Arhive pe categorii: Election

THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF VOCATIONAL ELECTION By Forrest L. Keener

THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF VOCATIONAL ELECTION
By Forrest L. Keener
This morning, I am going to bring a message on a subject that you probably, most of you at least, have never heard preached upon. You probably know that this truth exists, and many of you have learned the doctrine in Sunday evening Bible class, but it is a subject that you may never have heard a message on in your life. It is the subject of The Biblical Doctrine Of Vocational Election. Doesn’t that sound like a mouthful? I do not think it will be boring or dry. It ought to be interesting. Turn to the gospel of Mark, chapter 3, and we will begin to read with verse 9 and read down through verse 15.
„And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.” (Isn’t that strange, that He forbade these to make Him known?) „And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:” And then, he goes on in the following verses and tells us the names of those men, which we will not read this morning.
My text out of this passage is Mark 3:13 and 14. „And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” What a wonderful word is election. Sometimes when it finds itself in a context that involves God, the natural man tends to withdraw from it, but if we think of it outside of that, we love the word election. A synonym to election is choose. We choose to do something, or we elect to do something. We like to choose what we eat. I trust that most of you men out there feel that you got to choose your wife. You are glad that one was not just assigned to you by lot. And you ladies are glad that you got to choose your husband. Now, some of you may feel like the one you really wanted got away, but you know the Lord works in those things, and I hope that you feel like you got to choose. We love to choose. Sometimes when natural men think of God choosing, they want to rob Him of that right. But it does not make any difference, we cannot do that, and God does, indeed, choose. We are familiar with the doctrine of soteriological election, that is, God choosing men unto salvation. The Bible very, very clearly, and repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly teaches that. Not all agree on the basis of that choice but if you do not see election in your Bible, you are not reading your Bible. It is just unavoidably there. But there are other kinds of election. For instance, there is national election. The Bible very clearly shows us and teaches us over, and over, that God chose the nation of Israel. There is also Messianic, or Christological election, that means that God, the trinity, chose Jesus Christ to be the Lamb of God, the Messiah. He was chosen for that office. And it is certainly revealed in the Bible that God deliberately chose Him and Him alone for that work. There is angelic election. The Bible speaks of the elect angels. I do not have time today to enlarge upon any of those subjects, but they are all very clearly set forth in your Bible, and in every one of those places, it is very clearly God who does the choosing, not just the ratifying of someone else’s choice, as some men would like to believe. It is God’s choosing.
Now there is another kind of election that is very important, and that is vocational election. Now you know what a vocation is. That means a job, or an assignment. It means what you do. The Bible teaches us, very clearly, that God has chosen certain men to do certain jobs. They are not all preachers, they are not all pastors. Now, I do not believe that the call to teach a Sunday School class is the same thing as a call to preach. For instance, I believe that God may choose a person, and direct a person to teach a class and later on that direction may be removed. I believe that when God calls a man to preach that does not go away. That is going to stay with him throughout his life, as far as I know. No doubt he may disqualify himself, but that is not a change of divine calling but of qualification. I have never felt any inclination that I had any reason to anticipate ever being released from that call. But it is an important thing that we realize this choice and appointment of God, and
that we study to understand it. As we learn that God has an eternal purpose in which He chose a nation called Israel, and in which He chose a people, called them, predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His Son, as Romans chapter 8, verses 29 and 30, and a lot of other passages, very clearly teach, we should also consider this doctrine of vocational election, or of God calling men to do certain jobs. He calls men to preach. He calls men to go to various mission fields. He called men to be apostles. You will remember that He called twelve men for that purpose. We read about that in the foregoing passage. In the Gospel of Luke chapter 10, we find that He chose and called 70 others, and gave them essentially the same charge as He gave the twelve, then He sent them out to preach. From them came Barnabas, who was directly called an apostle in the Bible, also came Stephen, and Philip the evangelist, and Mathias, who later was named as one of the 12 apostles. There are many others that I could name, that obviously, very clearly, unquestionably came out of that 70 in Luke chapter 10. And then, finally, as Paul describes his call as being one out of due season, God called the Apostle Paul. There were 83 men that the Lord Jesus Christ called to do this apostolic work. It was to them that He gave power to raise the dead, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons. Now that is not a general gift that God gave to everybody who might volunteer to appropriate it. You will never find in your Bible an account of Timothy, or Titus, or any of those men healing a sick person. They did not have that gift. They did not have that authority. They were not told to do that. A lot of people today are going about trying to do things for God, that God has never told them to do. They have the propensity of Simon the Sorcerer.
VOCATIONAL ELECTION IS SOVEREIGN
As we approach this doctrine, we should see first of all, that vocational election is absolutely sovereign. Notice as we read in the text, verses 13 and 14, the Bible says, He called whom He would. What does that mean? It means He called whom He wanted to call, and they came. And from those whom He chose, for there were more there on the mountain than the twelve, He drew out twelve, and, in effect, He said, this is the assignment that I have for you. And so these men were sovereignly chosen individuals out of sovereignly chosen material. This same pattern is seen in the Old Testament. Notice in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 1 and verse 4. These are short verses, so just look with me, and read down through verse 10: Then” the word of the lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” You see God doesn’t give Jeremiah any credit here for his assignment. God did it. He was not a volunteer. „Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” God did that with Jeremiah. God did that with Isaiah. You can go on through the Bible and consistently find that pattern. You will remember that Amos said, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son. I was just a lowly herdsman. God called me. God drew me out of that. In the book of First Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 25 and following, the Scripture tells us how that God has not chosen many wise, He has not chosen many mighty, He has not chosen many noble, but He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the mighty. Now, I want you to know that there is a sense in which I misused those verses. Because the context of First Corinthians chapter 1 is not talking about vocational election. It is not talking about God calling preachers. It is talking about soteriological election. It is talking about God choosing believers and calling believers. Read the last verses of the chapter, you will clearly see that I am telling you the truth about that, and salvation is clearly what it is talking about. But it, nevertheless, applies to vocational election. As God has not chosen wise, and mighty, and noble in His call to salvation, so He has not chosen wise, and mighty, and noble in His call to the ministry. He called fishermen. He called a publican, Matthew. He called men who were considered to be the off-scouring of the earth. He did this sovereignly. I want to tell you something else. It is not just positive, it is also negative. What do I mean by that? I mean there are no volunteers. You had better not be volunteering for the ministry. Don’t do that! Now, I know when you come, you come willingly. I am not taking away from that, but you had better have a call of God. Bro. Steve showed me a card one time, and it said something about being a missionary recruiter, and I laughed. We do not need missionary recruiters. In fact, if there is anything in the world that we do not need, it is missionary recruiters. We do not need preacher recruiters. God must do that! It is a sovereign call of God. It comes from God! This is so very important. Notice in your Bible, in Acts chapter 8 and verse 18.
There was a man by the name of Simon the Sorcerer. Now, you may wonder if Simon the Sorcerer was saved. And whichever side you take, I can take the other side and probably give you a good argument in the other direction, and probably could win the argument. That would not mean that I was right. Just winning an argument does not mean you are right, you know. Sometimes the person who is the poorest arguer may be right. A good arguer may win because of his skill, that does not mean he is right. The Bible says that Simon the Sorcerer believed, and he continued with Philip. But Simon had an idea that was not at all approved of God. Please notice these words in verse number 18 of Acts chapter 8: „And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money. Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Now, he had committed a sin of wanting to buy this with money. But fundamentally he had committed a sin of trying to insinuate himself into something that God had not ordained him to. The apostles had already been called. They had already been chosen, and God had ordained this. You may see a bumper-sticker hanging on the back of some person’s car that says: „There are no draftees in God’s army, they are all volunteers.” That is simply not so. The fact of the matter is that probably, quite the opposite is true. They are all draftees. You be careful about volunteering in God’s army. I do not mean sit back and not do anything. Because there are some things that God has told every single individual in His church to do. Everyone of us has a job to do. I do not have time to get into that, but I mean you don’t try to choose what to do. You let God do His choosing, because He will, and He will do it perfectly.
You know, if I had been calling an apostle to the Gentiles, I sure would not have called Paul. Would you? I mean, think about it, when they stoned Stephen to death, Paul was saying `Away with this man. Kill him!’ He was holding their coats and saying, kill him. Stephen had the credentials, he had the knowledge, he had the attitude and the burden. He had everything that I can think of that would have made him an ideal apostle to the Gentiles. He had the gifts. You can read the 6th chapter and the 7th chapter of Acts, they are all there. But God allowed Stephen to be killed, and yes, God was in control. God did not throw any stones, but He did not kill anybody who was throwing stones. He let them throw the stones. And He could have killed everyone of them, just like He opened the ground and Korah and his whole family fell in. He could have done the very same thing with those people that wanted to stone Stephen. But God allowed it to happen. And the man that was holding the coats of those that stoned Stephen, God called to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Why? He does not tell us why. It is a Sovereign choice on the part of God. This is illustrated as we look at Paul, I am talking about the sovereignty displayed there. Acts chapter 9 and verse 13: „Then Ananias…” Do you know who Ananias was? Not the one who was killed for stealing money, or lying about money, but the one who baptized Paul. „Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:” Isn’t that a smart statement? God said, `Ananias, I want you to go down, to this man by the name of Saul, he is praying, and I want you to baptize him.’ And Ananias said, in effect, `Lord, I don’t guess you have heard about this, but I guess I had better clue you in.’ He said, `I heard about this and I thought I just ought to pass this on to you.’ It is amazing how many people don’t know that God knows. I asked a young preacher, one time, that had just been four years in Bible college, „You do know that God knows everything do you not?” And he said, „I don’t guess I had thought about it.” Isn’t that smart? Four years in Bible college: „I don’t guess I had thought about it.” What are those Bible Colleges teaching? I am not against them but they need to wake-up and teach some fundamental things that these poor students need to know. „I don’t guess I had thought about it.” Well, Yes, He does, He knows everything. He doesn’t learn anything. God never looks and learns. And so Ananias was telling God about this. But notice what the Lord said. Ananias said, `And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.’ But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: (Go do what I told you.) For he, (Now notice this,) he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.’ Isn’t that simple? Ananias, you don’t know anything. Forrest Keener, you don’t know anything. Marcos Rivera, you don’t know anything. All you can know is what God tells you. That’s all! We don’t know anything. We do not know anything. Sometimes I am so amazed and so sad over human presumption. I was reading just yesterday an argument between a couple of preachers on my e-mail, and it was amazing. I think one of these men knew, but the other man was talking about how wrong his opponent was. And the fact of the matter was that he did not even know what the other man was saying. You could listen to his argument and you could tell he does not perceive, he does not understand, he is like somebody that is walking in the dark, he does not understand. And the other man actually believed exactly what this man was arguing for. He believed everything this man was saying. But this man was presenting it as an attack upon what the other man believed, being ignorant of what was being said there. So many times we are like that. God formed us in the womb. And after we came forth He chose us: some to honor and some to dishonor. God chose us vocationally. Now I have to move along very quickly here. I started late, I am going to get through late, but I am going to try to finish the message.
THERE IS A GREAT IMPORTANCE IN VOCATIONAL ELECTION
Secondly, there is a great importance in vocational election. You see what I have given you this morning, I have only given you the fact of vocational election. But it is not just a cold fact. I do not preach much that is intended to just be cold, hard fact. Bible truths are intended to have spiritual application, and implications to them. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and for 6 days we find God acting alone. He did not use anybody else, or anything else. He did not use evolution. He did not use anything else. He did not use time. He did not use anything in the process of that creation for 6 days, and the 7th day God rested. After the 7th day God has very frequently acted vicariously. For instance, God could build an ark better than Noah could, but God did not build an ark. He chose Noah to build the ark. Do you follow what I am talking about? He did not have to have Noah, but He chose Noah to build an ark, and to save him for seed. And He did that sovereignly. Now, you might say that Noah was better than the other men around him. I have news for you, you had better read your Bible. Because the Bible says that Lamech lived after he begat Noah, he lived so many years and he begat sons and daughters. Now, the Bible says that Noah was perfect in his generations. What does that mean? It comes from two Hebrew words that simply mean undefiled descent. Do you know what it means? It means that he was not mixed with the Cainish descendants. He was a Sethite, and was usable as seed, for Christ the true Seed. That is what it means. I do not have time to get into all of that, but that is exactly what it means. Now, I want to ask you something, weren’t the younger brothers and sisters the same way? They were of the same parentage. Noah was not a polygamist. He only had one wife. And his father, Lamech, was not a polygamist. There was a Lamech in the Cainish line that was a polygamist, but not this Lamech. He only had one wife. And these children were just as undefiled in their descent as Noah, but they drowned in the flood. He chose Noah, and Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Why? He does not tell us why, so we do not know why, and I cannot figure out why nor should I speculate on it. If I gave you some virtue in Noah, that justified God’s grace and God’s call, I would prove salvation by works.
God called, chose, and used Abraham, spiritually, to be our father. Abraham had brothers also. Why did God choose Abraham? He does not tell us why. You do not find anything about Abraham’s character, before his call from God, which sets him apart as being different. God sovereignly chose and called him. He used him to father Isaac, and Jacob, and Jacob fathered Judah to be, according to the flesh, the family by which Jesus Christ would become the Son of man. But did you know Jesus was also Abraham’s seed? He was Abraham’s promised seed. God worked that out. He chose him. Notice over in the book of Galatians, Paul says: „…He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” What seed? Abraham’s seed. That is what Paul is talking about there. It is very clear in the context. You can read it at your leisure. He says this seed of Abraham was Jesus Christ. How very important Abraham was in God’s scheme of vocational election.
God chose and made John the Baptist. He had him borne of Elisabeth, who was a barren woman. God chose him. And John the Baptist was chosen to lay the groundwork for God’s church. Don’t ever apologize to anybody for calling your name Baptist. It is a good name: John the Baptist. Don’t let somebody tell you it means John the baptizer. It means just what it says it means. If I were not a Baptist, I would be ashamed. Oh yes, I mean that seriously, but it is by the grace of God that I am a Christian and a Baptist, so I certainly do not have anything to brag about or to be proud of.
He used the 12, I mentioned earlier, and He used the 70, and the Apostle Paul. He chooses men today to carry out His work or to preach His word. God calls out His elect by the use of those He chooses vocationally. A man said to me the other day, down in Little Rock, „You know, my church could never send me to the Philippines, or anything like that, but it seems to me like it would be so wonderful to go, and be able to do a work like that.” I did not really know what to say about it, because it is kind of wonderful and it is also kind of horrible. It is a dreadful thing to leave my wife and family and church and home like that. I mean the three weeks get very long though they happen so fast. This will be the fifth three-week trip that I have taken to the Philippines, and they are torture. They are literally, physical torture, and yet at the same time, it is a wonderful thing. But the fact of the matter is that it is not an issue of my choice, as to whether it is nice, or whether it is not nice. Whether it is comfortable, whether I like the food, whether I like the cow manure in India, whether I like dead fish all over the place, has nothing to do with it. I have no business being there unless God has called me there. And if God has directed me to go there and do a work, I had better not stay away. It is God’s choice. It is sovereignly done. Vocational election is a sovereign appointment of God and a wonderful thing. I must now come to a final point.
THERE IS GREAT COMFORT IN VOCATIONAL ELECTION
That may seem a little strange at first. God chose Stephen, and he was stoned to death. God chose Paul, and he got his head cut off. God chose Peter. and he was, reportedly, crucified upside down. God chose James and he had his head cut off with a sword. Vocational election does not sound like much fun does it? We might think of Stephen, who was stoned to death, we might think of his suffering, or we might think of Paul’s suffering, and we might tend to despair. But I want to tell you something. I feel a lot of comfort in knowing that I am called to preach. I was 25 years old when God called me to preach, just over 25. I was still 24 when God called me, but I was 25 when I made it known openly. And you know, since that time I have to be honest with you, within the first 3 or 4 years of that time, I questioned things about my salvation. I did not doubt for a moment that I was saved at that point in time, but I questioned the time when I had actually been saved. That question existed because of a very sad period of time in my life. But before God, I can truly say, that through all of that I never, nor have I have ever questioned that call to preach. It was the most clear and compelling direction of my life. I could not believe it, for a while, before it was settled and crystalized in my heart. Would God really call a scum-bag like me to preach? Could my wife ever believe that God would call this nothing of a so-called husband that she had married? Could my friends, and my neighbors, and my working acquaintances, ever believe my testimony of a call? But since I settled it I have never for a moment doubted it. Maybe God would call me somewhere where nobody knew me. That would be very wise of Him. Would you believe He left me in the same town, all of my ministry, where I had lived my sinful, wicked life for five years? Yes, God did it, and I know He did it. But do you know something, it means that with my life, by the grace of God, I can do something more important than my life. I do not like to make bad deals. Do you? I hate to go buy a car, or a loaf of bread, I do not care what it is, and walk down the street and see the same thing for less money. I do not like that. I like to feel like that when I put down a price or an investment, that I get back more than it is worth, or at least what it is worth. Because of the call of God, I know that, by His grace, I will get back more than my life is worth. I am not wasting it. It is comforting to me because I know that I am not spending my life for something worth less than my life. Paul said, `Neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I may finish my course with joy.’ I feel no great danger in going to the Philippine Islands, but I will be honest with you, if I believed that I would never get on a plane and fly back out of Manila, I would still have to go. I just do not feel like I would have any real choice. I would just have to go, because I believe God has directed me to do that. `Neither count I my life dear to myself,’ there is comfort in that. That should not be an alarming thing. With Paul we should say, `that I may finish my course with joy.’ When God has given us something to do, and when we have settled with God in that matter, it is alright. It is just okay, because whatever happens, you just cannot lose.
Joseph said, `I die, but God will visit you. He will bring you out of Egypt, and when He does, take my bones with you.’ I am dying too, and so are you. We are going down the valley one by one. We are all going to die. But isn’t it wonderful if we can know that when we do, our life was not wasted. It will be good to know it was not spent on the flesh, it was not thrown away on things that go into the ground with us. All of us are going to die. But if we are chosen to a service for God, and in some sense all Christians are, we cannot possibly lose. Isn’t it nice to know, you cannot lose? You can only win! Stephen did not lose his life. Did you know that? He did not lose his life. He did not lose his life! He invested it in a wonderful way. And down through thousands of years now, almost two thousand years, this man’s testimony has inspired, and stayed and stabilized millions of people. He did not lose his life, he invested it. And so it is with you and me, when God has called us to something, we invest our lives, we are not throwing our lives away.
How many of you folks know who Adoniram Judson was? Adoniram Judson was the first missionary that was ever sent from the shores of the United states to a foreign country. Incidently, Adoniram Judson was a strict sovereign grace man, as was William Cary, as was Hudson Taylor, as was David Brainard, the man who burned his life up working with the American Indians. He was Jonathan Edward’s son-in-law. But Adoniram Judson left the United States and he went to a country called Burma. There he worked all the rest of his life. His wife, after years of faithful service, lost her health, their children died, and soon his wife died. He came back to the United States and stayed just a short time. He took another wife back to the field with him, and she died. He came back and took another wife back to the field with him but she did not die on the field, he did. He became very, very sick after many, many years of service there. And because of the corruption of the whole land, because of the filth and everything of that land, his lungs were infected, and in desperation, at the doctor’s advice, he took a voyage. He went to sea to try to get some clean air, hoping that his lungs would clear, but they did not, and he died. He died alone with no family present. They took his body and wrapped it in a blanket, and a little before daylight one morning they just pushed his body out of a porthole and let it fall into the sea. Nobody but God knows exactly where he fell. It was just wherever the ship was at that given time. But Adoniram Judson did not lose his life, he invested it. God used it in a tremendous way.
Consider Paul, he preached Christ faithfully, and every time he opened his mouth, somebody slapped him in it. They put him in jail. They beat him. He was whipped like a horse. But do you know something? From those stripes came praise, echoing through those prisons. From those prisons came First and Second Corinthians, and I could go on and give you many other books of our Bible that came out of Paul’s persecution. John, the Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, was exiled to an island. He was really put out to die of starvation, on the Isle of Patmos. For what reason? For preaching the gospel. But from the Isle of Patmos came the book of Revelation. What I am saying is this, that in these cases there is great comfort because we who are called of God can neither live or die in vain. Isn’t that good? We do not live in vain, we do not die in vain, when we are walking in the vocation wherein the Lord has called us.
Now listen, we are different vessels, we are not all alike. Everyone of us has clay feet. Everyone of us has weaknesses, but everyone of us also has strengths that are ordained of God. We need to understand that God has purposes for us, and if we want to get the most out of life, if we want to be the happiest we can be, if we want to be the most productive we can be, we do not need to have a lot of psychological training and a lot of ideas from men. We need to have one simple thing and that is a submissive question in our heart and mind, „Lord what will thou have me to do?” That is simple enough isn’t it? There is not a lot of figuring out, not a lot of getting other men’s advice, but Lord what will thou have me to do?
We need to do something else along the way. I was thinking about this while I was preparing this message. I noticed in the book of Psalms, passage to which I have heard preacher after preacher, appeal on his own behalf, for instance, when the congregation, or someone in it, was giving him a hard time. I praise God you folks are not accustomed to do that to me. You are constantly so gracious, and you have been a loving, wonderful people for so many years now. But I have heard so many preachers, when the congregation was giving them a hard time, quote that Scripture that says, „Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” Oh yes, they are right and it applies to that very thing which they are talking about, and they are using it rightly. But something that has devastated me through the last several years is that I see preachers who would appeal to that for self-defense, who some how never seem to apply it to themselves. Who should hear that any more than the preacher? „Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” God help Forrest Keener never again to be the critic of other men whom God has called. Now if I can say in my heart, I am fully persuaded that the man is a heretic, and that God has not called him to preach, and that he is not God’s man, then I may criticize him to my heart’s content. But as long as I must say, „With all of his failures, and all of his flaws, he is a God- called man,” I had better keep my voice silent about him, and so had we all. But that is not true just with preachers, that is true with everyone of us. God has made us differing vessels. We are different. We are all earthen vessels. We are all made out of the same old clay. He has chosen different ones to do different things. Thus He has sovereignly bestowed individual strengths, and permitted certain weaknesses. If God is God, all that is within divine ordination. If we respect the choices and callings of God in these matters, then we had better respect the chosen of God in our churches. I am talking about everybody in the pew. I am talking about everyone in the pulpit. We need to respect God’s vocational election, for if we rebel against that, we rebel against God. May God guide us into humility and right conduct in these matters. Let us stand together with our heads bowed.

Two Kinds of Vessels Milburn Cockrell

Two Kinds of Vessels
Milburn Cockrell
„Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against 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 unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:20-23).
Very few preachers living today will ever dare to read these verses in their churches, much less give an honest exposition of them to their people. If their members inquire about these verses most preachers will try to explain away their plain sense. We live in a time when Arminianism has gained the upperhand of the theological world. Very few preachers can be found who really and truly believe in sovereign grace and will preach it to their people. Even most so-called sovereign gracers are in truth Calminians.
Those who fear God and take the words of the Bible seriously can see that these verses teach election and reprobation according to Gods sovereignty. Here is seen the greatness of the Creator and the nothingness of the creature. Gods will is supreme and right in eternity and time. In an unusual manner, Paul clears God from any charge of cruelty and unmercifulness by observing His conduct in time toward both the elect and the reprobate.
VESSELS OF WRATH
In the first two verses God is represented as the Potter, and men as clay in His hands (Isa. 64:8; Jer. 18:1-6). As the potter has power over the clay to shape it in what form he pleases, so God has unlimited power over His creatures to make from the same lump of human clay vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy. No truly saved person challenges that right of God. Rather, he most reverently bows to it as the Scripture of truth. What would the ability to fashion be worth, if God were under the dictation of that which is to be fashioned?
I understand by „vessels of wrath” vessels which are destined to be objects of wrath, or vessels to be filled up with Gods wrath (Isa. 51:20). In I Thessalonians 5:9 Paul said: „For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” These words suggest that God did appoint some to wrath who are called in my text „vessels of wrath.”
Here is seen the doctrine of reprobation or rejection. Although this doctrine is sparingly mentioned in the Bible, it most assuredly is taught in my text and in other places. If God chose some to salvation (II Thess. 2:13), then common sense teaches us that others were unchosen. In Romans 11:7 Paul said: „. . .the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” In John 13:18 Christ said: „I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen,” implying some were not chosen. According to John 17:6 the Father gave Christ a people „out of the world.” Then there must be a world not given to Christ (II Peter 2:5; I John 5:19), and for which He will not pray (John 17:9). There can be no election without reprobation, for reprobation is the negative side of election.
The Divine decree of the rejection of some men is twofold: preterition and predamnation. Preterition is a mere leaving of the creature out of the bounds of Gods election. Predamnation is Gods appointment of the non-elect to everlasting wrath. Preterition is negative; predamnation is positive. Preterition is God withholding His grace to which no man has a claim. Predamnation is God considering man as a guilty sinner who deserved condemnation and wrath.
The words, „the same lump,” speaks of man as lying in the mere mass of creatorship, pictured by unformed clay before being put into shape. While in this state some were rejected. God left them as He found them in the pure mass before they had done either good or evil (Rom. 9:11). This was an act of Gods sovereign will and pleasure. That is why Paul starts out by saying: „What if God, willing to shew his wrath. . .” God had a greater right to do this than any earthly potter.
Predamnation is Gods appointment of men Who He passed over to punishment for their sins (Jude 4). God gave some „over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom. 1:28). In Psalm 81:12 God said He „gave them up unto their own hearts lusts.” The reprobate God left in their natural condition of enmity against God. He denied these the grace that could have cured their depraved hearts (Ezek. 36:26-27; Matt. 11:25-26). These are given up to believe a lie and be damned (II Thess. 2:10-12). Such wicked persons are „reserved to the day of destruction” and „shall be brought forth to the day of wrath” (Job 21:30). Job 20:29 says: „This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.”
FITTED TO DESTRUCTION
Some make the words, „fitted to destruction,” to be a verbal adjective, or to mean fit for destruction. This leaves undetermined the agency by which this fitness is effected. This allows man to fit himself for destruction. It also permits one to escape supralapsarianism.
It cannot be denied that there is a sense in which men fit themselves for destruction. Hosea 13:9 says: „O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself. . .” Proverbs 6:32 reads: „But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” In Romans 2:5 we are told: „But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (cf. Hos. 14:1; I Thess. 2:16). There is also a sense in which Satan fits men for destruction (Luke 8:12; II Cor. 4:3-4). But I do not believe that Romans 9:22 points to the sinner or Satan.
The best interpretation is to allow the full participal force which makes the vessels of wrath prepared by God for destruction. The word „fitted” in the Greek is katartizo, and it means „to fit, to frame, to prepare.” This sense is demanded by the context. God is compared to a potter who makes one vessel to honor and another to dishonor. The vessels do not make themselves. So it is God who prepares some for wrath and some for mercy. As I have already shown, the object of predestination is man as lying in the mere mass of creatorship, signified by unformed clay before being put into shape. There is probably an allusion to the creation of Adam out of the dust of the ground. The word „Adam” means „red earth” or clay.
The words, „the same lump,” points to men not created, much less viewed as fallen creatures. If men were viewed here as fallen creatures, they could not be said to be made out of the same lump both to honor and dishonor. Rather, it would have been said that all were dishonorable and some were left in dishonor and some were made honorable. But this is not what the passage says. Paul tells us God made out of „the same lump” some to honor and others to dishonor.
We must not suppose that God created man without a purpose. This is contrary to His attribute of wisdom. God first fixed the end for mans creation and then determined the means to create him. No wise potter would first make his pots and then decide for what use he made them. The truth in my text is that God made some of His creatures to honor and some to dishonor out of „the same lump” of human kind for His own glory. This glory He determined to bring about by different means. With respect to the vessels of honor, He determined to create them, to permit them to fall in Adam, to recover them by the obedience and sufferings of Christ, and to bring them to glory. This glorified His mercy and grace in a way consistent with His own glory. With respect to the vessels of wrath, He determined to create them, to suffer them to fall in Adam, to leave them in their sins, to condemn them in their sins, and to punish them with wrath. This was designed to glorify His justice and longsuffering without the least blemish on His mercy and goodness.
No right-thinking person denies that an earthly potter of the same lump of clay can make one vessel to ornament the house and another for some base use. Originally the two were the same thing–clay. The potter determined their destination. If an earthly potter has the power to make out of the same clay the kind of vessels he pleases, much more God has this power, out of the same lump of creatorship, to appoint creatures He determined to make for His own glory, to be vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy.
In what sense did God fit the wicked to destruction? He did not by positive action infuse sin into the vessels of wrath. This would be contrary to His holiness and purity. This would make Him the author of sin. God certainly did not infuse hardness and rebellion into the hearts of the vessels of wrath. God may be said to have fitted men to destruction in a twofold sense only. First, by leaving them outside of the bounds of His election. Second, by appointing before hand to punish them for their sins. If there is no injustice in God punishing sins, it cannot be unjust for Him to determine to do this before hand.
God did not appoint any unto destruction but for sin. Nevertheless, though sin is the cause of damnation and death, the thing decreed, it is not the cause of the decree itself. It is the cause of the thing willed, but not the moving cause of Gods will. Nothing outside of God can move His will. Therefore, His decree of reprobation is traceable to His good pleasure. If sin were the cause of the decree, then all would have been rejected because all fell in Adam!
„Destruction” does not mean cessation of being as false prophets teach. It is the end of all hopes and enjoyment. It means eternal imprisonment in Hell and being shut up to everlasting darkness. It means to be the companions of the Devil and demons for eternity. It points to an eternal visitation of Divine anger in flaming fire from the presence of the Lord Himself (II Thess. 1:7-9). It involves a final withdrawal of all long suffering as well as everlasting punishment upon the bodies of the damned!
THE PURPOSE OF THIS
Two reasons are given as to why God shows His wrath upon some. First, it was because God is willing to show His wrath. The punishment upon these vessels of wrath will be made an occasion of Gods exhibition of His holy anger againt sin. His hatred of sin is absolute, and the vessels of wrath will be made to experience it to the fullest extent. The entrance of sin into the world was necessary to manifest Gods wrath and hatred for sin. He tolerates sin in the world for the very purpose of glorifying Himself in its punishment.
Second, it was to „make his power known.” This truth is illustrated in the case of Pharoah (Rom. 9:17). The power of God is what punishes men for their sins. Their destruction proceeds from „the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:9). The eternal damnation of some sinners will demonstrate to the universe the power of God. Sin in its nature is a dishonor to God, but He overrules it so as to turn the destruction of the wicked to His glory. This is a most wonderful display of Divine power to men and angels.
LONGSUFFERING WITH THE NON-ELECT
The words, „endured with much longsuffering,” reveal the patience of God with the reprobate. He suffers these ungrateful rebels to live while they deserve to die. He prolongs their lives and gives them space to repent though they are fitted to destruction. Short-sighted mortals believe God should cut off the wicked in childhoods. But God in His longsuffering endures them to old age until they are ripe for ruin. In their condemnation and punishment God will be glorified.
The Scripture says in Proverbs 16:4: „The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” „For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. . . .Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (Rom. 9:15,18).
VESSELS OF MERCY
Verse 23 of Romans 9 mentions „vessels of mercy.” This means men toward whom Gods mercy was to be displayed. These vessels would receive mercy when in a miserable state of sin and wickedness. They were destined to be objects of Gods mercy, not because they deserved mercy more than others, but because God had purposed to fill them with His mercy. This mercy is an act of Gods sovereignty because He says: „I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. . . .So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:15-16). The vessels of wrath „shall have judgment without mercy” (Jas. 2:13), but the vessels of mercy have „obtained mercy of the Lord” (I Cor. 7:25; cf. I Tim. 1:16; II Tim. 1:18; I Pet. 2:10). These vessels of mercy are not saved by their good works, but they are saved „according to his mercy” (Tit. 3:5). They can approach the throne of grace and „obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Their hope of everlasting happiness is the hope that they „may find mercy of the Lord in that day” (II Tim. 1:18).
BEFORE PREPARED TO GLORY
God Himself has prepared them to glory, or predestined them to glory (Rom. 8:29-30). None of the elect will enter glory until they are prepared for it by God in a way consistent with His holiness and justice. God, as the Master Potter, fashions the vessels of mercy unto glory. They were given by the Father to Christ, and Christ will bring „many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10). This is why the elect „obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Tim. 2:10). Even their afflictions suffered in this world works for them „an eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17). It is in this hope of glory that they now rejoice (Rom. 5:2).
Mark carefully the word „afore” or „before.” In time God creates them in Christ Jesus; He renews their hearts; He sanctifies their souls by His mercy, making them fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. He prepares men for Heaven before they reach Heaven. In all of this God is free of blame and censure.
THE RICHES OF HIS GLORY
To the vessels of wrath God makes „his power known,” but to the vessels of mercy He makes „known the riches of his glory.” To them He reveals the glorious riches of the perfections of His nature and in His arranging for their salvation in Christ. With much longsuffering God restrains His wrath against the wicked that He might make known by calling and justification the riches of His glory on the elect which He has prepared to eternal glory. The awful ruin of the reprobate is necessary for the full display of the riches of Divine mercy in saving the elect.
CONCLUSION
1. In the context there are two examples of vessels of mercy: Jacob (Rom. 9:11-13) and Moses (Rom. 9:15). There are two examples of vessels of wrath: Esau (Rom. 9:13) and Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17).
2. Men are not passed over by God because of their sins, for if this be true all would have been passed over. Both election and reprobation are owing to Gods good pleasure. „(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:11-13).
3. The reprobates have no right to complain because they were not chosen to salvation but appointed to wrath. God is under no obligation to exercise mercy toward any person. He could have justly left the elect as well as the non-elect to perish in their sins. Had He been pleased to do so, He would have still been the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The wicked are treated as they deserve to be treated. All are ill-deserving and undeserving. None have any claim on God, for His will is the only rule for His mercy. God in His sovereignty has power to dispose of His creature according to His good pleasure, either to choose or refuse, according to the counsel of His own will. Job 33:13 says: „. . .for he giveth not account of any of his matters.”
4. The only reason that any are saved from the destruction of sin and Hell and brought to glory is the mercy of God. It is not due to education or the power of religious example. It is not by some acts of righteousness such as baptism or the Lords Supper. It is because the Lord delights in mercy, not because any deserve it. The elect do not fit themselves for glory. They are not only before prepared unto glory, but it is God who prepares them!
5. All the heathen religions in the world and all forms of Arminian Christianity teach that man is his own savior and that he is the determiner of his own destiny. The Bible teaches that God determines mans destiny and that salvation is owing to the mercy and will of God so that no flesh can glory in the Lords presence. Man can only throw himself upon Gods mercy. He can only say: „God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). I believe that I heard some person say, „I hate such a doctrine. It is damnable heresy. It deprives man of any glory in his own salvation.” To such an objector I would ask as did the Apostle Paul: „Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

THE MEANING OF „KOSMOS” IN JOHN 3:16 A. W. Pink

The following article was Appendix A from A. W. Pink’s book on the Sovereignty of God. Here Pink explains the Greek word kosmos (world) and its various uses in the New Testament. The intent of the article is to show that in the Greek, the word „world,” does not necessarily mean the „whole” world [bold script by the Baptist Trumpeter] (ed.).
THE MEANING OF „KOSMOS” IN JOHN 3:16
A. W. Pink

It may appear to some of our readers that the exposition we have given of John 3:16 in the chapter on „Difficulties and Objections” is a forced and unnatural one, inasmuch as our definition of the term „world” seems to be out of harmony with the meaning and scope of this word in other passages, where, to supply the world of believers (God’s elect) as a definition of „world” would make no sense. Many have said to us, „Surely, ‘world’ means world, that is, you, me, and everybody.” In reply we would say: We know from experience how difficult it is to set aside the „traditions of men” and come to a passage which we have heard explained in a certain way scores of times, and study it carefully for ourselves without bias Nevertheless, this is essential if we would learn the mind of God.
Many people suppose they already know the simple meaning of John 3:16, and therefore they conclude that no diligent study is required of them to discover the precise teaching of this verse. Needless to say, such an attitude shuts out any further light which they otherwise might obtain on the passage. Yet, if anyone will take a Concordance and read carefully the various passages in which the term „world” (as a translation of „kosmos”) occurs, he will quickly perceive that to ascertain the precise meaning of, the word „world” in any given passage is not nearly so easy as is popularly supposed. The word „kosmos,” and its English equivalent „world,” is not used with a uniform significance in the New Testament. Very far from it. It is used in quite a number of different ways. Below we will refer to a few passages where this term occurs, suggesting a tentative definition in each case:
„Kosmos” is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts 17: 24 – „God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth.” is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts 17: 24 – „God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth.”
„Kosmos” is used of the earth: John 13:1; Eph. 1:4, etc., etc.- „When Jesus knew that his hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world He loved them unto the end.” „Depart out of this world” signifies, leave this earth. „According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” This expression signifies, before the earth was founded—compare Job 38:4 etc.
„Kosmos” is used of the world-system: John 12:31 etc. „Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the Prince of this world be cast out”— compare Matt. 4:8 and I John 5:19, R. V.
„Kosmos” is used of the whole human race: Rom. 3: 19, etc.—”Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
„Kosmos” is used of humanity minus believers: John 15:18; Rom. 3:6 „If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Believers do not „hate” Christ, so that „the world” here must signify the world of unbelievers in contrast from believers who love Christ. „God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world.” Here is another passage where „the world” cannot mean „you, me, and everybody,” for believers will not be „judged” by God, see John 5:24. So that here, too, it must be the world of unbelievers which is in view. is used of humanity minus believers: John 15:18; Rom. 3:6 „If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Believers do not „hate” Christ, so that „the world” here must signify the world of unbelievers in contrast from believers who love Christ. „God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world.” Here is another passage where „the world” cannot mean „you, me, and everybody,” for believers will not be „judged” by God, see John 5:24. So that here, too, it must be the world of unbelievers which is in view.
„Kosmos” is used of Gentiles in contrast from Jews: Rom. 11:12 etc. „Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israel’s) fullness.” Note how the first clause in italics is defined by the latter clause placed in italics. Here, again, „the world” cannot signify all humanity for it excludes Israel!
„Kosmos” is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16, 17; 6:33; 12;47; I Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19. We leave our readers to turn to these passages, asking them to note, carefully, exactly what is said and predicated of „the world” in each place. is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16, 17; 6:33; 12;47; I Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19. We leave our readers to turn to these passages, asking them to note, carefully, exactly what is said and predicated of „the world” in each place.
Thus it will be seen that „kosmos” has at least seven clearly defined different meanings in the New Testament. It may be asked, Has then God used a word thus to confuse and confound those who read the Scriptures? We answer, No! nor has He written His Word for lazy people who are too dilatory, or too busy with the things of this world, or, like Martha, so much occupied with „serving,” they have no time and no heart to „search” and „study” Holy Writ! Should it be asked further, But how is a searcher of the Scriptures to know which of the above meanings the term „world” has in any given passage? The answer is: This may be ascertained by a careful study of the context, by diligently noting what is predicated of „the world” in each passage, and by prayer fully consulting other parallel passages to the one being studied. The principal subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the Gift of God. The first clause tells us what moved God to „give” His only begotten Son, and that was His great „love;” the second clause informs us for whom God „gave” His Son, and that is for, „whosoever (or, better, ‘every one’) believeth;” while the last clause makes known why God „gave” His Son (His purpose), and that is, that everyone that believeth „should not perish but have everlasting life.” That „the world” in John 3:16 refers to the world of believers (God’s elect), in contradistinction from „the world of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:5), is established, unequivocally established, by a comparison of the other passages which speak of God’s „love.” „God commendeth His love toward US”—the saints, Rom. 5:8. „Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth”—every son, Heb. 12:6. „We love Him, because He first loved US”—believers, I John 4:19. The wicked God „pities” (see Matt. 18:33). Unto the unthankful and evil God is „kind” (see Luke 6:35). The vessels of wrath He endures „with much long-suffering” (see Rom. 9:22). But „His own” God „loves”!!

THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION By JAMES PETEGRU BOYCE

THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
By JAMES PETEGRU BOYCE (1827-1888)
Founder and first president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville); president of the Southern Baptist Convention 1872 – 1879, 1888. Boyce is regarded as one of the outstanding Baptist theologians of the nineteenth century.
THE CALVINISTIC THEORY
1. THEORY STATED. The theory of Calvinists as to election is that God (not man) of to his own purpose (in accordance with his will, and not from any obligation man, nor because of any will of man), has from eternity (the period of God’s action, not in time in which man acts), determined to save (not has actually saved, but simply determined so to do, and to save, not merely to confer gospel or church privileges upon) a definite number of mankind (not the whole race, nor indefinitely merely some of them, nor indefinitely a certain proportionate part; but a definite number), as individuals (not the whole or part of the race, nor of a nation, nor of a church, nor of a class, as of believers or the pious; but individuals), not for or merit or work of theirs, nor of any value to him of them (not because of any for their good works, or their holiness, or excellence, or their faith, or their spiritual sanctification, although the choice is to a salvation attained through faith and sanctification; nor for their value to him, though their salvation tends greatly to the manifested glory of his grace); was but of his good pleasure (simply because he pleased so to choose).
An analysis of the foregoing statement will show that this theory holds as to election, that:
1. It is an act of God, and not in any sense the result of the choice of the elect.
2. It has been with God an eternal purpose.
3. It is an election to salvation, and not to outward privileges.
4. This election, or choice, is one of individuals and not of classes.
5. It was made without respect to the action or merits of the persons elected.
6. It was made simply according to God’s own good pleasure.
2. PROOF. Whether we should believe this doctrine or not depends entirely upon whether it is taught in the Scriptures. We have no other possible way of knowing anything upon the subject. We must therefore look to the Scriptures alone for the truth.
Before proceeding, however, with the direct proof that the doctrine of election, as stated above, is taught in the Scriptures it should be remarked that the words election and elect are used in the word of God in various senses. They sometimes signify a choice to office, whether made by man or God. Compare: Luke 16: 13 (Christ’s choice of the twelve apostles), Acts 1:21-26 (the selection of an apostle in the place of Judas), Acts 9:15 (Saul as a chosen vessel), I Peter 2:6-3 (Christ spoken of as the cornerstone, elect, precious, etc.). They sometimes signify the choice of Israel to their peculiar national privilege of being the chosen, or separated, people of God: „The God of this people Israel chose our fathers” (Acts 13:17). Again they are used of a choice of salvation made by an individual: „Mary hath chosen the good part which shall not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42).
But in a large majority of cases these words have reference to the choice of salvation either in the purpose of God or the act of choice by God.
We will now take up the proof that the words are used in this last sense. Our aim will be to sustain, point by point, the doctrine of election as stated above.
Election an act of God, and not in any sense the result of the choice of the elect. The inquiry here is not an inquiry into the reason for the election, but simply as to the agent. The simple question now is, Does God choose the elect? We are not concerned at this point whether it is of his own purpose, or because he foresees that they will believe, or for any other reason. The sole question now is, Is the election an act of God? The fact on this point would appear more clearly if we were to exchange the common word choice or chosen with the equivalent word elect. The following passages are sufficient, although the examples are far more numerous.
• John 13: 18: „I know whom I have chosen.”
• John 15:16: „Ye did not choose me but I chose you” (not to their offices as apostles but) „that ye should go and bear fruit.”
• Rom. 8:33: „Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s chosen ones?”
• Rom. 9:15: „I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.”
• Eph. 1:4: „Even as he chose us in him.”
• Eph. 1:11: „Having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will.”
• 2 Thess. 2:13: „God chose you from the beginning unto salvation.”
(2) Election and eternal purpose or choice, on God’s part. Another important fact to be shown is the eternity of election in opposition to the idea that it was in time. The proof on this point is two fold. There are passages which show that the election took place before existence in this world or before the world began, and there are those which actually declare that it was eternal. Between the two classes of passages there is really, however, very little difference, as from the nature of the case, what took place before time must have been in eternity, and besides, the object of proof of an eternal election is simply to show that it was not dependent on human action, but simply on the will of God alone.
a. Those which show that the election took place before man’s existence, or before the world began:
• Jer. 1:5: „Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee.”
• Matt. 25:34: „Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
• Eph: 1:4: „Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.”
• 2 Thess. 2:13: „But we are bound to give thanks to God alway for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto Salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”
• Compare also the language used as to the names written in the Lamb’s book of life. Rev. 13:8: „And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him (that is the beast), every one whose name has not been written in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world.”
• Rev. 17:8: „And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, they whose name hath not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast how that he was, and is not, and shall come.”
• Referring to the adherents of the Lamb as persons „with him,” it is said in verse 14, „They that are with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
• Rev. 21:27: „And there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
b. The passages which distinctly declare that this, which may be thus inferred to have been an eternal election, is really such:
• Eph. 3:11: „According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
• 2 Tirn. 1:9: „Who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal.”
(3) Election to salvation, and not to mere external privileges. The next point to be proved is that this is an election to salvation, and not to mere external privileges. This is proved by such passages as the following:
• John 10:26: „Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.” Verse 27: „My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
• Rom. 3:28-30: „We know that to them that love God al1 things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.” Paul now proceeds to tell who these are. „For whom he foreknew he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” This passage shows that foreknowledge foreordination to holiness, calling, justification, and a state of glory, are inseparably connected, and hence that the election from which they proceed is to salvation.
• Eph. 1:4-9: This passage speaks of our being chosen before the foundation of the vorld, „That we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him.”
• 2 Thess. 2:13: After referring to others who were to have the same outward privileges, but upon whom God would send strong delusion, the apostle says in this verse, „For we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, for that God chosen you from the beginning unto salvation” etc.
• I Peter 5:10: „The God of all grace who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ,” etc. Here the apostle is speaking of that effectual calling, which is the result of election, and tells us that it is a call unto eternal glory.
(4) An election of individuals and not of classes. This position needs to be explained. It is not denied that the elect that are to be true believers, and that true believers are the elect. The character of the elect does not, therefore, enter into this question. The issue is simply, Does God choose all who shall believe? and are they as such his elect? or, Does he choose his elect, and will they, as such, believe? Is belief the result of God’s election, or is God’s election the result of man’s faith? Upon this point the proof is very clear:
• Acts 14:48: „As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” This is a historical statement made subsequent to the event, not by man’s knowledge, but by inspiration.
• Eph: 1:4, 5: „Even as he chose us in him . . . having foreordained us unto adoption as sons.”
• 2 Thess. 2:13: „But we are bound to give thanks to God alway for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Here the choice is made to salvation, and the means to salvation, sanctification and faith are indicated, no prerequisite or means being stated as to election. It is not as believers that they are elected, but as elected, that they are saved.
• Rom. 8:29: „Whom he foreknew he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son.” The foreknowledge here is of persons, not of personal acts, not of those whose faith he fore-knew, nor, as would be essential to their theory, is it of the class of believers as such. The Arminian theory would require the substitution of the words „as believers,” or „you as believers,” instead of those which are used.
It is not, therefore, to the class of believers, but to individuals, that election refers. But, it may be asked, does it not refer to them in that character? Did not God choose those whose faith he foresaw? This will be fully answered before this discussion is closed.
(5) Without respect to the action or merits of the persons elected. This is merely a negative form of the same fact stated by the next point affirmatively. It is better therefore, to unite this with the succeeding one, which is,
(6) Simply according to God’s own good pleasure. The last point to be noticed in this theory is that the election was made through the mere good pleasure of God. Of course it is not meant that God acted arbitrarily or capriciously in electing certain persons out of the universal ruin to make them objects of his special constraining grace. God never acts without good and sufficient reasons. And if God had seen fit to tell us why he chose some, with the purpose that whatever the rest might do, these at least should certainly be brought to salvation, we should, doubtless magnify and extol his wisdom in so electing. But he has not seen fit thus to explain. He has acted of his own sovereign will, according to his own good pleasure. One thing we do know. he has not made the election because of any action or merits of the persons elected. He has made it because, as sovereign, he had the right so to make it, and because, for reasons satisfactory to himself, it was his good pleasure to do so.
Several classes of passages may be cited in proof of this point. Some of these simply affirm a choice by God’s sovereign will; others, while asserting this, also deny merit in those elected; and still others represent the fact of sovereignty by asserting a choice of such persons as would not ordinarily be chosen. The following are some of the passages which prove these points:
a. Such as simply assert sovereign will.
• Such are Matt. 24:40-41 and Luke 17:33-36. These declare the sovereign choice of God by showing such choice exercised as to persons in the same situation, so that the one shall be taken and the other left; „two men on one bed”; „two women grinding at the mill”; „two men shall be in the field”; one of each shall be taken and the other left.
• John 3:3-8: Regeneration is here spoken of as essential to entrance into the kingdom of God. This precedes any act on which election is said by any to depend Yet the sovereignty of God in this is declared in verse 8: „The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
• John 6:37, 39, 44, 64, 65: „All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me . . This is the will of him that sent me, that of all that which he hath given me I should lose nothing No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him…. Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.”
• John 15:16: „Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit.” The object to be attained cannot be the cause.
• John 17:2: „As thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that whatsoever thou hast given him to them he should give eternal life.” (See also verse 6-12).
• Acts 22:14: Ananias says to Paul, „The God of our fathers bath appointed thee to know his will.”
• Eph. 1:5: In the fourth verse having referred to God’s choice of us before the foundation of the world, he says in this fifth verse: „Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” In verse 11 we are said to be predestinated to our inheritance „according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will.”
• James 1:18: „Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.”
b. Such as deny merit in the persons elected as well as assert the sovereign choice of God. Ezek. 36:32: In this passage after describing the blessings connect ed with the new dispensation and the gift of the Spirit and the new heart which he would give them, gifts which the Calvinistic theory regards as the result of election, but which the Arminian maintains to be its cause, God adds: „Not for your sakes do I this saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your ways, 0 house of Israel.”
• John 1:11-13: „He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
• In Rom. 9:11-16 election is illustrated by the case of the twins „The children being not yet born, neither having done anything, good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth . . . So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
• Rom. 11:5, 6: „Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. But if it is by grace, it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.”
c. Such as so describe the persons chosen. as to imply this. Matt. 11:25, 26: „At that season Jesus answered and said, I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and under-standing and didst reveal them unto babes; yea, Father, for so it was well pleasing in thy sight.”
• Luke 4:25-27: Christ illustrates this sovereignty of God by mentioning that many widows had been in Israel, yet had only a heathen widow been blessed; and again many lepers cured. „Of a truth I say unto you, There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah . . . and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but only to Zarepath in the land of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
• Acts 26:12-23: Paul’s description of his personal condition at his conversion shows that God chose him not for his merits but from his own good pleasure.
• I Cor. 1:26-30: „For behold your calling, brethren, how that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea, and the things that are not, that he might bring to naught the things that are, that no flesh should glory before God. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,” etc.
• Gal. 1:15, 16: Paul says, „When it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me even from my mother’s womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach,” etc.
• Eph. 2:1-13: The desciption of the condition of those who were dead in trespasses ,and sins, and in that state were quickened, proves that the quickening and salvation was due to no merit of their own.
The tests thus exhibited under these three classes prove conclusively that not on account of their own merits, but because of the good pleasure of God, does he choose men. They have been presented at some length, because this is after all the point upon which all that is important in this controversy turns. For, although other matters are equally essential to the doctrine, the whole opposition arises from an unwillingness on the part of man to recognize the sovereignty of God, and to ascribe salvation entirely to grace.
This proof, however, has been by no means exhausted, the attempt having been to select some only of the numerous passages, and mainly such as from their conciseness allow of presentation in full. Let the Scriptures be read with reference to this doctrine, and every passage marked which indicates God’s dealing with men as an absolute sovereign, and also every declaration which ascribes election or the fruits of it to his choice and not to the will or acts of men, and every illustration afforded that this is God’s usual method, and it will appear that scarcely any book of Scripture will fail to furnish testimony to the fact that in the acts of grace, no less than those of providence, God „doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.” (Dan. 4:3-5)
(Taken from ABSTRACT OF SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY by J. P. Boyce, now out of print.)

Editors Note: This article, in it’s entirty, was copied from „The Biblical and Historical Faith of Baptists on God’s Sovereignty”

REPROBATION ASSERTED

REPROBATION ASSERTED:
OR,
THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL ELECTION AND REPROBATION PROMISCUOUSLY HANDLED, IN ELEVEN CHAPTERS.

WHEREIN THE MOST MATERIAL OBJECTIONS MADE BY THE OPPOSERS OF THIS DOCTRINE, ARE FULLY ANSWERED; SEVERAL DOUBTS REMOVED, AND SUNDRY CASES OF CONSCIENCE RESOLVED.

BY JOHN BUNYAN OF BEDFORD, A LOVER OF PEACE AND TRUTH.

‘What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.’—Romans 11:7

London: Printed for G. L., and are to be sold in Turn-stile-alley,
in Holbourn. Small 4to, 44 pages.

EDITOR’S ADVERTISEMENT.

This valuable tract was first published without a date, but according to Doe’s List, about the year 1674, and has never been reprinted in a separate volume; it appeared in only one edition of the collected works of John Bunyan—that with the notes by Ryland and Mason; and in his select works, published in America in 1832. No man could have been better qualified to write upon the subject of reprobation than Bunyan.—His extraordinary knowledge of, and fervent attachment to, the holy oracles, peculiarly fitted him with unwavering verity to display this doctrine of divine truth. He was incapable of any misrepresentation with a view of concealing what fallen reason might deem a deformity, or to render the doctrines of the cross palatable to mankind. His object is to display the truth, and then humbly to submit to the wisdom of God, and zealously to vindicate it. There is no subject which more fully displays our fallen nature, than that of reprobation. All mankind agree in opinion, that there ever has been an elect, or good class of society; and a reprobate, or worthless and bad class; varying in turpitude or in goodness to a great extent and in almost imperceptible degrees. All must unite in ascribing to God that divine foreknowledge that renders ten thousand years but as one day, or hour, or moment in his sight. All ascribe to his omnipotence the power to ordain or decree what shall come to pass—and where is the spirit that can demonstrate a shade of difference between such foreknowledge and preordination. All agree that in the lower class of animals some of the same species pass their lives in luxury and comfort, while others are cruelly tormented, this world comprising their whole term of existence; and will those who refuse to submit to the sovereignty of God in the doctrine of election dare to arraign his conduct in leaving some out of his electing love? The reprobate or worthless lose nothing by the happiness of others. It is inscrutably hid from mankind who are the elect, until the Holy Spirit influences them with the love of God in Christ Jesus, and this sometimes in the last moments of life. There is every encouragement, nay incentive, to the sinner who feels the burthen of guilt to fly for refuge to the hope set before him in the gospel. ‘It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS’; even the chief of sinners. The glad tidings are addressed to ALL sin-sick souls; and Bunyan’s statement of this truth is clear, scriptural, and reasonable. Very different is the account of the reprobation given by R. Resburie in his Stop to the Gangrene of Arminianism, 1651. ‘For the reprobate God decrees the permitting of sin in order to hardening, and their hardening in it, in order to their condemnation.’ p. 69. ‘As election is the book of life, so reprobation of death; the names of the reprobate are there registered for destruction.’ p. 73. It is much to be regretted that sentiments like these have been too commonly uttered. It is as an antidote to such ideas that this little work was written; but, unfortunately, it has never been widely circulated and read. May the divine blessing follow this attempt to spread these important, although to many, unpalatable, doctrines.

GEORGE OFFOR.

REPROBATION ASSERTED.

CHAPTER 1.

That there is a Reprobation.

In my discourse upon this subject, I shall study as much brevity as clearness and edification will allow me; not adding words to make the volume swell, but contracting myself within the bounds of few lines, for the profit and commodity of those that shall take the pains to read my labours. And though I might abundantly multiply arguments for the evincing and vindicating this conclusion, yet I shall content myself with some few scripture demonstrations: the first of which I shall gather out of the ninth of the Romans, from that discourse of the apostle’s, touching the children of the flesh, and the children of the promise.

1. At the beginning of this chapter, we find the apostle grievously lamenting and bemoaning of the Jews, at the consideration of their miserable state: ‘I say the truth in Christ, [saith he] I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh’: Poor hearts, saith he, they will perish; they are a miserable sad and helpless people; their eyes are darkened that they may not see, and their back is bowed down alway (Rom 11:10). Wherefore? Have they not the means of grace? Yes verily, and that in goodly measure. First they ‘are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.’ What then should be the reason? Why saith he, though they be the children of Abraham according to the flesh, yet they are the children of Abraham BUT according to the flesh: ‘For they are not all Israel [in the best sense] which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.’ That is, they that are the children of the flesh, they are not the children of God; but the children of the promise shall be counted for the seed. So then, here you see that they that are only the children of the flesh, as the greatest part of Israel were, they are those that are neither counted for the seed, the children of promise, nor the children of God; but are rejected, and of the reprobation. This therefore shall at this time serve for the first scripture-demonstration.

2. Another scripture you have in the eleventh chapter of this epistle, from these words, ‘The election hath obtained it, and the REST were blinded’ (Rom 11:7). These words are shedding[1] words, they sever between men and men; the election, the rest; the chosen, the left; the embraced, the refused: ‘The election have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.’ By rest here, must needs be understood those not elect, because set one in opposition to the other; and if not elect, what then but reprobate?

3. A third scripture is that in the Acts of the Apostles, ‘And as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed’ (13:48). ‘And as many’; by these words, as by the former, you may see how the Holy Ghost distinguisheth or divideth between men and men; the sons, and the sons of Adam. ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed’: If by many here, we are to understand every individual, then not only the whole world must at least believe the gospel, of which we see the most fall short, but they must be ordained to eternal life; which other scriptures contradict: for there is the rest, besides the elect; the stubble and chaff, as well as wheat: many therefore must here include but some; ‘For though – Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved’ (Rom 9:27; Isa 1:9, 10:22,23).

I might here multiply many other texts, but in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. Let these therefore for this, suffice to prove that there is a reprobation. For this I say, though the children of the flesh, the rest besides the election, and the like, were not mentioned in the word; yet seeing there is such a thing as the children of the promise, the seed, the children of God, and the like, and that too under several other phrases, as predestinated, foreknown, chosen in Christ, and written in the Book of life, and appointed unto life, with many others: I say seeing these things are thus apparent, it is without doubt, that there is such a thing as a reprobation also (Rom 8; Eph 1:3,4; 1 Thess 5:9).

Nay, further, From the very word election, it followeth unavoidably; for whether you take it as relating to this, of distinguishing between persons as touching the world to come, or with reference to God’s acts of choosing this or that man to this or that office, work, or employment in this world, it still signifieth such a choosing, as that but some are therein concerned, and that therefore some are thence excluded. Are all the elect, the seed, the saved, the vessels of mercy, the chosen and peculiar? Are not some, yea the most, the children of the flesh, the rest, the lost, the vessels of wrath, of dishonour, and the children of perdition? (Rom 11:9; 1 Peter 2:8,9; Matt 10:16; 2 Sam 6:21; Psa 78:67,68; John 15:16; 2 Cor 4:3; Rom 9:21,22; John 17:12).

CHAPTER 2

What Reprobation is.

Having thus shewed you that there is such a thing as a reprobation, I come now to shew you what it is. Which that I may do to your edification, I shall First shew you what this word reprobation signifieth in the general, as it concerneth persons temporary and visibly reprobate: Second, more particularly, as it concerneth persons that are eternally and invisibly reprobate.

First, Generally, As it concerneth persons temporarily and visibly reprobate, thus: To be reprobate is to be disapproved, void of judgment, and rejected, &c. To be disapproved, that is, when the word condemns them, either as touching the faith or the holiness of the gospel; the which they must needs be, that are void of spiritual and heavenly judgment in the mysteries of the kingdom; a manifest token [that] they are rejected. And hence it is that they are said to be reprobate or void of judgment concerning the faith; reprobate or void of judgment touching every good work; having a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not convenient, either as to faith or manners. And hence it is again, that they are also said to be rejected of God, cast away, and the like (2 Cor 13:6,7; 2 Tim 3:8; Titus 1:16; Rom 1:28; Jer 6:30; 1 Cor 9:27).

I call this temporary visible reprobation, because these appear, and are detected by the word as such that are found under the above-named errors, and so adjudged without the grace of God. Yet it is possible for some of these, however for the present disapproved, through the blessed acts and dispensations of grace, not only to become visible saints, but also saved for ever. Who doubts but that he who now by examining himself, concerning faith, doth find himself, though under profession, graceless, may after that, he seeing his woeful state, not only cry to God for mercy, but find grace, and obtain mercy to help in time of need? though it is true, that for the most part the contrary is fulfilled on them.

Second, But to pass this, and more particularly to touch the eternal invisible reprobation, which I shall thus hold forth: It is to be passed by in, or left out of, God’s election; yet so, as considered upright. In which position you have these four things considerable: 1. The act of God’s election. 2. The negative of that act. 3. The persons reached by that negative. And, 4. Their qualification when thus reached by it.

1. For the first. This act of God in electing, it is a choosing or fore-appointing of some infallibly unto eternal life, which he also hath determined shall be brought to pass by the means that should be made manifest and efficacious to that very end (Eph 1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:2).

2. Now the negative of this act is, a passing by, or a leaving of those not concerned in this act; a leaving of them, I say, without the bounds, and so the saving privileges of this act; as it followeth by natural consequence, that because a man chooseth but some, therefore he chooseth not all, but leaveth, as the negative of that act, all others whatsoever. Wherefore, as I said before, those not contained within this blessed act, are called the rest besides the election. ‘The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.’

3. The persons then that are contained under the negative of this act, they are those, and those only, that pass through this wicked world without the saving grace of God’s elect; those, I say, that miss the most holy faith, which they in time are blest withal, who are fore-appointed unto glory.

4. And now for the qualification they were considered under, when this act of reprobation laid hold upon them; to wit, They were considered upright.

This is evident, From this consideration, that reprobation is God’s act, even the negative of his choosing or electing, and none of the acts of God make any man a sinner. It is further evident by the similitude that is taken from the carriage of the potter in his making of his pots; for by this comparison the God of heaven is pleased to shew unto us the nature of his determining in the act of reprobation. ‘Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump?’ &c. (Rom 9:21). Consider a little, and you shall see that these three things do necessarily fall in, to complete the potter’s action in every pot he makes.

(1.) A determination in his own mind what pot to make of this or that piece of clay; a determination, I say, precedent to the fashion of the pot; the which is true in the highest degree, in him that is excellent in working; he determines the end, before the beginning is perfected (Isa 41:22, 46:10). ‘For this cause [very purpose] have I raised thee up’ (Exo 9:16).

(2.) The next thing considerable in the potter; it is the so making of the pot, even as he determined; a vessel to honour, or a vessel to dishonour. There is no confusion nor disappointment under the hand of this eternal God, his work is perfect, and every way doth answer to what he hath determined (Deut 32:4).

(3.) Observe again, That whether the vessel be to honour or to dishonour, yet the potter makes it good, sound, and fit for service; his fore-determining to make this a vessel to dishonour, hath no persuasion at all with him to break or mar the pot: Which very thing doth well resemble the state of man as under the act of eternal reprobation, for ‘God made man upright’ (Eccl 7:29).

From these conclusions then,

Consider, 1. That the simple act of reprobation, it is a
leaving or passing by, not a cursing of the creature.

Consider, 2. Neither doth this act alienate the heart of God from the reprobate, nor tie him up from loving, favouring, or blessing of him; no, not from blessing of him with the gift of Christ, of faith, of hope, and many other benefits. It only denieth them that benefit, that will infallibly bring them to eternal life, and that in despite of all opposition; it only denieth so to bless them as the elect themselves are blessed. Abraham loved all the children he had by all his wives, and gave them portions also; but his choice blessing, as the fruit of his chiefest love, he reserved for chosen Isaac (Gen 25:5,6).

Consider Lastly, The act of reprobation doth harm to no man, neither means him any; nay, it rather decrees him upright, lets him be made upright, and so be turned into the world.[2]

CHAPTER 3.

Of the Antiquity of Reprobation.

Having now proceeded so far as to shew you what reprobation is, it will not be amiss if in this place I briefly shew you its antiquity, even when it began its rise; the which you may gather by these following particulars.

First, Reprobation is before the person cometh into the world, or hath done good or evil: This is evident by that of Paul to the Romans: ‘For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto Rebecca, The elder shall serve the younger’ (9:11). Here you find twain in their mother’s womb, and both receiving their destiny, not only before they had done good or evil, but before they were in a capacity to do it, they being yet unborn; their destiny, I say, the one unto, the other not unto, the blessing of eternal life; the one chose, the other refused; the one elect, the other reprobate. The same also might be said of Ishmael and his brother Isaac, both which did also receive their destiny before they came into the world: for the promise that this Isaac should be the heir, it was also before Ishmael was born, though he was elder by fourteen years, or more, than his brother (Gen 15:4,5, 16:4,5,16, 17:25, 21:5). And it is yet further evident,

1. Because election is an act of grace; ‘There is a remnant according to the election of grace’ (Rom 11:5). Which act of grace saw no way so fit to discover its purity and independency, as by fastening on the object before it came into the world; that being the state in which at least no good were done, either to procure good from God, or to eclipse and darken this precious act of grace. For though it is true that no good thing that we have done before conversion, can obtain the grace of election; yet the grace of election then appeareth most, when it prevents[3] our doing good, that we might be loved therefore: wherefore he saith again, ‘That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger’ (Rom 9:11,12).

2. This is most agreeable to the nature of the promise of giving seed to Abraham; which promise, as it was made before the child was conceived, so it was fulfilled at the best time, for the discovery of the act of grace, that could have been pitched upon: At this time will I come (saith God) ‘and Sarah shall have a son’ (Gen 18:14); which promise, because it carried in its bowels the very grace of electing love, therefore it left out Ishmael, with the children of Keturah: ‘For in Isaac shall thy seed be called’ (Rom 4:16-19, 9:7).

3. This was the best and fittest way for the decrees to receive sound bottom, even for God both to choose and refuse, before the creature had done good or evil, and so before they came into the world: ‘That the purpose of God according to election might stand,’ saith he, therefore before the children were yet born, or had done any good or evil, it was said unto her, &c. God’s decree would for ever want foundation, should it depend at all upon the goodness and holiness either of men or angels; especially if it were to stand upon that good that is wrought before conversion, yea, or after conversion either. We find, by daily experience, how hard and difficult it is, for even the holiest in the world, to bear up and maintain their faith and love to God; yea, so hard, as not at all to do it without continual supplies from heaven. How then is it possible for any so to carry it before God, as to lay, by this his holiness, a foundation for election, as to maintain that foundation, and thereby to procure all those graces that infallibly saveth the sinner? But now the choice, I say, being a choice of grace, as is manifest, it being acted before the creature’s birth; here grace hath laid the cornerstone, and determined the means to bring the work to perfection. Thus ‘the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his’ (2 Tim 2:19). That is, who he hath chosen, having excluded works, both good and bad, and founded all in an unchangeable act of grace; the negative whereof, is this harmless reprobation.

Second, But secondly, To step a little backward, and so to make all sure: This act of reprobation was before the world began; which therefore must needs confirm that which was said but now, that they were, before they were born, both destinated before they had done good or evil. This is manifest by that of Paul to the Ephesians, at the beginning of his epistle; where, speaking of Election, whose negative is reprobation, he saith, ‘God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world.’ Nay further, if you please, consider, that as Christ was ordained to suffer before the foundation of the world, and as we that are elected were chosen in him before the foundation of the world; so it was also ordained we should know him, before the foundation of the world; ordained that we should be holy before him in love, before the foundation of the world; and that we in time should be created in him to good works, and ordained before that we should walk in them. Wherefore reprobation also, it being the negative of electing love; that is, because God elected but some, therefore he left the rest: these rest therefore must needs be of as ancient standing under reprobation, as the chosen are under election; both which, it is also evident, was before the world began. Which serveth yet further to prove that reprobation could not be with respect to this or the other sin, it being only a leaving them, and that before the world, out of that free choice which he was pleased to bless the other with. Even as the clay with which the dishonourable vessel is made, did not provoke the potter, for the sake of this or that impediment, therefore to make it so; but the potter of his own will, of the clay of the same lump, of the clay that is full as good as that of which he hath made the vessel to honour, did make this and the other a vessel of dishonour, &c. (1 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:3,4, 2:10).[4]

CHAPTER 4.

Of the causes of Reprobation.

Having thus in a word or two shewed the antiquity of Reprobation, I now come in this place to shew you the cause thereof; for doubtless this must stand a truth, That whatever God doth, there is sufficient ground therefore, whether by us apprehended, or else without our reach.

First then, It is caused from the very nature of God. There are two things in God, from which, or by the virtue of which, all things have their rise, to wit, the eternity of God in general, and the eternal perfection of every one of his attributes in particular: for as by the first, he must needs be before all things; so by virtue of the second, must all things consist. And as he is before all things, they having consistence by him; so also is he before all states, or their causes, be they either good or bad, of continuance or otherwise, he being the first without beginning, &c., whereas all other things, with their causes, have rise, dependance, or toleration of being from him (Col 1:17).

Hence it follows, that nothing, either person or cause, &c., can by any means have a being, but first he knows thereof, allows thereof, and decrees it shall be so. ‘Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?’ (Lam 3:37). Now then, because that reprobation, as well as election, are subordinate to God; his will also, which is eternally perfect, being most immediately herein concerned; it was impossible that any should be reprobate, before God had both willed and decreed it should be so. It is not the being of a thing that administers matter of knowledge or foresight thereof to God, but the perfection of his knowledge, wisdom, and power, &c., that giveth the thing its being: God did not fore-decree there should be a world, because he foresaw there would be one; but there must be one, because he had before decreed there should be one. The same is true as touching the case in hand: ‘For this cause [very purpose] have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power’ (Exo 9:16; Rom 9:17).

Second, A second cause of eternal reprobation, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty; for if this is true, that there is nothing either visible or invisible, whether in heaven or earth, but hath its being from him: then it must most reasonably follow, that he is therefore sovereign Lord, &c., and may also according to his own will, as he pleaseth himself, both exercise and manifest the same; being every whit absolute; and can do and may do whatsoever his soul desireth: and indeed, good reason, for he hath not only made them all, but ‘for his pleasure they both were and are created’ (Rev 4:11).

Now the very exercise of this sovereignty produceth reprobation: ‘Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth’ (Rom 9:18). ‘Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump?’ And doth he not make his pots according to his pleasure? Here therefore the mercy, justice, wisdom and power of God, take liberty to do what they will; saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure’ (Isa 46:10; Job 23:13; Dan 4:35; Isa 43:13).

Third, Another cause of eternal reprobation, is the act and working of distinguishing love, and everlasting grace. God hath universal love, and particular love; general love, and distinguishing love; and so accordingly doth decree, purpose, and determine: from general love, the extension of general grace and mercy: but from that love that is distinguishing, peculiar grace and mercy: ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ saith the Lord, ‘yet I loved Jacob’ (Mal 1:2). Yet I loved Jacob, that is, with a better love, or a love that is more distinguishing. As he further makes appear in his answer to our father Abraham, when he prayed to God for Ishmael: ‘As for Ishmael, [saith he] I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee’ (Gen 17:20,21). Touching which words, there are these things observable.

1. That God had better love for Isaac, than he had for his brother Ishmael. Yet,

2. Not because Isaac had done more worthy and goodly deeds, for Isaac was yet unborn.

3. This choice blessing could not be denied to Ishmael, because he had disinherited himself by sin; for this blessing was entailed to Isaac, before Ishmael had a being also (Rom 4:16-19; Gen 15:4,5, chapter 16).

4. These things therefore must needs fall out through the working of distinguishing love and mercy, which had so cast the business, ‘that the purpose of God according to election might stand.’

Further, Should not God decree to shew distinguishing love and mercy, as well as that which is general and common, he must not discover his best love at all to the sons of men. Again, if he should reveal and extend his best love to all the world in general, then there would not be such a thing as love that doth distinguish; for distinguishing love appeareth in separating between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, the many called, and the few chosen. Thus by virtue of distinguishing love, some must be reprobate: for distinguishing love must leave some, both of the angels in heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth; wherefore the decree also that doth establish it, must needs leave some.

Fourth, Another cause of reprobation, Is God’s willingness to shew his wrath, and to make his power known. This is one of those arguments that the holy apostle setteth against the most knotty and strong objection that ever was framed against the doctrine of eternal reprobation: ‘Thou wilt say then unto me, [saith he] Why doth he yet find fault?’ For if it be his will that some should be rejected, hardened, and perish, why then is he offended that any sin against him; ‘for who hath resisted his will?’ Hold, saith the apostle; stay a little here; first remember this, Is it meet to say unto God, What doest thou? ‘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,’ &c. Besides, when you have thought your worst, to wit, that the effects of reprobation must needs be consummate in the eternal perdition of the creature; yet again consider, ‘What if God, willing to shew his wrath,’ as well as grace and mercy? And what if he, that he may so do, exclude some from having share in that grace that would infallibly, against all resistance, bring us safe unto eternal life? What then? Is he therefore the author of your perishing, or his eternal reprobation either? Do you not know that he may refuse to elect who he will, without abusing of them? Also that he may deny to give them that grace that would preserve them from sin, without being guilty of their damnation? May he not, to shew his wrath, suffer ‘with much long-suffering’ all that are ‘the vessels of wrath,’ by their own voluntary will, to fit themselves for wrath and for destruction? (Rom 9:19-22). Yea, might he not even in the act of reprobation, conclude also to suffer them thus left, to fall from the state he left them in, that is, as they were considered upright; and when fallen, to bind them fast in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day, but he must needs be charged foolishly? You shall see in that day what a harmony and what a glory there will be found in all God’s judgments in the overthrow of the sinner; also how clear the Lord will shew himself of having any working hand in that which causeth eternal ruin; notwithstanding he hath reprobated such, doth suffer them to sin, and that too, that he might shew his wrath on the vessels of his wrath; the which I also, after this next chapter, shall further clear up to you. As ‘the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,’ without approving of their miscarriages; so he also knoweth how ‘to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished’ (2 Peter 2:9): yet never to deserve the least of blame for his so reserving of them; though none herein can see his way, for he alone knows how to do it.[5]

CHAPTER 5.

Of the Unchangeableness of Eternal Reprobation.

