasonably, and charitably, conclude, that infants are not to eat, because they work not, from 2 Thess. iii. 10? and are to be damned, because they believe not, from Mark xvi, 16 ? And was there not that required at Abraham's hands for his circumcision, which was not required at Isaac's for his ? Or not more of such heathenish men, of years as became proselytes, than of their infants, to be circumcised with them ? The ground of this error in so many is, that they understand not the true nature of the gospel, and ordinances thereof. The gospel aims not at the exacting upon man, as made after God's own image, obedience due, as a natural debt from the creature to the Creator, as the law doth, but considers him as a most miserable creature, drowned in sin, and altogether unable to help himself: neither yet serves it, and its ordinances, primarily to declare and manifest, what man in right owes, and performs to God; but what God in mercy, proposeth, and doth, and will perform to man: being ἔυΑγγελιον, a joyful message, or glad tidings of salvation by Christ. So, to apply ‘this for the baptizing of infants, albeit they on their part, can for the present, make no manifestation or declaration of obedience or thankfulness, or any other goodness: yet sufficeth it for evangelical dispensation, that God, according to the covenant of grace, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed,” can and will make manifestation and declaration of his gracious mind of washing them, with the blood and Spirit of his Son, from the guilt and contagion of sin: they also, being bound in their times, to reciprocal duties. Let us not think scorn, as proud free-willers do, of God's taking, both of us, and our infants, to be his people, going before our, or their taking of him to be our God: but let us rather magnify his mercy in this regard, both towards us, and them.
Next, they undertake to prove, “that infants are not regenerate, and so not to be baptized.” Their reason is, because they have not faith and repentance. This regeneration they define to be a turning from sin to God: which they would prove from Rom. vi. 11.
The apostle, Rom. vi., speaks not of regeneration itself, which is God's work: but of our living to God, as an effect thereof. For as our natural life is an effect of our first generation, or begetting by our parents: so is our spiritual life an effect of our regeneration by God, and his Word, and Spirit. Turning from sin is man's work, by God's grace: regeneration is God's work, not man's. So for repentance, they rove about it on all sides, but scarce touch the true nature of it. Repentance, to wit, evangelical, required for baptism in men of years, is neither a sight, and knowing of sin by the law, for that the wicked also do: nor a confessing of sin, for that is outward, and follows repentance in the heart: nor a sorrow for sin, for that goea before it: nor a promise to forsake sin, for that follows after it, as an outward effect: no, nor yet properly, an endeavour to forsake it, though that come nearest. 2 Cor. vii. 10. Repentance is properly, a growing wise afterwards, and changing of the mind from sin to God, in the purpose of the heart, having an effectual endeavour to forsake sin accompanying it as the effect thereof.
Now their argumentation in this place, that because infants have not faith, and repentance, to wit, actual, and that in manifestation also, which are the conditions required in men of years for their baptism, and the inseparable fruits of regeneration, therefore they are not regenerate, and so not capable of baptism, is, as if some idiot would affirm, that infants are not born, nor to be reputed reasonable creatures, nor endued with the faculties of understanding and reason, because they make no manifestation thereof, no more than brutes do.
Their proof against the regeneration of infants thus disproved, I manifest the contrary, as followeth:—
Christ the Lord teacheth, that “except a man be born,” or, as the word more properly imports, begot “again, he cannot enter into God's kingdom.” John iii. 5. Either, therefore, regeneration is to be granted infants, or God's kingdom to be denied them. If any say this is meant of men of years only, the text convinceth him; which opposeth the first birth, or generation, which is of infants, to the second regeneration. The first, as ver. 6, being of the flesh, making them so born incapable of God's kingdom, without ihe second, by the Spirit.
Secondly, They confess, elsewhere, that all, by Adam's fall have, that “weak flesh,” Rom. viii. 3, “by which they cannot keep the law,” &c. Now I demand, whether infants to be glorified, carry this “weak flesh,” hindering thus effectually true holiness, into heaven with them, or no ? If not, as is. certain, then it must be purged out of their souls, and hearts, as the seat, and subject thereof. But nothing can purge out that which is contrary to holiness, save the Holy Spirit of God, the spirit of regeneration, which “lusts against the flesh, and is contrary unto it,” Gal. v. 17: either therefore, they must be regenerated, or not glorified.
Thirdly, The Scriptures teach, that by “the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of life for righteousness, dwelling in us, our bodies shall be quickened, and raised up unto glory.” Rom. viii. 10, 11. Children, therefore, by their grant, being to be raised again, and glorified by Christ, must have Christ's spirit, which is the spirit of sanctification, and regeneration, dwelling in them.
Lastly, Join with these things, that all are by nature, I say by nature, with the apostle, not by act alone, as say the adversaries, “children of wrath,” Eph. ii. 3, having right to wrath, as children to their father's inheritance; and therewith, that “baptism is the lavacher (laver) or washing of regeneration,” Tit. iii. 5; it will follow, that children, if to be freed from the wrath to come, and glorified, are to be regenerated and baptized also. Christ saves, and so glorifies, his body only, which is the church; which he sanctifies with the washing of water, and the word, Eph. v. 25, 26; and there is “one body, and one baptism.” Eph. iv. 4, 5.
(Pages 134, 135.)
Their answer to the scriptures, brought for the baptizing of the infants of believers follow. To Acts ii. 38, 39, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, &c. for the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord shall call:” they answer, that this is meant of such fathers of the Jews, and their children, and fathers of the Gentiles, and their children, as believe, viz., both fathers and children, and that by children are oft meant men of years, in the Scriptures, specially Abraham's children.
That such are sometimes meant, we grant: but deny that meaning in this place. And first, by them “afar off,” are not meant the Gentiles far off in state, as Eph. ii., but the Jews far off in time, as the original τοîς εἰς μΑκρὰν carries it. Besides neither was Peter himself, as yet, sufficiently persuaded of the calling of the Gentiles, Acts x.: neither if he had, was it, as yet, seasonable to mention that matter to the Jews.
Secondly, In saying, “the promise is made to you and your children,” he speaks of some solemn promise made to them all, and the same to have its fruit and effect in them, and their children with them, upon their repentance. This could be no other, than that promise made to Abraham, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed,” in that blessed seed Christ.
Thirdly, He exhorts the Jews to repent, and to be baptized, “for that the promise was unto them and their children;” and, therein, shows, that he speaks not of a promise made to Abraham's children, upon their faith and repentance, as they mistake; but on the contrary, exhorts to repentance, upon a promise made. The promise is the ground of the exhortation, and presupposed by the apostle, as going before it. Hence also it is, that he calls the Jews, which had denied and killed the Lord of life, and not yet repented, as appears, Acts iii. 19, “Children of the prophets,” ver. 25, “and of the covenant, which God made with the fathers:” with which accords that, Acts xiii. 32, 33. They were not therefore here called, the children of the promise because they repented; for that they did not: but because they came of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so had Christ promised unto them as their king and saviour: and so were by faith and repentance to receive the fruit of the same promise, and the confirmation, or seal thereof, by baptism to them and their children. Of which here, and everywhere, they are exhorted not to deprive themselves and theirs. Neither is this exhortation to repent, and be baptized, made to the children, but to the parents, for the obtaining of the benefit and confirmation by baptism of the promise both to parents and children.
If any demand, was not Christ promised to the Gentiles also ? I answer, not as to the Jews: he was promised to the Jews, indefinitely, as the church of God, and Abraham's seed, as being their king, Matt. xxi. 5—43; Luke xix. 12, 14; but to become the king of the Gentiles: the Jews were his citizens; the others were, by faith, to become his citizens, and of the household of God. Eph. ii. 19.
children considered as holy.
To 1 Cor. vii. 14, “Else were your children unholy, but are they clean,” they answer, “that the believer's children were no otherwise holy, than as their unbelieving wires were holy, namely, to be used by their parents.”
Here first, as commonly, they treasonably clip the Lord's coin in leaving out, for their advantage, “to the believing husband,” and “to the believing wife.” The apostle saith. simply, the children are holy; so saith he not simply, that the unbelieving wife is holy; but holy to her believing husband; and the unbelieving husband sanctified, or holy, to the believing wife; as all things are pure to the pure. Tit. i. 15.
Now for the better clearing of the place, the apostle's drift is to be considered: which was to teach believing husbands, that they might lawfully, and without scruple, keep, and converse with their unbelieving wives, (and so believing wives with their unbelieving husbands) as being sanctified to them, though not in themselves. This he proves by an argument taken from their children, “Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy:” that is, if the believing husband might not lawfully retain his unbelieving wife, then the children so born should be unholy: but they are holy. Whereupon it follows, that he may lawfully keep, and converse with her. This word ἐπεì, else, or otherwise, ever includes in it a causalty: as Matt. xviii 32, “because thou desiredst me:” and ch. xxvii. 6, “because it is the price of blood.” So 1 Cor. v. 10, “Else,” or for then “you must go out of the world:” as if he had said, Seeing Christians are not to go out of the world, but to live in it, they may, therefore, eat with the fornicatcors of the world: so here, seeing your children thus born are not unclean, but holy; therefore, you may and ought to retain your, though unbelieving, wives. The apostle, therefore, making the children holy, and their holiness a ground of the husband's lawful keeping, and conversing with his wife, can have respect to no other thing than the covenant with Abraham, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed;” as a known and received ground by the Corinthians, and all other churches. This will yet be the more plain, if we bear in mind, that the question propounded to Paul by the believing Corinthians was, not whether they might keep their children or no, but their wives. He had, therefore, no occasion of mentioning the children, as he doth, but to fetch from them an argument for the retaining of the wives. Now, if his meaning were, as they say, that the children were holy to the believer's use, as the wife was, then he should have argued from the holiness of the wife, to prove the holiness of the children: but this he doth not, but the clean contrary. Besides, if the apostle had argued as they would have him, where had he laid the foundation of his proof? or how had he removed the scruple out of the Corinthians' hearts ?
They add, that the Corinthians made no question of their children. True; and that overthrows their exposition; as showing, that the apostle argues not from the wives to the children, as they make him; but from the children to the wives. Secondly, the apostle disputes not from the Corinthians' supposition, or persuasion, but from the truth of the thing, the holiness of their children. “But now are your children holy.”
They object, that these children must be holy, either as the believing, or unbelieving part is holy. We say they are holy as the believing part, in regard of that federal holiness and the spirit of regeneration. Then, say they, “They are separated from common uses in which they were used, and are set now apart to God's use.” We say they are, as were the infants in Israel, set apart, or severed, from the world, and taken into the number of God's people. They themselves affirm, a few lines before, that Israel was sanctified and set apart from common and profane uses to the service of God. And were not the infants part of Israel, thus set apart and sanctified ? And yet could they not testify any purity of heart, or other grace. That which in the very same period they build with one hand, they pull down with another. Secondly, if, as they say, infants be no otherwise sanctified, than to the use of others, and as unbelievers are, then can they not be saved: except the unholy can enter into God's kingdom.
