- 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.)
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.