Many opinions have passed through the hearts of the sons of men concerning reprobation; most of them endeavouring so to hold it forth, as therewith they might, if not heal their conscience slightly, yet maintain their own opinion, in their judgment, of other things; still wringing, now the word this way, and anon again that, for their purpose; also framing within their soul such an imagination of God and his acts in eternity, as would suit with such opinions, and so present all to the world. And the rather they have with greatest labour strained unweariedly at this above many other truths, because of the grim and dreadful face it carrieth in most men’s apprehensions. But none of these things, however they may please the creature, can by any means in any measure, either cause God to undo, unsay, or undetermine what he hath concerning this, decreed and established.

First, Because they suit not with his nature, especially in these foundation-acts: ‘The foundation of God standeth sure’ (2 Tim 2:19), even touching reprobation, ‘that the purpose of God according to election might stand’ (Rom 9:11). ‘I know [saith Solomon] that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it,’ &c. (Eccl 3:14). ‘Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall not make it good?’ (Num 23:19). His decrees are composed according to his eternal wisdom, established upon his unchangeable will, governed by his knowledge, prudence, power, justice, and mercy, and are brought to conclusion, on his part, in perfect holiness, through the abiding of his most blessed truth and faithfulness: ‘He is the rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he’ (Deut 32:4).

Second, This decree is made sure by the number, measure, and bounds of election; for election and reprobation do inclose all reasonable creatures; that is, either the one or the other; election, those that are set apart for glory; and reprobation, those left out of this choice.

Now as touching the elect, they are by this decree confined to that limited number of persons that must amount to the complete making up the fulness of the mystical body of Christ; yea so confined by this eternal purpose, that nothing can be diminished from or added thereunto: and hence it is that they are called his body and members in particular, ‘the fulness of him that filleth all in all’ (Eph 1:23) and ‘the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ’ (Eph 4:13). Which body, considering him as the head thereof, in conclusion maketh up one perfect man, and holy temple for the Lord. These are called Christ’s substance, inheritance and lot (Psa 16); and are said to be booked, marked, and sealed with God’s most excellent knowledge, approbation and liking (2 Tim 2:19). As Christ said to his Father, ‘Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them’ (Psa 139:16). This being thus, I say, it is in the first place impossible that any of those members should miscarry, for ‘Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?’ (Rom 8:33) and because they are as to number every way sufficient, being his body, and so by their completing to be made a perfect man: therefore all others are rejected, that the ‘purpose of God according to election might stand’ (Rom 9:11). Besides, it would not only argue weakness in the decree, but monstrousness in the body, if after this, any appointed should miscarry, or any besides them be added to them (Matt 24:24).

Thirdly, Nay further, that all may see how punctual, exact, and to a tittle this decree of election is, God hath not only as to number and quantity confined the persons, but also determined and measured, and that before the world, the number of the gifts and graces that are to be bestowed on these members in general; and also what graces and gifts to be bestowed on this or that member in particular: He ‘hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings – in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the word’ (Eph 1:3,4). And bestoweth them in time upon us, ‘According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Eph 3:11). He hath given to the eye, the grace that belongeth to the eye; and to the hand that which he also hath appointed for it. And so to every other member of the body elect, he doth deal out to them their determined measure of grace and gifts most fit for their place and office. Thus is the decree established, both of the saved, and also the non-elect (Rom 12:3; Eph 4:16; Col 2:19; Eph 4:12,13).

Fourth, But again, another thing that doth establish this decree of eternal reprobation, is the weakness that sin, in the fall, and since, hath brought all reprobates into: For though it be most true, that sin is no cause of eternal reprobation; yet seeing sin hath seized on the reprobate, it cannot be but thereby the decree must needs be the faster fixed. If the king, for this or the other weighty reason, doth decree not to give this or that man, who yet did never offend him, a place in his privy chamber; if this man after this shall be infected with the plague, this rather fastens than loosens the king’s decree. As the angels that were left out of God’s election, by reason of the sin they committed after, are so far off from being by that received into God’s decree, that they are therefore bound for it in chains of everlasting darkness to the judgment of the great day.

CHAPTER 6.

Whether to be reprobated be the same with being appointed before-hand unto eternal condemnation? If not, how do they differ? Also whether reprobation be the cause of condemnation?

It hath been the custom of ignorant men much to quarrel at eternal reprobation, concluding, for want of knowledge in the mystery of God’s will, that if he reprobate any from eternity, he had as good have said, I will make this man to damn him; I will decree this man, without any consideration, to the everlasting pains of hell. When in very deed, for God to reprobate, and to appoint before-hand to eternal condemnation, are two distinct things, properly relating to two distinct attributes, arising from two distinct causes.

First, They are two distinct things: Reprobation, a simple leaving of the creature out of the bounds of God’s election; but to appoint to condemnation is to bind them over to everlasting punishment. Now there is a great difference between my refusing to make of such a tree a pillar in my house, and of condemning it unto the fire to be burned.

Second, As to the attributes; reprobation respects God’s sovereignty; but to appoint to condemnation, his justice (Rom 9:18; Gen 18:25).

Third, As to the causes; sovereignty being according to the will of God, but justice according to the sin of man. For God, though he be the only sovereign Lord, and that to the height of perfection; yet he appointeth no man to the pains of everlasting fire, merely from sovereignty, but by the rule of justice: God damneth not the man because he is a man, but a sinner; and fore-appoints him to that place and state, by fore-seeing of him wicked (Rom 1:18,19; Col 3:6).

Again, As reprobation is not the same with fore-appointing to eternal condemnation; so neither is it the cause thereof.

If it be the cause, then it must either, 1. Leave him infirm. Or, 2. Infuse sin into him. Or, 3. Take from him something that otherwise would keep him upright. 4. Or both license Satan to tempt, and the reprobate to close in with the temptation. But it doth none of these; therefore it is not the cause of the condemnation of the creature.

That it is not the cause of sin, it is evident,

1. Because the elect are as much involved therein, as those that are passed by.

2. It leaveth him not infirm; for he is by an after-act, to wit, of creation, formed perfectly upright.

3. That reprobation infuseth no sin, appeareth, because it is the act of God.

4. That it taketh nothing, that good is, from him, is also manifest, it being only a leaving of him.

5. And that it is not by this act that Satan is permitted to tempt, or the reprobate to sin, is manifest; because as Christ was tempted, so the elect fall as much into the temptation, at least many of them, as many of those that are reprobate: whereas if these things came by reprobation, then the reprobate would be only concerned therein. All which will be further handled in these questions yet behind.

Object. From what hath been said, there is concluded this at least, That God hath infallibly determined, and that before the world, the infallible damnation of some of his creatures: for if God hath before the world [was made] bound some over to eternal punishment, and that as you say, for sin; then this determination must either be fallible or infallible; not fallible, for then your other position of the certainty of the number of God’s elect, is shaken; unless you hold that there may be a number that shall neither go to heaven nor hell. Well then, if God hath indeed determined, fore-determined, that some must infallibly perish; doth not this his determination lay a necessity on the reprobate to sin, that he may be damned; for, no sin, no damnation; that is your own argument.

Ans. That God hath ordained (Jude 4), the damnation of some of his creatures, it is evident; but whether this his determination be positive and absolute, there is the question: for the better understanding whereof, I shall open unto you the variety of God’s determinations, and their nature, as also rise.

The determinations of God touching the destruction of the creature, they are either ordinary or extraordinary: those I count ordinary that were commonly pronounced by the prophets and apostles, &c., in their ordinary way of preaching; to the end men might be affected with the love of their own salvation: now these either bound or loosed, but as the condition or qualification was answered by the creature under sentence, and no otherwise (1 Sam 12:25; Isa 1:20; Matt 18:3; Luke 13:1-3; Rom 2:8,9, 8:13, 11:23; 1 Cor 6:9-11).

Again, These extraordinary, though they respect the same conditions, yet they are not grounded immediately upon them, but upon the infallible fore-knowledge and fore-sight of God, and are thus distinguished. First the ordinary determination, it stands but at best upon a supposition that the creature may continue in sin, and admits of a possibility that it may not; but the extraordinary stands upon an infallible fore-sight that the creature will continue in sin; wherefore this must needs be positive, and as infallible as God himself.

Again, These two determinations are also distinguished thus: the ordinary is applicable to the elect as well as to the reprobate, but the other to the reprobate only. It is proper to say even to the elect themselves, ‘He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned’; but not to say to them, These are appointed to UTTER destruction, or that they shall utterly perish in their own corruptions; or that for them is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever (1 Kings 20:42; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 13).

So then, though God by these determinations doth not lay some under irrecoverable condemnation, yet by one of them he doth; as is further made out thus:

1. God most perfectly foreseeth the final impenitency of those that so die, from the beginning to the end of the world (Prov 15:11; Psa 139:2; Isa 46:10).

2. Now from this infallible foresight, it is most easy and rational to conclude, and that positively, the infallible overthrow of every such creature. Did I infallibly foresee that this or that man would cut out his heart in the morning, I might infallibly determine his death before night.

Object. But still the question is, Whether God by this his determination doth not lay a necessity on the creature to sin? For, no sin, no condemnation: this is true by your own assertion.

Ans. No, by no means: for,

1. Though it be true, that sin must of absolute necessity go before the infallible condemnation and overthrow of the sinner; and that it must also be pre-considered by God; yet it needs not lay a necessity upon him to sin: for let him but alone to do what he will, and the determination cannot be more infallible than the sin, which is the cause of its execution.

2. As it needs not, so it doth not: for this positive determination is not grounded upon what God will effect, but on what the creature will; and that not through the instigation of God, but the instigation of the devil. What? might not I, if I most undoubtedly foresaw that such a tree in my garden would only cumber the ground, notwithstanding reasonable means, might not I, I say, from hence determine, seven years before, to cut it down, and burn it in the fire, but I must, by so determining, necessitate this tree to be fruitless? the case in hand is the very same. God therefore may most positively determine the infallible damnation of his creature, and yet not at all necessitate the creature to sin, that he might be damned.

Object. But how is this similitude pertinent? For God did not only foresee sin would be the destruction of the creature, but let it come into the world, and so destroy the creature. If you, as you foresee the fruitlessness of your tree, should withal see that which makes it so, and that too before it makes it so, and yet let the impediment come and make it so; are not you now the cause of the unfruitfulness of that tree which you have before condemned to the fire to be burned? for God might have chose whether he would have let Adam sin, and so sin to have got into the world by him.

Ans. Similitudes never answer every way; if they be pertinent to that for which they are intended, it is enough; and to that it answereth well, being brought to prove no more but the natural consequence of a true and infallible foresight. And now as to what is objected further, as that God might have chose whether sin should have come into the world by Adam, to the destruction of so many: to that I shall answer,

1. That sin could not have come into the world without God’s permission, it is evident, both from the perfection of his foresight and power.

2. Therefore all the means, motives, and inducements thereunto, must also by him be not only foreseen, but permitted.

3. Yet so, that God will have the timing, proceeding, bounding, and ordering thereof, at his disposal: ‘Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain’ (Psa 76:10; 1 Kings 22:20-22; John 8:20; Luke 22:51,52).

4. Therefore it must needs come into the world, not without, but by the knowledge of God; not in despite of him, but by his suffering of it.

Object. But how then is he clear from having a hand in the death of him that perisheth?

Ans. Nothing is more sure than that God could have kept sin out of the world, if it had been his will; and this is also as true, that it never came into the world with his liking and compliance; and for this, you must consider that sin came into the world by two steps:

1. By being offered. 2. By prevailing.

Touching the first of these, God without the least injury to any creature in heaven or earth, might not only suffer it, but so far countenance the same: that is, so far forth as for trial only: as it is said of Abraham; ‘God tempted Abraham’ to slay his only son (Gen 22:1), and led Christ by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1). This is done without any harm at all; nay, it rather produceth good; for it tends to discover sincerity, to exercise faith in, and love to his Creator; also to put him in mind of the continual need he hath of depending on his God for the continuation of help and strength, and to provoke to prayers to God, whenever so engaged (Deut 8:1-3; 1 Peter 1:7; Heb 5:7; Matt 26:22,41).

Object. But God did not only admit that sin should be offered for trial, and there to stay; but did suffer it to prevail, and overcome the world.

Ans. Well, this is granted: but yet consider,

1. God did neither suffer it, nor yet consent it should, but under this consideration; If Adam, upright Adam, gave way thereto, by forsaking his command, ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die’ (Gen 2:17, 3:3). Which Adam did, not because God did compel him or persuade him to it, but voluntarily of his own mind, contrary to his God’s command: so then, God by suffering sin to break into the world, did it rather in judgment, as disliking Adam’s act, and as a punishment to man for listening to the tempter; and as a discovery of his anger at man’s disobedience; than to prove that he is guilty of the misery of his creature.

2. Consider also, that when God permitted sin for trial, it was, when offered first, to them only who were upright, and had sufficient strength to resist it.

3. They were by God’s command to the contrary, driven to no strait to tempt them to incline to Satan: ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely at,’ saith God; only let this alone.

4. As touching the beauty and goodness that was in the object unto which they were allured; What was it? Was it better than God? Yea, was it better than the tree of life? For from that they were not exempted till after they had sinned. Did not God know best what was best to do them good?

5. Touching him that persuaded them to do this wicked act; was his word more to be valued for truth, more to be ventured on for safety, or more to be honoured for the worthiness of him that spake, than was his that had forbad it? The one being the devil, with a lie, and to kill them; the other being God, with his truth, and to preserve them safe.

Quest. But was not Adam unexpectedly surprised? Had he notice beforehand, and warning of the danger? For God foresaw the business.

Ans. Doubtless God was fair and faithful to his creature in this thing also; as clearly doth appear from these considerations.

1. The very commandment that God gave him, fore-bespake him well to look about him; and did indeed insinuate that he was likely to be tempted.

2. It is yet more evident, because God doth even tell him of the danger; ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’

3. Nay God by speaking to him of the very tree that was to be forborn, telling him also where it stood, that he might the better know it; did in effect expressly say unto him, Adam, if thou be tempted, it will be about that tree, and the fruit thereof: wherefore if thou findest the tempter there, then beware thy life.

(1.) To conclude then: though sin did not come into the world without God’s sufferance, yet it did without his liking: God suffered also Cain to kill his brother, and Ishmael to mock at Isaac, but he did not like the same (Gen 4:9-11; Gal 4:30).

(2.) Therefore though God was first in concluding sin should be offered to the world; yet man was the first that consented to a being overcome thereby.

(3.) Then, Though God did fore-determine that sin should enter, yet it was not but with respect to certain terms and conditions, which yet was not to be enforced by virtue of the determination, but permitted to be completed by the voluntary inclination of a perfect and upright man. And in that the determination was most perfectly infallible, it was through the foresight of the undoubted inclination of this good and upright person.

Quest. But might not God have kept Adam from inclining, if he would?

Ans. What more certain? But yet consider,

1. Adam being now an upright man, he was able to have kept himself, had he but looked to it as he should and might.

2. This being so, if God had here stept in, he had either added that which had been needless, and so had not obtained thankfulness; or else had made the strength of Adam useless, yea his own workmanship in so creating him, superfluous; or else by consequence imperfect.

(3.) If he had done so, he had taken Adam from his duty, which was to trust and believe his Maker; he had also made void the end of the commandment, which was to persuade to watchfulness, diligence, sobriety, and contentedness; yea, and by so doing would not only himself have tempted Adam to transgression, even to lay aside the exercise of that strength that God had already given him; but should have become the pattern, or the first father to all looseness, idleness, and neglect of duty. Which would also not only have been an ill example to Adam to continue to neglect so reasonable and wholesome duties, but would have been to himself an argument of defence to retort upon his God, when he had come at another time to reckon with him for his misdemeanours.[6]

Many other weighty reasons might here be further added for God’s vindication in this particular, but at this time let these suffice.

CHAPTER 7.

Whether any under Eternal Reprobation have just cause to quarrel with God for not electing of them?

That the answer to this question may be to edification, recall again what I have before asserted; to wit, That for a man to be left out of God’s election, and to be made a sinner, is two things; and again, For a man to be not elect, and to be condemned to hell-fire, is two things also. Now I say, if non-election makes no man a sinner, and if it appoints no man to condemnation neither, then what ground hath any reprobate to quarrel with God for not electing of him? Nay, further, reprobation considereth him upright, leaveth him upright, and so turneth him into the world; what wrong doth God do him, though he hath not elected him? What reason hath he that is left in this case to quarrel against his Maker?

If thou say, because God hath not chosen them, as well as chosen others: I answer, ‘Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?’ (Rom 9:20). ‘Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel,’ saith the Lord God (Jer 18:6). So then, if I should say no more but that God is the only Lord and Creator, and that by his sovereignty he hath power to dispose of them according to his pleasure, either to choose or to refuse, according to the counsel of his own will, who could object against him and be guiltless? ‘He giveth not account of any of his matters’ (Job 33:13). ‘And what his soul desireth, even that he doeth’ (Job 23:13).

Again, God is wiser than man, and therefore can shew a reason for what he acts and does, both when and where at present thou seest none. Shall God the only wise, be arraigned at the bar of thy blind reason, and there be judged and condemned for his acts done in eternity? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, ‘or who hath been his counsellor?’ (Rom 11:34). Do you not know that he is far more above us, than we are above our horse or mule that is without understanding? ‘Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend’ (Job 37:5). ‘Great things and unsearchable, marvellous things without number’ (Job 5:9).

But, I say, should we take it well if our beast should call us to account for this and the other righteous act, and judge us unrighteous, and our acts ridiculous, and all because it sees no reason for our so doing? Why, we are as beasts before God (Psa 73:22).

But again, to come yet more close to the point: the reprobate quarrels with God, because he hath not elected him; well, but is not God the master of his own love? And is not his will the only rule of his mercy? And may he not, without he give offence to thee, lay hold by electing love and mercy on whom himself pleaseth? Must thy reason, nay, thy lust, be the ruler, orderer, and disposer of his grace? ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?’ saith he, ‘Is thine eye evil, because I am good?’ (Matt 20:15).

Further, What harm doth God to any reprobate, by not electing of him; he was, as hath been said, considered upright, so formed in the act of creation, and so turned into the world: indeed he was not elected, but hath that taken anything from him? No, verily, but leaveth him in good condition: there is good, and better, and best of all; he that is in a good estate, though others through free grace are in a far better, hath not any cause to murmur either with him that gave him such a place, or at him that is placed above him. In a word, reprobation maketh no man personally a sinner, neither doth election make any man personally righteous. It is the consenting to sin that makes a man a sinner; and the imputation of grace and righteousness that makes [men] gospelly and personally just and holy.

But again, seeing it is God’s act to leave some out of the bounds of his election, it must needs be, therefore, positively good: Is that then which is good in itself made sin unto thee? God forbid: God doth not evil by leaving this or that man out of his electing grace, though he choose others to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Wherefore there is not a reprobate that hath any cause, and therefore no just cause, to quarrel with his Maker, for not electing of him.

And that, besides what hath been spoken, if you consider,

1. For God to elect, is an act of sovereign grace; but to pass by, or to refuse so to do, is an act of sovereign power, not of injustice.

2. God might therefore have chosen whether he would have elected any, or so many or few; and also which and where he would.

3. Seeing then that all things are at his dispose, he may fasten electing mercy where he pleaseth; and other mercy, if he will, to whom and when he will.

4. Seeing also that the least of mercies are not deserved by the best of sinners; men, instead of quarrelling against the God of grace, because they have not what they list, should acknowledge they are unworthy of their breath; and also should confess that God may give mercy where he pleaseth, and that too, both which or what, as also to whom, and when he will; and yet be good, and just, and very gracious still: Nay, Job saith, ‘He taketh away, who can hinder him? Who will say unto him, What doest thou?’ (Job 9:12).

The will of God is the rule of all righteousness, neither knoweth he any other way by which he governeth and ordereth any of his actions. Whatsoever God doth, it is good because he doth it; whether it be to give grace, or to detain it; whether in choosing or refusing. The consideration of this, made the holy men of old ascribe righteousness to their Maker, even then when yet they could not see the reason of his actions. They would rather stand amazed, and wonder at the heights and depths of his unsearchable judgments, than quarrel at the strange and most obscure of them (Job 34:10-12, 36:3, 37:23; Jer 12:1; Rom 11:33).

God did not intend that all that ever he would do, should be known to every man, no nor yet to the wise and prudent. It is as much a duty sometimes to stay ourselves and wonder, and to confess our ignorance in many things of God, as it is to do other things that are duty without dispute. So then, let poor dust and ashes forbear to condemn the Lord, because he goeth beyond them; and also they should beware they speak not wickedly for him, though it be, as they think, to justify his actions. ‘The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works’ (Psa 145:17; Matt 11:25; 1 Cor 2:8; Job 13:6-8).[7]

CHAPTER 8.

Whether Eternal reprobation in itself, or in its doctrine, be in very deed an hindrance to any man in seeking the salvation of his soul.

In my discourse upon this question, I must entreat the reader to mind well what is premised in the beginning of the former chapter, which is, That reprobation makes no man a sinner, appoints no man to condemnation, but leaveth him upright after all. So then, though God doth leave this most of men without the bounds of his election, his so doing is neither in itself, nor yet its doctrine, in very deed, an hindrance to any man in seeking the salvation of his soul.

First, It hindreth not in itself, as is clear by the ensuing considerations:—

1. That which hindreth him is the weakness that came upon him by reason of sin. Now God only made the man, but man’s listening to Satan made him a sinner, which is the cause of all his weakness: this therefore is it that hindreth him, and that also disenableth him in seeking the salvation of his soul. ‘Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man’ (James 1:13). ‘God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions’ (Eccl 7:29; Eze 16:30; Hosea 13:9, 14:1; Gen 3:8-11).

2. It hindreth not in itself, for it taketh not anything from a man that would help him, might it continue with him; it takes not away the least part of his strength, wisdom, courage, innocency, or will to good; all these were lost by the fall, in that day when he died the death. Nay, reprobation under some consideration did rather establish all these upon the reprobate; for as it decrees him left, so left upright. Wherefore man’s hindrance cometh on him from other means, even by the fall, and not by the simple act of eternal reprobation (Gen 3).

3. As reprobation hindreth not either of these two ways, so neither is it from this simple act that Satan is permitted either to tempt them, that they might be tried, or that they might be overthrown.

(1.) It is not by this act that Satan is permitted to tempt them that they might be tried; because then the Son of God himself must be reached by this reprobation; he being tempted by the devil as much, if not more than any. Yea, and then must every one of the elect be under eternal reprobation; for they also, and that after their conversion, are greatly assaulted by him. ‘Many are the troubles of the righteous,’ &c. (Matt 4:1,2; Heb 2:17, 4:15).

(2.) Neither is it from the act of reprobation that sin hath entered the world, no more than from election, because those under the power of election did not only fall at first, but do still generally as foully, before conversion, as the reprobate himself. Whereas, if either the temptation, or the fall, were by virtue of reprobation, then the reprobates, and they only, should have been tempted, and have fallen. The temptation then, and the fall, doth come from other means, and so the hindrance of the reprobate, than from eternal reprobation. For the temptation, the fall and hindrance being universal, but the act of reprobation particular, the hindrance must needs come from such a cause as taketh hold on all men, which indeed is the fall; the cause of which was neither election nor reprobation, but man’s voluntary listening to the tempter (Rom 3:9).

(3.) It is yet far more evident that reprobation hindreth no man from seeking the salvation of his soul: because notwithstanding all that reprobation doth, yet God giveth to divers of the reprobates great encouragements thereto; to wit, the tenders of the gospel in general, not excluding any; great light also to understand it, with many a sweet taste of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come; he maketh them sometimes also to be partakers of the Holy Ghost, and admitteth many of them into fellowship with his elect; yea, some of them to be rulers, teachers, and governors in his house: all which, without doubt, both are and ought to be great encouragements even to the reprobates themselves, to seek the salvation of their souls (Matt 11:28; Rev 22:17; Heb 6:4,5; Matt 25:1,2; Acts 1:16,17).

Second, As it hindreth not in itself, so it hindreth not by its doctrine: for, all that this doctrine saith is, that some are left out of God’s election, as considered upright. Now this doctrine cannot hinder any man. For,

1. No man still stands upright.

2. Though it saith some are left, yet it points at no man, it nameth no man, it binds all faces in secret. So then, if it hinder, it hindreth all, even the elect as well as reprobate; for the reprobate hath as much ground to judge himself elect, as the very elect himself hath, before he be converted, being both alike in a state of nature and unbelief, and both alike visibly liable to the curse, for the breach of the commandment. Again, As they are equals here, so also have they ground alike to close in with Christ and live; even the open, free, and full invitation of the gospel, and promise of life and salvation, by the faith of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:1,2; Rom 3:9; John 3:16; 2 Cor 5:19-21; Rev 21:6, 22:17).

3. It is evident also by experience, that this doctrine doth not, in deed, neither can it hinder any (this doctrine I mean, when both rightly stated and rightly used) because many who have been greatly afflicted about this matter, have yet at last had comfort; which comfort, when they have received it, hath been to them as an argument that the thing they feared before, was not because of reprobation rightly stated; but its doctrine much abused was the cause of their affliction: and had they had the same light at first they received afterwards, their troubles then would soon have fled, as also now they do. Wherefore discouragement comes from want of light, because they are not skilful in the word of righteousness: for had the discouragement at first been true, which yet it could not be, unless the person knew by name himself under eternal reprobation, which is indeed impossible, then his light would have pinched him harder; light would rather have fastened this his fear, than at all have rid him of it (Heb 5:12-14).

Indeed the scripture saith, the word is to some the savour of death unto death, when to others the savour of life unto life. But mark, it is not this doctrine in particular, if so much as some other, that doth destroy the reprobate. It was respited at which Pharaoh hardened his heart; and the grace of God that the reprobates of old did turn into lasciviousness. Yea, Christ the Saviour of the world, is a stumbling-block unto some, and a rock of offence unto others. But yet again, consider that neither HE, nor any of God’s doctrines, are so simply, and in their own true natural force and drift: for they beget no unbelief, they provoke to no wantonness, neither do they in the least encourage to impenitency; all this comes from that ignorance and wickedness that came by the fall: Wherefore it is by reason of that also, that they stumble, and fall, and grow weak, and are discouraged, and split themselves, either at the doctrine of reprobation, or at any other truth of God (Exo 8:15; Jude 4:1; 1 Peter 2:8).

Lastly, To conclude as I began, there is no man while in this world, that doth certainly know that he is left out of the electing love of the great God; neither hath he any word in the whole bible, to persuade him so to conclude and believe; for the scriptures hold forth salvation to the greatest of sinners. Wherefore, though the act of reprobation were far more harsh, and its doctrine also more sharp and severe, yet it cannot properly be said to hinder any. It is a foolish thing in any to be troubled with those things which they have no ground to believe concerns themselves; especially when the latitude of their discouragement is touching their own persons only. ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God’ (Deut 29:29). Indeed every one of the words of God ought to put us upon examination, and into a serious enquiry of our present state and condition, and how we now do stand for eternity; to wit, whether we are ready to meet the Lord, or how it is with us. Yet, when search is fully made, and the worst come unto the worst, the party can find himself no more than the chief of sinners, not excluded from the grace of God tendered in the gospel; not from an invitation, nay a promise, to be embraced and blest, if he comes to Jesus Christ. Wherefore he hath no ground to be discouraged by the doctrine of reprobation (1 Tim 1:15; Acts 3:19; 2 Chron 33; John 7:37, 6:37; Mark 2:17).

CHAPTER 9.

Whether God would indeed and in truth, that the gospel, with the grace thereof, should be tendered to those that yet he hath bound up under Eternal Reprobation?

To this question I shall answer,

First, In the language of our Lord, ‘Go preach the gospel unto every creature’ (Mark 16:15); and again, ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved; all ye ends of the earth’ (Isa 45:22). ‘And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Rev 22:17). And the reason is, because Christ died for all, ‘tasted death for every man’ (2 Cor 5:15; Heb 2:9); is ‘the Saviour of the world’ (1 John 4:14), and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

Second, I gather it from those several censures that even every one goeth under, that doth not receive Christ, when offered in the general tenders of the gospel; ‘He that believeth not, – shall be damned’ (Mark 16:16); ‘He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his son’ (1 John 5:10); and, Woe unto thee Capernaum, ‘Woe unto thee Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida!’ (Matt 11:21) with many other sayings, all which words, with many other of the same nature, carry in them a very great argument to this very purpose; for if those that perish in the days of the gospel, shall have, at least, their damnation heightened, because they have neglected and refused to receive the gospel, it must needs be that the gospel was with all faithfulness to be tendered unto them; the which it could not be, unless the death of Christ did extend itself unto them (John 3:16; Heb 2:3); for the offer of the gospel cannot, with God’s allowance, be offered any further than the death of Jesus Christ doth go; because if that be taken away, there is indeed no gospel, nor grace to be extended. Besides, if by every creature, and the like, should be meant only the elect, then are all the persuasions of the gospel to no effect at all; for still the unconverted, who are here condemned for refusing of it, they return it as fast again: I do not know I am elect, and therefore dare not come to Jesus Christ; for if the death of Jesus Christ, and so the general tender of the gospel, concern the elect alone; I, not knowing myself to be one of that number, am at a mighty plunge; nor know I whether is the greater sin, to believe, or to despair: for I say again, if Christ died only for the elect, &c. then, I not knowing myself to be one of that number, dare not believe the gospel, that holds forth his blood to save me; nay, I think with safety may not, until I first do know I am elect of God, and appointed thereunto.

Third, God the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son, would have all men whatever, invited by the gospel to lay hold of life by Christ, whether elect or reprobate; for though it be true, that there is such a thing as election and reprobation, yet God, by the tenders of the gospel in the ministry of his word, looks upon men under another consideration, to wit, as sinners; and as sinners invites them to believe, lay hold of, and embrace the same. He saith not to his ministers, Go preach to the elect, because they are elect; and shut out others, because they are not so: But, Go preach the gospel to sinners as sinners; and as they are such, go bid them come to me and live. And it must needs be so, otherwise the preacher could neither speak in faith, nor the people hear in faith. First, the preacher could not speak in faith, because he knoweth not the elect from the reprobate; nor they again hear in faith, because, as unconverted, they would be always ignorant of that also. So then, the minister neither knowing whom he should offer life unto, nor yet the people which of them are to receive it; how could the word now be preached in faith with power? And how could the people believe and embrace it? But now the preacher offering mercy in the gospel to sinners, as they are sinners, here is way made for the word to be spoke in faith, because his hearers are sinners; yea, and encouragement also for the people to receive and close therewith, they understanding they are sinners: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Tim 1:15; Luke 24:46,47).

Fourth, The gospel must be preached to sinners as they are sinners, without distinction of elect or reprobate; because neither the one nor yet the other, as considered under these simple acts, are fit subjects to embrace the gospel: for neither the one act, nor yet the other, doth make either of them sinners; but the gospel is to be tendered to men as they are sinners, and personally under the curse of God for sin: wherefore to proffer grace to the elect because they are elect, it is to proffer grace and mercy to them, as not considering them as sinners. And, I say, to deny it to the reprobate, because he is not elected, it is not only a denial of grace to them that have no need thereof, but also before occasion is given on their part, for such a dispensation. And I say again, therefore, to offer Christ and grace to man elect, as simply so considered, this administers to him no comfort at all, he being here no sinner; and so engageth not the heart at all to Jesus Christ; for that comes in, and is effected on them as they are sinners. Yea, to deny the gospel also to the reprobate, because he is not elect, it will not trouble him at all; for saith he, So I am not a sinner, and so do not need a Saviour. But now, because the elect have no need of grace in Christ by the gospel, but as they are sinners; nor the reprobates cause to refuse it, but as they are sinners; therefore Christ by the word of the gospel, is to be proffered to both, without considering elect or reprobate, even as they are sinners. ‘The whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Mark 2:17; 2 Cor 5:14,15; Luke 7:47).

Thus you see the gospel is to be tendered to all in general, as well to the reprobate as to the elect, TO SINNERS AS SINNERS; and so are they to receive it, and to close with the tenders thereof.[8]

CHAPTER 10.

Seeing then that the grace of God in the gospel, is by that to be proffered to sinners, as sinners; as well to the reprobate as the elect; Is it possible for those who indeed are not elect, to receive it, and be saved?

To this question I shall answer several things: but first I shall shew you what that grace is, that is tendered in the gospel; and secondly, what it is to receive it and be saved.

First then, The grace that is offered to sinners as sinners, without respect to this or that person, it is a sufficiency of righteousness, pardoning grace, and life, laid up in the person of Christ, held forth in the exhortation and word of the gospel, and promised to be theirs that receive it; yea, I say, in so universal a tender, that not one is by it excluded or checked in the least, but rather encouraged, if he hath the least desire to life; yea, it is held forth to beget both desires and longings after the life thus laid up in Christ, and held forth by the gospel (John 1:16; Col 1:19,23; 1 John 5:11,12; Acts 13:38,39; Rom 10:12-14, 16:25,26).

Secondly, To receive this grace thus tendered by the gospel, it is,

1. To believe it is true.

2. To receive it heartily and unfeignedly through faith. And,

3. To let it have its natural sway, course and authority in the soul, and that in that measure, as to bring forth the fruits of good living in heart, word, and life, both before God and man.

Now then to the question.

Is it possible that this tender, thus offered to the reprobate, should by him be thus received and embraced, and he live thereby?

To which I answer in the negative. Nor yet for the elect themselves, I mean as considered dead in trespasses and sins, which is the state of all men, elect as well as reprobate. So then, though there be a sufficiency of life and righteousness laid up in Christ for all men, and this tendered by the gospel to them without exception; yet sin coming in between the soul and the tender of this grace, it hath in truth disabled all men, and so, notwithstanding this tender, they continue to be dead. For the gospel, I say, coming in word only, saveth no man, because of man’s impediment; wherefore those that indeed are saved by this gospel, the word comes not to them in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost; is mixed with faith even with the faith of the operation of God, by whose exceeding great and mighty power they are raised from this death of sin, and enabled to embrace the gospel. Doubtless, all men being dead in trespasses and sins, and so captivated under the power of the devil, the curse of the law, and shut up in unbelief; it must be the power of God, yea the exceeding greatness of that power that raiseth the soul from this condition, to receive the holy gospel (Eph 2:1-3; 1 Thess 1:5,6; Col 2:12; Heb 4:1,2; Eph 1:18,19, &c.).

For man by nature, (consider him at best), can see no more, nor do no more than what the principles of nature understands and helps to do; which nature being below the discerning of things truly, spiritually, and savingly good, it must needs fall short of receiving, loving and delighting in them. ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor 2:14). Now I say, if the natural man at best (for the elect before conversion are no more, if quite so much) cannot do this, how shall they attain thereto, being now not only corrupted and infected, but depraved, bewitched and dead; swallowed up of unbelief, ignorance, confusion, hardness of heart, hatred of God, and the like? When a thorn by nature beareth grapes, and a thistle beareth figs, then may this thing be (Matt 7:16-18). To lay hold of and receive the gospel by a true and saving faith, it is an act of the soul as made a new creature, which is the workmanship of God: ‘Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God’ (2 Cor 5:5). ‘For a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit’ (Luke 6:43-45). ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin?’ (Jer 13:23).

But yet the cause of this impossibility.

1. Lieth not in reprobation, the elect themselves being as much unable to receive it as the other.

2. Neither is it because the reprobate is excluded in the tender, for that is universal.

3. Neither is it because there wanteth arguments in the tenders of the gospel, for there is not only plenty, but such as be persuasive, clear, and full of rationality.

4. Neither is it because these creatures have no need thereof, for they have broken the law.

5. Wherefore it is, because indeed they are by sin dead, captivated, mad, self-opposers, blind, alienated in their minds, and haters of the Lord. Behold the ruins that sin hath made!

Wherefore whoever receiveth the grace that is tendered in the gospel, they must be quickened by the power of God, their eyes must be opened, their understandings illuminated, their ears unstopped, their hearts circumcised, their wills also rectified, and the Son of God revealed in them. Yet as I said, not because there wanteth argument in these tenders, but because men are dead, and blind, and cannot hear the word. ‘Why do ye not understand my speech [saith Christ]; Even because ye cannot hear my word’ (John 8:43; Acts 9:15, 26:9,10; Psa 110:3; Gal 1:15; Matt 11:27).

For otherwise, as I said but now, there is, 1. Rationality enough in the tenders of the gospel. 2. Persuasions of weight enough to provoke to faith. And, 3. Arguments enough to persuade to continue therein.

1. Is it not reasonable that man should believe God in the proffer of the gospel and life by it? Is there not reason, I say, both from the truth and faithfulness of God, from the sufficiency of the merits of Christ, as also from the freeness and fullness of the promise? What unreasonable thing doth the gospel bid thee credit? Or what falsehood doth it command thee to receive for truth? Indeed in many points the gospel is above reason, but yet in never a one against it; especially in those things wherein it beginneth with the sinner, in order to eternal life.

2. Again, touching its persuasions to provoke to faith: With how many signs and wonders, miracles and mighty deeds, hath it been once and again confirmed, and that to this very end? (Heb 1:1-3; 1 Cor 14:22). With how many oaths, declarations, attestations, and proclamations, is it avouched, confirmed, and established? (Heb 6:17,18; Acts 13:32; Jer 3:12; Gal 3:15). And why should not credence be given to that gospel that is confirmed by blood, the blood of the Son of God himself? Yea, that gospel that did never yet fail any that in truth hath cast themselves upon it, since the foundation of the world (Heb 9:16-18, 12:1-3).