They object further, that then all the children of believers, though of age, and unbelievers, should be holy also. But why rather holy, than innocent, which they will have all infants be? By their unbelief, they are cut off from God's covenant, as the Jews were, and from all holiness thereby. Rom. xi. 16—21.
The next objection is ill framed, as they set it down; and the answer, worse. The error in both is, that they consider not John's Baptism, and Christ's according to their distinct parts; John's as outward, Christ's as inward. John's outward baptism, and Christ's outward baptism were the same: for Christ was baptized by John, thereby sanctifying baptism to us, as circumcision to the fathers by his being circumcised. The inward baptism is not common to all, but peculiar to the elect: the outward, whether by Christ or John, is not peculiar to the elect only, but common to others with them: witness Simon Magus. The outward baptism by John, and all other ministers was, and is, only with water, opposed to Christ's, as the inward with the Holy Ghost, Matt. iii. 11; John i. 33. Which baptism with the Holy Ghost, being understood of extraordinary gifts, sometimes went before the other, as Acts x. 47, but commonly followed upon it: but understood of ordinary graces, did, or should, always go before it in right order of things.
baptized into moses.
Next follows, 1 Cor. x. 1, 2, &c. The meaning of the Holy Ghost herein they take upon them to explain to others, not understanding it themselves, as is evident, in that they will have this “baptizing unto Moses in the cloud, and sea,” &c., to have been only for bodily deliverance, and the offer of Christ. But the apostle looks upon those things with a more piercing and spiritual eye: as appears, first in that, ver. 1, he calls the Israelites indefinitely, his and the Corinthians' fathers. “Moreover, brethren, I would not have you ignorant, that all our fathers,” &c. As if he should have said, Let not the children look for more privilege from punishment, if they sin, than their fathers have enjoyed. He, therefore, considers the Church of Israel here, as in the state of a spiritual fatherhood to the Corinthians. Secondly, he expressly saith, that they were all baptized to Moses, and that the meat was spiritual which they eat, and the rock of water, which they drank spiritual, even Christ himself, to wit, sacramentally and mystically. Thirdly, the apostle's argument, that it may go in full force, must thus be framed: They that are alike for substance in God's benefits, shall alike be punished, if they sin alike: but you Corinthians now, and Israel of old were, and are alike in those spiritual benefits mentioned; therefore, if you sin, as they did, you shall surely be punished, as they were. If the apostle had propounded unto the Corinthians, the tokens of God's love and protection only for bodily things, as they carnally conceive, there had been no force in his reason against the security of the Corinthians, especially occasioned by their enjoying the Lord's ordinances of baptism, and the supper as signs, and tokens of God's love for spiritual blessings in heavenly things. Might they not easily have answered Paul, that the Israelites indeed might well perish, and be destroyed for such things as they practised, having only God's love tokens for bodily deliverance: but for them, they were better secured against dangers, as having the tokens of God's love for spiritual and eternal deliverance, by the body and bloodshed of Christ?
I conclude, therefore, that all Paul's and the Corinthians' fathers, being baptized with the baptism signifying deliverance by Christ, and many of them being infants, the infants of Israel now are to be baptized also.
They object, that “the meaning of the Holy Ghost is not, that Moses did at all wash them with water in the cloud and sea.”
Neither say we he did; but with the apostle, that they, were “baptized to Moses in the cloud and sea: “God not only preserving them bodily thereby from Pharaoh; but also moistening them with the cloud “arising out of the sea, and showering down waters upon them,” as the Lord's peculiar people, and for spiritual use, the apostle himself in this place bearing witness, under the ministry of Moses their pastor or shepherd; procuring with this, the other blessings, even of the meat which was spiritual from heaven; and drink which was spiritual, even Christ mystical out of the rock.
Besides our adversaries hold back the better part of God's love, in saying, he offered them Christ in the drink out of the rock. If the rock were Christ, and they drank of the rock, then God not only offered, but they also received, and drank of Christ's blood, as the Corinthians did, in mystery. Secondly, the apostle's argument, as they put it, had been too blunt to have pierced the Corinthians' consciences; who might easily have answered themselves and him, that the Israelites indeed had Christ in their time offered; but for themselves they received him also, and so were better fenced against God's plagues; yea, though they sinned, than the others were.
Thirdly, It is neither true, which after they affirm, that Noah's Ark is called the figure of baptism, but that the saving of eight souls by water (to wit, bearing up the ark) had baptism, that now saveth, &c., for a like figure, or antitype: much less is it said, that Noah and his family were baptized in the ark, or water, as it is expressly said, that the Israelites were baptized in the cloud and sea. Every type of baptism, is not baptism, but hath only something necessarily which resembles it. But the more agreement there is, between Noah's ark, and the baptism now, the more firm argument may be gathered for the baptism of infants. It is evident that Noah through faith prepared the ark for the saving of his household, and not of himself alone. Heb. xi. 7.
To their objection, that there is as much warrant to enjoin infants to suffer persecution, because it is called by the name of baptism, as to baptize them, because the cloud and sea is called baptism: I answer, passing by their incongruities of speech, that infanta may be persecuted, as well as men of years. Witness Christ himself, persecuted on his mother's lap by Herod. Besides, the Israelites, and their infants with them, are here said to have been baptized by water in spiritual use, and consideration.
Their next answer to such scriptures, as show that whole households have been baptized, and therefore infants, as a part of the household, is, that “there are many households in which there are no infants;” and that, therefore, except we prove such households to have had infants, it is nothing. Secondly, that “it is most true, that as the apostles practised in one household, so they practised in all;” and that therefore they baptizing in the jailor's house such as believed, did not baptize infants.
We grant, that the apostle's practice was the same, where there was the same reason: but as some families had in them infants, and some not; so all of years in some believed, and in some not: according to which diversity of persons, they administered baptism diversely; and not alike in all households. Secondly, if these men would have taken any sound course for the clearing of things, they should here have given answer to such scriptures, as elsewhere have been brought against them, to show, how the tenor of the Lord's promise, and blessing, runs upon godly governors, and their families with them: and more specially to that about Lydia, Acts xvi. 14, 15, of whom it is testified, that she “having her heart opened to attend and believe the gospel, both she and her household were baptized.” But it is easier for these men to repeat over the same things many times, than once to justify them.
infants brought to jesus.
(Pages 144, 145.)
To the Scriptures' record, that “little children were brought to Christ, that he might lay his hands on them, and pray, or bless them;” and that whereas his disciples would have hindered them from him; even upon the same ground, without doubt, upon which these men exclude them, he being therewith displeased, bids “Suffer them to come unto him, for that of such is the kingdom of heaven; and takes them in his arms and blesseth them:” and to our collection hence, they answer; first, that he saith not, that “infants are of the kingdom of heaven, that is, obeyers of the gospel; but that they that enter into the kingdom of heaven, must beoome as little children, for of such,” &c. And that his main end was to declare the innocent estate of infants, and to teach all to be like unto them by conversion: and withal, that “Christ baptized them not;” and lastly, that his blessings are manifold to infants in their creation, life, and bodily benefits.
Let us examine the particulars: First, they presume, but cannot prove, that only such are of the kingdom of heaven, as obey the gospel. Shall infants (which they affirm elsewhere) be glorified in the kingdom of heaven, and yet are they not of it ? There are not two kingdoms of heaven; but one, begun in grace, and perfected in glory. Secondly, they to make more colourable their erroneous construction of the evangelist's words, and Christ's work about those infants, cite for Matt. xix. 14,15; and the like places, Matt. xviii. 2—4: and so the slight readers, such as their disciples are, might conceive that Christ had no other meaning in the other places by us alleged, than in that by them, Luke ix. 46—48,-xviii. 15; and that he spake not of a child personally, but in condition, as David was, Psa. cxxxi. Whereas in that place, Christ's meaning was to reprove the ambitious contentions amongst his disciples, by the contrary disposition in a child, which he therefore took, and set in the midst of them; but in the other, his purpose was to show what interest the children of the church had in him, and in his blessing, for which they were brought unto him by their parents. Against these depravers, both of the word and work of God, I thus argue: That which the parents, which brought their infants desired, that the Lord did for them: but it is plain, that their desire in bringing them was, that he might pray for them, and bless them, as the Scriptures expressly teach he did.
But, say they, “He baptized them not.” True; for he baptized none, John iv. 2, though actual believers. It sufficeth, that he did that by which he declared that they had right in him, and in his blessing, and that it was his will they should come unto him. Let them show a way, how they can now come to Christ, save by baptism; or how they can have right in his blessing, and yet have no right in his bloodshed, and in baptism, for the signifying and applying it ?
They add, that Christ healed the sick, and gave bodily blessings of life, growth in stature, and the like. But as it is merely, and vainly imagined, that these children were brought for the healing of any bodily diseases: so are we taught expressly by the Holy Ghost, that Christ's blessing them was not for bodily benefits, but because, the kingdom of heaven was of such: that is, appertained to them, and to such as they were.
To our next argument, taken from the circumcision of Abraham's infants, they answer: “First, there is no commandment for baptizing of infants now, as there was for circumcising them then:” Secondly, that “that commandment included males only, children, or servants, though unbelievers;” thirdly, that “circumcision was to be performed on the eighth day:” so as, “there is no proportion between circumcision and baptism.”
He that pleaseth to read the former passages between them and us, which they have in their hands, but answer not, shall see how weightless this exception is; and how we have proved against them, that the Church of Israel, and ours, is one in substance; the covenant the same which God made with them in Christ to come, and with us in Christ come in the flesh; and withal, how our baptism succeeds their circumcision. They trifle in objecting the legal difference, of days, and sexes, which the Scriptures expressly teach to be abolished. Gal. iii. 28, iv. 10. Are not pastors now the Lord's ministers, as the Levites were of old, Isa. lxvi. 21, and their successors therein: and yet are they not tied to any certain tribe, as they were ? Is not our Lord's Supper the same in effect with their passover? Both the one and the other, the mystical eating of the Lamb of God: which yet is not tied to any certain day or month, as was the former.
Lastly, They err grievously in saying, that “unbelieving servants, and children were commanded to be circumcised.” The Lord would have all the wicked cut off from his people, Deut. xvii. 12; 2 Chron. xv. 12, 13; Psa. ci. 8; and would he have unbelievers received unto them ? Hath God entered covenant with unbelievers to be their God, as he hath done with all to whom circumcision appertained ? Was it “the seal of the righteousness of faith,” Gen. xvii. 7—10; Rom. iv. 11, and yet due to the faithless? Rather than these adversaries will admit the seed of the faithful to be of God's people now, they will have very infidels and unbelievers of old, to have been of his peculiar ones. If their heresy were detestable, who made the God of the law worse than the God of the gospel; surely their's is not light, nor small, who thus contumeliously speak of him in his people, which he took near unto himself, and whose God he became; and of that special ordinance, by which he differenced them from the profane world, as holy unto him; in which they interest the unbelievers, and unholy.
the abrahamic covenant.
