- 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.)
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.