3. Again, as there is rationality enough, and persuasions sufficient, so there is also argument most prevalent to persuade to continue therein, and that to heartily, cheerfully, and unfeignedly, unto the end: did not, as I have said, blindness, madness, deadness, and willful rebellion, carry them away in the vanity of their minds, and overcome them (Eph 4:17-19).

(1.) For, first, if they could but consider how they have sinned, how they have provoked God, &c., if they could but consider what a dismal state the state of the damned is, and also, that in a moment their condition is like to be the same, would they not cleave to the gospel and live?

(2.) The enjoyment of God, and Christ, and saints, and angels, being the sweetest; the pleasures of heaven the most comfortable, and to live always in the greatest height of light, life, joy, and gladness imaginable, one would think were enough to persuade the very damned now in hell.

There is no man then perisheth for want of sufficient reason in the tenders of the gospel, nor any for want of persuasions to faith; nor yet because there wanteth arguments to provoke to continue therein. But the truth is, the gospel in this hath to do with unreasonable creatures; with such as will not believe it, and that because it is truth: ‘And because I tell you the truth, [saith Christ] therefore ye believe me not’ (John 8:45).

Quest. Well, but if this in truth be thus, how then comes it to pass that some receive it and live for ever? For you have said before, that the elect are as dead as the reprobate, and full as unable as they, as men, to close with these tenders, and live.

Answ. Doubtless this is true, and were the elect left to themselves, they, through the wickedness of their heart, would perish as do others. Neither could all the reasonable persuasive prevalent arguments of the gospel of God in Christ, prevail to make any receive it, and live. Wherefore here you must consider, that as there is mercy proclaimed in the general tenders of the gospel, so there is also the grace of election; which grace kindly over-ruleth and winneth the spirit of the chosen, working in them that unfeigned closing therewith, that makes it effectual to their undoubted salvation; which indeed is the cause that not only in other ages, but also to this day, there is a remnant that receive this grace; they being appointed, I say, thereto, before the world began; preserved in time from that which would undo them, and enabled to embrace the glorious gospel of grace, and peace, and life (1 Kings 19:18; Rom 11:5; 1 Thess 5:9).

Now there is a great difference between the grace of election, and the grace that is wrapped up in the general tenders of the gospel a difference, I say, and that both as to its timing, latituding, and working.

1. Touching its timing; it is before, yea long before, there was either tender of the grace wrapped up in the gospel to any, or any need of such a tender (Eph 1:4,5).

2. They also differ in latitude; the tenders of grace in the gospel are common and universal to all, but the extension of that of election special and peculiar to some. ‘There is a remnant according to the election of grace’ (Rom 11:5).

3. Touching the working of the grace of election; it differs much in some things from the working of the grace that is offered in the general tenders of the gospel. As is manifest in these particulars:

(1.). The grace that is offered in the general tenders of the gospel, calleth for faith to lay hold upon, and accept thereof; but the special grace of election, worketh that faith which doth lay hold thereof (Acts 16:31, 13:48; Phil 1:29; 2 Thess 1:11).

(2.) The grace that is offered in the general tenders of the gospel, calleth for faith, as a condition in us, without which there is no life; but the special grace of election worketh faith in us without any such condition (Mark 16:15,16; Rom 11:5,6).

(3.) The grace that is offered in the general tenders of the gospel, promiseth happiness upon the condition of persevering in the faith only; but the special grace of election causeth this perseverance (Col 1:23; Eph 2:10; Rom 11:7; 1 Peter 1:5-7).

(4.) The grace offered in the general tenders of the gospel, when it sparkleth most, leaveth the greatest part of men behind it; but the special grace of election, when it shineth least, doth infallibly bring every soul therein concerned to everlasting life (Rom 10:16, 8:33-35).

(5.) A man may overcome and put out all the light and life that is begotten in him by the general tenders of the gospel; but none shall overcome, or make void, or frustrate the grace of election (Jude 4; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Matt 24:24; Rom 11:1-3, &c.).

(6.) The general tenders of the gospel, considered without a concurrence of the grace of election, helps not the elect himself, when sadly fallen. Wherefore, when I say the grace that is offered in the general tenders of the gospel, I mean that grace when offered, as not being accompanied with a special operation of God’s eternal love, by way of conjunction therewith. Otherwise the grace that is tendered in the general offers of the gospel, is that which saveth the sinner now, and that brings him to everlasting life; that is, when conjoined with that grace that blesseth and maketh this general tender effectually efficacious. The grace of election worketh not without, but by these tenders generally; neither doth the grace thus tendered, effectually work, but by and with the grace of election: ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48): The word being then effectual to life, when the hand of the Lord is effectually therewith to that end (Mark 16:20). They ‘spake [saith the text] unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord’ (Acts 11:20,21).

We must always put difference between the word of the gospel, and the power that manageth that word; we must put difference between the common and more special operations of that power also; even as there is evidently a difference to be put between those words of Christ that were effectual to do what was said, and of those words of his which were but words only, or at least not so accompanied with power. As for instance: that same Jesus that said to the Leper, ‘Say nothing to any man,’ said also to Lazarus, ‘Come forth’; yet the one obeyed, the other did not; though he that obeyed was least in a capacity to do it, he being now dead, and stunk in his grave. Indeed unbelief hath hindered Christ much, yet not when he putteth forth himself as Almighty, but when he doth suffer himself by them to be abused who are to be dealt with by ordinary means: Otherwise legions of devils, with ten thousand impediments, must fall down before him, and give way unto him. There is a speaking, and a so speaking: ‘They so spake, that a great multitude, both of the Jews, and also of the Greeks, believed’ (Acts 14:1). Even as I have hinted already, there is a difference between the coming of the word when it is in power (1 Thess 1:5), and when it is in word only. So then, the blessed grace of election chooseth this man to good, not because he is good; it chooseth him to believe, not because he doth believe; it chooseth him to persevere, not because he doth so; it fore-ordains that this man shall be created in Christ Jesus unto good works (Eph 1:4-6), not if a man will create himself thereto (1 Peter 1:2; Eph 2:10).

What shall we say then? Is the fault in God, if any perish? Doubtless no; nor yet in his act of eternal reprobation neither: it is grace that saveth the elect, but sin that damns the rest: it is superabundant grace that causeth the elect to close with the tenders of life, and live; and it is the aboundings of sin that holds off the reprobate from the rational, necessary, and absolute tenders, of grace. To conclude then; the gospel calleth for credence as a condition, and that both from the elect and reprobate; but because none of them both, as dead in sin, will close therewith, and live; therefore grace, by virtue of electing love, puts forth itself to work and do for some beyond reason; and justice cuts off others, for slighting so good, so gracious, and necessary a means of salvation, so full both of kindness, mercy and reason.

CHAPTER 11.

Seeing [that] it is not possible that the reprobate should receive this grace and live, and also seeing [that] this is infallibly foreseen of God; and again, seeing God hath fore-determined to suffer it so to be; Why doth he yet will and command that the gospel, and so grace in the general tenders thereof, should be proffered unto them?

Why then is the gospel offered them? Well, that there is such a thing as eternal reprobation, I have shewed you; also what this eternal reprobation is, I have opened unto you: and shall now shew you also, that though these reprobates will infallibly perish, which God not only foresaw, but fore-determined to suffer them most assuredly so to do; yet there is reason, great reason, why the gospel, and so the grace of God thereby, should be tendered, and that in general terms, to them as well as others.

But before I come to lay the reasons before you, I must mind you afresh of these particulars:

1. That eternal reprobation makes no man a sinner.

2. That the fore-knowledge of God that the reprobate would perish makes no man a sinner.

3. That God’s infallibly determining upon the damnation of him that perisheth, makes no man a sinner.

4. God’s patience and long-suffering, and forbearance, until the reprobate fits himself for eternal destruction, makes no man a sinner.

So then, God may reprobate, may suffer the reprobate to sin, may pre-determine his infallible damnation, through the pre-consideration of him in sin, and may also forbear to work that effectual work in his soul that would infallibly bring him out of this condition, and yet neither be the author, contriver, nor means of man’s sin and misery.

Again, God may infallibly foresee that this reprobate, when he hath sinned, will be an unreasonable opposer of his own salvation; and may also determine to suffer him to sin, and be thus unreasonable to the end, yet be gracious, yea very gracious, if he offer him life, and that only upon reasonable terms, which yet he denieth to close with (Isa 1:18; 55:12).

The reasons are,

1. Because not God, but sin, hath made him unreasonable; without which, reasonable terms had done his work for him: for reasonable terms are the most equal and righteous terms that can be propounded between parties at difference; yea the terms that most suiteth and agreeth with a reasonable creature, such as man; nay, reasonable terms are, for terms, the most apt to work with that man whose reason is brought into and held captive by very sense itself (Eze 18; 33).

2. God goeth yet further, he addeth promises of mercy, as those that are inseparable to the terms he offereth, even to pour forth his Spirit unto them; ‘Turn at my reproof, and behold I will pour forth of my Spirit unto you, and incline your ear; come unto me, hear and your soul shall live’ (Prov 1:23-27).

Now then to the question itself, to wit, that seeing it is impossible the reprobate should be saved; seeing also this is infallibly foreseen of God, and seeing also that God hath beforehand determined to suffer it so to be; yet I shall shew you it is requisite, yea very requisite, that he should both will and command that the gospel, and so grace in the general tenders thereof should be proffered unto them.

FIRST REASON.—And that first, to shew that this reprobation doth not in itself make any man absolutely incapable of salvation: for if God had intended that by the act of reprobation, the persons therein concerned should also by that only act have been made incapable of everlasting life, then this act must also have tied up all the means from them, that tendeth to that end; or at least have debarred the gospel’s being offered to them by God’s command, for that intent; otherwise who is there but would have charged the Holy One as guilty of guile, and worthy of blame, for commanding that the gospel of grace and salvation should be offered unto this or that man, whom yet he hath made incapable to receive it, by his act of reprobation. Wherefore this very thing, to wit, that the gospel is yet to be tendered to these eternally reprobated, sheweth that it is not simply the act of God’s reprobation, but sin, that incapacitateth the creature of life everlasting. Which sin is no branch of this reprobation, as is evident, because the elect and reprobate are both alike defiled therewith.

SECOND REASON.—God also sheweth by this, that the reprobate do not perish for want of the offers of salvation, though he hath offended God, and that upon most righteous terms; according to what is written, ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live’ (Eze 33:11, 18:31,32). ‘Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts’ (Zech 1:3). So then, here lieth the point between God and the reprobate, I mean the reprobate since he hath sinned, God is willing to save him upon reasonable terms, but not upon terms above reason; but not reasonable terms will [go] down with the reprobate, therefore he must perish for his unreasonableness.

That God is willing to save even those that perish for ever, is apparent, both from the consideration of the goodness of his nature (Psa 145:9), of man’s being his creature, and indeed in a miserable state (Job 14:15, 3:16). But I say, as I have also said already, there is a great difference between his being willing to save them, through their complying with these his reasonable terms, and his being resolved to save them, whether they, as men, will close therewith, or no; so only he saveth the elect themselves, even ‘according to the riches of his grace’ (Eph 1:7). Even ‘according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus’ (Phil 4:19). Working effectually in them, what the gospel, as a condition, calleth for from them. And hence it is that he is said to give faith (Phil 1:29), yea the most holy faith, for that is the faith of God’s elect, to give repentance (Acts 5:31), to give a new heart, to give his fear, even that fear that may keep them for ever from everlasting ruin (Eph 1:4); still engaging his mercy and goodness to follow them all the days of their lives (Jer 32:40; Eze 36:26,27), that they may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Psa 23:6), and as another scripture saith, ‘Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing, is God’ (2 Cor 5:5; Rom 8:26, &c.).

But I say, his denying to do thus for every man in the world, cannot properly be said to be because he is not heartily willing they should close with the tenders of the grace held forth in the gospel, and live. Wherefore you must consider that there is a distinction to be put between God’s denying grace on reasonable terms, and denying it absolutely; and also that there is a difference between his withholding further grace, and of hindering men from closing with the grace at present offered; also that God may withhold much, when he taketh away nothing; yea, take away much, when once abused, and yet be just and righteous still. Further, God may deny to do this or that absolutely, when yet he hath promised to do, not only that, but more, conditionally. Which things considered, you may with ease conclude, that he may be willing to save those not elect, upon reasonable terms, though not without them.

It is no unrighteousness in God to offer grace unto the world, though but on these terms only, that they are also foreseen by him infallibly to reject; both because to reject it is unreasonable, especially the terms being so reasonable, as to believe the truth and live; and also because it is grace and mercy in God, so much as once to offer means of reconciliation to a sinner, he being the offender; but the Lord, the God offended; they being but dust and ashes, he the heavenly Majesty. If God, when man had broke the law, had yet with all severity kept the world to the utmost condition of it, had he then been unjust? Had he injured man at all? Was not every tittle of the law reasonable, both in the first and second table? How much more then is he merciful and gracious, even in but mentioning terms of reconciliation? especially seeing he is also willing so to condescend, if they will believe his word, and receive the love of the truth. Though the reprobate then doth voluntarily, and against all strength of reason, run himself upon the rocks of eternal misery, and split himself thereon, he perisheth in his own corruption, by rejecting terms of life (2 Thess 2:10; 2 Peter 2:12,13).

Object. But the reprobate is not now in a capacity to fulfil these reasonable terms.

Ans. But I say, suppose it should be granted, is it because reprobation made him incapable, or sin? Not reprobation, but sin: if sin, then before he quarrel, let him consider the case aright, where, in the result, he will find sin, being consented to by his voluntary mind, hath thus disabled him: and because, I say, it was sin by his voluntary consent that did it, let him quarrel with himself for consenting, so as to make himself incapable to close with reasonable terms; yea, with those terms because reasonable, therefore most suitable, as terms, for him notwithstanding his wickedness. And I say again, forasmuch as those reasonable terms have annexed unto them, as their inseperable companions, such wonderful mercy and grace as indeed there is, let even them that perish, yet justify God; yea cry, ‘His goodness endureth for ever’; though they, through the wretchedness of their hearts, get no benefit by it.

THIRD REASON.— God may will and command that his gospel, and so the grace thereof, be tendered to those that shall never be saved, (besides what hath been said) to shew to all spectators what an enemy sin, being once embraced, is to the salvation of man. Sin, without the tenders of the grace of the gospel, could never have appeared so exceeding sinful, as by that it both hath and doth: ‘If I had not come and spoken unto them, [saith Christ] they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin’ (John 15:22). As sins that oppose the law, are discovered by the law, that is, by the goodness, and justness, and holiness of the law (Rom 7); so the sins that oppose the gospel, are made manifest by that, even by the love, and mercy, and forgiveness of the gospel: If ‘he that despised Moses’ law died without mercy, – of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?’ (Heb 10:28,29). Who could have thought that sin would have opposed that which is just, but especially mercy and grace, had we not seen it with our eyes? And how could we have seen it to purpose, had not God left some to themselves? Here indeed is sin made manifest: ‘For all he had done so many miracles amongst them,’ (to wit, to persuade them to mercy) ‘yet they believed not on him’ (John 12:37). Sin, where it reigneth, is a mortal enemy to the soul; it blinds the eyes, holds the hands, ties the legs, and stops the ears, and makes the heart implacable to resist the Saviour of souls. That man will neither obey the law nor the gospel, who is left unto his sin: which also God is willing should be discovered and made manifest, though it cost the damnation of some: For this very purpose, saith God to Pharaoh, ‘have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared in all the earth’ (Exo 9:16; Rom 9:17). For God, by raising up Pharaoh to his kingdom, and suffering him to walk to the height, according as his sin did prompt him forward, shewed unto all beholders what a dreadful thing sin is; and that without the special assistance of his Holy Spirit, sin would neither be charmed by law nor gospel. This reason, though it be no profit unto those that are damned; yet it is for the honour of God, and the good of those he hath chosen.

It is for the honour of God, even for the honour of his power and mercy: for his power is now discovered indeed, when nothing can tame sin but that; and his mercy is here seen indeed; because that doth engage him to do it. Read Romans 9:22,23.

FOURTH REASON.—God commandeth that the tender of the gospel, and the grace thereof, be in general offered to all, that means thereby might be sufficiently provided for the elect, both to beget them to faith, and to maintain it in them to the end, in what place, or state, or condition soever they are (Eph 1). God, through the operation of his manifold wisdom, hath an end and an end in his acts and doings amongst the children of men: and, so in that he commandeth that his gospel be tendered to all, an end, I say, to leave the damned without excuse, and to provide sufficiency of means for the gathering all his elect. ‘Oh that God would speak, [saith Zophar] and open his lips against thee; and -shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is’ (Job 11:5,6). For though God worketh with and upon the elect, otherwise than with and upon the reprobate; yet he worketh with and upon the elect, with and by the same word he commandeth should be held forth and offered to the reprobate. Now the text thus running in most free and universal terms, the elect then hearing thereof, do through the mighty power of God close in with the tenders therein held forth, and are saved. Thus that word that was offered to the reprobate Jews, and by them most fiercely rejected, even that word became yet effectual to the chosen, and they were saved thereby. They gladly received the word, ‘and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48).[9] ‘Not as though the word of God had taken none effect’ (Rom 9:6). ‘God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew’ (11:2). The word shall accomplish the thing for which God hath sent it, even the salvation of the few that are chosen, when tendered to all; though rejected by most, through the rebellion of their hearts (Acts 28:28; Heb 4:1-3).

Object. But if God hath elected, as you have said, what need he lay a foundation so general for the begetting faith in his chosen particulars, seeing the same Spirit that worketh in them by such means, could also work in them by other, even by a word, excluding the most, in the first tenders thereof, amongst men?

Ans. I told you before, that though this be a principal reason of the general tenders of the grace of the gospel, yet it is not all the reason why the tender should be so general, as the three former reasons shew.

But again, in the bowels of God’s decree of election, is contained the means that are also ordained for the effectual bringing of those elected to that glory for which they were fore-appointed; even to gather together in one, all the children of God (John 11:52). ‘Whereunto he called you, [saith Paul] by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thess 2:14). God’s decree of election then, destroyeth not the means which his wisdom hath prepared, it rather establisheth, yea ordains and establisheth it; and maketh that means which in the outward sound is indefinite and general, effectual to this and that man, through a special and particular application (Gal 2:20,21): thus that Christ that in general was offered to all, is by a special act of faith applied to Paul in particular; ‘He loved me, and gave himself for me.’

Further, As the design of the Heavenly Majesty is to bring his elect to glory by means, so by the means thus universal and general, as most behooveful and fit; if we consider not only the way it doth please him to work with some of his chosen, in order to this their glory, but also the trials, temptations, and other calamities they must go through thereto.

1. Touching his working with some, how invisible is it to these in whose souls it is yet begun? How is the word buried under the clods of their hearts for months, yea years together? Only thus much is discovered thereof, it sheweth the soul its sin, the which it doth also so aggravate and apply to the conscience (Jesus still refraining, like Joseph, to make himself known to his brethren) that were there not general tenders of mercy, and that to the worst of sinners, they would soon miscarry, and perish, as do the sons of perdition. But by these the Lord upholdeth and helpeth them, that they stand, when others fall for ever (Psa 119:49).

2. And so likewise for their trials, temptations, and other calamities, because God will not bring them to heaven without, but by them; therefore he hath also provided a word so large, as to lie fair for the support of the soul in all conditions, that it may not die for thirst.

3. I might add also in this place, their imperfect state after grace received, doth call for such a word; yea, many other things which might be named: which God, only wise, hath thought fit should accompany us to the ship, yea in the sea, to our desired haven.

FIFTH REASON.—God willeth and commandeth the gospel should be offered to all, that thereby distinguishing love, as to an inward and spiritual work, might the more appear to be indeed the fruit of special and peculiar love. For in that the gospel is tendered to all in general, when yet but some do receive it; yea, and seeing these some are as unable, unwilling, and by nature, as much averse thereto, as those that refuse it, and perish; it is evident that something more of heaven and the operation of the Spirit of God doth accompany the word thus tendered for their life and salvation that enjoy it (1 Thess 1:4-7). Not now as a word barely tendered, but backed by the strength of heaven: ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ (1 John 3:1) even we who believe ‘according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead’ (Eph 1:20). This provoketh to distinguishing admiration, yea, and also to a love like that which hath fastened on the called, the preserved, and the glorified: ‘He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord’ (Psa 147:20). Now are the sacrifices bound even to the horns of the altar, with a ‘Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world!’ (John 14:22). He ‘sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters; he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me; for they were too strong for me’ (2 Sam 22:17; Psa 18:16).

For thus the elect considereth: though we all came alike into the world, and are the children of wrath by nature (Eph 2:1-3); yea, though we have alike so weakened ourselves by sin (Rom 3:9), that the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint (Isa 1:5), being altogether gone out of the way, and every one become altogether unprofitable, both to God and ourselves (Rom 3:12); yet that God should open mine eyes, convert my soul, give me faith, forgive my sins, raise me, when I fall; fetch me again, when I am gone astray; this is wonderful! (Psa 37:23). Yea, that he should prepare eternal mansions for me (Psa 23:6); and also keep me by his blessed and mighty power for that; and that in a way of believing, which without his assistance I am no way able to perform! (2 Cor 5:5). That he should do this notwithstanding my sins, though I had no righteousness! (Deut 9:5-7). Yea, that he should do it according to the riches of his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ our Lord! Even according to an everlasting covenant of grace, which yet the greatest part of the world are void of, and will for ever miss and fall short of! (Eze 16:60-63). Besides, that he should mollify my heart! break it, and then delight in it (Psa 51:17); put his fear in it, and then look to me (Isa 66:2; Psa 138:6), and keep me as the apple of his eye (Deut 32:10); yea, resolve to guide me with his counsel, and then receive me to glory! Further, that all this should be the effect of unthought of, undeserved, and undesired love! (Mal 1:2; Deut 7:7,8). That the Lord should think on this before he made the world (Jer 31:3), and sufficiently ordain the means before he had laid the foundation of the hills! For this he is worthy to be praised (1 Cor 2:9): yea, ‘Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord; praise ye the Lord.’

Object. But you have said before, that the reprobate is also blessed with many gospel mercies, as with the knowledge of Christ, faith, light, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the tastes or relish of the powers of the world to come: if so, then what should be the reason that yet he perisheth? Is it because the grace that he receiveth differeth from the grace that the elect are saved by? If they differ, where lieth the difference? Whether in the nature, or in the degree, or in the management thereof?

Ans. To this objection I might answer many things; but, for brevity, take this reply: That the non-elect may travel very far both in the knowledge, faith, light, and sweetness of Jesus Christ, and may also attain to the partaking of the Holy Ghost; yea, and by the very operation of these things also, escape the pollutions of the world, and become a visible saint, join in church-communion, and be as chief amongst the very elect themselves. This the scriptures every where do shew us.

The question then is, whether the elect and reprobate receive a differing grace? To which I answer, Yes, in some respects, both as to the nature thereof, and also the degree.

1. To begin then with the nature of it.

(1.) The faith that the chosen are blessed with, it goeth under another name than any faith besides, even the faith of God’s elect (Titus 1:1), as of a faith belonging to them only, of which none others do partake; which faith also, for the nature of it, is called faith most holy (Jude 20); to shew it goes beyond all other, and can be fitly matched no where else, but with their most blessed faith who infallibly attain eternal glory: even ‘like precious faith with us,’ saith Peter (2 Peter 1:1); with his elect companions. And so of other things. For if this be true, that they differ in their faith, they must needs therewith differ in other things: for faith being the mother grace, produceth all the rest according to its own nature, to wit, love that abounds, that never fails, and that is never contented till it attain the resurrection of the dead, &c. (2 Thess 1:3; 1 Cor 13:8; Phil 3).

(2.) They differ as to the nature, in this; the faith, and hope, and love, that the chosen receive, it is that which floweth from election itself; he hath blessed us ‘according as he hath chosen us’ (Eph 1:4,5), even with those graces he set apart for us, when he in eternity did appoint us to life before the foundation of the world: which graces, because the decree in itself is most absolute and infallible, they also, that they may completely answer the end, will do the work infallibly likewise, still through the management of Christ: ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not’ (Luke 22:32). But,

2. As they differ in nature, they differ also in degree: for though it be true that the reprobate is blessed with grace, yet this is also as true, that the elect are blessed with more grace. It is the privilege only of those that are chosen, to be blessed with ALL spiritual blessings, and to have ALL the good pleasure of the goodness of God fulfilled in and upon them. Those who are blessed with ALL spiritual blessings must needs be blessed with eternal life; and those in whom the Lord, not only works all his good pleasure, but fulfilleth all the good pleasure of his goodness upon them, they must needs be preserved to his heavenly kingdom (Eph 1:4,5; 1 Thess 1:10); but none of the non-elect have these things conferred upon them; therefore the grace bestowed upon the one, doth differ both in nature and degree from the other.

3. There is a difference as to the management also. The reprobate is principal for the management of the grace he receiveth, but Jesus Christ is principal for the management of the grace the elect receiveth. When I say principal, I mean chief; for though the reprobate is to have the greatest hand in the management of what mercy and goodness the Lord bestoweth on him, yet not so as that the Lord will not help him at all; nay contrariwise he will, if first the reprobate do truly the duty that lieth on him: ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? but if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door’ (Gen 4:7). Thus it was also with Saul, who was rejected of God upon this account (1 Sam 13:11-14, 15:26). And I say, as to the elect themselves, though Jesus Christ our blessed Saviour be chief, as to the management of the grace bestowed on his chosen, yet not so as that he quite excludeth them from ‘striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily’ (Col 1:29). Nay contrariwise, if those who in truth are elect, shall yet be remiss, and do wickedly, they shall feel the stroke of God’s rod, it may be till their bones do break. But because the work doth not lie at their door to manage as chief, but as Christ’s, therefore though he may perform his work with much bitterness and grief to them; yet he being engaged as the principal, will perform that which concerneth them, even until the day (the coming) of Jesus Christ (Psa 138:8; Phil 1:6).

From what hath been said, there ariseth this conclusion:

The elect are always under eternal mercy, but those not elect always under eternal justice; for you must consider this: there is eternal mercy and eternal justice, and there is present mercy and present justice. So then, for a man to be in a state of mercy, it may be either a state of mercy present, or both present and eternal also. And so again for a man to be in a state under justice, it may be understood either of present justice only, or of both present and eternal also.

That this may yet further be opened, I shall somewhat enlarge.

I begin with present mercy and present justice. That which I call present mercy, is that faith, light, knowledge, and taste of the good word of God, that a man may have, and perish. This is called in scripture, Believing for a while, during for a while, and rejoicing in the light for a season (Heb 6:4,5; 2 Peter 2:20; Matt 13:22; Luke 8:13). Now I call this mercy, both because none, as men, can deserve it, and also because the proper end thereof is to do good to those that have it. But I call it present mercy, because those that are only blessed with that, may sin it away, and perish; as did some of the Galatians, Hebrews, Alexandrians, with the Asians, and others (Gal 5:4; Heb 12:15,16; 1 Tim 1:20; 2 Tim 2:18, 1:15; Heb 12:15). But yet observe again, I do not call this present mercy, because God hath determined it shall last but a while absolutely; but because it is possible for man to lose it, yea determined he shall, conditionally (John 5:35; 1 Cor 12:7).

Again, as to present justice, it is that which lasteth but a while also; and as present mercy is properly the portion of those left out of God’s election, so present justice chiefly hath to do with God’s beloved; who yet at that time are also under eternal mercy. This is that justice that afflicted Job (6:4), David (Psa 88, 38:3), Heman, and the godly, who notwithstanding do infallibly attain, by virtue of this mercy, eternal life and glory (Amos 3:2; 1 Cor 11:30,31; Psa 30:5, 103:9; 1 Peter 1:6). I call this justice, because in some sense God dealeth with his children according to the quality of their transgressions; and I call it also present justice, because though the hand of God for the present be never so heavy on those that are his by election, yet it lasteth but a while; wherefore though this indeed be called wrath, yet is but a little wrath, wrath for a moment, time, or season. ‘In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer’ (Isa 54:8).

Thus you see there is present mercy and present justice; also that the elect may be under present justice, when the rest may be under present mercy.

Again, As there is present mercy and present justice, so there is eternal mercy and eternal justice: and I say, as the elect may be under present justice, when the non-elect may be under present mercy; so the elect at that time are also under eternal mercy, but the other under eternal justice.

That the elect are under eternal mercy, and that when under present justice, is evident from what hath been said before, namely, from their being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; as also from the consideration of their sound conversion, and safe preservation quite through this wicked world, even safe unto eternal life; as he also saith by the prophet Jeremiah, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee’ (31:3). And hence it is that he calleth the elect his sheep (John 10:16), his children (11:52), and people (Acts 18:9,10), and that before conversion; for though none of them as yet were his children by calling, yet were they his according to election.

Now the elect being under this eternal grace and mercy, they must needs be under it both before present justice seizeth upon them, while it seizeth them, and also continueth with them longer than present justice can, it being from everlasting to everlasting. This being so, here is the reason why no sin, nor yet temptation of the enemy, with any other evil, can hurt or destroy those thus elect of God: yea this is that which maketh even those things that in themselves are the very bane of men, yet prove very much for good to those within this purpose (Rom 8:28). And as David saith, ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted’ (Psa 119:71). And again, ‘But when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world’ (1 Cor 11:32). Now afflictions, &c., in themselves are not only fruitless and unprofitable, but, being unsanctified, are destructive; ‘I smote him, and he went on frowardly’ (Isa 57:17). But now eternal mercy working with this or that affliction, makes it profitable to the chosen; ‘I have seen his ways, and will heal him, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners’ (v 18). As he saith in another place, ‘Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, and teachest him out of thy law’ (Psa 94:12). For eternal mercy doth not look on those who are the elect and chosen of God, as poor sinful creatures only, but also as the generation whom the Lord hath blessed, in whom he hath designed to magnify his mercy to the utmost, by pardoning the transgressions of the remnant of his heritage (1 Peter 2:9; Micah 7:18,19). ‘Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, – wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved’ (Eph 1:6). Wherefore, I say, the elect, as they do also receive that grace and mercy that may be sinned away, so they have that grace and mercy which cannot be lost, and that sin cannot deprive them of, even mercy that abounds, and goeth beyond all sin; such mercy as hath engaged the power of God, the intercession of Christ, and the communication of the blessed Spirit of adoption, which Spirit also engageth the heart, directs it into the love of God, that it may not depart from God after that rate as the reprobates do (Eph 5:29,30). ‘I will make an everlasting covenant with them, [saith God] that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me’ (Jer 32:40).

But now I say, God’s dealing with the non-elect, is far otherwise, they being under the consideration of eternal justice, even then when in the enjoyment of present grace and mercy. And hence it is that as to their standing before the God of heaven, they are counted dogs, and sows, and devils, even then when before the elect of God themselves they are counted saints and brethren: ‘The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire’ (2 Peter 2:22). And the reason is, because notwithstanding all their shew before the world, their old nature and corruptions do still bear sway within, which in time also, according to the ordinary judgment of God, is suffered so to shew itself, that they are visible to saints that are elect, as was the case of Simon Magus, and that wicked apostate Judas, who ‘went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us’ (1 John 2:19). They were not elect as we, nor were they sanctified as the elect of God themselves; wherefore eternal justice counts them the sons of perdition, when under their profession. And I say, they being under this eternal justice, it must needs have to do with them in the midst of their profession; and because also it is much offended with them for conniving with their lust, it taketh away from them, and that most righteously, those gifts and graces, and benefits and privileges that present mercy gave them; and not only so, but cuts them off for their iniquity, and layeth them under wrath for ever. They ‘have forsaken the right way, [saith God] – following the way of Baalam the son of Bosor; – these are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest’; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, ‘for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever’ (2 Peter 2:5,16,17; Jude 11-13; John 17:12; Matt 13:12, 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18).

These things thus considered, you see,

1. That there is present grace and present mercy, eternal grace and eternal mercy.

2. That the elect are under eternal mercy, and THAT, when under present justice; and that the reprobate is under eternal justice, and THAT when under present mercy.

3. Thus you see again, that the non-elect perish by reason of sin, notwithstanding present mercy, because of eternal justice; and that the elect are preserved from the death, though they sin and are obnoxious to the strokes of present justice, by reason of eternal mercy. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid: ‘He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and compassion on whom he will have compassion’ (Rom 9:15).

FOOTNOTES:

[1] ‘Shedding words’ means ‘scattering or spreading words,’ as in Acts 2:33; now obsolete.—Ed.

[2] As election took place before the creation of man—all men in Adam were decreed, made and turned into the world upright.—Ed.

[3] ‘Prevents our doing good.’ Few words in the English language have more altered in their meaning than ‘prevent’; it is derived from ‘praevenio,’ to go before. In Bunyan’s time, it meant ‘to go before,’ ‘clear the way,’ ‘make the way easy’ for our doing good. Its present meaning is ‘to obstruct,’ by going or standing before us.—Ed.

[4] They who diligently attend to the scriptures, will find throughout the whole a vein of election and reprobation. The holy seed may be traced in many instances, and in divers families, in the Bible, from Adam to the birth of our Saviour, whose ancestors, according to the flesh, were of the line of election or the godly; which those who are only born after the flesh, and not after the Spirit, namely, the reprobate, have always despised and persecuted, and will do so to the end of time—Mason and Ryland.

[5] It is of God’s mere mercy and grace that any sinners are called and admitted to the privilege of justification and adoption, upon God’s own terms. The reason why the sinful and unworthy heathen (of whom Britain is a part) were called to be a people, who were not a people, while the Jews were left out and cast off for their obstinate unbelief, was not because the Gentiles were either more worthy or more willing (for they were all dead in trespasses and sins), but from God’s discriminating grace and mercy.—Mason and Ryland.

[6] The final condemnation of the wicked does not spring from God’s sovereign will to destroy any of his rational creatures; this is evident from the many pressing invitations, declarations, and promises in the word of God: for Jehovah swears by his great self, that he desires not the death of a sinner. Our Lord assigns the cause of reprobation in these words, (John 5:40) ‘Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life’; wherefore Christ, the only remedy for their cure, being rejected, the sinner is condemned, and rendered the object of wrath and punishment by the law and justice of God; because the same word of truth which says, ‘Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely,’ also says, ‘The soul that sinneth [or lives and dies in sin unpardoned] shall die.’ Thus sin is the object of God’s hatred, and not the man, abstractedly considered. May we therefore each of us have grace to look to Christ for full and complete salvation, who hath put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, whereby he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified!—Ryland and Mason.

[7] ‘Secret things belong to God, but those that are revealed belong to us.’ It is a vain thing for men to cavil at the doctrine of peculiar election, and to quarrel with God for choosing some, and passing by others. Their best way would be to assure themselves of their own election, by using the means, and walking in the ways of God’s appointment, as laid down in the word, and then they will find that God cannot deny himself, but will make good to them every promise therein; and thus, by scripture evidence, they will find that they are elected unto life, and will be thankful and humble. They will then find that an hearty affectionate trusting in Christ for all his salvation, as freely promised to us, hath naturally enough in it to work in our souls a natural bent and inclination to, and ability for, the practice of all holiness.—Ryland and Mason.

[8] None are excluded the benefit of the great and precious salvation procured and finished by the Lord Jesus Christ, but they, who by perverseness, unbelief, and impenitency, exclude themselves. Sinners,—miserable, helpless, and hopeless sinners, are the objects of this salvation: whosoever is enabled to see, in the light of God’s Spirit, their wretched and forlorn state; to feel their want of Christ as a suitable Saviour, and to repent and forsake their sins, shall find mercy; for ‘God is no respecter of persons’ (Acts 10:34).—Ryland and Mason.

[9] As the same sun which softens the wax, hardens the clay, so it is with the preached gospel, which is to some ‘the savour of death unto death, and to others the savour of life unto life’ (2 Cor 2:16). The gospel is ineffectual to any saving purpose respecting the reprobate; partly through pride, and in not enduring to be reproved by it; partly through slothfulness, in not coming under the sound of it; and principally through cursed infidelity, in not believing the gracious message it brings. Let it be well attended to, that all who hear the gospel, are obliged to the duty of believing, as well as to all the duties of the moral law, and that before they know their particular election; for we cannot have a certain knowledge of our election to eternal life before we do believe: it is a thing hidden in the unsearchable counsel of God, until it be manifest by our effectual calling, and believing on Christ; therefore we must believe on Christ before we know our election; or else we shall never know it, and shall never believe. All joy, peace, comfort, assurances, are communicated to the soul in the way of believing. May the Lord give and increase saving faith!—Mason and Ryland.

THE DOCTRINE OF PARTICULAR ELECTION AND FINAL PERSEVERANCE EXPLAINED AND VINDICATED By Isaac Backus

THE DOCTRINE
OF
PARTICULAR ELECTION
AND
FINAL PERSEVERANCE
EXPLAINED AND VINDICATED
By Isaac Backus,
PASTOR OF A CHURCH IN MIDDLEBOROUGH.
Yea, let God be true, but every Man a Liar. –
The Election obtained it, and the Rest were blinded.
Rom. iii 4; xi 7.
BOSTON:
Printed and sold by SAMUEL H ALL at No. 53, Cornhill.
MDCCLXXXIX.