(Pages 145, 146.)
Now followeth our main foundation, that “as the infants of Abraham, and of the Israelites' posterity, were taken into the church-covenant, or covenant of life and salvation, as they call it (and rightly in a true sense) with their parents, and circumcised: so are the infants of the faithful now, and to receive accordingly the seal of baptism:” to which they say, and prove, as they say that “neither circumcision was, nor baptism is a seal of the covenant of salvation, but the spirit of promise which is ever the same.”
Their dispute from the seal of the Spirit, to prove that there is no other seal, is as if a man should deny all teaching, direction, and comfort by the Word and sacraments; because the Spirit teacheth, directeth, and comforteth the faithful. This point I have elsewhere proved at large against them; neither are they either able, or do they go about to give any show of answer; and yet, without modesty, they repeat their former bare sayings, fully answered and refuted.
Where the apostle, 2 Cor. i. 22, and Eph. i. 13, and iv. 30, speaks of the seal of the Spirit, means he, that the Spirit makes a material print in the soul, as a seal doth in wax? or not this only, that it helps to confirm, and comfort a Christian inwardly in the love of God, and hope of salvation ? And are not the sacraments outward helps of comfort and confirmation of a believer's heart in the same love of God, and hope of glory ? Upon the same ground, that the apostle calls it a seal inwardly, we call them seals outwardly.
the seal and the seed of the covenant.
(Pages 146, 147.)
To show that the covenant in question was the covenant of the law, and Old Testament, and not the covenant of salvation: and so circumcision the seal thereof, and not the sign and seal of life and salvation; they discourse at large upon Gal. iv. and of the two seeds of Abraham, the one after the flesh, unto which the covenant appertained, whereunto circumcision was annexed.
First, They err greatly, in denying the very covenant of the law to have been the covenant of life and salvation. For “the commandment was ordained to life.” Rom. vii. 10. And “the man that doth the works of the law shall live in them.” Lev. xviii. 5; Gal. iii. 12. And if the law promise not life and salvation, then neither doth it threaten death and condemnation. The covenant then is of the same things, but the condition divers: the law exacting perfect obedience of, and by ourselves: the gospel requiring true faith, and repentance, which it also worketh in the elect.
Secondly, It is most untrue, that circumcision was the sign or seal of the Old Testament, or law, taking it properly, as they do. The apostle expressly calls it, the seal of the righteousness of faith, Rom. iv. 11; opposed to the righteousness of works, or of the law; of which more hereafter: elsewhere showing, that the same law was given four hundred and thirty years after the covenant, or promise to Abraham and his seed, confirmed before in Christ, through the preaching of the gospel, that they which are of faith might be blessed with faithful Abraham. Gal. iii. 16—19. How preposterous are these men's ways, who will have the seal so long before the covenant.
Thirdly, Circumcision was the seal of that covenant, by which Abraham, and his posteritry became the Lord's peculiar people, separated from all the uncircumcised heathen unto him for his inheritance, and therein blessed: for “blessed is the nation whereof the Lord is God,” Psa. xxxiii.12; “the people that he hath chosen for a possession to himself;” and “blessed is the people, whose God is Jehovah.” Psa. cxliv. 15. Now will these gainsaying spirits have men blessed by the law whether God will or no? Saith not the Scripture, that “by the law all are accursed?” and that “as many, as are of the works of the law are accursed;” as being unable to keep it ? The covenant then by which Israel became God's people, and therein blessed, of which circumcision was a sign, and seal, was not the covenant of the law, but of the gospel, and so of grace, and salvation by grace.
Lastly, How wide, and wild are they in expounding the allegory of Abraham's two sons? Gal. iv. 22—31, making Abraham's children after the flesh, the infants of the faithful: never considering the apostle's general scope, unto which the particulars are to be applied. Doth he in that place deal against the infants of the Galatians, or against the men of years, though children in knowledge ? who had begun in the Spirit, but would be made perfect in the flesh: that is, would be justified by the law, specially by circumcision in the flesh: by which they made Christ of none effect and fell from grace. Were they infants to whom he saith, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law,” &c. So where he addeth, “He that is born after after the flesh persecutes him, that is born after the Spirit,” Gal. iii. 3, 11; v. 2, 3, 4; iv. 21, 29, 30, doth he mean that infants are persecutors ? Or is not his meaning plain, that such as glory in the flesh, and in circumcision, and other fleshly prerogatives, and so despise the free promise of grace in Christ, and them that rest under it, as Ishmael did both in truth of person, and type of others, are these persecutors, at all times, to be cast out, with Ishmael; as having no right to the inheritance of grace or glory ? Are the infants of believers to be cast out for their persecutions ? Out of what, I marvel, and for what persecutions ? These men in opening this allegory, or parable verify that of the wise man, “As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.” Prov. xxvi. 9.
That the covenant, Gen. xvii. whereof circumcision was a sign was the same, which we have now in the gospel, we have not only said, as they say we have done; but proved by so clear arguments, as that, had they only set them down, there had needed no further confirmation of them, notwithstanding anything that they could have excepted. But they have cunningly passed them by in silence, as if no such thing were in the book; and do only repeat over, and again, the same things with great irksomeness, specially to those, that have formerly confuted them.
the new and better covenant.
But they tell us, that the covenant under the gospel is a new and better covenant than the old, &c.
We grant it: but affirm withal, that the covenant with Abraham was not the covenant of the law, or old Testament, as they mean. The covenant with Abraham was confirmed of God in Christ, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. The covenant of the law, or Old Testament was four hundred and thirty years, after, and was added for transgression, till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made: Gal. iii. 9—19: that is, to detect and manifest men's sins, and cursed state thereby; that so they might fly the more earnestly to the promise of Christ, the blessed and blessing seed, made formerly to Abraham. Neither do the Scripture in this matter ever oppose Abraham and Christ; but Moses and Christ. “The law was given by Moses; but grace and truth by Jesus Christ.” John i. 17. So Heb. x. 28, 29, the law of Moses, and covenant of the Son of God, are opposed: and Moses made the mediator of the Old Testament, and covenant, established in the blood of bulls and goats: and Christ the mediator of the new by his own blood. Heb. ix. 11, 15. And I would know of these men where the law is ever called the law of Abraham, as it is everywhere, the law of Moses: which law or Old Testament, opposed to, the new, was written and engraven in tables of stone, and had therefore, not Abraham, but Moses the mediator of it. 2 Cor. iii. 7.
Lastly, for the ceremonial part of the law, Old Testament, or covenant, the author to the Hebrews makes it plain, that it was received under the Levitical priesthood, having a worldly sanctuary and ordinances, and divers washings for the purifying of the flesh, but not of the conscience from dead works: Heb. vii. 11; ix. 1, 2, 10, 13: whereas by the promise and covenant to Abraham and his seed, the blessing of justification came, both upon the Jews in their time, and Gentiles in theirs, through Christ, Jesus, in whom it was confirmed. Gal. iii. 11, 14, 16, 17.
In adding, that the old “taught that Christ was not come in the flesh,” “nor into their hearts at their circumcision:” they make the Lord's covenant negative, as teaching what is not, and not what is. A covenant is a promise upon condition; and a testament, or will, that, in which legacies are given. But by this doctrine, here should be nothing either given or promised. It is, besides, very ungodlily said, that Abraham, in whom principally we are to consider both of the covenant, and seal thereof circumcision, had not Christ in his heart, when he was eircumcised. Both Moses in Abraham's history, and the apostles, who well understood it, affirm the contrary, and that he was justified in uncircumcision, by believing in Christ: in which respect he is called the father of them that believe, not only circumcised, but uncircumcised also. Rom. iv. 9, 10, 11. Have his children that which he for substance had not; even in that wherein he was their father ? This thing they grant in the very next page; and that Abraham “had the covenant of grace promised him, by which promise he had salvation in the Messiah to come;” and therein, that the covenant made with Abraham, whereof circumcision was a seal, was the covenant of the gospel, and the same with ours now. It is strange that these men, who so magnify baptism, as they will have men made Christians by it; should so vilify circumcision, as to make it of right to appertain to godless and wicked men: for such were and are all, at all times, since Adam sinned, that had, and have not Christ in their hearts. Was it not an holy ordinance of God ? and therefore not to be prostituted to the unholy, and impure, as all unbelievers; that is, all into whose hearts Christ is not come, are: and unto whom nothing is pure or holy. Tit. i. 15. Could it be to any a sign that God was their God; a seal of the righteousness of faith; Gen. xvii. 7, 11; Rom. iv. 11; a pledge of God's protection; and note of distinction between God's people and others: and yet belong to such as were wholly without Christ, and so without God in the world ? When any of the heathens became proselytes, they chose God to be their God, came to trust under the wings of the Lord God of Israel, and separated themselves from idolators to the law of God: and of all this, they made solemn profession by circumcision: Judges xiv. 3; Ruth i. 16; ii. 12; Neh. x. 28: which they must either do without faith, and so not please God therein, Heb. xi. 6, which is absurd to say they did, which did it, lawfully: or else with faith, by which Christ, though not come in the flesh, was come into their hearts.
Of the ceremonies of Moses, and so of circumcision, which Moses took of the fathers, John vii. 22, into the body of the ceremonial law; and of their divers considerations, I have elsewhere written at large, and do refer the reader thither for satisfaction in that point.
That none of the church of Israel, called by them affectedly Abraham's seed in the flesh, had the ordinances of the new covenant, is not true. They had John's baptism, which even now these men avowed as the baptism of the New Testament; and Christ's also, who baptized more disciples than John; and with them, the twelve had the Lord's Supper also, and all these, whilst the Jewish church and ordinances stood in their full strength. It is true, that John's was not in the kingdom of God, as Christ speaks, Matt, xi., that in the state of the church and ordinances dispensed under Christ glorified: otherwise, the Jews had the kingdom of heaven, which else could not have been taken from them and given to others: Matt. xxi. 43, 45: neither could Christ have been, as he was, the king of Sion. So the Patriarchs received not the promise, that is, Christ come in the flesh; to which purpose the apostle saith, before faith came, &c., Gal. iii. 23. Shall we therefore say, that before Christ's coming in the flesh none had true faith to salvation; or that true believers received not Christ, though to come, as we now receive Christ come in the flesh ? They, Christ promised and prefigured, by the word and ordinances then: we, Christ manifested and remembered by the word and ordinances now; properly called the New Testament, as founded in the actual death of the testator. Heb. ix. 16, 17.
the covenant in jeremiah xxxi., and hebrews chapter viii.
Here follows an exception against me in particular: which is, that by the old covenant mentioned Jer. xxxi. 31, and Heb. viii. 8, is not meant, aa I affirm, that which was made on Mount Sinai, Exod. xix., but the covenant mentioned, Exod. iii. ver. 6, &c. Their reason is, for that God made that covenant with them, when he “took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which is mentioned Exod. iii. and not Exod. xix.,” for then, say they, “did God appear to Moses, and commanded him to take them by the hand, and lead them out of the land of Egypt, where the covenant is mentioned, I am the God of thy fathers, Abraham,” &c.