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Teachers who turn grace into lasciviousness have men’s persons in admiration because of advantage, Jude 4, 16. With such, nothing can be too bad to say of any who expose their darling errors, while they will not allow us to be charitable if we cannot think them all to be good men, whom they admire. But in what follows I have endeavored to open principles and facts plainly and to leave every reader to judge of men by their fruits and not by their plausible pretences.

Middleboro, July 25, 1789.
PARTICULAR ELECTION
and
FINAL PERSEVERANCE
Vindicated

Controversy is generally complained of and peace is earnestly sought, but often in a way which denies to all others the liberty we claim for ourselves. The revealed will of God is the only perfect law of liberty, but how little is it believed and obeyed by mankind. Both the Hebrew and Christian churches were to be wholly governed by it, and when the first King of Israel presumed to violate a plain command of God, and then thought to atone for it by acts of worship, he was guilty of rebellion, which is as the sin of witchcraft, 1. Sam. xv, 23. And in like way Mystery Babylon by her sorceries has deceived all nations, and in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth, Rev. xviii, 23, 24. Yet these extensive terms are so limited by carnal reasoners that none of them, in any nation, will allow themselves to be of that bloody city. And at the same time they are for extending general words of grace beyond any limits and are ready to accuse us with making God deceitful if we hold that he did not design the merits of his Son equally for all mankind. If we inquire then, why all are not saved? the general answer is that they would not receive that salvation, or if they did for awhile, and then turned away from it, God rejects and destroys them therefor. We readily grant that God always rewards the righteous and never destroys any for anything but sin and iniquity, but this cannot content many without we will allow that grace hath put power into the wills of all mankind to become righteous and to obtain salvation when they shall please to set about it in earnest. The fruit of which is that men neglect the great salvation because they love darkness rather than light. Yea, everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, Heb. ii, 3; John iii, 19, 20. And when any are brought to obey the truth and so come to the light, every art is made use of to get them into darkness again if possible.
This has been remarkably the case in the southern parts of America. Many of their teachers were so dark as to swear profanely, drink to excess, and follow gaming and at the same time to preach up do and live to their people. But the light of the pure Gospel produced some reformation among them above forty years ago, and it has greatly increased since 1768, as I was well informed when I was called to travel and preach in Virginia and North Carolina last winter. But after this reformation had spread extensively, the followers of Mr. John Wesley introduced his writings against particular election and final perseverance and thereby greatly obstructed the work. I was therefore requested to publish a brief answer thereto. His first piece on that subject was published above fifty years ago under the title of Free Grace, and it was closed with a hymn called Universal Redemption, and therein he says,
Thine eye surveyed the fallen race,
When sunk in sin they lay,
Their misery called for all thy grace,
But justice stopped the way.
Mercy the fatal bar removed,
Thy only Son it gave,
To save a world so dearly loved,
A sinful world to save.
For every man he tasted death,
He suffered once for all,
He calls as many souls as breathe,
And all may hear the call.
A power to choose, a will t’ obey,
Freely his grace restores;
We all may find the living way,
And call the Savior ours.
He denied that man had any natural liberty of will left after the fall until it was restored by grace. This he more explicitly did in a pamphlet on predestination, election, and reprobation published in 1776; and said upon it, „We believe, that in the moment Adam fell he had no freedom of will left but that God, when of his own free grace he gave the promise of a Savior to him and his posterity, graciously restored to mankind a liberty and power to accept of proffered salvation,” p. 16. But if the fall took all natural liberty of choice from man until grace restored it, then the fall released him from the authority of the law of God as it was first given to him, and he never hath been under it since, but under grace. The beasts are not under that law because they never had the powers of thinking and choice as rational creatures have, and if men are not under that law, what are they better than beasts? Yea, do they not corrupt themselves more than brute beasts that know and obey their owners? Jude 10; Isai. i, 2-4. And if all freedom of will is from grace, then it is only by grace that any have power to sin against God, as none can sin against him who have no natural liberty of will. This opinion is most plainly confuted by the case of the fallen angels who never had any grace revealed to them. Yet the Devil sinneth from the beginning, and all wilful sinners are children of the Devil in opposition to all those who are born of God, John iii, 8-10. In the same book Mr. Wesley says, „1. God’s love was the cause of his sending his Son to die for sinners. 2. Christ’s dying for sinners is the cause of the Gospel’s being preached. 3. The preaching of the Gospel is the cause (or means) of our believing. 4. Our believing is the cause or condition of our justification. 5. The knowing ourselves justified through his blood is the cause of our love to Christ. 6. Our love to Christ is the cause of our obedience to him. 7. Our obedience to Christ is the cause of his becoming the author of eternal salvation to us,” p. 8.
And is not this going about to establish our own righteousness? For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man who doth those things, shall live by them. This is a zeal of God but not according to knomledge, Rom. x, 2-5. Mr. Wesley goes on to say, „I shall now briefly show the dreadful absurdities that follow from saying Christ died only for the elect. If Christ died not for all, then unbelief is no sin in them that finally perish, seeing there is not anything for those men to believe unto salvation for whom Christ died not. 2. If Christ died not for all men then it would be a sin in the greatest part of mankind to believe he died for them, seeing it would be to believe a lie. 3. If Christ died not for those that are damned, then they are not damned for unbelief, otherwise you say, that they are damned for not believing a lie. 4. If Christ died not for all, then those who obey Christ by going and preaching the Gospel to every creature as glad tidings of grace and peace, of great joy to all people, do sin thereby, in that they go to most people with a lie in their mouth. 5. If Christ died not for all men, then God is not in earnest in calling all men everywhere to repent, for what good could repentance do those for whom Christ died not? 6. If Christ died not for all, then why does he say, He is not willing that any should perish? Surely he is willing, yea, resolved that most men should perish, else he would have died for them also. 7. How shall God judge the world by the man Christ Jesus if Christ did not die for the world or how shall he judge them according to the Gospel when there was never any Gospel or mercy for them?” p.14.
Answer. If Christ died with a design to save all men, why are not all saved? Can the Devil cheat him of a great part of his purchase? Or can men defeat his merciful designs? No, say many, he died for all, and he will finally save all. Others go farther and conclude that a God of infinite goodness could not give existence to any creature that shall be miserable without end, but that he will finally deliver every child of Adam from Hell, though many of them will be tormented therein for ages of ages. But how is their deceit here discovered? Fallen angels were as really the creatures of God as fallen men, yet no salvation was ever revealed for them, but they are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. And this is a clear evidence against ungodly men who turn grace into lasciviousness, Jude 4, 6. God was so far from ever proclaiming atonement to all men, without any exception, that he said, The soul that doth ought presumptuously, the same reproacheth the Lord and that soul shall be cut of from among his people. And for such presumption, Korah and his company perished most terribly, Num. xv, 30; xvi, 1-3, 31-34. And teachers who privily brought damnable heresies into the Christian Church were presumptuous and self-willed under the name of liberty. They despised government and perished in the gainsaying of Core, 2 Pet. ii, 1, 10, 19; Jude 11. For if the inability of debtors and criminals could release them from the authority of the laws, until rulers would give them power to bring the government to their own terms, how would all dominion be despised! These filthy dreamers have now filled the world with Babylonian confusion, Jude 8. The Jews called it heresy in Paul to believe in and obey Jesus as a lawgiver above Moses, Acts xxiv, 14 And this is the first place where the word heresy is used in the Bible, and if we observe what is said in the last chapter in it of every man who shall add to or take from its words, must we not conclude that all men who do so and violently impose their inventions upon others are guilty of heresy? The head of the Church of Rome assumed God’s place in the Church, and exalted himself above God, who never could violate his promise or his oath or entice any into sin, and how justly are all those given up to strong delusion who practice either of these evils? 2 Thess. ii, 3-12; Heb. vi, 18; James i, 13-15. And how happy should we soon be if these iniquities were excluded from our land?
True believers are so far from presuming upon the secret designs of God that when the same are revealed, they dare not make his designs but his laws the rule of their conduct. Though his design of removing Saul and making David King over Israel was clearly revealed, yet David refused to kill Saul when greatly provoked thereto because he had no direction to do it. Neither did David assume the regal power over Israel until each tribe freely received him as their King by a solemn covenant. But the envious Jews no sooner had it declared to them that Jesus was to die for that nation than from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death, John xi, 53. Hereby we may see the plain difference between true believers and reprobates. For unto the pure all things are pure but unto the defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient and unto every good work reprobate, Titus i, 15, 16. In this way, teachers who turn grace into lasciviousness deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ, Jude 4. But many are deceived by them because in words they profess to know him. Since Christ was exalted to the right hand of the Father his only priests upon earth are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Being born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever. These are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Pet. i, 2, 23; ii, 5, 9. But Mr. Wesley, in his piece on predestination, election, and reprobation, says, „They were chosen through belief of the truth and called to believe it by the Gospel; therefore they were not chosen before they believed, much less before they had a being,” p. 5. And in his sermon from Rom. viii, 29, 30, he says, „God looking on all ages from the creation to the consummation as a moment and seeing at once whatever is in the hearts of all the children of men knows every one that does or does not believe in every age or nation. Yet what he knows, whether faith or unbelief, is in no wise caused by his knowledge. Men are as free in believing or not believing, as if he did not know it at all,” p. 6.
I readily grant that his knowledge does not cause any sin, which is altogether of the creature. The angels who fell kept not the first estate but left their own habitation, Jude 6. And those who stood were elect angels, i Tim. v, 21. And sin came into human nature by violating a known command. And Adam was a figure of Jesus Christ, and therefore death reigned over all his posterity, many of whom never committed any actual transgression, as he did. And the word as, so often used in this affair, cannot be true in any sense if both Adam and Christ were not heads and representatives of all the seed of each. It is certain that Adam was not a figure of Christ, as he conveyed death and ruin to his posterity by a just sentence of law; for Christ conveys life and salvation to souls by a free gift of grace. Neither could Adam be a figure of Christ in the great things that he did by one offence, for Christ atoned for many offences; therefore where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, Rom. v, 12-21. Even to the resurrection of the dead, i Cor. xv, 21, 22. I say the word as cannot be true in all these places unless those two men acted for all their seed. Many would have it, that this word cannot be true unless Christ atoned for as many as fell in Adam, but certain death came upon all Adam’s race while multitudes hold that salvation by Christ is uncertain and depends upon the wills of individuals. In this view they would make Christ vastly inferior to Adam whose doings were efficacious, and the doings of Christ exceeding precarious, upon their plan. And they who hold that Christ will finally save all the race of Adam from Hell yet imagine that the creature’s suffering must save them and not the efficacy of the death and grace of Christ. Or if they hold that he will save all from future sufferings, they hold also that he hath now saved them from the authority of the law of God, which Adam never did. By the sentence of it every child of Adam returns to the dust, the righteous as well as the wicked, so that if the doings of Christ are not efficacious for the final salvation of his seed, it cannot truly be said that as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Adam was made upright, but Solomon could not tell how many inventions his children would seek out, Eccl. vii, 29. A darling one in our day is that a man cannot be worthy of reward or punishment unless he hath power in his will to become righteous when he pleaseth. And if so, then faith would be of himself and not the gift of God, directly against the truth of his Word, Eph. ii, 8. Boasting could not be excluded in such a case, as it is by the law of faith, Rom. iii, 27. So that this controversy is not with poor worms but with the eternal God. His will was as really exercised in raising up Pharaoh and others and suffering them to go far in their rebellion and in oppressing the saints, as it was in finally destroying the former and saving the latter. But the objection against this doctrine was and is, Why doth he yet find fault? for who hath ever resisted his will? This was the language of those who followed after the law of righteousness but did not attain to it because they sought it not by faith but as it were by the works of the law, Rom. ix, 16-32. Yea, and those who do so are exceeding partial in the law.
Mr. Wesley in his book called Predestination Calmly Considered says, „I believe election to be conditional, as well as the reprobation opposite thereto. I believe the eternal decree concerning both is expressed in those words, He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not, shall be damned. And this decree without doubt God will not change, and man cannot resist,” p. 10. But where did he make any such decree? In the Gospel commission, he says, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, Mark xvi, 16. But men have presumed to alter that decree ever since the third century, before which no man hath proved that infant baptism was ever named in the world. By baptism believers put on Christ, Gal. iii, 27. Which no one can do for another any more than one can be saved or damned for another in eternity. Christ is the only lawgiver to his Church, and when Kings shall become nursing fathers to her they will bow down to his authority therein, Isai. xlix, 23. And how great is the difference betwixt a nurse and a whoremaster. The good tidings to Zion is, Thy God reigneth. And with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, Isai. iii, 7; Rom. x, 10, 15. And none will be owned by him in the last day who are now ashamed to confess him before men, Matt. x, 32, 33. And if God looked on all ages as a moment, how could he elect persons and then reject them again in that moment? Yet Wesley says, „One who is a true believer or, in other words, one who is holy or righteous in the judgment of God himself, may nevertheless finally fall from grace,” p. 49.
His first argument to prove this assertion is taken from God’s saying, When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity, in his trespass that he hath trespassed and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die, Ezek. xviii, 24. From whence Wesley says, „One who is righteous in the judgment of God himself may finally fall from grace,” p. 51. Answer, God never promised to support any one in an unrighteous way, neither will he destroy any true penitent for his own sins or for the iniquity of his fathers. And if God cannot speak of these things in a conditional way without having the final event uncertain in his own infinite mind until the creature decides it, then this argument may stand, and not else. And if the creature could disappoint the Creator, then we should fear man more than God. A horrible evil! A second argument is drawn from 1 Tim. i, 18, 19, from whence it is said, „Observe, 1. These men had once the faith that produceth a good conscience, which they had or they could not have put it away. 2. They made shipwreck of the faith, which necessarily implies the total and final loss of it,” p. 51. But in the same chapter it is said, „The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned; from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.” And if men cannot be greatly enlightened and reformed by the Spirit of truth and yet afterwards swerve from it and put it away, without ever being born again, then this argument may stand and not otherwise. His third argument is framed from Rom. xi, 17, etc. Upon which he says, „Those who are grafted into the spiritual, invisible church may nevertheless finally fail,” p. 53. To which I reply that the unbelieving Jews failed from the visible church, and saving faith was necessary to graft the Gentiles into it, who ought not to be high-minded but fear, as is very evident from this passage, and God says, I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me, Jer. xxxii, 40. And who will dare to contradict him! Mr. Wesley takes his fourth argument from John xv, 1-6, from whence he infers, „That true believers, who are branches of the true vine, may nevertheless finally fail,” p. 55. But as Christ is the only head of the true church, many may be visible branches in him and yet be cast into the fire for their unfruitfulness while living branches are purged and made more fruitful. And to such Christ said in the same chapter, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit and your fruit should remain. Afterwards he said to the Father, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none, John xviii, 9. Yet, fifthly, Mr. Wesley brings 2 Pet. ii, 20, 21, to prove that „Those who by the inward knowledge of Christ have escaped the pollutions of the world, may yet fall back into those pollutions and perish everlastingly,” p. 56. But all ought to know that the dog who returns to his vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire, never had their natures changed, though their behavior was so for awhile. Therefore we are warned against giving the holy things of the church to dogs, swine, or wolves as far as we can discover them by their fruits, Matt. vii, 6, 15. His sixth argument is taken from Heb. vi, 4-8, p. 56. But we may see that the persons here spoken of are like ground which beareth thorns and briars and are entirely distinct from souls who receive the seed into good ground, Matt. xiii, 23. Our author takes his seventh argument from Heb. x, 38, which he says, if rightly translated, is, „If the just man that lives by faith draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him,” p. 58. But we ought to know that living by faith and drawing back are two opposite things, and the first is here urged as an effectual guard against the last. Eighthly, our opponent brings Heb. x, 26-29, to prove „That those who are sanctified by the blood of the new covenant may yet perish everlastingly,” p. 62. But though persons who sin willfully against the laws, blood, and Spirit of Christ will have a much sorer punishment than they who died without mercy under the law of Moses, yet this cannot prove that any such person was ever truly regenerated. However, after quoting many more Scripture warnings against disobedience and apostasy, Mr. Wesley lets us know that he would not have us consider this doctrine by itself „but as it stands in connection with unconditional reprobation, that millstone which hangs about the neck of your whole hypothesis,” p. 65.
From whence we may see that the plain language of revelation is of no avail with him against his horrid ideas of reprobation. When any try to put that terrible word out of their minds, he says, „To think about a certain number of souls, whom alone God hath decreed to save, in that very thought reprobation lurks; it entered your heart the moment that entered; it stays as long as that stays, and you cannot speak that thought, without speaking reprobation. True, it is covered with fig leaves so that a heedless eye may not observe it to be there. But if you narrowly observe, unconditional election cannot appear without the cloven foot of reprobation,” p. 9. Answer, we well know that the doctrine of particular election implies that the rest of mankind are left to perish in their sins as God might justly have dealt with us all. But this idea is rejected by Mr. Wesley. And when it was said, „You know in your own conscience that God might justly have passed by you,” he said, „I deny it. That God might justly, for my unfaithfulness to his grace, have given me up long ago, I grant, but this concession supposes me to have had that grace which you say a reprobate never had,” p. 18. Answer, We are far from believing that all the natural liberty of men is by grace, as he hath asserted, for God says, In the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such men turn away. These resist the truth; reprobate concerning the faith, 2 Tim. iii, 1-8. This is a most exact description of the reprobates of our day. But I am far from thinking that grace gave them a power to love themselves above God and their neighbors and to run into all this wickedness under a form of Godliness, while they deny the power thereof. Yea, do not all those deny the power of it who deny particular election and final perseverance? Mr. Wesley says, „I have heard that God the Father made a covenant with his Son before the world began wherein the Son agreed to suffer such and such things and the Father to give him such and such souls for a recompense; that in consequence of this those souls must be saved, and those only, so that all others must be damned.” This idea of the covenant he rejects and says, „The tenor of it is this, Whosoever believeth unto the end, so as to show his faith by his works, I the Lord will reward that soul eternally. But whosoever will not believe, and consequently dieth in his sins, I will punish him with everlasting destruction,” pp. 44, 45. And what difference is there between this and saying, The man that doth them shall live in them? They who turn the Gospel into this sense are bewitched, Gal. iii, 1, 12. As to the covenant, Jesus said, I lay down my life for the sheep. Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father who gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. Jesus lifted up his eyes to Heaven and said, Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. As thou hast given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him, John x, 15, 26-29; xvii, 1, 2. If particular election and final perseverance are not contained in these passages, I know not what can be intended therein. And as Mr. Wesley and his followers are so vehement against that doctrine and tell of showing their faith by their works, it is needful to examine some of their works concerning America.
In November 1763, Mr. Wesley said in his Journal, „Many have been convinced of sin, many justified, and many backsliders healed. But the peculiar work of this season has been what St. Paul calls The perfecting of the saints. Many persons in London, in Bristol, in York, and in various parts both of England and Ireland have experienced so deep and universal a change as it had not before entered into their hearts to conceive. After a deep conviction of inbred sin, of their total fall from God, they have been so filled with faith and love (and generally in a moment) that sin vanished, and they found from that time no pride, anger, desire or unbelief. They could rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks. Now whether we call this the destruction or suspension of sin, it is a glorious work of God. Such work as considering both the depth and extent of it, we never saw in these kingdoms before. It is possible some who spoke in this manner were mistaken, and it is certain some have lost what they then received.” That many of them were mistaken can easily be believed; much easier than to believe that any of them were perfect and then fell from it. For as long as their controversy in Britain about taxing America was carried on by words Mr. Wesley openly appeared in our favor, but when they came to blows, he shifted sides and exerted all his extensive influence in that bloody cause, and so did Mr. John Fletcher, an author much esteemed by that sect. Mr. Wesley was in the city of Bristol in September 1774, and highly recommended to his friends a pamphlet wrote by M. P. entitled An Argument in Defence of the Exclusive Right Claimed by the Colonies to Tax Themselevs. But when the sword was drawn the next year, Mr. Wesley took out the substance of a piece wrote by Dr. J. entitled, Taxation no Tyranny and added some warm reflections of his own and published the whole as his own to inflame all his followers against us. Therefore a Baptist minister in Bristol published a brief answer to him with a mention of these facts under the name of Americanus. Hereupon Wesley reprinted his pamphlet, with a preface in which he said, „The book which this writer says I so strongly recommended, I never yet saw with my eyes. The words which he says I spoke never came out of my lips.” Two of his friends in Bristol each wrote to him that they knew he herein wronged the truth, yet he refused to make any public retraction until Mr. Caleb Evans, the said Baptist minister, published a letter to him in a newspaper, and then he said,
Rev. Sir,
You affirm, 1. That I once doubted whether the measures taken in respect to America could be defended either on the foot of law, equity, or prudence. I did doubt of this five years, nay indeed five months ago. You affirm, 2. That I declared last year the Americans were oppressed, injured people. I do not remember that I did, but possibly I might. You affirm, 3. That I then strongly recommended an argument for the exclusive right of the colonies to tax themselves. I believe I did, but I am now of another mind. You affirm, 4. You say in the preface I never saw that book. I did say so; the plain case was I had so entirely forgotten it that even when I saw it again I recollected nothing of it till I had read several pages. If I had, I might have observed that you borrowed more from Mr. P. than I did from Dr. J. If you please to advance any new arguments (personal reflections I let go) you may perhaps receive a further reply from your humble servant,
JOHN WESLEY.
London, December 9, 1775.

But did he let go personal reflections? Mr. Evans’ reply is before me wherein he says, „Your insinuating that I have taken more from Mr. P. than you have from Dr. J. is an artifice to cover your own plagiarism, too thin not to be seen through by the most superficial. It is not fact. I have not taken a line from that or any other author without acknowledging it. But when you published your address you gave not even a hint of having taken any part of it from Dr. J. or any other writer.” Thus did Mr. Wesley exert all his influence to assist Great Britain in her attempts to bind us in all cases whatever. And had they succeeded therein we should have been in as bad a case as he says Adam was before a Savior was revealed to him. Yea, as much worse as falling into the hands of unmerciful men is worse than being in the hands of a merciful God. And these men are still pursuing us with attempts to rob us of our only hope in Christ and also of the liberty wherewith he hath made us free. For in 1784 Mr. Wesley and his followers published a book in England, which they call, The Sunday Service in North America. Three orders of ministers are prescribed therein who are to have the whole power of receiving and excluding church members without calling any vote of the brethren. And when the lowest order of those ministers is to be ordained they say to him, „Will you reverently obey them to whom the charge and government over you is committed, following with a glad mind and will their Godly admonitions? Answer, I will endeavor so to do, the Lord being my helper,” p. 283. Soon after which they published a pamphlet entitled, „A Form of Discipline for the Ministers, Preachers, and Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America Considered and Approved at a Conference held at Baltimore in the State of Maryland, on Monday the 27th of December 1784, in which the Reverend Thomas Coke, LL.D. and the Reverend Francis Asbury presided.” In their first section they say,

Question 1. What was the rise of Methodism, so called, in Europe? Answer. In 1729 two young men, reading the Bible, saw they could not be saved without holiness, followed after it, and incited others so to do. In 1737 they saw likewise that men are justified before they are sanctified, but still holiness was their object. God then thrust them out to raise an holy people. Question 2. What was the rise of Methodism, so called, in America? Answer. During the space of thirty years past, certain persons, members of the society, emigrated from England and Ireland, and settled in various parts of this country. About twenty years ago Philip Embary, a local preacher from Ireland, began to preach in the city of New York and formed a society of his own countrymen and the citizens. About the same time Robert Strawbridge, a local preacher from Ireland, settled in Frederick County in the State of Maryland, and preaching there, formed some societies. In 1769 Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmoor came to New York who were the first regular Methodist preachers on the continent. In the latter end of the year 1771, Francis Asbury and Richard Wright of the same order came over. Question 3. What may we reasonably believe to be God’s design in raising up the preachers called Methodists? Answer. To reform the continent and spread Scripture holiness over these lands. As a proof hereof we have seen in the course of fifteen years a great and glorious work of God from New York through the Jerseys, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, even to Georgia.

And before they admit any man to preach in their society, they say to him, „Have you faith in Christ? Are you going on to perfection? Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?” After which they say, „We are all agreed, that we may be saved from all sin before death,” pp. 13, 30. Thus a society, many of whose laws are contrary to the laws of Christ and whose head is in Great Britain are spreading their influence in America and have already tried to get some of their leaders elected into the State Legislature in Virginia, if not in other States.
The law of Christ puts all Elders in the church upon a level and says to the whole community, All of you be subject one to another and be clothed with humility, for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble, 1 Pet. v, 1-5. And when Christ came a light into the world the only persons that believed on him were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God. Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, John i, 12, 13; iii, 3. But ever since the rise of the man of sin teachers have claimed a power of office above the church which none could convey to others but officers and also a power in their wills to bring children into the kingdom of God without their own knowledge or choice. And to this day men are exceeding tenacious of this arbitrary power. The followers of Mr. Wesley say in their form of discipline, „Question 1. How is a bishop constituted? Answer. By the election of the majority of the conference and the laying on of hands of a bishop and the elders present. Question 5. If by death, expulsion, or otherwise there be no bishop remaining in our church, what method shall be pursued? Answer. Let the conference immediately elect a bishop, and let the elders, or any three of them, consecrate him to his office.” The Presbyterians hold bishops and elders to be equal but both above the church, and in this way many hold their succession of office from the old bishops in England. The President of their university in Connecticut, in a sermon before the legislature of that State, said of the first ministers in New England, „The induction of the ministers of the first churches was performed by lay brethren, and this was called ordination but should be considered what in reality it was, only induction or instalment of those who were vested with official power. These were all ordained before by the bishops in England.”1 Another of their noted ministers said to the Baptists in the same year, „To be consistent with yourselves you cannot look on any of us as Christians or any church in the world but your own denomination to be a Church of Christ; all the world but yourselves, are in a state of paganism; not one baptized person in it except yourselves; not one minister of the Gospel but your own, and when you rebaptize those in adult years, which we have baptized in their infancy, you and they jointly renounce that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost whom we adore and worship as the only living and true God and on whom we depend for all our salvation.”2 And a Presbyterian minister in North Carolina, though more charitable, yet says of the Baptists, „They made their appearance in Germany soon after the reformation began, but the present race of Baptists are happily very unlike the furious and blood-thirsty bigots who wore the name at that time. Considering that they have no written standard of orthodoxy and that their preachers are men without a liberal education, I have often sat with wonder and pleasure to hear them so sound in doctrine as they really are.”3
Indeed, it may justly be matter of thankful wonder to all considering the errors of learned ministers on every hand. For if our civil rulers should now declare, that they derived their office power from Great Britain and that the people of America had only inducted them into their offices to which they had a prior right, what a confusion should we soon be in! But this is not the worst of our case, for all who have renounced the only living and true God are pagans and the covenant of circumcision, on which infant baptism is built, required Israel to destroy all the pagans in Canaan and to seize upon their estates. And from the bloody imagination that Christians had a right to do the like came the late war. The Church of Rome acted upon this bloody imagination until England revolted from her in 1533 and set up their King as the head of their church. The inhabitants of Munster in Germany did the like in the same year. Yet the madness of Munster, because it was soon defeated, hath been cast upon all believers through the world who refused to put baptism before faith in Christ. And it is now said, „In church government the Baptists have adopted the independent plan, the inconveniency of which they often experience as it provides no final and decisive judge of controversy nor tribunal to pronounce in heresy or false doctrine. But the distinguishing characteristic of the Baptist profession is their excluding infant, and practicing only adult baptism and making it their great term of communion, excluding all other Christians from the Lord’s Table among them and not suffering their members to communicate with other churches. How they can acknowledge any other people to be a Church of Christ and yet continue this bar of separation is not to be accounted for, and we must leave them under the weight of this difficulty until themselves are pleased to remove it.”4
Here all may see that it is much easier to charge others with inconsistency than to act consistently ourselves. For these three last authors profess the doctrine of particular election and final perseverance, and yet they blame us because we dare not practically allow that persons may be brought into the covenant of grace without their own knowledge or choice, many of whom fall away and perish forever. They also condemn the independent plan of government in the church though they celebrate it in the State. But there can be no government in the State if officers therein are not invested with power to compel delinquents to submit to their lawful judgments, but the votes of officers in the church are no more than the votes of the brethren, and the whole community have no more power in this respect than to exclude unworthy members from their communion. And to allow ministers a power of office in any church which that church could not give and cannot take away is to make them lords over God’s heritage instead of being examples to the Rock. We are so far from denying the visible Christianity of all who do not see with us about baptism that we view it as a point of vast importance that none should be baptized but visible Christians. If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Without it they are not Christians, yet many contend with us because we dare not say the contrary in practice. All who have received that Spirit ought to be baptized in water, Rom. vi, 4, viii, 9; Acts x, 47, 48. I believe that the dispensing with the plain laws of Christ and the forcibly imposing the inventions of men in his worship is the scarlet colored beast which supports the whore of Babylon. It was and is not, yet is. It will change into all shapes as circumstances and inclinations carry men. God hath many people in this mysterious city, but his voice from Heaven is, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues. The writings of the apostles who have explained the prophets and all center in Jesus Christ is the only foundation of his church, and they will triumph over Babylon when she falls, Eph. ii, 19; Rev. xvii, 3, 5, 8; xviii, 4, 20. Early warning was given against grievous wolves and perverse schismatics to avoid whom God and the word of his grace is our only security, Acts xx, 29-30. The perfection of the Holy Scriptures is held up as what must be continued in if we would get out of the perils which love to self under a form of Godliness hath brought upon these last days, 2 Tim. iii, 1-5, 14-17. In those writings we have no mention of any instance of baptism without a personal profession of faith and repentance nor of anyone who was admitted into the Christian Church without water baptism.
The followers of George Fox, who have formed a large society without it have set up a rule in themselves above the Holy Scriptures. A late writer of theirs, after attempting to excuse George Fox for saying the soul was infinite, and trying to prove their opinion of an inward rule from the first chapter of the Gospel of John without being able clearly to do it, said, „Is not the apostle John’s Greek as ordinary as G. Fox’s English?”5 Thus he would set the leader of their sect on a level with the oracles of God! And it is well known that the majority of them held with Great Britain in her late bloody attempts against American liberty and also are strongly set against the doctrine of particular election and final perseverance. And can any men be found upon earth who deny that doctrine and yet make conscience of obeying the following plain rules of Scripture? In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision but faith which worketh by love. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision but a new creature, Gal. v, 6, 23; vi, 2, 6, 15, 16. God calls his covenant with Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham had no right to circumcise any stranger until he had bought him as a servant with money, Acts vii, 8; Gen. xvii, 13. But the Gospel says to Zion, Ye shall be redeemed without money. Thy God reigneth, Isai. lii, 3, 7; Rom. x, 15. He purchased the church with his own blood, Acts xx, 28. And after he had done it he said, Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. I have written unto you not to keep company if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one, no not to eat, i Cor. v, 2; vii, 19, 23. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them, Eph. v, 6, 7, 11. Every tree is known by his own fruit, for of thorns men do not gather figs nor of bramblebush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil, for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke vi, 43-46. When the blade sprung up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. Let both grow together until the harvest. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one, Matt. xiii, 26, 30, 38.
In these plain Scriptures, the covenant of circumcision is repealed by the name which God gave to it, and the church and world are clearly distinguished as two different judicatories, the one to exclude all who appear by their fruits to be fornicators, covetous, railers, drunkards, or extortioners, from their fellowship, the other to let them grow together with the children of the kingdom, in the world, until the end of it, only punishing such as work ill to their neighbors, Rom. xiii, 1-10. And fighting and oaths are allowed of in this latter government, John xviii, 36; Heb. vi, 16. And wars will not fully come to an end until the nations shall freely receive the law from Zion and guile shall be banished from the church. A loud cry will then be heard, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, Micah iv, 1-10; Rev. xiv, 1-8. The covenant of circumcision will no more be called the covenant of grace nor men be bewitched, as the Galatians were, with the practice of confounding works and grace together. God never injured Cain in giving saving faith to Abel, nor the Midianites, who were of the seed of Abraham, in electing Israel for his church, neither did he injure Korah, or the children of Reuben, Jacob’s first born, in electing Aaron and his lawful seed for priests. And he never injured any man in uniting the priestly and kingly offices in Jesus Christ and in souls who are born again, who are only the kings and priests in the Gospel-church, Heb. v, 4-6; Rev. i, 5, 6; v, 10. And no others have any right to be members therein, and they all ought ever to be like little children instead of striving who should be the greatest, Matt. xviii, 3, 4. None can have a right in the kingdom of God who do not receive it as a little child, Mark x, 15. Such are glad of gifts. But Mr. Wesley has flatly denied that God could justly have passed him by and not have given him power in his will to believe, which is his notion of grace. Wages can be recovered by law, but a gift is bestowed on whom, and in what manner the giver pleaseth. Therefore God says, Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good? So the last shall be first and the first last, for many are called but few chosen, Matt. xx, 15, 16.
This is the true idea of election which men have an amazing quarrel against. For if it depends entirely upon the will of God whether he will save any of us or not, then we can have no encouragement to set up our wills against him. If we do so, he can blast all our schemes as he pleaseth, and when we come to die he may then choose whether he will hear our cries for mercy or not. Yea, he hath assured us that he will not hear our cries then if we now delight in scorning and hate knowledge, Prov. i, 20-29. Giving diligence in the believing pursuit of virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, Godliness, brotherly kindness and charity is the only way to make our calling and election sure; while heretics are self-willed, under the name of liberty, 2 Pet. i, 5-11, ii, 1, 10, 19. Our Lord hath set before us an example of great faith which may encourage us in this pursuit, Luke vii, l-9. Here observe, 1. That this Roman centurion took all his encouragement from God as he revealed himself in his Son and none of it from any imaginary worthiness in the creature. I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof, wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee. Yet he believed that Jesus, of his own infinite mercy would grant relief. 2. He was careful to seek it in a lawful way, and before the death of Christ it was unlawful for a member of that church to keep company with other nations, Acts x, 28. Therefore he would not violate the law of God, even to save life. 3. He believed that Jesus could do it when absent as well as if he was present. Say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. Herein his faith was much greater than the faith of Martha, Mary, or of Thomas the apostle, John xi, 22, 32; xx, 29. He clearly acted by faith and not by sight. 4. He made good use of his reason to strengthen his faith, and not to weaken or destroy it, as is the case with multitudes. He said, I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doth it. And if an unworthy sinner with a commission from a heathen power could be thus obeyed, what can be too hard for the Captain of our salvation!
He took not on him the nature of angels but the seed of Abraham, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Every discovery of sin and want should speed our flight to the throne of his grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them, Heb. ii, l4-18; iv, 16; vii, 25. His only temple here below is in them who are poor and of a contrite spirit and tremble at his word. And if their brethren pretend to regard to the glory of God in hating of them and casting them out, yet he says, I shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed, Isai. 1xvi, l-5. The first Christian martyr sealed this testimony with his blood, Acts vii, 48-51. And others overcame the great accuser by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death. And when their souls shall be raised the Devil will be bound and be cast into the bottomless pit out of which the beast came who kills the two witnesses, Rev. xi, 7; xii, 11; xx, 1-4. The Word of God, both by Moses and the Lamb, is as clear as glass and as powerful as fire; and they who obtain the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name stand and act joyfully upon the sea of glass mingled with fire, 2 Cor. iii, 18; Jer. xxiii, 29; Rev. xv, 2, 3. Covetousness is idolatry, Col. iii, 5. And to destroy idolatry Elijah said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him, and if Baal, then follow him, which point was decided by fire from Heaven, 1 Kings xviii, 21, 39. And way for the first coming of our Lord was prepared by a man who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, Mal. iv, 1, 2, 5; Luke i, 17. And way for his second coming will be prepared by the raising of the souls of the old martyrs which I think means the resurrection of their Spirit and power in the churches. For God gave them not the spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind, 2 Tim. i, 7. Even such love as to sacrifice their lives before they would violate any rule of truth or equity.
All the world have now seen that love is a vastly more powerful principle of action than fear. For as long as the Americans were afraid of destruction or slavery their union and activity defeated all the attempts of their enemies, but no sooner was that fear removed than the love of riches, honors and pleasures prevailed over contracts and oaths and filled the land with discord, treachery, and infidelity. By the love of money vast numbers have erred from the truth and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. And our only remedy is not to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. That we do good, that we be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store a good foundation against the time to come that we may lay hold on eternal life, 1 Tim. vi, 9-19.

AMEN.

NOTES
1 Stiles’s election sermon, May 8, 1783, p. 61.

2 Huntington’s address, p. 23.

3 Pattillo’s Sermons, 1788, pp. 47, 48

4 Ibid., pp. 48, 49.

5 Phipps against Newton; reprinted at Philadelphia, 1783, pp. 191, 203.

HIS PEOPLE By William Tiptaft

HIS PEOPLE
By William Tiptaft
Editor’s note: This message was preached Christmas Day, 1829, in St. Helen’s, commonly called, from its size, „the Great Church,” Abingdon, England, before the Mayor and Corporation, on the occasion of the appointment of the Master Governors of Christ’s Hospital in that town. Though the Articles and Liturgy of the Church of England maintained the doctrine Tiptaft preached, the ministers and members of that church manifested a violent hatred and opposition to it. Such preaching caused Tiptaft and his bosom friend, J. C. Philpot, to secede from the Church of England to become leaders of the Strict Baptist churches.
„She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
I stand before you this evening either as a servant of Christ or as a servant of the devil. I must be one or the other, for he that is not with Christ is against Him (Matt. 12:30); and, „Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel” (I Cor. 9:16). Paul says: „Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Now if I preach not the Gospel which Paul preached, a curse hangs over my head. I am sure everyone present, whose heart is not as hard as stone, will tremble to think in what an awful situation we ministers are placed. Isaiah saith: „To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20); and we are commanded not to add to, nor to diminish ought from the Word of God (Deut. 4:2). We, then, as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God, must be faithful. I call upon you this evening to compare with the Word of God whatever I may say; I beseech you to do it; and I will be careful to advance nothing but what I fully believe, and can clearly prove to be according to the Word of God, and all who have been taught of God will acknowledge and confess.
Before I proceed farther I earnestly entreat all present who have faith in Christ to lift up their hearts to God, to ask His blessing upon the truths about to be declared, that many who are dead in trespasses and sins may be aroused, awakened, and converted; that the feeble-minded may be comforted; that the wavering may be established; that those that are „strong in the Lord” (Eph. 6:10) may have their faith strengthened; and that my discourse may be so free from error that the Spirit of truth may powerfully bear testimony to it.
Our minds are lost in wonder and admiration when we consider that Jesus Christ should come to sojourn in this world, that He should be born of a virgin, should take upon Himself the form of a servant, be so despised and rejected of men as not to have a place to lay His head, and at last suffer a most ignominious death upon the cross. „Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16). That He should come exactly in the same manner that He did was clearly foretold by the prophets a great many years before, and has been evidently fulfilled; as Isaiah saith, „Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14); and at the time expected a virgin having conceived by the Holy Ghost, brought forth a Son, and they called His name Jesus, „for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Let us, in the first place, inquire who are meant by His people that He will save. And, secondly, how they are saved from their sins.
Now, before I say more on this important subject, I beg to remind you that except ye receive the kingdom of God as a little child, ye shall not enter therein (Mark 10:15). If you understand this text of Scripture, you will know that as long as you bring your carnal reason and human learning to judge of spiritual things, they will profit you nothing. Except the Lord give you a teachable and childlike spirit, the preaching of the cross must be foolishness to you (I Cor. 1:18); for „the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). And Paul saith: „Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain” (I Cor. 3:18-20).
No man can learn and know the spiritual meaning of the Bible to the saving of his soul, except he be taught of God. This „offensive” truth Christ told the Jews; but whenever He said anything which He knew would hurt the pride of their hearts, He used to say: „It is written in the law, or in the prophets:” then they were not able to answer Him a word, for they professed to believe them; as He said in this instance: „It is written in the prophets. And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). We ministers adopt the same most excellent plan, for when we advance truths which excite the enmity of carnal minds, we appeal to the Bible for the truth of what we say; and as you profess to believe it, you must justify us.
We are first to inquire who are „his people” that He will save. We all by nature imagine that Christ died for everyone in the world, but He died only for those whom God chose in Him before the foundation of the world. But we must know that what God teaches by His Holy Spirit is true doctrine, and not what man thinks. The Word of God is our standard and our guide, and whoever speaks not according to that Word, believe him not, for there is no light in him. Now Isaiah, where he is speaking so plainly of Christ, saith: „He shall see his seed;” „he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;” „and he bare the sin of many” (Isa. 53:10,11,12). The prophet, therefore, very clearly shows that Christ came to save a peculiar people; and Christ saith: „I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). And in the same chapter He says to some of the Jews: „But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you” (John 10:26). This very plainly shows that He did not give His life for them. Paul saith: „According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:4-5). And again, „Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. 5:25-27). And the same Apostle said: „Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9).
These words are written in the Bible. Nor has God given these texts only. Very many others besides those which I have advanced I could bring forward; for you must know that this doctrine is not mine, but God’s. Nay we, as members of the Church of England, all profess to believe it, for the XVIIth Article of our Church fully explains it: „Predestination unto life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid), he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.” His people, therefore, in the text, are those whom He hath chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
We, in the second place, come to consider how Christ will save His people from their sins.
All by nature are „dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1; I Tim. 5:6; I John 5:12; Rom. 8:6), with hearts at enmity against God, „deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9); and not one in this state will ever seek God; for, „The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psa. 14:2,3). And Christ saith to His disciples: „Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16); and He told them: „No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). He also saith: „I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Therefore, none can go to Christ but those who are chosen in Him, and are drawn.
There is nothing that man can do that will recommend him to God; for all that man does till he has faith is nothing but sin. Paul, who was one of the strictest Pharisees before his conversion, saith: „We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:3-5). Paul told the saints at Ephesus that God had „predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:5); and Timothy, „not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace” (II Tim. 1:9). If you believe the Scriptures, you must believe that you can do nothing to recommend yourself to God’s favour; for if you have not faith, which is the gift of God, you cannot please Him; for „they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8), and „in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18). „Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one” (Job 14:4).
Those that are „dead in trespasses and sins” must be first quickened by the Spirit before the Lord will receive anything from them. „You hath he quickened,” saith Paul, „who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). This very important doctrine is clearly stated in the XIIIth Article of our Church: „Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace; or, (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity.” This Article expressly says that without faith we cannot please God. We know that faith is the gift of God. If we read over the works of the flesh we shall not find faith among them, for it is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Faith is a precious gift; but what way has the Lord appointed to confer it upon His chosen people? By the preaching of the Gospel; for „faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Go ye and „preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15,16). The plan which the Lord hath appointed to gather His people is by sending ministers to preach His Gospel; and some of His chosen people may be persecutors of the true Church, as Paul was; or hardened sinners, like the thief, who ever reviled Christ, whilst himself in agony.
The true ministers of the Gospel humble the pride of man, and make him as nothing; they show him the wickedness and deceitfulness of his own heart, and bring his life and conduct to a comparison with the pure and holy law of God. They inquire deeply into his hope of salvation, and see what foundation he is building upon. „The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11). When men who are endeavouring to obtain salvation by their works, who are very charitable to the poor, very regular in attending church and sacrament, and seem very rich in what they think good works, and whose religion is such as the world highly approves and commends, hear the Gospel preached, they find that Christ is not the rock upon which they are building; and all their good works and all their pride are leveled to the ground at one stroke. „Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (I Cor. 13:3). Now charity is love, which is the gift of God.
The true ministers of Christ bring men to the law; now this condemns them, and shows them to be under the curse: He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all (James 2:10). As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Gal. 3:10). If, then, a man offend against the law of God in one point, either in word, thought, or deed, he is under the curse. Now it is certain that no man can keep the law of God without offense, „for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21). „Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal. 3:24). Thus the law of God writes death in the consciences of those who are „ordained to eternal life” (Acts 13:48). They see their sins standing in array before them; they endeavour, through ignorance, to amend their lives; they labour in vain; their hearts are broken by God; for the preparations of the heart are from the Lord (Prov. 16:1). They can find no rest nor consolation, and are almost in despair. Harassed and tormented by Satan, they know not what to do, and cry out, with the jailer at Philippi, „Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
If they have been Pharisees, their eyes are open to see the pride and hypocrisy of their religion, and they confess that all their righteousnesses are as filthy rages (Isa. 64:6). If they have been notorious sinners, they think that the Lord never came to seek such vile wretches as they are. Thus troubled and distressed, they hear the Gospel, which is „glad tidings of good things” (Rom. 10:15) to those who feel themselves lost sinners. They hear Christ set forth in all His fullness and in all His glory; they hear that the more vile they are in their own sight, the more precious will Christ be to them; they hear that if they go to Christ naked, He will clothe them; if they go unto Him hungry, He will feed them; and if they go unto Him thirsty, He will give them of the living waters, so that they shall not thirst again.
They are unwilling to go to Christ, because they have nothing to offer Him; they hear with joy that the Lord will accept nothing from men but the sacrifices of broken and contrite hearts. Thus the Lord generally calls His people. He takes from them everything in which they trusted for salvation, and then they are obliged to fly to the refuge set before them in the Gospel; they believe in Christ, and He is made unto them „wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30). This is very humbling doctrine to the pride of man, that Christ is to be everything and man to be nothing, yea, worse than nothing, for he will never do anything but sin. Whether we be converted or not, our flesh will never do anything good. „In my flesh dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18). They who are chosen in Christ have His Spirit to dwell in them. This Spirit of Christ dwelling in a man makes him a „new creature,” so that old things pass away, and all things become new (II Cor. 5:17).
Now, observe, we can do nothing to obtain this Spirit, for all we do, or ever shall do, in the flesh, is sin, as the Xth Article of our Church clearly states: „the condition of man, after the fall of Adam, is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith, and calling upon God.” We are cautioned by Solomon not to give „the sacrifice of fools, for they consider not that they do evil” (Eccl. 5:1). We cannot turn to God of ourselves; we cannot repent of ourselves, for Christ is exalted a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance (Acts 5:31; II Tim. 2:25); and thus the Scriptures, as well as the Xth and XIIIth Articles of our Church, plainly show us all to be under the curse, without the slightest power of delivering ourselves.
We ministers of the Gospel must not deceive you; all who have not the Spirit of Christ are in this state, whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not. „By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10); and Paul saith: „There is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5). God hath loved His people with an everlasting love, and therefore with lovingkindness will He draw them (Jer. 31:3).
As long as a man believes that he can do anything of himself to prepare his heart to receive grace or merit salvation, I cannot give him any present scriptural hope of being saved. If the heart be not prepared of God to receive it „without money and without price” (Isa. 55:1), he will never have it. Whilst man thinks any good dwells in his human nature, no good ever will dwell in it; for till a man is taught of God to see himself a lost and undone sinner, his body will never be the temple of the Spirit of Christ; and if he have not Christ’s Spirit, he is none of His. All must be humbled to receive salvation as a free gift, or they will never have it: „Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15). It is God that maketh us to differ; and having Christ’s Spirit given to us, with the mind we serve the law of God, though with the flesh the law of sin (Rom. 7:25). And Paul saith: „By the grace of God I am what I am.” „I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor. 15:10). It is my belief, and Scripture warrants me in saying so, that no man will ever go to Heaven who is not taught of God to rest so entirely on Christ for salvation as to say: „By the grace of God, I am what I am.” This is humbling to the pride of man, but salvation is of grace, and grace alone.
I will now address myself to those of this congregation who are ignorant of Christ as the true way of salvation, who have never been taught of God the truths of the Gospel, whose hearts are at enmity against God, and who hate the true doctrines of the Gospel. God grant that the warnings I am about to give you may be instrumental in converting some present who „are ordained to eternal life.” I am thoroughly convinced that you, in your present state, hate to hear the Gospel. Your minds rise in rebellion against God’s sovereignty, and you disbelieve His Word of truth. You cannot understand it, for it is foolishness to you (I Cor. 2:14); and whilst you remain in your present state, you will fight against Christ and His true Church; and if the Lord should not convert you, you will hate Him and His Gospel to the day of your death. Now I well know that you would rather hear any other doctrine than the true Gospel. The „truth as it is in Jesus” must offend you. You love to have ministers to feed your pride and flatter your vanity, by preaching to you reformation instead of regeneration; free will instead of free grace; the righteousness of man instead of the imputed righteousness of Christ. You do not like to hear the law preached faithfully, for that condemns you; you do not like to hear the Gospel preached faithfully, for that offends you; but you like to have the law and the Gospel mixed, which spoils both, and only makes men rest contentedly in a fatal security.
You cannot be saved by your own righteousness, for „then Christ is dead in vain.” So you must be saved by either Christ’s righteousness, or your own righteousness and Christ’s mixed. Consider whether your pride is great enough to make you think that your own righteousnesses, which are „as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6), will be required to adorn the wedding garment prepared by Christ Himself. You may be ready to say to me that Christ told the young man who asked Him, „What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” „If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:16, 17). Here Christ brought him to the law, that he might be condemned. And so I say to you: „If you will enter into life, keep the commandments,” and then you will have fulfilled the law as well as Christ; but remember, if you offend in one point you are guilty of all, and are under the curse. Therefore, bring yourselves to this test, and, like the young man, you will be convinced that you cannot gain Heaven in that way; for the law condemns every man; and Christ saith: „I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Do you believe in Christ? Are you sure that you do? Perhaps you think that you believe, because you have never doubted. „He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself” (I John 5:10). What witness have you? „The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him” (Ps. 25:14). What secret of the Lord do you know? Christ saith: „I know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14). Do you know Christ? Paul saith: „All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). What persecution have you suffered? „We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (I John 3:14). You cannot say that you have passed from death unto life, because you do not believe that man is dead in sins. Do you love the brethren? Do you love Jesus Christ? Are you willing to endure much persecution for Him? Would you die for Him? Do you love the blessed truths of the Gospel? Do you find the doctrine of predestination and election in Christ to be „full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort,” as the XVIIth Article saith it is? Do you like to hear of election and free grace, or do you like to hear ministers lower God by making Him man’s equal, so that man may make conditions with him in this manner–that man is to do all the good he can, by attending church and the sacrament, giving alms, being just in his dealings, and leading a good moral life; and that God, on his part, must grant Heaven on such terms? This is the vain religion of millions (a mere mercenary bargain for Heaven), who serve God for a slavish fear of Hell, as a hard task-master. This is what man calls a reasonable religion, and what thousands of strict professors will advocate.
I tell you plainly again, to the praise and glory of God, that He chose in Christ, before the world began, those whom He intended to deliver from curse and damnation. God so loved them that Christ died for them; but no one will come to Christ of his own free will, and yet all shall come; for Christ saith: „All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). They were ordained to do good works; the Lord calls them and sanctifies them, and prepares them for the mansions already prepared for them in Heaven; and not one will be lost.
This doctrine is not mine, but God’s; if you will read Romans 8 and 9, Ephesians 1-3, and John 10 and 17, you will acknowledge the truths are there, if you cannot believe and love them; and compare the Xth, XIth, XIIth and XVIIth Articles of our Church with them and the doctrines which I have delivered this evening, and you will be obliged to say that you, as Churchmen, profess to believe them. Satan will help you to explain them away, if it were possible. But if ye will not hear Paul, hear Solomon: „The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4). Some, who know these truths to be there, but cannot love them, may be ready to say that ministers ought to guard them. God has not told me to do so, and if He did not think proper to guard His own pure Word, He does not want vain man to guard it for Him. Satan loves to have it guarded, for he well knows that Gospel-guarders never did and never will disturb his kingdom. We know that Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for keeping back part of the price. What, then, may we ministers expect if we keep back part of His blessed Gospel? Many present will say, that the true doctrines of the Gospel are foolish, unreasonable, and absurd; therefore you, whosoever you may be, bear a strong testimony to the truth of them; for „the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness.” When Paul and Silas preached the Gospel to the Thessalonians, they cried out: „These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6). But the Bereans „searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed” (Acts 17:11, 12). Alas! you think yourselves „rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;” and know not that you are „wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17).
Now I will speak a few words to you, my brethren, who know Jesus. You can bear testimony to the truth of what I have said. „We love him, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). The doctrines which the natural man hates, you love to hear; they are the comfort and delight of your souls; and when you hear self-righteous doctrines, you are grieved, and pity the preacher and his hearers. You can say with the Reformers: „That we are justified by faith only, is most wholesome doctrine” (XIth Article); for you well know that in your flesh nothing but sin dwells; you say with David to God: „All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (I Chron. 29:14). And if the Lord required even a single good thought of you, of yourselves, you certainly would be damned. You know that you were blind, and the Lord hath opened your eyes to see your lost state by nature, that you might be brought to Christ, and be found in Him, not having your own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Phil. 3:9). You acknowledge that if the Lord had not chosen you, you would never have chosen Him, and you would still have been fighting with the world and the devil against Christ. You once hated to hear of election, as natural men must do. You know when Christ preached it, it always gave offense. In Luke, when He preached election, they endeavoured to cast Him down headlong from the brow of a hill. When He preached it again, „many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:65-66). When he clearly stated it again, the Jews said: „He hath a devil, and is mad” (John 10:20). Paul, who boldly declared the truth as it is in Jesus, caused his hearers to say of him: „Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live” (Acts 22:22); and, „This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law” (Acts 18:13). They considered him a fool, and counted him „as the filth of the earth, and the off-scouring of all things” (I Cor. 4:10, 13). And if ministers preached as faithfully now as Paul did, would natural men like to hear them? Nature is not changed, the Gospel is not changed, and Christ is not changed. Therefore, when the Gospel is faithfully preached now, all who are not taught of God to receive it, of whatever sect or denomination they may be, will speak against and condemn it, if it be the same which Paul preached. As God said to Jeremiah: „Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her” (Jer. 12:9). Yes, everyone is against the true Church of Christ who are not of it, as Christ saith: „Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22); and they said to Paul, as „concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (Acts 28:22). Shall we grieve, my brethren, at this? No. Christ saith, „Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12).
The Scriptures abound with words of consolation to the persecuted; for a Christian without persecution is as great a contradiction as a fire without heat. The stronger your faith is, the more you will be hated. You, my brethren, who have the Spirit of God bearing witness with your spirit that you are the children of God (Rom. 8:16), may you never be ashamed of Christ dwelling in you; for if you have not His Spirit, you are none of His; and if you have His Spirit, your salvation is as certain as if you were in Heaven. But the fruits of your faith will as evidently appear and be known as a tree is known by its fruit. If your faith does not influence your lives, and work by love, it is dead, and will profit you nothing. You are only Judases and hypocrites. „Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3, 4). You serve God as sons, not as a task-master, like slaves. Love makes you rich in good works in Christ. Love constrains you to be holy; your joy and happiness must be great; your sins are pardoned; your righteousness and sanctification are in Christ; the work has been done for you, and Christ hath told you so when He said, with His expiring breath, „It is finished!” (John 19:30). Though you must be vile and worthless in the world’s esteem, you are precious in God’s sight, and „he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zech. 2:8). No one can injure you without God’s permission, and all things shall work together for your good (Rom. 8:28). May the world bring no other charge against you than they did against Daniel, which was his religion. If you will reign with Christ, you must first suffer with Him. You must bear the cross before you can wear the crown; but this life will soon pass away, and then you shall receive those blessed mansions which were prepared for you before the foundation of the world, and enjoy unutterable pleasures at God’s right hand for evermore.

The Doctrines Of God’s Everlasting Love To His Elect, And Their Eternal Union With Christ: by John Gill

The Doctrines Of God’s Everlasting
Love To His Elect, And Their Eternal
Union With Christ:
by John Gill
(London: Aaron Ward, 1732)
Thou hast given a standard to them that fear thee;
that it may be displayed because of the truth
— Psalm 60:4
SERMON 9
Together With Some Other Truths,
Stated And Defended,
IN A LETTER TO DR. ABRAHAM TAYLOR.
SIR,
HAVING had the happiness of hearing, and since of reading, your two
Discourses, Of the Insufficiency of Natural Religion; I cannot but express
a satisfaction with your method of treating the argument; nor would you
have heard from me in this public manner, had you not, in your
performance, fallen foul on some of your friends, whilst you was engaging
with the common adversary.
When I heard your first discourse on this subject, I observed a paragraph
which gave me some uneasiness. I determined to take notice of it to you,
as I had opportunity and knowing I should be present when you
condescended to submit your discourses to the correction of some friends,
I purposed humbly to offer some reasons for either dropping or altering the
paragraph; but, to my great satisfaction, I found myself under no necessity
of doing it. The passage I refer to being omitted in reading, I concluded
from hence, that upon a revisal of your discourses, you had seen reason in
your own mind to strike it out but, since reading your sermons, now made
public, I find it stands, and, if I mistake not;, with some additional keenness
and severity: your reason for this you best know. Your words are these
f1
“It has been said, that during the times of our civil commotions,
there was little preached up but faith in Christ; and that the duties
of morality were little insisted on: it is certain that some ignorant
enthusiastic preachers insisted then much on eternal union with.3
Christ, and that sin could do a believer no harm; but all wise and
thoughtful men abhorred such immoral conceits.”
What I have to complain of in this passage, is as follows:
I. The lameness and impertinence of it. You observe,
“It has been said, that during the times of our civil commotions,
there was little preached up but faith in Christ, and that the duties
of morality were little insisted on.”
One would have expected that you would have given an answer to this
charge, and it looks as if you had designed it, by your making mention of it,
but you neither grant nor deny it; and, instead of doing either, as you ought
to have done, you put off the objection, by saying, “that some ignorant
enthusiastic preachers insisted then much on eternal union with Christ, and
that sin could do a believer no harm.” Things which are not in the charge,
and no way to your purpose to make mention of. Without taking upon me
to be a dictator to you, you might have with truth allowed, that during
those times, faith in Christ was very much preached up, though not to the
exclusion of moral duties; and, with a great deal of justness, you might
have observed, that the power of godliness very much prevailed; that the
duties of religion were much practiced; that the Lord’s day was strictly and
religiously observed; that social worship was attended on constantly; that
family and closet-devotion were kept up with much strictness; and that
morality, in all its branches, was in a very flourishing condition in those
times, when faith in Christ was so much insisted on. This I am very sensible
you are capable of observing; but you chose rather to fling at the doctrine
of eternal union with Christ, and to introduce that in an awkward way, and
by joining it with a disagreeable notion of sin’s doing a believer no harm, to
draw an odium upon some good men in those times, whom you call
“ignorant enthusiastic preachers,” and through them to strike at some who
are now in being.
II. It does not appeal’ to me matter of fact, that in those times eternal
union with Christ, and that sin could do a believer no harm, were much
insisted on, as you say. I know not, indeed, what acquaintance you may
have with the pulpit performances of those times. For my own part I can
only judge of their preaching by what they have printed; and, I presume,
that if these doctrines are any where to be met with, they are to be found in
the writings of such, who, in those times, were branded for Antinomians;.4
such as Eaton, Saltmarsh, Simpson, Town, Richardson, and Crisp; whose
writings I have carefully perused, and find no reason to conclude that those
doctrines were much insisted on, as you say. By reading the works of these
authors, I have been confirmed in the truth of an observation made some
years ago, by the learned Hoornbeeck:
f2
“For I perceive, says he, while heads of doctrine are made up by the
adversaries, rather than the authors themselves, out of their
dissertations, books, and sermons, that sometimes their sense is not
sufficiently taken, nor happily expressed; and that both here and
there a great deal, indeed, is said, but not much to the purpose; and
that they either do not understand, or mistake the thing in dispute.”
As to the doctrine of eternal union with Christ, however consistent it may
be with some principles of theirs, I do not perceive that they take any
notice of it; and some of them seem to have no notion of it, but tread in the
common beaten path of union by the Spirit of Christ, and faith in Christ.
Eaton, in his Honey-Comb of Free Justification, has these words
f3
“Christ will have no foul leprous members united and made one
with him; and therefore he first washeth us in his own blood, and
makes us clean from all our sins, and then knits and unites us as fit
members into his ownself. The order also and natural dependence
of these benefits (that is, justification and union) upon one another,
confirm the same; for we cannot be knit into Christ before we have
the Holy Ghost dwelling in us: the Holy Ghost comes not to dwell
in us before we be reconciled to God; and we are not reconciled to
God before we have all our sins abolished out of God’s sight, but
when all our sins are abolished, and we made perfectly holy and
righteous, from all spot of sin in the sight of God freely, then the
Holy Ghost comes and dwells in us, and knits and unites us, as fit
members, into the blessed body of Jesus Christ; then we are, by the
wedding garment alone of Christ’s righteousness, made, above our
sense and feeling, fit brides for so glorious a Bridegroom.”
And in another place, he has these words
f4
“This union and conjunction then is the cause that I am separated
from myself, and translated into Christ and his kingdom, which is a
kingdom of grace, righteousness, peace, joy, life, salvation, and.5
glory; yea, by this inseparable union and conjunction, which is
through faith, Christ and I are made, as it were, one body in spirit.”
Simpson, another of those men who were called Antinomians in those
times, expresses himself on the subject of union after this manner, when he
is speaking of the use of faith in justification
f5
“So that by faith, says he, though we are assured of God’s love in
the first place, yet we are not only assured, but likewise Christ is
applied unto us; we are united unto him, and do enjoy all things in
him, and receive all good things from him.”
And in another place
f6
“A believing man is bone of the bone, and flesh of the flesh, and
one spirit with the Lord Jesus: there is a close and near union and
application of Christ to the soul by faith.”
Saltmarsh says nothing in what I have seen of his, concerning eternal
union; and what he says of union itself, is not very intelligible; yet it seems
as though he had no other notion of being in Christ, or of being united to
Christ, but by faith. He observes
f7
“That the pure spiritual and mystical fountain of the mortification of
sin, is the being planted together in the likeness of Christ’s death,
our old man being crucified with him (

Romans 6:6). Our union
with Christ our Head, our Righteousness, our Vine.”
And, a little after, he has these words:
“Now that power wherein we are perfectly mortified, is our union
with Christ, our being planted in the fellowship of his death, &c.
and that wherein we are imperfectly, or in part mortified, is in that
transformed nature, or spiritual nature, the body of sin being in a
believer, more or less, till he lay down this body and take it up a
more glorious one; so as a believer is to consider himself dead to
sin, only in the fellowship of Christ’s death mystically, and to
consider himself only dying to sin in his own nature spiritually: so
as in Christ he is only complete, and in himself imperfect at the
best. We are complete in him, saith the apostle (

Colossians
2:10), yet there is such a power and efficacy, and mighty working
in this mystical union and fellowship with Christ, that he shall find.6
sin dying in him from this, the Spirit working most in the virtue of
this.”
And in another place, he says
f8
;
“A believer hath a twofold condition, in Christ, in himself; yet he
ought ever to consider himself in Christ by faith, not in himself.”
And elsewhere he observes
f9
:
“The word says, that we are complete in Christ, and righteous in
Christ; but when I repent, or love, or obey, I believe, I am in Christ;
and therefore my love, and repentance, and obedience, is such as I
may believe, though not in themselves, yet in him to be good and
spiritual.”
Town, another writer of those times, who was much charged with
Antinomianism, says nothing of eternal union, but has many expressions in
his writings, which shew that he had no other notion of union, but by the
Spirit of God, and by the grace of faith, in one of his books he has these
words
f10
“The righteousness of faith unites them, that is, the saints, to Christ,
their Lord, head and Governor, that so henceforth they may be led
by his free Spirit and swayed by the scepter of his kingdom.”
And in the same treatise, he asks
f11
,
“Where doth the, law speak a syllable of our conjunction and union
with Christ through faith, whereby Christ and the believer become
one body in spirit?”
And in another place
f12
;
“By faith we being united and married to Christ, do by him bring
forth fruits to God, even perfect obedience imputatively, and
inchaotive holiness through the operation of his Spirit, received by
the ministry and doctrine of faith, and not of the law.”
Though, in another passage in the same book
f13
, he makes the ordinance of
water baptism to be the saints union with, and insition (grafting) into Christ.
His words are these:.7
“That ordinance, speaking of baptism, is a true, spiritual, and real
engrafting of them into Christ (

1 Corinthians 12:13), so that
faith is but the revelation of what was secret and hid before, or an
evident testimony, and lively and comfortable apprehension and
application in the conscience of the person of what was conferred
and made his before;”
that is, if I understand him, in baptism. In another of his hooks, he has
these expressions
f14
:
“Let the poor sinful, miserable, and lost soul, first be united and
married to him, in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead, and
in whom she is then complete, wanting nothing (

Colossians 2:9,
10), then tell of duties.”
Again
f15
,
“If you do truly good works, you do them in Christ, abiding in him
(

John 15:4), in whom you are alive, and walk continually by
faith.—Now the soul cannot walk in Christ, nor have union with
him, save by faith.”
Once more
f16
, “Can man’s nature be changed, says he, till he be united and
engrafted into Christ, the true Vine? And doth not virtue come by that
insition and union?” And in some pages after
f17
,
“It is by the Spirit that the soul cometh to union with Christ.”
And, in another of his treatises
f18
, he has these words
“Faith cometh by hearing, and after faith comes actual union.”
The only writers, in the times referred to, that I have met with, who assert
even union before faith, are Richardson
f19
, and Crisp
f20
, who yet speak not
a word of eternal union; neither do they, or the writers above-mentioned,
professedly treat of the doctrine of union in any sense, but only take notice
of it as it falls in their way. I read their books with greedy expectation of
frequently meeting with the doctrine of eternal union, in hopes of finding
arguments for the confirmation of it, and of receiving more light into it,
which I believe to be an eternal truth. Eternal union was so far from being
a subject much insisted on in those times, as you say, that I do not find it
was insisted on at all..8
As to the notion of sin’s doing a believer no harm, Eaton, Saltmarsh,
Simpson, and Town, say nothing of it; nor have they any thing like it, that I
have met with, in their writings; and I could easily fill up whole pages with
passages out of them in which they express their abhorrence and
detestation of sin, and their great regard to a holy life and conversation.
Richardson and Crisp are the only writers, in those times, that I have
observed to make use of any expressions of this kind. As for Richardson,
he has but one single passage which looks any thing like this notion, that
sin does a believer no harm; which is this
f21
:
“If all things work together for our good, then, says he, all falls,
pains, diseases, crosses, afflictions, &c. do us no hurt, but work for
our good; all things work for our good (

Romans 8:28).”
And yet this is no more than what many sound divines have said, who
never were charged with Antinomianism; when they assert, that all things,
even the sins of God’s people, are overruled by a kind and good
Providence for their good, as their afflictions and crosses are; and by falls
into sin doing no hurt, he means the hurt of punishment, as is evident from
the whole of his reasoning and argument in that place. He clearly hints, in
many places, at the hurt that comes by sin, with respect to a believer’s
peace and comfort, the damage it does to others, and the dishonor it brings
to God;
“Be afraid to sin, says he
f22
, and use means to prevent it; consider
God hath forbidden it (Romans 6). Consider sin in the nature of it,
in the root and fruit of it: it is the price of blood; there is no true
sweetness in sin, no contentment no satisfaction in it, why you
should desire it? it fills the soul with wounds, sorrow, bitterness,
shame; let experience speak.”
And, in another place, he says
f23
:
“We should be afraid to sin,
1. because it is forbidden by God.
2. It is dishonorable to him.
3. It encourageth others to sin..9
4. It will fill our souls with sorrow to sin against so loving a Father and
to dishonor him, &c.
Having sinned, if but in the least measure, we should be so fain
from covering it with any pretence or excuse, that we should abhor
it, and ourselves for it, with the greatest detestation?”
And elsewhere he says
f24
;
“Be sure ye allow yourself in no sin, but in the strength of God hate
and abhor, with the greatest indignation, all sin, and the appearance
of it; it is better to die than to sin. There is that which accompanieth
sin, which strikes at a believer’s peace and comfort; it will damp,
straiten, and oppress the soul; it will hinder their comfort, joy, and
peace in God, unless God doth wonderfully strengthen their faith in
him; we find by experience, that sin is a lett to our faith and
comfort, it having often unsettled and disquieted us in our peace
and comfort, though we ought not to he so.”
Crisp is the only writer that expresses himself freely and largely on this
subject:, and with the least guard
f25
; and yet when he says, that “believers
need not be afraid of their sins, his meaning is not, that they need not be
afraid of sins committed, as Hoornbeeck,
f26
Witsius,
f27
and Chaunecy
f28
,
have justly observed; and when he says, that “the sins of believers can do
them no hurt: by hurt he means, the hurt of punishment, penal evil, or the
penal effects of sin which believers are freed from, and therefore shall
never enter into a state of condemnation, Christ having bore their sins, and
made satisfaction to justice for them; but then he speaks of sin, in its own
nature, as odious and dreadful to believer’s, and of bitterness and evil, as
the certain fruits of it. The Doctor, I verily believe, used these expressions
in a sound sense, and with a good design; not to encourage persons in sin,
but to relieve and comfort the minds of believers, distressed with sin; yet, I
must confess, I do not like the expressions, but am of opinion they ought
to be disused.
And now surely, Sir, this single author’s using of this expression, and that
not in the gross and vile sense of it, cannot be sufficient to bear you out, in
saying, that sin s doing a believer no harm, was much insisted on in those
times: I can hardly think you have any reference to Archer’s book, called
Comfort for Believers about their Sin and Troubles; in which the author
exhorts believers not to be oppressed and perplexed for their sins
f29
:.10
though he acknowledges that godly sorrow and true shame become them,
and says, that till they have it, God will not own them. He asserts in so
many words,
f30
“that we may safely say, that God is, and hath an hand in, and is the
author of the sinfulness of his people.”
(Horresco referens!) and what is enough to make one shudder at the
reading of, he says, that
f31
“all the sins which believers are left to, they are through and
because of the covenant of grace left to them; and the covenant
implies a dispensation of sinning to them, as well as other things:”
And adds,
“By sins are they as much nurtured and fitted for heaven, as by any
thing else.”
All which is blasphemous, vile and abominable; and for which if I mistake
not, the book was ordered to he burnt by the common hangman. I say, I
can hardly think you can have reference to this author; for though he
asserts this notion in the grossest sense, and in the vilest manner, yet it
unhappily falls out for you, that this man was not for eternal union, but for
union by faith; he frequently observes,
f32
that faith immediately unites to
Christ, and is the bond of union to him, and what brings the Holy Ghost
into the soul. If you had this author and his book in your eye, you should
rather have said, that “union by faith, and sin’s doing a believer no harm,
were much insisted on in those times.” But,
III. What I have further to complain of, is your joining the harmless
doctrine of eternal union with that hurtful one, as it may be taken, of sin’s
doing a believer no harm. You could have no other view, than to bring the
doctrine of eternal union into disgrace, and an odium upon the asserters of
it, as if there was a strict connection between these two, and as if those
who espoused the one, held the other. The notion of sin’s doing a believer
no harm, was never a received tenet of any body or society of Christians
among us; no, not even those who have been called Antinomians. It is not
the sentiment of those who are branded with the name in this day. I am
well informed, that some churches, who are despised as Antinomian, have
cast some out of their communion, for holding this notion in the gross
sense of it. I wish some churches, that reckon themselves more orthodox,.11
would shew a like zeal against ,Arianism, and in the behalf of Christ’s
proper Deity. There are, indeed, I hear, a scattered scandalous set of
persons in the Fen Country, the disciples of one David Culey, who was cut
off from a church in Northamptonshire, and was infamous for his
blasphemy and scandalous life, who have imbibed this notion, and live
answerably to it, but are disregarded by all persons of seriousness and
sobriety. It was not a general received notion of those who are called
Antinomians, a little before or during the time of our civil commotions. Dr.
Crisp is the only person that speaks it out, and yet not in the gross sense of
it, as has been observed. All that their adversaries have said of them, is not
to relied on; such unworthy writers as Edwards and Paget, I give no credit
to. Mr. Crandon
f33
speaks of some Antinomians in Somersetshire, with
whom he was acquainted, and he gives us a catalogue of their sentiments;
but nothing like this is taken notice of by him: nay, it does not appear that
the Antinomians in Germany, the follower of Islebius Agricola, from
Luther’s account of them
f34
, I held any such notion. Sledian,
f35
in his
Commentaries, takes notice of them, and of their tenets. His short account
of them is this:
“This year, that is, 1538, sprung up the sect of them who are called
Antinomians; they say, that repentance is not to be taught out of
the decalogue, and oppose those who teach, that the gospel is not;
to be preached, but those whose hearts are first shaken and broken
by the preaching of the law: they also assert, that whatever a man’s
life may be, and how impure soever, yet is he justified, if he only
believes the promises of the gospel.”
This last assertion of theirs ins somewhat ambiguous, and may seem to
favor this notion, of sin’s doing a believer no harm, as this author has
delivered it: if his meaning is that they held that a man may be justified by
faith in the gospel-promise, without sanctification; or though he allows
himself in a continued impurity of life, this is a contradiction to the grace of
God; but if his meaning is that they held that a man may be truly justified
by faith in Christ, though his former life has been never so impure; this is a
truth of the gospel, and gives no countenance to this doctrine. Of all that I
have met with, none more roundly assert it than Eunomius, and his
followers, who lived in the fourth century.
“It is reported of this man
f36
, that he was such an enemy to good
manners, that he should assert that the commission of any sin.12
whatever, and a continuance therein, could not hurt any one, if he
was but a partaker of that faith which was taught by him.”
This man was a disciple of Aetius, whose followers were called from him
Aetians; of whom Epiphanius writes
f37
, that they were unconcerned about
holiness of life, or any of the commands of God, and spoke very slightly of
sin. Iræneus has a passage concerning the Valentinians, which comes up to
this notion; it is this:
f38
“As that which is earthly cannot partake of salvation, for they say it
is incapable of it; so again, that which is spiritual, by which they
mean themselves, cannot receive corruption, by whatsoever actions
they may be concerned in. Just as gold being put into dirt, does not
lose its beauty, but retains its nature, nor can it receive any hurt
from the dirt: so they say, that they may be concerned in some
material actions, and not be at all hurt, or lose the spiritual
substance: hence the most perfect of them do all those things which
are forbidden, without any manner of fear.”
And then instances eating things sacrificed to idols, attending on the
worship of the heathens, frequenting the theatres, and indulging themselves
in all fleshly lusts. The Gnostics, Carpocratians, Saturninians, Basilidians,
with many others, embraced such-like impure notions: which, it is
probable, they received from Simon Magus, the Father of heresies, who
allowed those who believed in him and his Helena, to live as they list!
f39
These things I take notice of, to shew by whom this tenet has and has not
been received; and, to support the justness of my complaint against you, in
joining the doctrine of eternal union with it, when they never went
together, as I can learn, or were ever received by the same persons.
IV. I observe that you call the doctrine of eternal union, as well as that of
sin’s doing a believer no harm, an immoral conceit. I do not well know
what you mean by an immoral conceit; every imagination of the thoughts
of the heart being only evil, is an immoral conceit; all sinful lusts in the
mind are so:
When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth, sin; and sin, when it is
finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:15).
An immoral conceit, properly speaking, I apprehend, is the first motion,
thought, and imagination of sin rising up in the mind; how this is applicable.13
to the doctrine of eternal union, I see not: but, I suppose, your meaning is,
that the doctrine of eternal union is a conceit and fiction of some men’s
brains, which has a tendency to promote immorality, and encourage
persons in it. That it is no conceit, which has its foundation only in the
fancy and imagination of some men, but a truth contained in the sacred
scriptures, I hope to make appear. Was it a mere conceit, why you should
reckon it an immoral one, I know not; if it is a conceit, it is an harmless
one; nor can it he reasonably thought to have a tendency to promote
immorality and profaneness any more than the doctrine of eternal election
has, by which the holiness of God’s people is infallibly secured unto them;
for
God has chosen them in Christ before the foundation of the world,
that they should be holy, and without blame before him in love
(