First, to let pass, that though they bid, “mark the words,” yet they cite them not: I answer, that these words “in that day,” as the text hath it, cannot be restrained to that particular day when God appeared to Moses; seeing the Lord did not that particular day take them by the hand to bring them out, but divers days after, as it is expressly affirmed, Exod. xii. 51; Psa. lxxvii. 12; and cv. 27, 43. By that day therefore is not meant, any particular day, but indefinitely the time of their transporting out of Egypt into Canaan: as, elsewhere, by the day of their birth, Ezelx. xvi. 4, 5, is meant the whole time of their foregoing misery. So many hundred times, in the Scriptures, by the day or that day is meant indefinitely the time in which a thing happeneth, or is done. Besides, where the prophet speaks of the day in which God took them by the hand; they speak of the day in which God appeared unto Moses, and commanded him to take them by the hand; which was, whilst he was in the land of Midian. God indeed then showed his will to Moses, but stretched not out his hand for their deliverance, till many days after.
They say further, that Exod. iii. 6, the covenant is mentioned, I am the God of thy father Abraham, &c. But is every mentioning of a covenant, the making of it? And did God make a covenant with, and become the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, at that time ? That is, when they were now dead divers hundred years before. What can be more plain, than that the Lord doth not there make a new: but remembers the old covenant made before with Abraham, &c., of which the bringing his posterity out of Egypt into the promised land, was an appurtenance ? God promised to be Abraham's God, and the God of his seed, that is, all-sufficient for the good things, not only of this world, but also of- the world to come, as Christ expounds his Father's words, Matt. xxii. 32, 33, and so gave them accordingly the land of Canaan, as a store-house of earthly good things; and figure of heavenly. These men. therefore, in this place, unskilfully transform the fulfilling of an old promise into the making of a new, which they also confess, in effect, in the very same place, in saying, that the promise, that is, the covenant on God's part, was made to Abraham, Gen. xvii. 7.
The word “everlasting,” Gen. xvii. 7, I urge not further to prove the covenant with Abraham perpetual; than as the nature of the same covenant carries it. It was that by which God became Abraham's God; and more he is, or can be to none: and that which Christ himself extends to the very resurrection of the bodies of Abraham, &c., Matt. xxii. 31, 32, whose God the Lord was, and is. Two reasons I will annex to justify mine exposition of the prophet Jeremy, and apostle after him; and to prove that by the old covenant, they meant the covenant of the law given on Mount Sinai. The former from the opposition, between the old and new covenant, expressly made in the general; and particularly insinuated in these words, “I will write my law in their hearts, and will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sins no more:” Jer. xxxi. 31, 32, 33: which was, not according to, but most unlike to the old covenant, or law given on Mount Sinai, written in tables of stone, and by which sin, and transgression was not forgiven, but quickened and increased. Rom. vii. 8; Gal. iii. 19. A second reason is, for that the old, and first covenant, opposed to that in Christ, “had ordinances of divine worship, and a worldly sanctuary,” or tabernacle, wherein was the table, and candlestick, Heb. ix. 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. which no man that believes the Bible, can make doubt to be meant of the law, and covenant given on Mount Sinai, to and by Moses. By the old covenant is meant, that of the law by Moses on Mount Sinai, unto which the other is opposed.
Their exception, that “Abraham's children of eight days old could make no covenant, nor agreement,” is too childish to exclude them from it; and that, by which they should have been in no covenant at all with the Lord, nor he with them; new, nor old; legal nor evangelical: for they could make none. It is not required, that every one comprehended in a covenant, should actually stipulate, or promise. Witness the covenant with Noah, in which, both all his seed, and every living creature, both fowl and cattle, were included. Gen. ix. 9, 10. It was therefore sufficient to bring Abraham's seed into the Lord's covenant that God in grace made, and Abraham by faith received, the promise that he would be his God and theirs.
That every faithful man and his seed, is (as) Abraham and his seed, the Scriptures prove, in teaching, that every believer is of the faith of Abraham, and walks in his steps. Rom. iv. 12, 16. For if Abraham did by faith receive the promise, that God would be his God, and the God of his seed, without which, no promise had belonged unto them, Gal. iii. 6, 9; then, where the same faith is for substance, there is the same promise for substance to every believer; though a son of Abraham as following his example, yet as Abraham himself in believing as he did. And this is most manifest, in that by this very covenant God was not only the God of Abraham, and his seed Isaac; but of Isaac, and his seed Jacob; and of Jacob, and his seed the Patriarchs, and so successively; not by fleshly descent of the children from their parents (as they absurdly cavil) but by spiritual and divine promise of grace; which they ungraciously despise for their children, because they cannot be doing something to God again, by their free-will, to require him withal.
Next comes to be examined that notable place, Rom. iv. 11, “Abraham received the sign of circumcision, the seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, being un-circumcised, that he might be the father of all that believe, though uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”
abraham the father of the faithful.
Their evasion is, that by faith here, is not meant faith in the Messiah, by which he was, and we are justified; but, say they, circumcision sealed up Abraham's “fatherhood of the faithful;” that is, was a seal of his faith in believing God, that he should be the father of many nations.
And this faith, say we, was the faith of the Gospel, and faith in the Messiah, which the Apostle expressly saith, “was imputed to him for righteousness,” and by which he was justified; as is plain, from ver. 17, “I have made thee a father of many nations,” compared with ver. 22, where he infers thereupon, even upon that faith, “and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness;” which also, that it was the same in substance with ours now, the words following manifest. “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but to us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe in him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our sins,” &c. Ver. 23, 24, 25.
This will yet the more clearly appear, if we consider what is meant by these promises, “I have made thee a father of many nations, and so shall thy seed be,” recited by the apostle for the purpose in hand: in these words, “I have made thee a father of many nations,” he opposeth many nations to that one nation of the Jews. Of these many nations, he was the father, even of all that believe, though uncircumcised, ver.11. And how a father? By way of example, that, as he was justified by faith in the promise of God, and of the promised seed Christ, even when he was uncircumcised: so they, believing the same promise of God in Christ, now come of him, though uncircumcised, should in like manner, be justified as he was. Which is yet further confirmed, where it is said, that he is the father of all them, though not of the circumcision, that walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham, which he had yet being uncircumcised. Whence I gather, that if we be justified by the same faith that Abraham was justified by, and that he was justified by faith in that promise, that then that promise was made of, and in, the Messiah, Christ, the blessed and blessing seed; as it is said: “So shall thy seed be: and Abraham believed, and he counted it to him for righteousness.” And again, “In thee shall all nations, or families of the earth be blessed.” Gen. xv. 5,6; xii. 3; xviii. 18. Now of this faith the apostle here speaks, and of it he testifies circumcision to have been a seal to Abraham. Rom. iv. 17, 18. It cannot be denied, but that the apostle in this whole discourse, speaks of faith to justification; proving partly, by the example of Abraham and partly by the testimony of David, that we are justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law. And to what end, or with what order should he thrust in an impertinent discourse of any other faith? To affirm this, is no better than to defame the Holy Ghost with equivocating. Or to what purpose should he mention the sign of circumcision, as a seal of faith, if not of that faith, of which he treats? For whereas it might be objected, that if Abraham were justified by believing before he was circumcised, as is said, ver. 3, 9,10, then what needed he after to have been circumcised? The apostle answers, ver. 11, that he “received the sign of circumcision, as a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had yet being uncircumcised,” which faith, ver. 9, “was reckoned to him for righteousness:” that by it the covenant of grace between God and him might be confirmed, as covenants among men formerly agreed upon are, by the seals thereunto annexed.
Lastly, Who endued with common sense, and modesty can deny, that by the “righteousness of faith,” whereof circumcision was a seal, is meant the righteousness which is by faith, as ver. 3, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness,” and ver. 9, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness;” which righteousness of faith, in this whole discourse, he opposeth to the righteousness of works by the law, as is expressly to be seen, ver. 3, 14, 15, 16.
But now what say our adversaries to these things ? As men in a maze, and not knowing how to find the way out, go sometimes backward, sometimes forward, and sometimes leap unorderly from one place to another; so do they in expounding this scripture. In their outleaps about Abraham's fleshly children, I shall not need here to follow them. Where, after, they say, that circumcision was a seal of Abraham's “faith in believing God that he should be the father of many nations,” and “that this was imputed to him for righteousness;” they say as much as we do, or desire they should. But where they say, in the very same place, that he “received not circumcision to seal up his faith in the Messiah,” they go backward most dangerously, to bring in a faith to justification, imputed for righteousness, which yet is not in the Messiah. Was righteousness ever, or is it imputed to any for justification, but by faith in Christ, then promised, now exhibited? The reason insinuated by them is a pleasant one; namely, for that “Abraham had faith in the Messiah twenty-four years before he was circumcised.” Whereas on the contrary, it could not have been a seal of such faith, except he had had the faith before, whether longer or lesser time, it matters not, but is, as it pleaseth him who bestoweth both the one and the other. Signs and seals are not to be set to blanks; neither do they make things that were not before, to be? but serve only to confirm things that are.
These things thus cleared, the reader must be requested not to measure our arguments from Abraham and Isaac's circumcision, to the baptism of infants, by the crooked line which these men draw between them; but by the right rule of sound reason, applied as followeth in three particulars.
First, That the covenant unto which circumcision was annexed, was the covenant of the Gospel, and not of the law and Old Testament, as they take it. For then it could not have been to “Abraham the seal of the righteousness of faith,” any way, Rom. iv. 15; but of unrighteousness and condemnation every way: for righteousness is not by the law, which worketh wrath, and by which sin revives, and becomes exceeding sinful. Rom. vii. 9, 13. And surely it is more than strange, that any believing the Scriptures, should believe that the Lord's covenant made with Abraham, and so with Israel in him, by which he “took them to be his peculiar people, from among all other peoples, because he loved their father and them,” Deut. iv. 37; vii. 6,7, 8; by which they were “a blessed nation,” having Jehovah for their God, Psal. xxxiii. 12; in “remembering of which covenant with Abraham,” &c., Lev. xxvi. 42, he so often showed them mercy, and did them good; and in time, gave his Son Christ to save them from their enemies, Luke i. 71, 72; and lastly, by which covenant they shall again be called “when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in; and so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Sion a deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant with them when I shall take away their sins.” As concerning the Gospel they are enemies for the Gentiles' sake; but as concerning the election, they are beloved for the father's sake: for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, Rom. xi. 25—29: that this covenant of love and mercy, making them blessed which are taken into it, and procuring the giving of Christ, and of salvation, should be the covenant of the Old Testament and law: of the law, I say, and Old Testament, which is the “ministry of death;” “the letter that killeth,” 2 Cor. iii. 6, 7, “which worketh wrath,” Rom. iv. 15, “was added for transgression,” Gal. iii. 19, 20; by which “sin reviveth, and all die, and are accursed,” Rom. vii. 9. What is this else but to bring the current of gracious mercy, into a channel of severe justice, and to curse where God blesseth, as Balaam purposed to have done?