Ephesians 1:4).
Now how persons can be in Christ, chosen in him, and yet not united to
him, or how there can be an eternal election of persons in Christ, and yet
no eternal union of them to him, is what I do not understand; and as eternal
election secures the holiness of the saints, so does eternal union. It is
because Christ has loved them with an everlasting love, and by loving
them, has united them to himself, and become the Head of them, and one
with them, therefore he has given himself for them,
that he might redeem them from all iniquity, and purify unto himself
a peculiar people, zealous of good works (

Titus 2:14);
and does also send down his Spirit into their hearts, to renew and sanctify
them; to implant grace in them, to enable them to perform good works, in
which he has before ordained that they should walk, and to hold on in faith
and holiness to the end. Redemption from sin, the sanctification of our
hearts, all the good works done in faith, and perseverance in grace to the
end, are the fruits and effects of eternal union to Christ. In what sense then
it is an immoral conceit, or how it tends to promote immorality, you would
do well to tell us, or acknowledge that you have abused it.
V. You call the persons who, you say, insisted much on eternal union,
“ignorant, enthusiastic preachers.” One would have thought you might
have spared this severe reflection, for the sake of some, who have asserted
an eternal union, that are above your contempt, and very far from any just
charge of ignorance and enthusiasm. Dr. Goodwin. speaks of an election-.14
union, a virtual and representative one, which the elect have in Christ
before the foundation of the world
f40
:
“As in the womb, says he, head and members are not conceived
apart, but together, as having relation to each other; so were we
and Christ (as making up one mystical body unto God) formed
together in the eternal womb of election.”
Again
f41
,
“Were you so chosen in Christ, as that God never purposed you a
being but in Christ, and then gave you this subsistence in Christ,
never casting a thought upon you out of him; then reckon of no
other being but what you have in Christ. Reckon not of what you
have in honour, or what you are in greatness or parts; but reckon of
what you were in him, before this world was, and of all the spiritual
blessings wherewith he then blessed you; and likewise of what you
are now in him, by an actual union, as then by a virtual and
representative one.”
And in another place
f42
,
“We were one with Christ before the world was: there is one way
of union then; Jesus Christ in the human nature cometh down and
represents us, doth what we have to do; here is now another way of
union; Why? This is the reason; for we were one with Christ, by his
undertaking for us only from everlasting; but we were one with
him, by an active representation, when below on earth.”
And elsewhere he says
f43
:
“There is a threefold union with Christ; the first is relative, whereby
we are said to be his, and he ours; as you know he is called our
husband, and the church is called his wife; and before husband and
wife company together there is such a relation made by marriage;
and the husband may be in one place, and the wife in another, so
that there can be no communion between them and yet be man and
wife; so is the union between Christ and you as complete in the
relation, before he acts any thing upon you, though he be in heaven,
and you on earth, as if you were in heaven with him.”.15
And so in another part of his works
f44
; he makes union to Christ to be
before the Spirit, or faith, or any grace is given: His words are these:
“Union with Christ is the first fundamental thing of justification,
and sanctification, and all: Christ first takes us, and then sends his
Spirit; he apprehends us first; it is not my being regenerate that puts
me into a right of all those privileges; but it is Christ takes me, and
then gives me his Spirit, faith, holiness, &c. It is through our union
with Christ, and the perfect holiness of his nature, to whom we are
united, that we partake of the privileges of the covenant of grace.”
Witsius says, the elect
“are united to Christ,—
1. In the eternal decree of God.—
2. By the union of the eternal compact, in which Christ was
constituted, by the Father, the Head of all those who are to be saved.
3. By a true and real union, but what on their part is only passive, they
are united to Christ when the Spirit of Christ first lays hold on them,
and infuses a principle of new life;”
f45
And a little after adds;
“Moreover, since faith is an act flowing from a principle of spiritual
life, it is plain, that it may be said in a sound sense, that an elect
man may be truly and really united to Christ before actual faith.”
It is evident, that he allows not only an union to Christ in God’s eternal
purpose, but a federal union with him from eternity, as the Head of the
elect. Now for the sake of these men and others that might be named, you
might have forbore the heavy charge of ignorance and enthusiasm; and if
not for the sake of them, yet surely for the sake of your own Father, who
asserts an eternal representative union of the elect with Christ, and that in a
book of which you yourself was the editor
f46
. His words are these
“It must, indeed be granted, that God, from eternity, decreed to
justify elect sinners through Christ: and that as none but they are
ever justified, so all that were decreed for justification are certainly
justified. It must also be granted, that God, from eternity, entered
into a covenant of grace with Christ, as the Head of elect sinners;.16
wherein Christ as their surety, undertook for their justification.—It
must likewise be granted, that there was a gift of all grace made to
Christ for elect sinners, as he was their Head and Surety from
eternity (

2 Timothy 1:9). It must be farther granted, that all elect
sinners had a representative union with Christ from eternity. When
Christ was chose as their Head, they were chose together with him,
as his members.”
In another page, he says:
“Believers may, with the greatest delight and comfort, take a survey
of their justification, in the different gradations, or progressive steps
of it. God decreed their justification, and they had a representative
union with Christ, as their Head and Surety, from eternity. This
lays such a sure foundation for their justification, as cannot be
overturned by the joint power of men and devils: they had a legal
union with Christ, and were federally justified in him when he rose
from the dead. This gave them a fundamental right to justification:
they are actually united to Christ when they believe, and are then
actually justified.”
You see that all wise and thoughtful men do not abhor eternal union as an
immoral conceit: if you say that these men plead for a real and actual union
by faith, you cannot deny that they also assert an union before faith, yea, an
eternal union in some. sense; whereas you have reproached it, as an
immoral conceit, and the preachers of it, as ignorant and enthusiastic,
without any exception or explanation. You would do well to explain your
sense, and clear yourself. For my own part, I should not greatly care to be
reckoned ignorant, and especially enthusiastic, and yet think I may, in a
safe and sound sense, insist upon the doctrine of eternal union.
And now, Sir, if it would not be thought tedious, I would freely give you
my sentiments concerning the doctrine of union. I am persuaded we shall
not differ about the persons who are united to Christ, that these are God’s
elect, and they only; nor about the nature of the union itself, that it is an
union of the whole persons, souls and bodies, of God’s people to the whole
person of Christ; though it is not a personal union, that is, such an one as
the union of the divine and human natures in Christ; that it is real, solid,
substantial, and not imaginary; that it is complete and perfect, and not
gradual, or brought about by degrees, but finished at once, as our
justification is; that it is exceeding close and near, and indissoluble, of.17
which there can be no separation. What we are most likely to differ about,
is, when God’s elect are united to Christ, and what is the bond of their
union to him. It is generally said that they are not united to Christ until they
believe, and that the bond of union is the Spirit on Christ’s part, and faith
on ours. I am ready to think that these phrases are taken up by divines, one
from another, without a thorough consideration of them. It is well, indeed,
that Christ is allowed any part or share in effecting our union with him;
though one should think the whole of it ought to be ascribed to him, since
it is such an instance of surprising love and grace, than which there cannot
well be thought to be a greater. Why must this union he pieced up with
faith on our part? This smells so prodigious rank of self, that one may
justly suspect that something rotten and nauseous lies at the bottom of it. I
shall therefore undertake to prove, that the bond of union of God’s elect to
Christ, is neither the Spirit on Christ’s part, nor faith on their part.
1. It is not the Spirit on Christ’s part. The mission of the Spirit into the
hearts of Cod’s elect, to regenerate, quicken, and sanctify them, to apply
the blessings of grace to them, and seal them up to the day of redemption,
and the bestowing of his several gifts and graces upon them, are in
consequence, and by virtue of a previous and antecedent union of them to
the Person of Christ. They do not first receive the Spirit of Christ, and then
by the Spirit are united to him; but they are first united to him, and, by
virtue of this union, receive the Spirit of him. To conceive otherwise,
would be as preposterous as to imagine, that the animal spirits, which have
their seat in the head, should be communicated to, and diffused throughout
the several parts of the body, without union to the head, or antecedent to
an union, and in order to effect it; as this would be justly reckoned an
absurdity in nature, so is the other no less an absurdity in grace. A person
is first joined, glued, closely united to Christ, and then becomes one Spirit
with him; that is, receives, enjoys, and possesses in measure, the same
Spirit as he does, as the members of an human body do participate of the
same spirit the head does, to which they are united: he that is joined unto
the Lord, is one spirit (

1 Corinthians 6:17). The case is this; Christ, as
the Mediator of the covenant, and Head of God’s elect, received the Spirit
without measure, that is, a fulness of the gifts and graces of the Spirit:
These persons being united to Christ, as members to their Head, do, in his
own time, receive the Spirit from him, though in measure. They are first
chosen in him, adopted through him, made one with him, become heirs of
God, and joint-heirs with Christ; and then, as the apostle says,.18
Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father (

Galatians 4:6).
Besides, the Spirit of God, in his personal inhabitation in the saints, in the
operations of his grace on their hearts, and in the influences of his power
and love on their souls, is the evidence, and not the bond of their union to
God or Christ, and of their communion with them: For hereby we know,
says the apostle John (

1 John 3:24),
that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
And in another place (

1 John 4:13),
Hereby know we, that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he
hath given us of his Spirit.
There is, indeed, an union which the Spirit of God is the efficient cause of;
but this is not an union, of God’s elect to the Person of Christ, but an union
of believers one with another in a church-state; which the apostle designs,
when he says,
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be
Jews or Gentiles, whether we he bond or free; and have been all
made to drink into one Spirit (

1 Corinthians 12:13).
The bond of this union is peace and love; hence the saints are exhorted to
walk
with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one
another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace (

Ephesians 4:2, 3).
2. Neither is faith the bond of union to Christ. Those who plead for union
by faith, would do well to tell us whether we are united to Christ, by the
habit or principle of faith implanted, or by the act of faith; and since there
are different acts of faith, they should tell us by which our union is, and
whether by the first, second, third, &c. acts of believing. If we are united to
Christ by the habit or principle of faith infused, then our union is not by
faith on our part; because faith, as a principle or habit, is a gift of grace, of
the operation of God, and which Christ is the author and finisher of. And if
we are united to Christ by faith, as an act of ours, then we are united to
Christ by a work, for faith, as an act of ours, is a work; and if by a work,
then not by grace; for,.19
if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more
grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise
work is no more work (

Romans 11:6).
I have often wondered that our divines should fix upon the grace of faith to
be the bond of union to Christ, when there is nothing in it that is of a
cementing and uniting nature: it is not a grace of union but of communion.
Had they pitched upon the grace of love, as the bond of union, it would
have appeared much more plausible; for love is of a knitting and uniting
nature; it is the bond of friendship among men; it was this which knit the
soul of Jonathan to the soul of David, so that he loved him as his own
soul. This is the bond of union of saints one with another: their hearts are
knit together in love. Hence charity or love is called the bond of
perfectness (

Colossians 2:2; 3:14). It was this which so closely joined
and cemented the hearts of the first Christians one to another, insomuch
that
the multitude of them that believed, were of one heart and of one
soul (

Acts 4:32).
Had our divines, I say, fixed upon this grace, as the bond of union to
Christ, it would have looked more feasible, and might perhaps, have been
the means of leading them into the truth of the matter. Some, indeed, tell
us, that we are united to Christ by faith and love; but then they do not
consider love as a part of the bond of union, but only as an evidence of that
faith by which we are united; or their meaning is, that that faith by which
we are united to Christ, is a faith that works by love. Dr. Jacomb
f47
indeed,
having treated of a mystical union between Christ and his people, the bond
of which he makes to be the Spirit on Christ’s part, and faith on theirs, and
of a legal union between Christ and believers, the ground of which is
Christ’s suretyship, speaks of a moral union between them, the bond of
which is love, even
“a mutual, reciprocal, hearty love between Christ and believers; he
loves them, and they love him, and by virtue of this mutual love,
there is a real and close union betwixt them.”
And besides him, the learned Alsted is the only divine I have met with, who
makes the bond of union to be the mutual love of Christ and his people.
“This union, says he,
f48
is the mutual love of Christ and believers, or
a mutual obligation of Christ and believers, to love one another.”.20
Now though there is something of truth in this, yet it is not the naked,
pure, and unmixed truth of the matter; for it is not our love to Christ, but
his love to us, which is alone the real bond of our union to him; he loves his
people, and by loving them, unites them to himself: and this is the ground
and foundation of all their communion and fellowship with him, both in
grace and glory.
Faith is no uniting grace, nor are any of its acts of a cementing nature.
Faith indeed, looks to Christ, lays hold on him, embraces him, and cleaves
unto him; it expects and receives all from Christ, and gives him all the
glory; but then hereby a soul can no more be said to be united to Christ,
than a beggar may be said to be united to a person to whom he applies, of
whom he expects alms, to whom he keeps close, from whom he receives,
and to whom he is thankful. Faith is a grace of communion, by which
Christ dwells in the hearts of his people, which is an act (of) fellowship, as
a fruit of union, by which believers live on Christ, receive of his fulness,
grace for grace, and walk on in him as they have received him. Union to
Christ is the foundation of faith, and of all the acts of believing, as seeing,
walking, receiving, &c. A man may as well be said to see, walk, and
receive without his head, or without union to it, as one can be said to
believe, that is, to see, walk, and receive in a spiritual sense, without the
head, Christ; or as an antecedent to union to him, or, in order to it. To talk
of faith in Christ before union to Christ, is a most preposterous, absurd,
and irrational notion.
Faith is the fruit and effect of union, even of what is commonly called vital
union. Faith stands much in the same place in things spiritual, as reason
does in things natural. There must first be an union of the soul and body of
man, before he can be said to live; and there must be life in him before
there can be reason, or the exercise of it; man must first become a living
soul, before he can be a reasonable one; so there must be an union of the
soul to Christ before it can spiritually live; and there must be a principle of
spiritual life before there can be any faith, or the exercise of it. Now as
reason and the exercise of it, is a second remove from the union of the soul
and body; so is faith, and the exercise of it, a second remove from person’s
union to Christ. There must be first a vital union to Christ, before there can
be any believing in him. This is fitly and fully exemplified in the simile of
the vine and branches, which Christ makes use of to express the union of
his people to him: Abide in me, and I in you, says he (

John 15:4, 5),.21
as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine;
no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 1 am the Vine, ye are the
branches he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth
forth much fruit.
Now faith is a fruit of the Spirit, which grows upon the branches, that are
in Christ the Vine; but then these branches must first be in the vine, before
they bear this fruit; for the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit (

Proverbs
12:12). The branches of the wild olive tree must first be engrafted into the
good olive tree, become one with it, and so partake of the root and fatness
of it, before they can bring forth good fruit. Could there be the fruit of faith
in Christ’s people before their union to him, then the branches would bear
fruit without the vine, without being in it, or united to it, contrary to our
Lord’s express words. From the whole, it may safely be concluded, that
union to Christ is before faith, and therefore faith cannot be the bond of
union; no, not on our part. Vital union is before faith. There always was a
fulness of life laid up and reserved for all those who were chosen in Christ;
there was always life in Christ the Head for all his members, which he,
when it pleases him, in regeneration, communicates to them, and implants
in them, though there is no activity or exercise of this life until they believe.
f49
The everlasting love of God, the Father, Son, and Spirit, is the bond of the
elect’s union to the sacred Three. What may he said of the three divine
Persons in general, is true of each of them in particular. They have all three
loved the elect with an everlasting love, and thereby have firmly and
everlastingly united them to themselves. Christ has loved them with an
everlasting and unchangeable love, whereby his heart is knit unto them as
Jonathan’s was to David. He loved them as his own soul, as his own body,
and the members of it. This is that cement which will never loosen, that
union knot which can never be untied, that bond which can never be
dissolved, from whence there can be no separation; for who shall separate
us from the love of Christ? I am persuaded, says the apostle (

Romans
8:35, 38, 39),
that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the
love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord..22
There are several unions which arise from or are branches of this
everlasting love-union, which are all antecedent to our faith in Christ.
1. There is an election-union in Christ from everlasting:
God hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world
(

Ephesians 1:4).
This is an act and instance of everlasting love, by which the persons chosen
are considered in Christ, and one with him. Christ was chosen as an head,
his people as members with him. Nothing is more commonly said by those
who are esteemed sound divines,
f50
than this: Now how Christ can be
considered as an head, and the elect as members of him in this eternal act
of election, without union to him, is hard to conceive.
Arminius and his followers,
f51
the Remonstrants, have frequently urged the
text now mentioned in favor of election from faith foreseen, and their
argument upon it is this:
“None are chosen to salvation but in Christ; none are in Christ but
believers, who are engrafted into Christ, and united to him by faith,
therefore none are chosen to salvation, but those who are believers
in sin Christ, are engrafted into him, and united with him.”
For they had no other notion of being in Christ, but by faith; like some
others, who yet would be thought to be far from being in their scheme. But
then, among other replies, they have been told by the Anti-Remonstrants,
f52
“That it is certain that we are chosen and regarded in Christ before
we were believers; which is fully proved from several places of
scripture, which plainly make it appear, that the elect have some
existence in Christ, even before they believe; for unless there had
been some kind of union between Christ and the members, Christ
would not have been their head, nor could he have satisfied for
them.”
2. There is a legal union between Christ and the elect from everlasting: they
are one in a law-sense, as surety and debtor are one; the bond of this union
is Christ’s suretyship, which is from everlasting, and in which Christ
engaged, as a proof of his strong love and affections to his people. He is
the surety of the better Testament, the egiuV, that drew near to God the
Father in the name of the elect, substituted himself in their place and stead,.23
and laid himself under obligation to pay their debts, satisfy for their sins,
and procure for them all the blessings of grace and glory. This being
accepted of by God, Christ and the elect were looked upon, in the eye of
the law, as one person, even as the bondsman and the debtor, among men,
are one, in a legal sense; so that if one pays the debt, it is the same as if the
other did it. This legal union arising from Christ’s suretyship-engagements,
is the foundation of the imputation of our sins to Christ, and of his
satisfaction for them, and also of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness
to us, and of our justification by it. Christ and his people being one, in a
law-sense, their sins become his, and his righteousness becomes theirs.
3. There is a federal union between Christ and the elect from everlasting.
As they were considered as one, he as head, and they as members, in
election; they are likewise considered after the same manner in the
covenant of grace. Christ has a very great concern in the covenant; he is
given for a covenant to the people; he is the Mediator, Surety, and
Messenger of it. It is made with him, not as a single person, but as a
common head, representing all the elect, who are given to him, in a federal
way, as his seed and posterity. What he promised in the covenant, he
promised for them, and on their account; and what he received, he received
for them, and on their account. Hence grace is said to be given to them in
him before the world began (

2 Timothy 1:9); and they are said to be
blessed with
all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ
(

Ephesians 1:3).
4. There is a natural union between Christ and his people; for both he that
sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one; that is, of one
nature;
for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren
(

Hebrews 2:11).
This is an union in time, but is the effect of Christ’s love before time;
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he
also himself likewise took part of the same (

Hebrews 2:14).
The nature he assumed is the same with that of all mankind, but was taken
to him with a peculiar regard to the elect, the children, the spiritual seed of
Abraham, who are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones..24
Now this natural union, which is the fruit of Christ’s everlasting love, is
antecedent to the faith of New Testament saints.
5. It is sufficiently evident, that there is a representative union between
Christ and the elect, both from everlasting and in time, which is
independent on, and prior to their believing in him. He represented them as
their head in election, and in the covenant of grace, as has been already
observed; and so he did, when upon the cross, and in the grave, when he
rose from the dead, entered into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of
God. Hence they are said to be crucified with him, dead with him, buried
with him, risen with him, yea, to be made to sit together in heavenly places
in Christ Jesus.
Now all these several unions take their rise from, and have their foundation
in, the everlasting love of Christ to his people; which is the grand original,
strong and firm bond of union between him and them, and is the spring of
all that fellowship and communion they have with him in time, and shall
have to all eternity. It is from hence that the Spirit of God is sent down into
our hearts to regenerate and renew us, and faith is wrought in our souls by
the Spirit. Faith does not give us a being in Christ, or unite us to him; it is
the fruit, effect, and evidence of our being in Christ and union to him. It is
true, indeed, that God’s elect do not know their being in Christ and union
to him, until they believe; then what was before secret is made manifest;
and because things are sometimes said to be, when they are only
manifested to be, hence the people of Christ are said to be in Christ, when
they are made new creatures; if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature
(

2 Corinthians 5:17). Being a new creature, does not put a man into
Christ, but is the evidence of his being there; and without which he neither
knows, nor ought he to profess himself to be in Christ: And so likewise, in
another place, it is said,
If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his
(

Romans 8:9).
He may be one of his chosen and redeemed ones, though he has not the
Spirit of Christ as yet; but he cannot know this until he has the Spirit of
Christ; for no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, that is, his Lord, but by
the Holy Ghost (

1 Corinthians 12:3). The apostle Paul takes notice of
some that were in Christ before him (

Romans 16:7); all God’s elect
were chosen together in Christ, not one before another: They had all
together a being in him; but this in conversion is made known to one before.25
another. There are different manifestations of union to different persons,
and to the same persons at different times; for which Christ prays, when he
says,
that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee;
that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that
thou hast sent me; and the glory which thou gayest me, I have
given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them,
and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the
world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as
thou hast loved me (

John 17:21-23).
The full manifestation of it will be in heaven, when the saints shall be with
Christ where he is, and behold his glory, and enjoy uninterrupted
communion with him, as the fruit of their eternal union to him.
I should now, Sir, have closed this letter, were it not for a passage in your
discourse Of the Doctrine of Grace as it Encourageth Holiness; in which,
I apprehend, you have poured much contempt on several valuable and
excellent truths of the gospel: I will repeat your words, and take leave to
make some few strictures on them. They are these:
“There have been some, who, by their life and conversation, have
shewed, that they were far from being enemies to holiness, who
have amused themselves with fancies about God’s loving and
delighting in his elect, while they were in a state of nature; of his
seeing no sin in his people, and good works not being necessary to
salvation; and who have been forward to condemn pressing men to
duty, as legal preaching; and to speak of exhorting to repentance,
mortification, and self-denial, as low and mean stuff
f53
.”
I. I observe that you esteem the doctrine of God’s loving his elect, while in
a state of nature, a fancy; and that those who hold this doctrine do but
amuse themselves with a fancy. I must beg leave to say, that if it is a fancy,
it is a scriptural one: I would not willingly say or write any thing that is
contrary to the purity and holiness of God, or has a tendency to embolden
vicious persons in a course of sin and wickedness; and yet cannot help
saying, that the doctrine of God’s everlasting, unchangeable, and invariable
love to his elect, through every state and condition into which they come,
is written as with a sunbeam in the sacred writings..26
1. God’s love to his elect is not of yesterday; it does not begin with their
love to him,
We love him, because he first loved us (

1 John 4:19).
It was bore in his heart towards them long before they were delivered from
the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. It
does not commence in time, but bears date from eternity, and is the ground
and foundation of the elect’s being called in time out of darkness into
marvelous light: I have loved thee, says the Lord to the church,
with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I
drawn thee (

Jeremiah 31:3);
that is in effectual vocation. Many are the instances which might be given
in proof of the antiquity of God’s love to his elect, and as it is antecedent
to their being brought out of a state of nature. God’s choosing them in
Christ before the foundation of the world, was an act of his love towards
them, the fruit and effect of it; for election presupposes love. His making
an everlasting covenant with his Son, ordered in all things, and sure, on
account of those he chose in him; his setting him up as the Mediator of the
covenant from everlasting; his donation of grace to them in him before the
world began; his putting their persons into his hands, and so making them
his care and charge, are so many demonstrative proofs of his early love to
them; for can it ever be imagined that there should be a choice of persons
made, a covenant of grace so well formed and stored, a promise of life
granted, and a security made, both of persons and grace, and yet no love all
this while?
2. The love of God to his elect is unchangeable and unalterable; it is as
invariable as his own nature and being; yea, God
is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in
him (

1 John 4:16).
Hence it is that the blessings of his grace are irreversible, because they are
gifts of him, who is the Father of lights, with whom there is no
variableness, nor shadow of turning. Hence also it is that the salvation of
God’s elect does not stand upon a precarious foundation, as it would, if his
love changed as theirs does; but he is the Lord, who changes not, and
therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed. The several changes the
elect of God pass under, through the fall of Adam, and their own actual.27
transgressions make no change or alteration in the love of God. The love
of God makes a change in them when he converts them, but no change or
alteration is made in God’s love; that does not admit of more or less; it
cannot be said to be more ardent and intense at one time, than at another, it
is always invariably the same in his heart. Love produced a wonderful and
surprising change in him, who was afterwards the great apostle of the
Gentiles, and of a blaspheming, persecuting, and injurious Saul, made a
believer in Christ, and a preacher of the everlasting gospel: but then this
produced no change in God, nor in his love. God sometimes changes the
dispensations of his providence to his people, but he never changes his
love; he sometimes hides his face from them, and chides them in a fatherly
manner; but at all times he loves them: he loves when he rebukes and
chastens, and though he hides his face for a moment from them, yet with
everlasting kindness will he have mercy on them; for he has said,
The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my
kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of
my peace be removed (

Isaiah 54:10).
There is, indeed, no sensible manifestation of God’s love to his elect before
conversion, or while they are in a state of nature; and it must be allowed,
that the manifestations of it to their souls after conversion, are not always
alike; and that God’s love appeal’s more evident in some instances and acts
of it, than in others; yet still this love as in his own heart, is unchangeably
and invariably the same, as it needs must be, if he is God. Since then God’s
love to his elect is from everlasting, and never changes upon any
consideration whatever, why should God’s love to his elect, while in a state
of nature, be accounted a fancy, and those who maintain it, be represented
as amusing themselves with a fancy?
3. There are instances to be given of God’s love to his elect, while they are
in a state of nature: I have already observed some instances of it to his
elect, from eternity. I will just mention one or two instances of it to them in
time, and which respect them, while in a state of nature. Christ’s coming
into this world, and dying in the room and stead of the elect, are, at once,
proofs, both of his own and his Father’s love to them; God so loved them,
as to give his only begotten Son; and Christ so loved them as to give
himself for then, in a way of offering and sacrifice for their sins; at which
time they were considered as ungodly, as being yet sinners, as enemies in.28
their minds, by wicked works, and without love to God: for the apostle
says (

Romans 5:6, 8, 10),
When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the
ungodly. God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us; for if when we were enemies
we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more
being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Now certainly these persons were in a state of nature, who are said to be
“without strength, to be ungodly, sinners, and enemies;” and yet God
commended his love towards them, when and while they were such, in a
matchless instance of it: and so the apostle John makes use of this
circumstance, respecting the state of God’s elect, to magnify, to set off,
and illustrate the greatness of God’s love (

1 John 4:10):
Herein is love, says he, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
From whence it may strongly be concluded, that God loved his people
while in a state of nature, when enemies to him, destitute of all grace,
without a principle of love to him, or faith in him. Again, the quickening of
God’s elect, when dead in trespasses and sins, the drawing of them to
Christ with the cords of powerful and efficacious grace in effectual
vocation, are instances of his special grace and favor, and fruits and effects
of his everlasting love to them.
God who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us,
even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with
Christ (

Ephesians 2:4, 5).
The time of the effectual vocation of God’s people being come, fixed in his
everlasting counsels and covenant, it is a time of open love to their souls,
and that time becomes a time of life; for seeing them wallowing in their
blood, in all the impurities of their nature, fulfilling the desires of the flesh,
and of the mind, he says unto them, when in their blood, live; yea, when in
their blood he says unto them, live. The spirit of God, as an instance of
God’s love, is sent down into their hearts in order to begin, carry on, and
finish a work of grace, when he finds them in a state of nature, dead in sin,
devoid of all grace, impotent to all that is spiritually good: We ourselves
also, says the apostle (

Titus 3:3-6),.29
were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts
and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one
another, ote, when the kindness and love of God our Saviour
toward man appeared; not by works of righteousness which we
have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing
of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on
us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
If God did not love his elect, while in a state of nature, they must for ever
remain in that state, since they are unable to help themselves out of it; and
it is only the love, grace and mercy of God, which engage his almighty
power to deliver them from thence. There are three gifts and instances of
God’s love to his people before conversion, which are not to be matched
by any instance or instances of love after conversion; the one is the gift of
God himself to them in the everlasting covenant; which covenant runs thus:
I will be their God, and they shall be my people: The other is the gift of his
Son, to suffer and die in their room and stead, and so obtain eternal
redemption for them the third is the gift of his Spirit to them, to convince
them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. And now what greater
instance is there of God’s love to his people after conversion? If the
heavenly glory, with all the entertaining joys of that delightful state, should
be fixed upon, I deny it to be a greater instance of God’s love, than the gift
of himself, his Son, and Spirit; and, indeed, all that God does in time, or
will do to all eternity, is only telling his people how much he loved them
from everlasting; all is but as it were, a comment upon, and an opening of
that ancient act of his; nor has this doctrine any tendency to licentiousness,
or to discourage the performance of good works. The consideration of
this, that God loved me before I loved him, nay, when I was an enemy to
him that his thoughts were employed about my salvation, when I had no
thoughts of him, nor concern for myself, lays me under ten thousand times
greater obligations, to fear, serve and glorify him; than such a consideration
as this, that he began to love me when I loved him, or because I have loved
him, can possibly do. Why then should this doctrine be accounted a mere
fancy, which has so good a foundation, both in the word of God, and in the
experience of his people; and the maintainers of it traduced as amusers of
themselves with fancies?
II. Perhaps you will say, it is not merely the notion of God’s loving his
elect in a state of nature, but his loving them so as to delight in them, while
in that state, that you condemn as a fancy, and the defenders of it, as.30
amusing themselves with a fancy; since you join love and delight together,
when you express yourself so freely on this head. There is a distinction
which you may imagine will help you, which is that of a love of pity and
benevolence, and of complacency and delight; with the first of these, say
some, God loved his elect before conversion, and while in a state of nature,
but not with the latter. It is an idle and ill grounded distinction of some
ignorant, trifling, popish schoolmen, which some of our grave divines have
been fond of, and have used, when they have thought it would serve their
purpose; though it is subversive of the very nature and perfections of God,
and represents him as altogether such an one as ourselves, subject to
change; that his love, like ours, alters, and by degrees increases, and, from
a love of pity and benevolence, passes into a love of complacency and
delight; it supposes that God first views his elect in a miserable state and
condition, with whose misery he is touched, and is filled with bowels of
compassion and pity towards them, which occasion some velleities or
wishes in his mind for their good; and these rise up at length into
resolutions and purposes to do them good; which when he has, at least in
some measure, executed, his affections glow, his love grows more ardent,
and issues in complacency and delight. If this is not to make God
changeable, and bring him down into the rank of mutable creatures, I know
not what is. I could tell the friends of this distinction, though it may be no
news to them, and perhaps they may find their account in it, that these
same popish schoolmen have distinguished the love of God into amor
ordinativus, a love in ordination, purpose and design, and into amor
collativus, a love in gift, which is actually bestowed. This may suit well
enough with the divinity of some men, who seem to be ready to give into
such schemes as these; that God’s love to his elect, before conversion, is
only a purpose to love them when they are converted; that eternal election,
is only a decree to elect persons in time; that the everlasting covenant is
made with persons when they believe, of which faith, repentance and
sincere obedience, are the conditions; and that there is no reconciliation of
God’s elect to him before faith; that the sufferings and death of Christ only
make God reconcilable, but not reconciled; with such-like things as these,
which I am almost tempted to call low and mean stuff. It is high time that
these distinctions about the love of God, with that of an antecedent and
consequent one, were laid aside, which so greatly obscure the glory of
God’s unchangeable love and grace. It must be an odd sort of love among
men, that is separate from delight in the object loved. The philosopher tells
me,
f54
that benevolence is properly neither friendship nor love; and that as.31
benevolence is the beginning of friendship, so delight and pleasure, at the
sight of the object, is the beginning of love; and that no man can be said to
love, who is not first delighted with the form or idea of the object. Indeed,
I cannot see that that can be love, which is without any delight in the object
said to be loved: if a man should say to his wife, I love you well, I wish you
well and am willing to do you all the good offices I am able: but, at the
same time, I can take no delight in your person, nor pleasure in your
company; would not this be esteemed a contradiction to his expressions of
love to her? So if a father should say to his child, I wish you well, I pity
you in what yon do amiss, and I design to do something for you, which
may be for your good, but I can take no delight and pleasure in you as a
child of mine; what kind of love would this be thought to be? The same
may be observed in many other such-like instances.
God’s love to his Son, as a Mediator, is an everlasting love; Thou lovedst
me, says Christ (

John 17:24), before the foundation of the world. This
love was a love of complacency and delight; for Christ as Mediator, was
from everlasting, then by him, that is, the Father (

Proverbs 8:30),
as one brought up with him, and was daily his delight, rejoicing
always before him.
Now God loves his elect with the same love he loves his Son as Mediator.
Hence Christ prays for the open and manifest union between him and his
people; That says he (

John 17:23),
the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them,
as thou hast loved me.
If God therefore has loved his Son, as Mediator, from everlasting, with a
love of complacency and delight, and he has loved his elect from
everlasting with the same love he has loved him, then he must have loved
his elect from everlasting with a love of complacency and delight: and,
indeed how can it otherwise be, since the elect were always in Christ their
Head, in whom they were chosen before the foundation of the world? And
they could not be considered in him but as righteous persons, through his
righteousness, with which God is always well pleased, because by it the
law is magnified, and made honorable; and so Christ is often said to be
God’s beloved Son, in whom not with whom, he is well pleased
(

Matthew 3:17;

2 Peter 1:17); which designs not his person only.32
singly, but all the elect, as considered in him, who together with Christ, are
the objects of God’s eternal delight and pleasure.
It is certain that Jesus Christ has, from everlasting, loved the elect with a
love of complacency and delight; for
“from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was, when
there were no depths nor fountains, before the mountains and hills
were brought into being, while as yet God had not made the earth,
nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world, Christ’s
delights were with the sons of men” (

Proverbs 8:31).
The word y[ç[ç
f55
in the Hebrew rendered delights, is expressive of the
most intimate, sweet, ravishing delight and pleasure; and it being not only
in the plural number, but also having its radical letters, especially its two
first radical letters, doubled,
f56
which, in the Hebrew language, increases
the signification of the word;
f57
it sets forth, that exceeding great delight
and pleasure which Christ had in his people from everlasting; nay, he not
only took delight in the persons of the elect, as they were presented to him
in the glass of his Father’s purposes and decrees, but took pleasure also in
the fore-views of the very spots of ground where he knew his people
would dwell: and hence he says, that he was rejoicing in the habitable part
of his earth (

Proverbs 8:31). Now why God the Father should not,
from everlasting, love the elect with the same love his son did, I know not.
Nothing is more evident than that God’s choosing his people in Christ
before the foundation of the world, is an act of love; and I will venture to
say, it is an act of love, founded upon, and springing from his delight in
them; even as God’s loving and choosing of Israel (which was an emblem
and representation of his special love to, and choice of the true and
spiritual Israel of God) is owing to that delight he had in them; for it is
said,
The Lord had a delight in thy fathers, to love them; and he chose
their seed after them, even you above all the people, as at this day
(

Deuteronomy 10:15).
And, indeed, all the favors and blessings which God bestows on his people
in time, arise from his delight in them. His bringing them out of darkness
into light, out of a state of nature into a state of grace, out of distresses and
difficulties of every kind, springs from his delight in them He brought me.33
forth also into a large place, says David (