Secondly, We conclude hence, that the church of the Jews, and church now is one in substance, though diversely ordered: one “vineyard,” Isa. v. 1; Jer. ii. 21, in which there are both grown trees, and young plants; one “kingdom” which was taken from them, and given to us, Matt. xxi. 33, 34; the “branches of one olive tree,” holy in the same holy root Abraham, from which most of them were broken off for unbelief, and we by faith planted in their place, Rom. xi. 16; “one body,” Eph. iii. 6, and therefore having infants in it now, as then, and the same therefore to be baptized (there being also “one baptism,” as “one body,” Eph. iv. 4, 5,) as they were circumcised of old: baptism (as elsewhere I have proved at large, to their silencing in that point) coming in the place of circumcision.
Thirdly, That all their disputes against infants' baptism, because they cannot manifest faith and repentance, are but the same quarrels which might have been picked of old against infants' circumcision.
That there was something in Abraham's circumcision extraordinary, is true: for he first received it for his posterity; and for the proselytes with them, which joined themselves to the Lord: so was there also in his faith, as he was the father, by example, to all that should believe after him.
Their profane assertion, that “faith was required of none, to wit men of years for circumcision,” I have formerly disproved. How can it come into the hearts of reasonable men, that the Lord in whose eyes the prayers, sacrifices, and all other services of ungodly men were so abominable, should like of their circumcision ?
Lastly, For Abraham's children of the flesh, according to their misunderstanding of them, they were by nature children of wrath as well as others, and had thereby no more right to circumcision, than the infants of Sodom. It was of grace, and not of nature, that they were within God's covenant. Of Gal. iii. and Rom. ix. we have spoken at large formerly, and of their misconstructions of the apostle's meaning.
Lastly, We neither run, as they say, nor go “to the Old Testament, law, or Moses for the baptizing of infants;” but to the covenant of the gospel solemnly made with our father Abraham long before the law was given, the Old Testament established, or Moses born.
Their discourse about Rome is vain, except they can prove that the outward baptism there administered (though unlawfully) is not to be retained by such, as unto whom the Lord afterward vouchsafeth the inward baptism of his Spirit; and so answer our reasons to the contrary, which they have, and have had so long time in their hands.*
lawful and unlawful administrators of baptism.
These things thus cleared, it remains we come in the next and last place to examine their defence of that their own unhallowed baptism in use amongst them: formerly proved by me a mere nullity by their grounds, and practice set together. Their ground is, that “baptism unlawfully ministered is no baptism,” their practice, that “he who ministering his gift,” poorly as their manner is, “doth convert,” in truth pervert, “another: may also baptize him without any special calling.”
For foundation of my proofs I laid down these two rules.
1. “There is no lawful baptism, but by him that hath a lawful calling to baptize.” 1 Thess. iv. 11; Heb. v. 4, 5. And unto this they assent.
2. “Only he hath a lawful ordinary calling to baptize (and extraordinary they challenge not) who is called thereto by the church.” This their first baptizer Mr. Smyth had not, neither have they, that now administer baptism amongst them; neither do they account, that more is requisite for power, and right to baptize, than a personal gift of teaching, and making thereby one of their proselytes, and supposed converts. Whereupon it follows, that they themselves being baptized by such, as want a lawful calling, are not lawfully baptized; and so by the verdict of their own quest, unbaptized persons.
Their defence they begin with the perverting both of my words, and meaning, very dishonestly, in setting down the state of the question; which yet seems not strange unto me, considering their licentious dealing in like sort, with the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures. They frame the question; “whether any but pastors or elders may baptize?” and my charge upon them; that they “are unbaptized,” because “wanting pastors.”
But where have I so spoken? Or how gather they that to have been my meaning? had it so been, why could I not as easily have said, that none but pastors (for of baptism by others, “elders which labour not in the word and doctrine,” 1 Tim. v. 17, we approve not) may lawfully baptize; as, that none but such as are lawfully called by the church may baptize? which are my words. My meaning was not to deny, that a church wanting pastors may not appoint a member able to teach (though out of office) to baptize: for which much may be said, and hath been by some so minded. Which though I do not simply approve of; yet neither did, neither had I occasion to deal there against, but only against the wild course of these All-alikes; of whom any that can wrest a few scriptures, intended of men of years only, against the baptizing of infants, to the corrupting of some simple man, or woman, thinks himself another John Baptist, as their practice and profession manifests. Now whether they have thus altered my words, and perverted my meaning out of bold rashness, as being more hasty to answer, than to understand their adversary; or out of cunning for their advantage, the Lord and themselves be judges. Only this any may see, and I shall make appear, that the most, and most colourable of their arguments are against their misconceived, and not mine intended sense; which gives occasion to suspect, that they have rather been cunning, than careless in the thing.
church members: how constituted - by baptism, or faith, or both?
Let us come to the particulars; and first to their first and main ground, and foundation of their course which is, that “members and churches of Christ are so made by faith, and baptism even by both,” and not by the one only.
This their foundation in respect of baptism is sandy; seeing it serves both to signify, and confirm what was before; but makes nothing to be that was not. The scriptures, being many, cited by them are partly impertinent, and partly against them, some of them expressly, and the rest truly.
Some of them indeed speak of being “baptized into Christ,” Gal. iii. 26, 27; and “into his death,” Rom. vi. 3; and “into one body,”1 Cor. xii. 13, with him, and make baptism “a foundation,” Heb. vi. 2: but mean not to show, that men are made Christian souls by baptism, as ignorant persons think and speak; but only that they are confirmed, and furthered thereby in that which they were before. Some of the places join with baptism the “Lord's Supper,” 1 Cor. xii. 13; Heb. vi. 2; others the “laying on of hands,” which yet rather is meant by the doctrine, than manifestation of those things. Now do they conceive, that such as were no true Christians before, are in part made Christians by the Lord's Supper, and laying on of hands ? When the Scriptures affirm anything of an ordinance, they must be interpreted according to the nature of the ordinance. As where Christ saith of the bread, “This is my body; “or of the rock, “and the rock was Christ;” or the apostles here, that “we are baptized into Christ,” and draw near unto Christ by baptism, and the like; we must understand the speeches as sacramental, so far as they applied to ordinances; that is, as intending those things, for signs, and seals, and means of confirmation, and not otherwise.
Others of the scriptures brought by them are so plainly against them, as it is marvel that in setting them down, they thought not of the Lord's answer to the evil servant, Luke xix. 22. For example, Matt, xxviii. 19, “Go teach,” or as they well turn it, “Make all nations disciples baptizing them,” &c. The apostles then were first to make, to wit, by their teaching, disciples, that is Christians; and after to baptize them. Is it not the Scriptures' constant voice, and these men's plea true in itself, but to a wrong end, that men must first believe and repent, and upon manifestation thereof, be baptized? Acts xi. 26. Are not they that believe, and repent Christians with them? Otherwise, how do they baptize them ? But thus it is with men in all sects, that are led by passion and appetite, more than reason: they doat upon some one thing truly or apparently good: and labour above measure, to magnify it, esteeming all things without it, as nothing. Thus these men esteem of baptism, others of church government, others of separation, others of imposition of hands by bishops; and so, according as men have advantage by particulars, or suffer for them, or are otherwise prejudiced towards them, they set high valuation upon them. But as grace teacheth us to acknowledge better things in Christians than any out ward ordinances; so must wisdom warn us not to ascribe too much to any one, as fond folks use to do to the person or thing which they affect.
Matt, xviii. 20, is against them. To be gathered together in Christ's name there, presupposes a church state. So is John iv. 1, Christ “made and baptized” discinles: they were made disciples by preaching, and after baptized. John iii. 5, speaks of regeneration by the Spirit, compared in that place to water, as elsewhere to fire for its property in purifying. And admit, it speaks of the ordinance of baptism: yet must it follow regeneration, as a means of confirmation.
As therefore Christians are not made by the ordinance of baptism; so much less are churches. This I have elsewhere proved against them by many firm arguments; to which seeing they neither give answer, nor show thereof: (though this be a main matter in question between them and us) what should I say more to them ? These they may answer if they be able, as I am sure they are not; nor, I think, will ever go about it. Only, I here add this one thing: If members and churches be made by baptism, I demand, when J. M (urton) alone, baptizeth one of his converts alone, what church, or member of what church is here made ? And if one alone may receive or make members of the church, why not also cast them out, and excommunicate them without the church's presence or privity ? Such is the confused course of these men.
Here they cite sundry scriptures, but proving only that which we willingly grant: viz. that men and women converted from heathenism and Judaism, to the faith of Christ, and so to be added to the church, and being before unbaptized, were to be baptized. But how proves this, that they were made either churches or Christians by baptism ? When any of the heathens became Jews, that is, embraced the Jewish religion, and separated themselves from the other idolaters of the land to the law of God, and came to put their trust under the wings of the God of Israel, Esth. viii. 17; Nehem. x. 28; Ruth ii. 11; and were to be circumcised: did their circumcision make them such ? Or did it not only, declare and confirm that state of grace, in and unto which God had called them ? Neither yet could the things forementioned be performed by their infants: and yet were they made partakers of circumcision with them.
the first church of christ.
(Pages 156, 157.)
But mind here a further matter. They say, “the church at Jerusalem was the first church of Christ; “and by faith and baptism made a church': and in the next words, that the twelve were so made also.
If the church at Jerusalem were the first church of Christ (as in a sense it may be so called), I would know how the baptism of Christ before that time, and of John's before Christ's (having also joined with them faith in the baptized) made churches ? Were any made before the first? Or what, and which were the churches which they so made, and gathered ? Both the one and the other living and dying members of the Jewish Church. I add, considering how it is said of John, “that Jerusalem and all Judea, and the regions round about Jordan were baptized of him confessing their sins,” Matt. iii. 5, 6; and of Christ, that “he made and baptized more disciples than John,” John iv. 1; it is very evident, that thousands, afterwards made members of the churches in Jersusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, were baptized long before, by John and Christ; and were made members of the church, in our sense, long after their baptism. Here then we see baptism administered, and yet no church made: and again, churches made, and yet many the members thereof, not then, but long before baptized.
We grant, as they say, that Rome is that “Egypt,” “Sodom,” and “Babylon,” in mystery, mentioned in the Revelation: but deny which they adjoin, as being both untrue, and uncharitable, that “all in that church are in God's account as the worst pagans,” &c. God hath his people, considered in their persons, in Babylon, unto whom he saith, “Come out of her, my people,” &c. Rev. xviii. 4; being held captive there, by her craft and cruelty. Neither is Babylon called a “habitation of devils,” Rev. xviii. 2, for that the devil possesseth men, but to show its desolation after the day of the fall thereof: the evangelist in that speech, alluding to the forms of speech used by the prophets before against Babylon civil, in regard to her utter ruin, and desolation shortly to follow. Isa. xiii. 19—21, xxi. 9, 10; Jer. 1. 2, 8, 39, 40, &c.
Neither is the “baptism in Rome, a Babylonish, or Egyptian washing,” as they calumniate; no more than the doctrine of baptism, in the name of the Trinity is a Babylonish doctrine; but it is as a vessel of the Lord's house, though profaned there. Much less can that vitupery agree to the Church of England, where the faith is found for justification and salvation, and effectual for obtaining the same in those that truly profess it. The circumcision of God's people, though too much infected with their sins, in Egypt, and Babylon, was not Egyptian and Babylonish, Ezek. xxiii. 8; no more is the baptism in Egypt and Babylon spiritual: specially in regard of God's people there; as not a few also show themselves to be by coming out thence at the Lord's call; though some more slowly than others; as of old they did out of Babylon civil, as Ezra and Nehemiah testify.
That the everlasting gospel commands believers to be baptized; to wit, if unbaptized before, we grant; but that men “become a habitation of God by his Spirit, and water;” is as if they said; Water dwells in men, as the Spirit of God doth ! It is hard to say, whether the Papists' bread, or these men's water, be made the greater idol. Neither do we in retaining the baptism received at Rome, take a corner-stone out of Babylon, either for foundation, or wall, but bring thence a vessel of the Lord's house there captived with the Lord's people. I know not but that the very circumcision of the Shechemites, Gen. xxxiv. 24, might have been retained, if any of the males had survived and embraced the truth of religion; which yet Was far from being lawfully administered.
Lastly, though all were true which they say for anabaptizing in the general; yet were their particular practice not justified thereby, nor our exception cleared, being against their manner, and the same singular, from all other of their sect, in all places, of baptizing, by persons uncalled thereunto, either by God immediately, or mediately by the church, or otherwise than by their own particular and personal motion.
baptism and the ministry.
To their objection arising from the supposed proportion between baptism and the ministry; and their demand, why I cast away my “Popish priesthood,” and retain “my Popish washing for my Christianity,” as they please to speak, I have answered elsewhere at large; neither have they been able, to this day, or now are, to say against my answer anything at all, either true, or colourable; and yet neither have they the humility to suffer themselves to be taught better; nor the modesty to hold their tongues in the matter; but do irksomely demand anew the things of old answered. For the present, I will only note these differences. First, it is absurdly said, that a man is made a Christian by his baptism, as he is made a minister by his outward calling. He that is not a Christian before he be baptized, becomes not one thereby. But by the outward calling of the church, he that was no minister before, becomes such properly and immediately. Secondly, a man is to be baptized but once; and God adding to the outward washing with water that which is inward, and by his Spirit, sanctifies the former, and covers many failings in the manner of administering it, 2 Chron. xxx. 18—20; but a man may on the contrary, upon occasion, be called divers times to a ministry, in divers churches, one after another. Thirdly, the ministry is the church's, 1 Cor. iii. 21—23, xii. 28: and depends upon it, as the adjunct upon the subject, so as if the church dissolve, the ministry ceaseth; which the same church also that gives it may take away, and make him that was a minister no minister: besides, that in the meanwhile his ministry is bounded within the precincts of that church whereof he is an officer. But in the ordinance of baptism the case is clean otherwise. For neither can the church which hath given it, take it from him; neither ceaseth he to remain a baptized person, though alone, and without either church, or other Christian in the world with him; nether is he in any church where he comes, to be barred from the privileges of his baptism, or use of anything depending upon it.
(Pages 161, 162.)
For the justifying of the matter of their rebaptizing, and to prove that the disciples of Christ, though no pastors (they must add, nor having any church-calling) may baptize: their first instance is from John Baptist, who was no pastor, and yet baptized,
We grant it; no more was Christ himself a pastor in our sense, nor his apostles. But we say John, as they, had an immediate and extraordinary calling, not only to exercise, but also to introduce the ordinance of baptism: being expressly prophesied of before by Isaiah, ch. xl. 3, and Malachi, ch. iv. 5, 6, promised to his father Zachariah, by “an angel of the Lord, and filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb,” Luke i. 11, 13, 14, 15. Will these men compare their conceited gifts of converting, with John's divine and extraordinary charter and endowments ? We say with Christ our Lord, that John was a prophet, and more than a prophet, Matt. xi. 9: they answer us, that the least disciple, or that hath John's doctrine, in the kingdom of God is greater than he. But we reply, that Christ doth not there mean the least disciple, but the least able minister of the New Testament, whereof these anabaptizers are none. When Christ asked the Jews, if they went out to see a prophet, think we he meant of any ordinary Jew, having a poor gift of expounding the Scriptures, like these men's ? Or not rather of some, both of singular abilities, and special calling? So, by “the least in the kingdom of heaven,” he means the least minister of the New Testament, furnished with special abilities, and calling. Besides, his meaning is not that the least minister, no nor the greatest neither, was greater than John the Baptist in respect of power of ministering baptism; for none was comparable to him this way, being under God the instituter of it, and the Baptist, which neither Peter nor Paul was. But the greatness here, is in regard only of the more full knowledge of Christ, not only come in the flesh, and entered upon his ministry, as in John's time; but having finished his work upon earth, and being dead for our sins, and risen again, and ascended into the heavens; whence he did, and doth, most graciously, and powerfully administer his kingdom amongst men. Is it not enough for John Murton, and his consorts, to be equal with John Baptist in the power of baptizing, but they will needs perch above him therein, and be greater than he ? But it is no new thing for the bramble to advance itself above all the trees, even the vine, olive, and fig trees. But such pride will have a fall. Judges ix. 7—15. The Lord grant it may be by, or with repentance, to prevent the downfall to perdition !
To their instancing the disciples of Christ, and Ananias's baptizing, what shall I say more than I have done in the very writing which they undertake to answer? Wherein I have proved, that these instances are so far from helping them, as that they make plainly against them, as the reader that will, may see. To my proofs they answer nothing at all, nor confirm their own tenets further, by any circumstance of the text. Only they tell us in the general, that “these things were written for our learning.” We grant it, and therewith affirm that amongst other things, we are to learn this from them: that such as are to baptize are to be furnished with (besides, and above the gift of teaching) a special warrant and calling from Christ, either, extraordinary and immediate, as had these disciples, and Ananias; or ordinary, and mediate by the church: which alone is delegated by Christ the Lord, with authority to call men to the ministering of his solemn ordinances; whereof baptism is one, and not the use of a gift, as bare teaching is.
the apostolic commission.
(Pages 162, 163.)
In opening Matt, xxviii. 16, “Go teach all nations,” &c., they show a strange strain of wit; in gathering from thence, that any disciple of Christ may baptize, from whence all others of learning or judgment, of all sects, do gather the contrary, and that none, but such as have special calling to teach may baptize. Let us examine things particularly.
And first, I affirm, that the Lord in that place gives an apostolical commission properly; which I thus prove. First, because he bids them “Go,” or go forth, “and teach all nations,” opposing the apostles' going forth, and teaching all nations then, to the prophets' tarrying, and teaching that one nation of the Jews formerly. Do, or can these men, though their feet abide not in the house, Prov. vii. 11, go to, and teach all nations? Their answer is frivolous, that every disciple is to do this according to his best ability, seeing the Lord calls none to a state or work, but such as he furnisheth with answerable abilities. By such answers, the calling of any, how unfit soever, to any place or state how excellent soever, might be justified. Secondly, if not in this place, I would know when, and where Christ gave the commission properly apostolical.
Where they add, that the “apostles have left their power wholly behind them, and that nothing is dead but their persons,” they err not a little; for not only their persons are dead, but their office also is ceased. If any now have the power of apostles, they have then the office of apostles first, from which the power is, and in which it is to be exercised. If they say they are apostles; they are not, but are easily found liars by plain direction of the Scriptures. Besides they expressly contradict themselves in the same place, in saying, The commission was given to such, as whose persons remain to the end of the world. Gal. i. 1; 1 Cor. i. 9, iv. 9. If their persons be dead, how remain they ? But they add, as their corner-stone, that this commission was given to the succeeders of the apostles in their doctrine from time to time, with whom Christ promiseth to be present always, even to the end.
If I should answer, as I know not but I might lawfully, that these words of Christ, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” are to be expounded as those of the apostle, 1 Thess. iv. 15, 17, “We which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord,” &c.; and that the meaning of both is, that all should so walk, as if that day of the Lord were to come every day of our lives, what would they reply ?
But admit this be spoken mediately to the successors of the apostles, not in their power apostolical, for that ceaseth. with their office apostolical, and their office with their persons; neither is there left in the church any authority or direction for the choosing of apostles, but in the performance of such ordinary works, in lawful order, as the apostles were to exercise themselves in, specially of teaching and baptizing there mentioned: I thus prove, that by those successors are not meant, as they conceive, disciples, but such as have special commission, and authority, and so specially pastors.
And first, Christ here opposeth them to whom he speaks, as the makers of disciples (as the words are) to disciples to be made by them. Secondly, if every disciple of Christ; then why not women also, which are disciples as well as men, and whereof there are divers to be found better gifted than any of this fellowship ? Neither can they object the apostle's prohibition of women, 1 Cor. xi. and 1 Tim. ii. seeing they hold baptism no church action, but personal only; and so administer it as privately, as midwives use to do. Thirdly, if pastors be most rightfully the apostles' successors in other works of their apostolical commission here given; by name, in administering the Lord's supper, and over-seeing the flock, and defending the same in the truth, which they grant: why not, in teaching, and baptizing also, which alone are expressed ? Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. .
baptism an official act.
(Pages 162, 163.)
But this they account “a mere fiction, seeing converting and baptizing is no part of the pastor's office, which is to feed, watch and oversee the flock of Christ, and defend the same in the truth:” than which they deny further charge to be laid upon him by his office: quoting for that purpose, Acts xx. 28; Tit. i. 9, proceeding also to challenge it as an “imagination, that he is to preach by virtue of his office:” yea, adding “that any disciple having ability is authorized, yea commanded to preach, convert, and baptize, as well, and as much, if not more, than any pastor.” To this height of usurpation are these Korahites come.
First here, as always, they alter the state of the question, which between them and me is not whether only pastors, but whether only such as have a special church-calling, may baptize. Secondly, it is true, that pastors in the right state of things, are not to be set over herds of goats and swine, but over flocks of sheep: yet doth it not follow thereupon that pastors, in no sort, convert. For first, there may be in the church hypocrites undetected, or after detection, yet uncensured, which they may by God's blessing effectually convert. Secondly, the pastor, as pastor of the flock, and feeding it, may convert a stranger coming in, and why then not baptize him by their own ground ? The person so converted publicly, may and ought to be baptized publicly; and should not the pastor do it, by whom also he is converted, rather than by a private member ? Thirdly, it is not all one, though they confound them, to convert, to wit, from being wicked to become godly, and to make a disciple. Children born in the church may be made disciples, yet not so converted; as, it may be, never having been such, as of whom it could be said, that they were wicked. Fourthly, it is their ignorance to make converting of men, and the baptizing of them, actions of the same nature, seeing only men and women before converted, and repenting are to be baptized. Acts ii. 38. Lastly, in granting, according to the Scriptures, that the pastor is by office to feed the flock, 1 Cor. iv. 15: they cannot deny, but that he is to baptize thereby: seeing baptism is a part of that feeding properly, serving to confirm the faith of believers in the washing away of their sins by the blood of Christ; begetting is by the seed of the Word, the Word of truth, James i. 18; 1 Pet. i. 23: and so whatsoever means follow thereupon, if but for feeding and nourishing the so begotten.
preaching not an official act.
But that which followeth is admirable, viz. that “the pastor is not required to preach, nor doth perform it by virtue of his office, when he doth it.”
Many men, and these with the rest, have spoken many absurd things in religion: but these in this exceed them all, yea and themselves. They, from Acts xx. 28, affirm that the pastors are to feed the flock from their office. And can the flock be fed as it ought without preaching, and where the bread of life is not broken unto it ? They also grant in the same place, from Titus i. 9, that he is to defend the flock in the truth against all gainsayers. But why to defend the flock, &c., as their cunning and corrupt gloss is, rather than as the words of the text are, by sound doctrine both to exhort, and convince the gainsayers ? Are exhortations and convictions by sound doctrine no preachings with these men? yea, are they not directly for the conversion of gainsayers ? And how then belongs it not to pastors, to whom these things belong, to convert ? So where it is required that the bishop, to be called, be apt to teach, 1 Tim. iii. 2, is he not by his office to do that which is requisite in him for his enabling unto it ? I say for the enabling of him unto his'office, and not for the adorning of it only, as hospitality is: which though he only want ability to perform, yet that disables him not; as the want of aptness to teach doth.
Join with these the apostle's exhortation, that the elders that rule well be had in double honour; specially they that labour in the word, and doctrine; “for the labourer is worthy of his reward,” 1 Tim, v. 17: and what can be clearer, than that the pastor is to preach by his office, and that as being the special work, for which his wages are due unto him? Is not to labour in the word and doctrine here spoken of, for him to preach, and that as an elder; as the former rule as elders? Strange it is that, a pastor or teacher, Eph. iv. 11, by office, should not teach and preach by office; that is, not exercise their office or ministry, the teacher in teaching, and exhorter, or pastor, in exhortation. Rom. xii. 5, 7, 8. And see we not here, what new patrons dumb ministers have gotten, of whom the old almost everywhere are ashamed? If it be not required of the pastor to preach by his office, then though he never preach at all, yet it cannot be said to Archippus, “Fulfil thy ministry, which thou hast received in the Lord.” Col. iv. 17. The pastor might, by their canon, most faithfully perform and fulfil his office, though he never preached one sermon all his life long.
But as all errors have some truth either in them, or nigh unto them, and so are raised upon mistaking of one thing for another, with which it hath some affinity: so is it in this case. For first the ability or gift to teach is not by the office, but before it, and merely personal, and so remains even in the officer; and the same greater in one than in another, though the office be the same in both. Yet because the gift fits for the office, and enables to the performing of it, many unskilfully confound them. Secondly, there is both a liberty, and duty of using the same gift in time and place, before and without the office. But herewith, the office concurring, is joined, and added a bond of authority, and special charge upon the officer to wait upon his office, the teacher in teaching, the exhorter or pastor in exhortation, as the apostle speaks.
Here amongst sundry scriptures not so much as looking towards the matter in hand, but speaking of the general liberties of Christians, and graces of Christianity, common to women with men, and to such men as want all gifts of teaching with others, they allege 1 Cor. xiv. 1, and the apostle then commanding every believer to covet to preach.
But first, why put they preaching and not prophesying, as the text, and all translations have it ? Secondly, it is their presumption, that he speaks of every believer. Was every believer to covet spiritual gifts, to wit, all both extraordinary and ordinary there mentioned? And are there not many in all churches, who, without a miracle, cannot possibly attain to any competent ability to teach publicly in the church? But let them stretch the words to their own size, what follows hereupon? All are to desire the gift of exhortation, &c., and such as have it, to use it in time and place: ergo, it is not required of pastors by virtue of their office to exhort. Why not then thus ? It is required of every member of the church in his place, to watch for the good of the whole, and to defend the same against gainsayers in the truth: and therefore it is an imagination, which these men in the page beforegoing affirm, that the pastor is by his office to watch, and defend the flock against gainsayers. Or thus: It concerns every Christian, being able, to distribute to the necessities of the saints, Rom. xii. 13, and therefore not to the deacons by virtue of their office; which yet for the very thing are called distributers in the same place. Rom. xii. 8. Every citizen and subject is bound to defend his city and country against the enemy in his place and standing; and therefore by their consequence, not the magistrate by virtue of his magistracy. Their conclusion therefore, that a pastor is not bound to teach by his office, because he might after a sort, and in an order, teach without it; it is, as if they should tell us, that he who is bound to a post with one cord, cannot be bound with two.
the duty of churches when without officers.
They add, that “the church may receive in members, without officers, or when they are sick, or in prison, and so baptize them, as the primitive churches were gathered by faith and baptism, and that being without pastors a good while, which the apostles afterwards placed amongst them.”
They oft say, but never prove, that churches are gathered by baptism. Baptism is an ordinance and service given to the church, as were the statutes and services of old, given to Israel, and circumcision, Rom. ix. 4; Psa. cxlvii. 19; John vii. 22, amongst the rest. If the church receive in men by baptizing them; then it is to cast them out by unbaptizing them. For they are to be put out or excommunicated by the undoing of that, by the doing of which they were taken in.
Besides, receiving in, and casting out of members are dispensations of Christ's kingdom; baptism of his prophetical office.
Thirdly, as both infants might be born in the church, and men of years received into it, and both the one and the other be baptized afterwards, as God afforded fit and lawful means; so can it not be proved, specially in the plenty that then was, that the apostles still left not behind them some extraordinary officers, prophets, or evangelists to water, where they had planted, and to order things unperfected. 1 Cor. iii. 7—9; 1 Tim. i. 3; Tit. i. 5.
Lastly, let it be observed, how in this place, they make it a work of the same power, to baptize, and to receive members into the church: and whereupon it must follow unavoidably, that baptism administered by one alone, and without a church power, which theirs was, and is, is unlawful: seeing one alone is not a church, nor hath power to receive in, or cast out members.
To conclude the point about the apostles' successors. The apostle Paul, calling unto him at Miletus the elders, or bishops of the church of Ephesus, and charging them “to feed the flock whereof they were made overseers by the Holy Ghost,” Acts xx. 17—19, 28; and for their direction therein, propounding unto them his own apostolical example to be followed by them in so many particulars, shows who are the apostles' ordinary successors in their several charges. The same also doth the apostle Peter, in calling himself a sympresbyter,1 Pet. v. 1, or fellow-elder with the ordinary elders. And truly what man, not at utter defiance with common sense, will deny that a pastor in his charge is more properly an apostle's successor, than a private brother.
In answering mine exceptions, they build amiss upon my foundation, and father their bastards upon me: knowing that I both put, and have proved against them, elsewhere, a difference between no baptism, and baptism unlawfully administered, in divers respects; and that the latter, though it ought not so to have been administered, or received; yet ought not to be iterated; specially, if God have added thereunto the inward baptism of the Spirit of regeneration.
1. Now my proofs, howsoever by them vilified, confirm, that besides and above the personal ability to teach, a special calling is requisite for him that dispenseth the ordinance of baptism. This special calling ordinary is by the church, which alone hath Christ's delegated power for ordinances. The argument I thus frame. That which by many proofs of Scripture appears to have been done by special calling, and commission from Christ, and never otherwise; that not being done by such special calling, and commission, is unlawfully done, 1 Cor. iii. 21—23; Matt, xviii. 17—20; but by the proofs by me brought, it appears that baptism hath still been ministered by special calling, and commission, and not otherwise; therefore, these men's baptism not so administered, was, and is, unlawfully administered: and so they by their own grounds, which they vainly make mine, unbaptized persons.
Neither can they make an escape by saying, that they in whom I instance had “no calling by the church, nor were pastors of particular flocks:” seeing our question is not of pastors, but of such as have a church-calling: and that John Baptist, Christ's disciples, Philip, and the rest, had a calling extraordinary. These adversaries neither have the former, nor challenge the latter. And indeed, by this defence, so oft renewed by them, they make it evident to all the world, that they neither consider of their own practice seriously, nor of mine exceptions.
Of the difference between teaching and baptizing, I shall speak in the fourth rule: as I have also formerly, both in this treatise, and elsewhere at large cleared their exception about ordination: which they cunningly dissemble. Here I only demand of them, whether one man alone, without either presence, or preceding election of the church, may ordain a pastor as is their manner of baptizing. And for me, do they not know in their consciences that I was ordained publicly upon the solemn calling of the church, in which I serve, both in respect of the ordainers, and ordained ? Whilst then they account me wilfully blind in putting difference between my church ordination and their baptism; they show themselves witlessly blind in making them alike.
2. To my proof, from Matt. iii. 13, that Christ in coming to John to be baptized of him, fulfilled all righteousness, &c., they answer, “That this is still done, when any disciple,” &c: wherein first, they make both John and Christ disciples of Christ. Secondly, if Christ had herein considered John as an ordinary disciple only, what needed he to have come from one country to another, even from Galilee, to Jordan in Judea, to have been, baptized of him ? Why might he not as well have used some ordinary disciple near at hand ? Christ therefore, in being baptized by John, fulfilled all righteousness, in consecrating unto us baptism, as circumcision to the fathers, in his own person, “who of God is made unto us righteousness,” 1 Cor. i. 30: and that by John's ministry, who had a most solemn and singular calling thereunto. Lastly, it is not likely, which they take for certain, that John in these words, “I had need be baptized of thee,” meant not, to wit, at all, of the baptism with water, considering that the question between our Lord and him, was about that baptism and none other. The words therefore insinuate, that some special state and calling is required in the baptizer above these men's common discipleship.
3. Here first in answering John i. 19, 25, for their own credit they disgrace the priests and Levites, as blind and ignorant Pharisees, for demanding of John, by what authority he baptized. But considering both the places, and John's practice in bringing a new ordinance of religion into the church, they did nothing herein not well sorting with their office.
Secondly, their answer, that John proves his authority to baptize, by proving his authority to preach, from Isaiah the prophet, Isa. xl. 3: shows, how short their wits are in gauging the depth of the Scriptures. He doth not prove his authority to baptize, by a common authority or liberty to teach, which any of Israel, gifted, might use; but he justifies his whole ministry, in all the parts of it by his special calling, as the harbinger and forerunner of Christ, plainly foretold by Isaiah, and Malachi. Do they think, that the prophet's words “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” &c., appertained to every Israelite that could teach; as they ascribe power to baptize to each of their teaching disciples ? Or might John, without a special calling, have instituted and brought into the church, as he did, a new ordinance ? Yea I would know, which of John's disciples ever offered to baptize ? Of whom yet it cannot be doubted, but divers were able to teach.
4. As cowards most vilify in words, where in deed they dare do least, so do these men account this proof most vain, against which they have nothing to bring, saving an equivocation in the word “ordinances,” and a cunning course in leaving out that which I allege from Rom. xii. 3, which would discover the fallacy. The different nature of baptism and teaching, merely by a personal gift, is evident. A man becomes a prophet, and able to teach, by the gifts of the Spirit, knowledge, and utterance,1 Cor. i. 5. But I would know by what gift of the Spirit any becomes a baptizer, or able to baptize ? 2. Besides the scriptures, 1 Pet. i. 12, &c.; the light of nature, and general law of love, shows, that he who knows anything profitable for another, should in his place, and upon occasion declare it to him; so as teaching by him that hath ability, hath its plain foundation in nature: but so is not baptism by the light of nature; but merely ordained and instituted of God by supernatural revelation; in which respect I call it an ordinance. And this consideration alone, if there were nothing else, will with reasonable men, oversway all their presumptions. Actions of religion are some of them performed immediately from a personal gift, and grace of the Spirit in the heart, as preaching, or prophesying, and prayer, out of a special state or office; others, by no special gift of the Spirit at all, but by authority conferred upon some special person; as the ministration of sacraments, censures, ordination, and the like; and lastly, some others by both, as pastoral preaching, prayer, &c.: the gift ministering ability; and the office charge to use the gift, for feeding of the flock committed to the officer.
5, In answering my fifth proof, they allege things partly impertinent, and partly unreasonable. Of the former sort is their discourse about the eunuch's being a member of Christ, and his remaining in any particular church: whereas they should have answered directly, whether by his faith and baptism he had been made a member of any particular church, or not.
But they seeing what would follow upon a direct answer, have rather chosen an indirect evasion. Of like hue is that which they add of Israel's renewed covenant, conceiving Israel as a true church, which we meddle not with in this business.
Absurd it is in itself, and a slandering of our practice, which they affirm of one casting out another, where there are but two of a church. Which of us ever so held or practised ? One man, or woman either, may upon just ground, separate from a whole church: may he, or she, therefore, excommunicate a whole church ? Or hath John) M(urton) excommunicated the whole Church of England ? Separation, where lawful, only shows the liberty, which every Christian hath to keep himself pure from the sins of others: excommunication imports a judiciary power and state of authority to execute a solemn censure and punishment; which appertains only to the church gathered together in Christ's name; Matt, xviii. 19, 20; 1 Cor. v. 4, 5; which one cannot be. Two may join together, and so receiving one another mutually may become a church: or may, upon just occasion, part asunder, and so dissolve: but cannot receive in, to speak properly, or cast out one another, by solemn ordinance. This imports authority; the former, liberty only. But thus it becomes the new builders of Babylon, to use brick for stone, and lime for well-tempered mortar.
6. Their answer to my sixth proof about witnesses of the baptism, that Philip baptized the eunuch, and Ananias, Saul, none else being by, is presumptuous. It is apparent, Acts viii., that the eunuch had divers in his retinue, and most probable, that some of them were godly also, and baptized with him, though the story mention him alone. Neither is it like, that Ananias in that city, where so many Christians were, was not accompanied with some or other of them. Besides, those baptisms were administered by extraordinary, and miraculous direction, and assistance; and therefore not to be drawn, for the manner, into ordinary example. Lastly, these instances overthrow their main ground, which is, that all particular churches are gathered by faith and baptism. One alone cannot be a church; neither is a church gathered by that which may lawfully be performed without a church gathering. Paul's own manifestation of the grace of Christ received, was sufficient testimony of his conversion; and the church's weakness it was, to stand need of further witness.
In their answer to mine other demand, that any “disciple present, though no instrument of conversion, may baptize,” they raise their own main ground, which how sandy soever, yet is theirs, from Matt, xxviii. 19, that every disciple, that can teach, or make disciples, according to his best ability, may baptize; and, whosoever makes a disciple may baptize; and that Christ hath coupled them together, and that no man should separate them, &c.; yet here themselves separate them, in affirming that any disciple, though making no disciple, nor being instrument of conversion, may baptize. Their instances of Christ's baptizing none, but leaving that to his followers, and Paul's baptizing few in Corinth, are too presumptuous. It is too much vanity for base persons to play on stages the parts of kings: what is it then for John Murton, to play Christ and Paul, if yet Paul had not evangelists in his company', in commanding others of his disciples to baptize his converts, as Christ our Lord did his ?
About woman's baptism, they are like a bird in a net, seeking many holes to get out, but finding none. First, they answer, that “women may neither teach nor baptize in the church.” True: but why not, as they do ? which is, not in the church; but out of it, and in a corner, where, it may be, none is present but the baptizer and baptized ? They say further, that “women have been, and may be, worthy instruments of converting of others.” I grant it, and that even of men. But may they therefore baptize them ? This they dare not say, nor do; and yet except they say it, they must unsay their so oft repeated lesson, “that they that may convert, may baptise.”
Their dispute from my former plea out of Mr. Perkins, that where God gives the word, he gives the power also, helps not: for first, “both Mr. Perkins and I speak of a church having this power of the Lord, and not of a single person. If all the body were one member, where were the body, 1 Cor. xii. 19, or church ? saith the apostle. These men make all the body, and one member the same. One and all, and all and one, is all one with them. Secondly, we speak of having and using the power of the Lord, according to the Lord's order; and not in their confused fashion. Which order of the Lord is, that men first be called, ordinarily, by the church, and so minister baptism as the stewards of the mysteries of God.
Lastly, they most wrongfully accuse Peter Martyr, and me from him, as pleading for women's baptism: the reader that pleaseth, may see the contrary.
I do not, as they here challenge me, in answering their objection, that because men, by virtue of their gift, without other calling, may do the greater which is teaching, they may do the less, which baptizing is, wrong them; as saying, having no calling, but no other calling but by their gift. If they have any other calling, though not pastoral, let them show it; and so renounce their former plea raised from their personal gifts alone.
Their proof that “he that may do the greater may do the less,” is taken from Matt, xxiii. 16, 17, 19, 20, &c., wherein they say, Christ proveth plainly, that either it was not lawful for them to swear by the gold, and the offerings, which were lesser: or that it was lawful for them to swear by the temple, and altar.
Nothing less. It was lawful to swear by none of them all, but by the Lord only. The meaning of Christ was to reprove the hypocrisy and covetousness of the Pharisees, that bare the people in hand, that if they sware by the altar, and temple, it bound them not, at least, in comparison; but if they swore by the gold, or offering, that oath bound them to performance, that by this means, they might possess the people's minds with an high opinion of the offerings, and gold, which turned to their proper ad, vantage and profit. If from hence they would conclude anything lawful from the greater to the less, they must argue thus: If it be lawful to swear by the greater, then by the less, much more: but it is lawful to swear by the greater, and greatest, God himself, that dwelleth in the temple: therefore it is lawful to swear by the temple, altar, sacrifice, heaven, earth, &c. If they would be ashamed of this conclusion, so may they be of their argumentation.
My plea for the power of calling ministers, and censuring offenders by the church where officers are wanting, which here again they bring in, is in their hand, like a sword in a child's hand, wherewith he sooner hurts himself, than his enemy. For, to let pass the difference between the power of receiving in, and casting out of members, and so of choosing of ministers, on the one side, and of baptizing on the other, elsewhere manifested; they here strike through their own course, in confessing that these things must be done by the church's power and right, by which they baptize not, but merely by a personal liberty: by which yet they themselves, I suppose, would be loth to avow the calling of ministers, and censuring of offenders.
That my collection from Scripture is their conviction, and makes plainly against their corner-stone, that he which may do the greater may do the less, they may see, if they please to consider it. For if the prophets in Israel, not being Levites, though preaching God's word, might not carry the ashes from under the altar; but the Levites only, Numb. iv. 13, then their rule holds not absolutely, that he that may do the greater, may do the less; and so they must confess, except they will deny the preaching of God's word to be a greater thing than the carrying of the ashes out of the temple.
The former part of their first answer; that the priests only, they should say the Levites, were appointed to this, makes against them, as showing, that we are not to measure our liberty or power by the greatness or smallness of the thing, but by God's appointment, who hath allotted to every one his portion. Their second answer is of admirable device, that “as the priests might meddle with all the services of the Old Testament; so all the saints being priests unto God, no men excepted, may meddle with all the services of the New Testament,”
But why might, and may; and not ought, and must? The priests under the law were bound, leaving unto the high-priest his functions, and to the Levites, theirs, in their courses, to all the services of the tabernacle, and temple. So by their crooked rule, every Christian, no men excepted, not only may, in liberty, but must in duty, minister not only baptism but the Lord's supper also, and all other ordinances, in his turn: and so all must be alike for public ministrations; for all are priests to God alike. “All the congregation are holy every one of them, and the Lord is among them, and you, Moses and Aaron, take too much upon you;” said Korah of old. Numb. xvi. 3. They err grossly therefore in making all priests for all public ordidances in the church: whereof some appertain to Christ's prophetical administration, as the sacraments, which are seals of the covenant dispensed by preaching: others to his kingdom, as the appointing of officers, and censuring of offenders. Our Christian priesthood stands only in our offering of spiritual sacrifices of praises, and prayer from a broken heart, works of mercy, and the like.
That baptism is a service of the temple, that is, an ordinance of the church, we have formerly proved. And surely strange it is, that I should need to prove, that there is any ordinance of religion which the church is not to administer. Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas are the churches, and is not their baptism theirs? This whilst they compare to the hewing of stones in the mountains, they lay in common for ministration to very unbelievers, with disciples: for the Sidonians, or other of the heathens, as well as Israelites, might either square stones, or hew wood for the temple. 1 Kings v. 18.
Lastly touching my similitude. As it cannot he denied, but that the setting of the seal unto the king's pardon granted to a malefactor, is a matter both of more solemnity, and authority, than the bare manifestation and making known of the same pardon; which any, ordinarily, may do to any, as opportunity serves: so have I proved long ago against these adversaries, by many arguments, hitherto by them unanswered, and I assure myself unanswerable, that the outward baptism, of which we speak, is an outward seal of the covenant of grace: that is, an holy outward sign ordained of God, as a means by the work of the Spirit, to confirm the faith of the church in her washing, both from the guilt and contagion of sin, by the blood of Christ Jesus. More than this, we mean not in calling the sacraments seals, Rom. iv. 11, with the apostle; and less none can yield them, that hath learned their right use, either from his own fruitful experience, or the Scripture's information. Glory be to God, and good men!
END OF VOLUME I.