Psalm 18:19); he delivered
me, because he delighted in me. In a word, the whole salvation of the elect
is owing to God’s love of delight, with which he loves them. The Lord
taketh pleasure in his people; and, as a fruit and effect of that he will
beautify the meek with salvation: He has promised to rejoice over them, to
do them good; and it is said,
he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; and he will rest in
his love, he will rejoice over thee with singing (

Psalm 149:4).
Some, perhaps, will say, that the elect, while in a state of nature, are
destitute of faith, which is very true; and since without faith it is impossible
to please God (

Hebrews 11:6), he can take no delight in them, while in
that state. The Remonstrants have urged this text in favor of election, ex
fide prævisa;
f58
and their argument upon it is this:
“That if it is impossible to please God without faith, it is impossible
that any should be “chosen by God unto salvation, without faith:
seeing to be chosen unto salvation, is the highest instance of God’s
love and good-will to man that he can shew him:”
But
“they have been told, by the Anti—Remonstrants, that though
election is an act of God’s great love and good pleasure, yet it may
be without faith, since there is a sense in which persons may be said
to please God before faith;
f59
for God is said even to manifest his
love to his enemies,(

Romans 5:8, 10). If then he loved them
when enemies, they must needs please him before they believed;”
and that
“although whatsoever is done without faith may be displeasing to
God, yet God may be said to love some persons, whose actions
displease him; so he loved the person of Paul before he was
converted to the faith of Christ; yea, that there is a certain
complacency in the person, if it be proper so to say, before his
works and faith please God.”
f60
And it is easy to observe, that the apostle is speaking, not of the
complacency which God has in the persons of his people, but of that which
he has in their works and actions. Now no works without faith can please.34
God, such as praying, reading, hearing, and the like because whatsoever is
not of faith, is sin. It is in this sense, that they that are in the flesh, that is,
who are unregenerate, are in a state of nature, cannot please God
(

Romans 8:8); for it may be as well expected to gather grapes of
thorns, and figs of thistles, as that good works well-pleasing to God
should be done by an evil man: but though man can do nothing without
faith, that can please God, yet this does not hinder, but that the persons of
God’s elect, as considered in Christ, may be well pleasing to God before
faith, and without it.
It may be further objected, that God’s elect, while in a state of nature, are
children of wrath, even as others, and therefore cannot be the objects of
God’s love and delight; for how can they be children of wrath, and yet
objects of love at one and the same time? To which I reply, that
“a person may be the object of love and delight, and of displeasure
and wrath, at one and the same time, in a different respect.”
It is said of the Jews (

Romans 11:28), as concerning the gospel, they
are enemies for your sakes; but touching the election, they are beloved for
the fathers’ sakes. But this will be bettor exemplified in the instance of
Jesus Christ,
“who standing in two different relations, and sustaining two
different capacities, was at one and the same time the object of his
Father’s love and wrath; as he was the Son of God, he was always
the object of his love and delight; but as he was the sinner’s surety,
and while bearing the sins of his people in his own body on the tree,
he was the object of his displeasure and wrath, which he sensibly
felt, and therefore it is said (

Psalm 89:38),
Thou hast cast off and abhorred; thou heat been wrath with thine
anointed.
And yet even then, when he poured out his wrath to the uttermost
on him, on the account of his people’s sins, when he ordered justice
to draw its sword, and sheath it in him, his love towards him, as his
Son, was not in the last abated.”
Thus the elect of God, being considered in different views, may be truly
said to be children of wrath, and objects of love at one and the same time;
consider them in Adam, and under the covenant of works, they are children.35
of wrath, they are deserving of the wrath of God, and are exposed to the
curse of the law; but then as considered in Christ, and under the covenant
of grace, they always were, and ever will be, the objects of God’s love and
delight.
This doctrine, I apprehend, is no ways contrary to the purity and holiness
of God’s nature; it does not follow, that because God loves and delights in
his elect, while in a state of nature, that he loves and delights in their sins:
God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon sin, with
any approbation or delight (

Habakkuk 2:13; Psalm 5). He is not a God
that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with him. We are
obliged to distinguish between the persons and sins of God’s people after
conversion; it is allowed that God loves and delights in their persons,
though he hates their sins. Now why the same distinction may not be
allowed before conversion, as after, I see not; since it is not any thing that
is done by them, nor any thing that is wrought in them, that is the ground
and foundation of God’s love to and delight in them; but his love to and
delight in them is the ground and foundation of all that he does for them, or
works in them. No doubt, what he works in them is well-pleasing in his
sight, but their acceptance with God, and their persons being well-pleasing
to him, does not lie in this, but in the beloved. When, Sir, these things are
considered by you, I hope you will no longer esteem it a fancy, that God
should love and delight in his people while in a state of nature. But I go on,
III. To consider another evangelic truth, which, indeed, is the sum and
substance of the gospel, and with the proof of which the scripture abounds,
though you are pleased to condemn it is a fancy, and that is, that “God sees
no sin in his people.” I know this doctrine has been most odiously
traduced, and most widely misrepresented; but, I hope, when some few
things are observed, it will plainly appear not to be a fancy, or a freak of
some distempered minds, but a most glorious and comfortable doctrine of
the gospel, and without which the gospel must cease to be good news and
glad tidings to the sons of men.
1st, When it is asserted that God sees no sin in his people, the meaning is
not, that there is no sin in believers, nor any committed by them, or that
their sins are no sins, or that their sanctification is perfect in this life.
1. Sin is in the best of saints; to say otherwise is contrary to scripture, and
to all the experience of God’s people;.36
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is
not in us (

1 John 1:8).
The ingenuous confession of the saints, their groans and complaints, and
that continual war between flesh and spirit they feel in themselves, are so
many proofs of sin’s being in them; nay, it is not only in them, but it lives in
them. It is true, indeed, they do not live in sin, for then there would be no
difference between them and unregenerate persons; to live in sin, is not
only unbecoming, but contrary to the grace of God: but still sin lives in
believers; though there is an inward principle of grace, and a mortification
of the outward actions of sin, and a putting off concerning the former
conversation the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful
lusts; yet this old man is not changed, nor removed, much less destroyed.
Moreover, sin is not merely in believers now and then, by fits and starts, as
we say, but it dwells in them. Hence the apostle calls it, Sin that dwelleth in
me (

Romans 7:17, 20); where it is not idle, but active and busy; it
hinders all the good, and does all the mischief it can; it makes war against
the soul, and sometimes brings it into captivity.
2. Sin is not only in the best of saints, but is also committed by them:
There is not a just man upon earth, that doth good and sinneth not
(

Ecclesiastes 7:20);
nor is there any sin, but what has been, or may be committed by believers,
excepting the sin against the Holy Ghost: their daily slips and falls, their
frequent prayers for the discoveries of pardoning grace, and the application
of Christ’s blood, which cleanseth from all sin, confirm the truth of this. It
is true, the apostle John says, that
whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin; for his seed
remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God
(

1 John 3:9);
that is, as born of God, he neither does, nor can commit sin. What is that
which is born of God? The new creature; the other I, distinguished from
sin that dwelleth in him this never did, nor can commit sin; there are an old
man and a new man in regenerate persons; the new man never sins, the old
man does nothing else but sin; there are flesh and spirit in the saints; all
sinful works are the works of the flesh, as all good works are the fruits of
the Spirit. The work of grace, though imperfect, is not impure; nothing
impure springs from it, nor is any thing impure to be attributed to it..37
3. The sins of believers are sins, as well as the sins of others; they are of the
same kind, and are equally transgressions of the law, as others are murder
and adultery, committed by David, were sins in him, as well as they are as
committed by others; yea, oftentimes the sins of believers are attended with
more aggravating circumstances than the sins of other men, being acted
against light and knowledge, love, grace and mercy. Though believers are
justified from all sin by Christ’s righteousness, and have all their sins
pardoned through Christ’s blood, yet their sins do not hereby cease to be
sins. Justification from sin by Christ’s righteousness, and pardon of sin
through Christ’s blood, free them from obligation to punishment due to sin,
but do not destroy the nature of sin.
4. The work of sanctification is imperfect in this life it is a good work
begun, but not finished; there is something lacking in the faith of the
greatest believer; love is not come to its full growth and as for knowledge,
it is but in part. There is a twofold sanctification; the one in Christ, this is
complete and perfect; the other is derived from Christ, and wrought in the
soul by the Spirit of. Christ; this at present is imperfect. There is indeed a
perfection of parts, but not of degrees; that is to say, the new creature has
all its parts, but these are not grown up to the perfection they will arrive
unto. The best of saints need fresh supplies of grace, which they would not,
were they perfect: they disclaim perfection in themselves, though they wish
for it both in themselves and others; when therefore it is said that “God
sees no sin in his people,” neither of these things are designed by it.
2dly, God’s seeing no sin in his people, does not impeach his omniscience:
nor is it to be considered as referring to the article of providence, but to the
article of justification as I shall shew presently. God is omniscient, he
knows and sees all persons and things; nothing is or can be hid from his all-seeing
eye:
His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings;
there is no darkness nor shadow of death, where the workers of
iniquity may hide themselves (

Job 34:21, 22).
All the actions of men, whether good or bad, are known to him, with their
secret springs and principles from whence they flow; he sees the sins of his
own people, as well as the sins of others, both in their first motions, and in
their open productions;.38
The Lord’s throne is in heaven, his eyes behold, his eyelids try the
children of men! the Lord trieth the righteous (

Psalm 11:4, 5).
About this there is no debate; they must be stupid indeed, if there be any;
for my part, I never heard of any who deny that the omniscience of God
extends to the sins of his people; it never was thought of, or designed, by
this assertion, to limit or deny the omniscience of God; nor is it limited or
denied by it. Though the phrases of seeing and knowing, are used as
synonymous in the article of providence, yet never in the article of
justification; there they are always distinguished: knowledge and sight are
two things the one belongs to the attribute of God’s omniscience, the other
to the attribute of his justice: when therefore it is said, that God sees no sin
in his people, the meaning is not, that he does not with his omniscient eye,
see and know sin to be in them; but he does not see any iniquity in them
with his eye of justice, or so as to punish them for their sins, or require
satisfaction at their hands for them.
3rdly, Nor is the meaning of this proposition, that “God sees no sin in his
people,” that he takes no notice of them, nor resents them, nor chastises
them, in a fatherly way, on the account of them. God does not, indeed,
punish his people for their sins in a way of vindictive wrath and justice; for
this is contrary to his justice, and must overthrow the satisfaction of Christ;
for either Christ has perfectly satisfied for the sins of his people, or he has
not; if he has not, they must satisfy for them themselves; if he has, it is
contrary to the justice of God to punish for sin twice, or to require
satisfaction, both of the surety and the sinner: but though God does not
punish his people for their sins, yet he chastises them in a fatherly way; he
takes notice of their sins, lays his hand upon them, in order to bring them
to a sense and acknowledgement of them;
If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if
they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will
I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with
stripes; nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from
them, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail (

Psalm 89:30-33).
4thly, Though God sees sin in his people, as being but in part sanctified,
yet he sees no sin in them, as they are perfectly justified; though he sees sin
in them, with his eye of omniscience, yet not with his eye of revenging
justice; though he sees them, in respect of his providence, which reaches all
things, yet not in respect of justification; though he takes notice of his.39
people’s sins so as to chastise them in a fatherly way, for their good; yet he
does not see them, take notice of them, and observe them in a judicial
way, so as to impute them to them, or require satisfaction for them:
God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing
their trespasses unto them (

2 Corinthians 5:9):
No, he has imputed them to Christ, he has beheld them in him, he has
charged them to him, and Christ has made full satisfaction for them; and
therefore
who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that
justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died
(

Romans 8:33, 34).
God will not require satisfaction at the hands of his people for their sins; he
will not punish them on the account of them; they shall never enter into
condemnation; for
there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who
walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit (

Romans 8:1).
Was God to see sin in his people in this sense, and proceed against them in
a forensic way, he must act contrary to his justice and set aside the
satisfaction of his Son. A few things will make it plainly appear that God
sees no sin in his justified ones, as such:
First, This will be evident, if we consider what Christ has done with
respect to the sins of his people. These have been removed from them to
him; they have been placed to his account, imputed to him, and laid upon
him.
All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to
his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all
(

Isaiah 53:6);
which he has bore in his own body, on the tree; yea, he is the Lamb of God
which taketh away the sin of the world; he has removed the iniquity of his
people in one day: As he was wounded for their transgressions, and
bruised for their sins, so he has washed them from their sins in that blood
of his which cleanseth from all sin; by his righteousness he justifies them
from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of
Moses; and by the sacrifice of himself, he has put away sin for ever; yea,.40
he has finished transgression, made an end of sin, has made
reconciliation for iniquity, and has brought in everlasting righteousness.
This is the language both of the Old and New Testament, and if this be the
case, as it certainly is, God does not, and cannot see iniquity in his people,
since all their iniquity has been transferred on Christ, and it is all done away
by him.
Secondly, This will be yet more evident, if we consider what God the
Father has done on the account of the blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and
satisfaction of his Son. He has freely forgiven all the sins of his people for
Christ’s sake; he has covered them with a covering of mercy, so as they are
not visible; he has blotted them out of his sight, so as they are not legible to
the eye of justice; yea, he has cast them all behind his back, and into the
depths of the sea; insomuch that the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for,
and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be
found: such strong expressions as these from the mouth of the Lord of
hosts, will sufficiently bear us out in asserting, that “God sees no sin in his
people.”
Thirdly, Add to this, the view in which the people of God are to be
considered, and are considered by Father, Son, and Spirit, being clothed
with the righteousness of Christ, and washed in his blood; they are
complete in Christ; they are without fault before the throne, without spot or
wrinkle, or any such thing: Christ says to them, Thou art all fair, my love;
and there is no spot in thee (

Song of Solomon 4:7). The church is a
perfection of beauty in his esteem; all the saints are perfectly comely
through the comeliness he has put on them; yea, they are, in the sight of
God, in the eye of justice, unblameable and unreproveable; and if so, then
surely God sees no iniquity in them. One must transcribe a considerable
part of the Old and New Testament to give the full proof of this doctrine.
If this is a fancy, it is the glory of the Bible, and the marrow of the Gospel;
what most displays the riches of God’s grace, the efficacy of Christ’s
blood, the completeness of his righteousness, and the fulness of his
satisfaction it is the foundation of all solid hopes of future happiness, what
supports the life of faith, and is the ground of a believer’s triumph. One
would have thought, Sir, you might have forbore so severe a reflection on
this truth, of God’s seeing no sin in his people, since it is the to rhton, the
express words of the sacred oracles:.41
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen
perverseness in Israel (

Numbers 23:21).
I proceed,
IV. To another truth decried by you as a fancy; the assertors or which are
ridiculed, as amusers of themselves with a fancy, which is, that “good
works are not necessary to salvation.” I am sensible, in some measure,
what controversies have been in the world about this subject, and what
extremes have been run into on both sides the question. There was a sharp
contention among the Lutherans on this head. George Major asserted, that
“good works are necessary to salvation:” on the other hand, Nicholas
Amsdorsius said, that they were “noxious and pernicious to salvation:”
neither of these positions are defensible, as they thus stand: Not the former;
for though good works are necessary, upon many accounts, to answer
several valuable ends and purposes, yet not necessary to salvation; though
they ought to be performed by all God’s justified and saved ones, yet not in
order to their justification and salvation; though the people of God ought
to maintain good works for necessary uses, yet these necessary uses do not
design salvation, but other things, as I shall shew presently. Nor is the
latter of these positions to be defended; for though good works are not
necessary to salvation, yet not noxious and pernicious to it, unless when
they are placed in the business of salvation, to the displacing of Christ and
his righteousness; and then they are so far from helping forward, that they
hinder the salvation of souls, being an ignis fatuus, which leads out of the
way of salvation. The Papists and Protestants have warmly contested this
point: the former say that good works are necessary to salvation, per viam
efficientiæ, “by way of efficiency or causality,” to merit or procure
salvation; which is the only sense in which the proposition can well be
understood for if good works are necessary to salvation, it must be to
procure it; for in what sense else can they be necessary to it? This is denied
by the latter, and by them fully confuted; though some have made use of
some distinctions, in order to qualify and soften this proposition, that good
works are necessary to salvation, by which they have betrayed the truth
into the hands of the enemy, I shall attempt to shew,
First, That good works are in no sense necessary to salvation.
Secondly, What they are necessary to, or what are the necessary uses
of them.42
First, I affirm that good works are not necessary to salvation in any sense.
1st, They are not necessary to salvation by way of causality, as having any
causal influence on our salvation, or any part of it. Christ is the sole author
of salvation; he came into this world to effect it; he has done it, it is
finished, it is complete and perfect in itself; it needs nothing to be added to
it to make it so: Christ is a rock, and his work is perfect; he is a Saviour in
whole, and not in part; he will admit of no copartner or assistant in this
matter. Good works have no concern, as causes, in our salvation; God, in
saving persons, does not act according to them, nor by them, nor in
consideration of them;
for he hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not
according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace,
which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began
(

2 Timothy 1:9).
And says the same inspired writer elsewhere (

Titus 3:5);
not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but, according
to his mercy, he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and
renewing of the holy Ghost.
God saves his elect by Christ a way of pure grace and mercy, to the
exclusion of good works having any hand therein; For by grace ye are
saved, says the apostle (

Ephesians 2:8, 9),
through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of
works, lest any man should boast.
Good works are not to be placed in any rank of causes of our salvation
whatever.
1. They are not the impulsive or moving causes of salvation. Nothing out
of God can move him to do any thing; good works did not move him to
take any one step relating to the salvation of his people; they did not move
him to choose them unto salvation by Jesus Christ; he chose them in Christ
before the foundation of the world, before they had done either good or
evil; and so not because they were, but that they might be holy. This act of
his sprung from his good will and pleasure, and is an instance of pure
grace. Hence it is called the election of grace (

Romans 11:5, 6); and,
adds the apostle,.43
if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more
grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise
work is no more work.
Good works are the fruits, not the causes of electing grace; nor did these
move God to make a covenant of grace with his elect in Christ, in which
the scheme of salvation was fixed, the whole of it secured, and all blessings
and promises put into the hands of the Mediator; nor was it good works
that moved God to send his Son to obtain salvation, but his own free love
and grace; nor what moved Christ to give himself for his people, since at
that time they were without strength, ungodly, sinners, and enemies to
him; in a word, it is not good works, but grace, which moves God to
justify, pardon, adopt, regenerate, sanctify and glorify any of the sons of
men.
2. Good works are not the efficient, procuring, or meritorious causes of
salvation; for they are imperfect in the best of men; and were they perfect,
yet the requisites of merit are wanting in them; for,
(1.) That by which we would merit, must not be due to him, of whom
we would merit. Now all our works are previously due to God; he has
a right to all our obedience, prior to the performance of it; and
therefore when we have done all those things which are commanded
us, we have done but that which was our duty to do.
(2.) That by which we would merit, must be some way or other be
profitable to him, of whom we would merit:
but can a man be profitable to God, as he that is wise may be
profitable to himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou
art righteous? or is it any gain to him that thou makest thy ways
perfect? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what
receiveth he of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man, as
thou art, and thy righteousness may profit the son of man
(

Job 22:2, 3; 35:7, 8).
(3.) That by which we would merit, must be done in our own strength,
and not in the strength of him, of whom we would merit: we must not
be obliged to him for any thing in the performance of it; whereas all our
sufficiency to think a good thought, or do a good action, is of God
without him we can do nothing; it is by the grace of’ God we are what.44
we are; and it is by the grace of God we do what we do; and therefore
to him all the glory belongs.
(4.) There must be some proportion between that by which we would
merit, and that which we would merit. Now there is a just proportion
between sin and the wages of it, but none between good works and
eternal salvation;
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through
Jesus Christ our Lord (

Romans 6:23).
In fine, if good works were the efficient procuring causes of salvation, then
Christ died in vain; his obedience and sufferings must be useless, and of no
effect; besides, boasting would not be excluded, which is God’s design in
fixing the method of salvation in the manner line has; for if men were saved
by works, they would have whereof to boast.
3. Good works are not coefficient causes or con-causes of salvation, with
Christ; they are not adjuvant or helping causes of it; they do not assist in,
or help forward the business of salvation; it is done without them; Christ
will not admit of any rival-ship in this matter: his own arm has brought
salvation to him; be has alone effected it, and is the sole author of it; and
therefore good works are needless in this respect. It is a rule in philosophy,
Quod potest fieri per pauca, non debet fieri per plura; “What can be done
by few, ought not to be done by more.” There is a fulness, a sufficiency in
Christ to salvation, therefore good works are not necessary to salvation.
4. Good works are not causa sine qua non, of salvation they are not
conditions of salvation, or that without which persons cannot be saved; as
is evident from the instances of the thief upon the cross, of elect infants
dying in infancy, and of multitudes of others, as it is hoped, whom God
calls in the last hour, upon their death—beds, who live not to perform
good works. Now if good works are necessary to salvation, and persons
cannot be saved without them, there none of those persons mentioned can
be saved.
2dly, There are some worthy divines who utterly deny the efficiency or
causality of good works in salvation, who yet think that this proposition,
that “ good works are necessary to salvation,” may stand safely, and in a
good sense, admitting some distinctions, which I shall briefly take notice
of, and are as follow;.45
Some say, that good works are not necessary to salvation as causes, yet
they are necessary, as means. This cannot be true, because every mean is
the cause of that unto which it is a mean: and then good works must be tire
causes of salvation, which has been disproved already. If good works are
the means of salvation, they must be either the means of procuring it, or of
applying it, or of introducing God’s people into the full possession of it;
they are not the means of procuring salvation, for that is procured by
Christ. alone without them; nor are they the means of applying it in
regeneration or effectual vocation, because, properly speaking, before
regeneration, or effectual vocation, there are n good works done by the
sons of men they must be first regenerated, and called by grace; there must
be an application of salvation; the gospel must become the power of God
unto salvation, before they are capable of performing good works: We are
his workmanship, says the apostle (

Ephesians 2:10),
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before
ordained that we should walk in them.
Nor are they the means of introducing God’s people into the full
possession of salvation; for they that die in the Lord, rest from their
labours, and their works follow them. They do not go beforehand to
prepare the way for them, or to introduce them into the heavenly glory.
Good works are not necessary, as means, either for the application or
possession of salvation, neither for the incohesion or consummation of it.
Others make use of a distinction, which is Bernard’s: which is, that though
good works are not causa regnandi, “the cause of reigning,” yet they are
via ad regnum, “ the way to the kingdom.” But it ought to be observed,
that Bernard does not say that they are via ad regnum, but via regni, “ the
way of the kingdom;“ between which there is a great difference; for good
works may be the way or course of such, who are of the kingdom of grace
and belong to the kingdom of glory, when they are not the way to either.
Christ is the way, the truth and the life; the only true, way to eternal life.
Good works are to be performed by all that are in the way, Christ: they are
the business of all such that walk in this way but they themselves not the
way, unless it can be thought that good works are Christ.
Others say, that good works are necessary to justification and salvation;
not quoad efficientiam, “as to the efficiency of them,” but quoad
præsentiam, “as to the presence of them;“ and though they have no causal
influence on salvation, yet the presence of them is necessary to salvation..46
That the presence of good works is necessary to all those who are justified
and saved, that are capable of performing then, and have time and
opportunity to perform them, I allow but that it is necessary to their
justification and salvation, I deny; for if it is necessary, it must be necessary
either as a cause, or a condition, or a mean of justification and salvation;
either of which has been disproved already.
Others say, that they are necessary antecedent to salvation, and that they
are necessary to it, as the antecedent to the consequent: but, from the
instances before mentioned, of the thief on the cross, of elect infants dying
in infancy, with those whom God calls by his grace on their death-beds, it
appears that salvation is where good works do not go before. It is true,
indeed, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord (

Hebrews
12:14), that is, without internal holiness, without a principle of holiness in
the heart. This must be supposed to be in the persons instanced in; but then
there may be this, where there is no external holiness, or any performance
of good works before men; and that either through incapacity, or through
want of time and opportunity. And now lest it should be thought that I
imagine that the performance of good works are unnecessary, I shall
proceed,
Secondly, To shew in what sense they are necessary, and what are the
necessary uses of them; for to say, that because they are not necessary to
salvation, that therefore they are unnecessary to any thing else, is very
illogical; though the scriptures no where say that they are necessary to
salvation, yet they direct us to learn to maintain good works for necessary
uses (

Titus 3:14); which are these following:
1. They are necessary on the account of God, who has commanded them;
We are under his law as creatures, and ought to do his will and pleasure;
and as new creatures are under greater obligation still; we ought to
perform good works in respect to the commands of God, to testify our
obedience and subjection to him, and to shew the grateful sense we have of
his mercies, both spiritual and temporal, as well as to answer some ends of
his glory: Herein, says Christ (

John 15:8),
is my Father glorified, that ye bear ,much fruit.
Nay, we not only glorify God ourselves by our good works, but are the
means of others glorifying him likewise: Hence, says our Lord
(

Matthew 5:16),.47
let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
2. Good works are necessary on the account of ourselves. They are useful
to evidence the truth of our faith to the world, and discover to them the
certainty of our election and vocation, who have no other way of judging
of either, but by our outward conversation; hereby we adorn the profession
we make of Christ and his gospel; so that his name, his ways, truths, and
ordinances, are not blasphemed, or spoke evil of through us: yea, hereby
we exercise a conscience void of offence, both towards God and man.
3. Good works are necessary on the account of our neighbors, who as they
are often injured by evil works, are helped and profited by good works.
One part of the moral law is, to love our neighbor as ourselves: now as a
turning from this holy commandment tends to our neighbor’s injury, so a
conformity to it issues in his good.
4. Good works are necessary on the account of the enemies of religion. A
good conversation recommends the Gospel, and the truths of it, and may
be a means of winning persons over to it; and if not, yet it silences the
ignorance of foolish men, and shames such, and stops the mouth of those
who reproach the Gospel of Christ, as a licentious doctrine, and falsely
accuse the good conversation of the saints. From the whole, I hope, it
appears on the one hand, that good works are necessary, and not trifling
and indifferent things, that may, or may not, be done; or that they are
useless, unnecessary, and insignificant; and on the other hand, that it is no
fancy, but matter of faith, and what ought to be abode by, that good works
are not necessary to salvation.
V. I observe that you describe such as assert that God loves and delights in
his elect, while in a state of nature; that he sees no sin in his people, and
that good works are not necessary to salvation, as persons
“forward to condemn pressing men to duty, as legal preaching; and
to speak of exhorting to repentance, mortification and self-denial,
as low and mean stuff.”
The same complaint you make in another place.
f61
1st, I cannot but wonder that you should esteem such culpable or blame-worthy,
who condemn pressing men to duty, as legal preaching; for
pressing men to duty, can be no other than legal preaching, or preaching of.48
the law since duty can be referred to nothing else but the law, which
obliges to it. Should they condemn pressing men to duty, as criminal, or
deny that there ought to be any preaching, or that there is any use of the
law, you might justly have blamed them. The duties which the law requires,
ought to be in their place insisted on in the ministry of the word; they
should be opened and explained; men should be taught their duty to God
and one another; they should be pressed: that is, if I understand it, be
exhorted unto it, with gospel-motives and arguments, such as the apostles
frequently make use of in their epistles. They should, at the same time, be
told where grace and strength lie, and are to be had to assist them in it. The
preaching of the law is of use both to saints and sinners; it is made useful
by the Spirit of God to convince of sin;
By the law is the knowledge of sin (

Romans 3:20);
though by it is no knowledge of a Saviour from sin; it shews the exceeding
sinfulness of sin, the deformity of nature, the imperfection of man’s
obedience, and what is requisite to his justification before God; though it
leaves him ignorant of that righteousness which can only answer its
demands, and render him acceptable in the sight of God. The law is a rule
of walk and conversation to believers, as it is in the hands of Christ, and
given out by him, as King of his church it contains the perfect and
acceptable will of God; it points out what is, or what is not to be done; it is
in its own nature spiritual, just and good, and very agreeable to the
regenerate man, who delights in the law of God, after the inward man. But
then pressing men to duty, is preaching the law, and that must needs be
legal preaching, though it ought not to be branded within any odious or
invidious character; for all duty belongs to a law; grace and promises of
grace, belong to the gospel, but precepts and duty to the law. We have had
a controversy among us lately about preaching Christ, in the latitude and
restrictive way; and, no doubt, the people have been much edified and
instructed by it; but men may controvert to the end of the world, it can
never be proved, that preaching good works is preaching Christ, or that
pressing men to duty, is preaching the gospel; unless it can be thought that
good works are Christ and that the law is gospel. I am entirely for calling
things by their right names; preaching duty, is preaching the law; preaching
the free grace of God, and salvation by Christ, is preaching the gospel; to
say otherwise, is to turn the gospel into a law and to blend and confound
both together. Some very worthy divines, whose names I forbear to
mention, did formerly talk of gospel-commands, gospel-threatenings, and.49
gospel-duties, which, to me, are contradictions in terms; and I fear that this
loose and unguarded way of talking, tended to pave the way for
Neonomianism among us, which some few years ago, gave the churches so
much disturbance, and the bad effects of which we still feel.
2dly, “Exhorting to repentance, you say, is spoken of by these persons as,
“low and mean stuff;” but you do not tell us what kind of repentance is
meant, or with what views, or upon what considerations an exhortation to
it is given. There is an evangelical and a legal repentance: Evangelical
repentance has God for its object, and is called repentance toward God
(

Acts 20:21). It is the gift of Christ, who
is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto
Israel, and forgiveness of sins (

Acts 5:31);
and is one of the graces of the Spirit of God, which he implants in the
hearts of his people. It is that sorrow and concern for sin, which springs
from and is heightened and increased by the discoveries of God’s love; it is
accompanied with views, or, at least, hopes of pardoning grace and mercy;
it is a godly sorrow (

2 Corinthians 7:10), h kata Qeon luph, “a
sorrow according to God,” agreeable to the mind and will of God; a divine
sorrow, which springs from divine principles, and proceeds on divine
views: or it is a sorrow for sin, as it is committed against a God of holiness,
purity, grace and mercy; which godly sorrow worketh repentance unto
salvation, not to be repented of; and therefore by no means to be spoken
slightly of. Nor can exhortations to such kind of repentance, be treated as
low and mean stuff, without casting contempt on. John the Baptist
(

Matthew 3:2;

4:17), Christ, and his apostles: who made use of
them, either to shew the necessity of repentance, or to encourage the
exercise of this grace in the saints, or to stir them up to an open profession
of it, and to bring forth fruits in their conversation meet for the same.
Legal repentance is a work of the law, and consists in outward confession
of sin, and external humiliation for it, and an inward horror, wrath and
terror, upon the account of it. It is a sorrow and concern for sin, not as it is
in its own nature exceeding sinful, or as it is an offense to God, and a
breach in of his law, but as it entails upon the sinner ruin and destruction;
This is the sorrow of the world, which worketh death; and may be where
true evangelical repentance never was, nor never will be, and therefore is
not to be valued and regarded. Now to exhort to this kind of repentance,
or even to evangelical repentance, as within the compass of the power of.50
man’s will, and as a condition of the covenant of grace, and a term of
acceptance with God, and in order to make peace with God, and gain the
divine favor, which you know is the rant of some men’s ministry; I say, to
exhort to repentance within such views, and on such considerations as
these, is low and mean stuff, too mean for, below, and unworthy of, a
minister of the gospel.
3dly, You mention exhorting to mortification and self-denial, as treated by
some, in the same slight and contemptuous manner. You know very well
that much of what has been said and written concerning mortification, is
low, mean, and trifling, and it would be mortification enough to be obliged
to hear and read it. I confess, I have often been at a loss what divines mean
by mortification of sin; if they mean a destroying the being of sin, a killing,
a taking away the life of it in believers, which seems to be their meaning;
this is contrary both to Scripture and all the experience of God’s people.
The word of God assures us, that sin is in believers, and they find it to be in
them; yea, to be alive in them, though they do not live in sin. The old man
is, indeed, put off, concerning the former conversation, but not put to
death; he remains and is alive, and is sometimes very active, though he lies
in chains, and is under the power and dominion of mighty and efficacious
grace. There is a mortification of sin by the death of Christ;
The old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be
destroyed (

Romans 6:6).
Christ has abolished, destroyed, made arm end of sin; through Christ’s
bearing the sins of his people in his own body on the tree, and through his
death they are dead to sin, and live unto righteousness. But sin is not dead
in them; there is no such thing as a mortification, a killing or destroying the
inward principles of sin in believers, nor is it to be expected in this life. If,
indeed, by mortification of sin, is meant a weakening the power of sin, so
as that it shall not have the dominion over the saints; this is readily granted
to be found in them: but then it will be difficult to prove that ever this is
called mortification in Scripture. The mortification the Scripture speaks of,
and exhorts to, does not design the mortification of the inward principles of
sin, but the outward actings of it; it is a mortification of an external course
of living in sin, and not a taking away the life of sin in the soul, as is
evident from those places where any mention is made of it; mortify
therefore, says the apostle (

Colossians 3:5, 7),.51
your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness,
inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is
idolatry; in which ye also walked some time when ye lived in them;
which last words shew, that the apostle has respect to a walk, a
conversation, a course of living in these sins; so when he says (

Galatians
5:24),
they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections
and lusts,
he means the works of the flesh, and the actings of unruly passions and
deceitful lusts, as appears from the context; and when exhortations to
mortification of sin, in this sense, are given, a special regard should be had
to the gracious influences of the blessed Spirit; for, as the apostle says
(

Romans 8:13),
If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall
live.
As for self-denial, perhaps no persons are found more in the practice of it,
than those you have described, however averse they may be to exhortations
to it, made without taking any notice of the grace and assistance of the
Spirit of God, as necessary to the exercise of it. They choose to suffer
reproach, the loss of good name and reputation, to forego popularity,
wealth, and friends, to be traduced as Antinomians, and reckoned any
thing, rather than to drop, conceal, or balk any one branch of truth,
respecting Christ and free grace. None are more ready to deny self-righteousness
than they are, and to submit to the righteousness of Christ,
on which they alone depend for justification before God, and acceptance
with him; nor are any persons more powerfully and effectually taught to
deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and
godly, in this present world. And, you, Sir, are so kind as to say, that such
who have amused themselves with what you call fancies, “by their life and
conversation have shewed that they were far from being enemies to
holiness.” And you further add, “Far be it from us to charge some, who
have gone into this way of thinking and talking, with turning the grace of
God into wantonness.”
I conclude, Sir, with assuring you, that I write not this with an angry and
contentious spirit; I am willing to submit these things to the Scriptures of
truth, which are the only rule of faith and practice; and would gladly enter.52
into a sober controversy, and try whether they be mere fancies, or parts of
that faith which was once delivered to the saints. If, Sir, you should think
fit to give me an answer to this letter, I desire you would not so much
attend to my inaccuracies in writing, which I know you are able to correct,
as to the truths themselves herein asserted and defended. I wish you
success in your learned studies.
I am, SIR, With all due respect,
Yours, &c..53
FOOTNOTES
ft1 – (A Defence if some important Doctrines of the Gospel, by several
Ministers, Vol. I, p.48).
ft2 – Namque video, dum ex integris ipsorum dissertationibus libellis &
concionibus theses conficiuntur per scriptores adversarios magis quam
per auctores ipsos nonnunquam haud satis feliciter illorum sensus capi
& exprimi & tum hinc tum inde multa quidem dici at non multum & vel
non intelligi vel non peti tomenon. Hoornbeeck Summ Controv.
1. x. de Brownistis, p. 701. 702
ft3 – (Chp. 15. Pp.437-38):
ft4 – (Page 443)
ft5 – (Sermon III on Ephesians 2:8, 9; p. 116)
ft6 – (Ibid. p. 129)
ft7 – (Free Grace, or the Flowings of Christ’s Blood Freely to Sinners, p.
66-7)
ft8 – (Ibid. p. 141)
ft9 – (Ibid. p. 156-7) I have seen two other pieces of Saltmarsh’s one is
called “Shadows flying away” being a reply to Gataker; the other, “The
Smoke in the Temple” and chiefly respects church government nor is
there any thing in either of them concerning union with Christ
ft10 – (The Assertion of Grace, p. 4):
ft11 – (Page 74)
ft12 – (Page 118)
ft13 – (page 11, 12)
ft14 – (The Re-assertion of Grace, p. 12)
ft15 – (Ibid. p. 20)
ft16 – (Ibid. p. 105)
ft17 – (Ibid. p.126)
ft18 – (Monomachia; or a single Reply to Mr. Rutherford, &c. p. 37)
ft19 – (Answer to Dr. Homes, p. 111-12).54
ft20 – (Christ Alone Exalted, Vol. I, Sermon VII, p. 104, Vol. III, Sermon
VII, p. 597, 599, 600; Sermon VIII p. 609, 614-617)
ft21 – (Justification by Christ Alone, p. 21)
ft22 – (Counsels, p. 98)
ft23 – (Counsels, p. 150-51)
ft24 – (Divine Consolations, p. 245)
ft25 – (Christ Alone Exalted, Vol. I. Sermon X, p. 157; Vol. III. Sermon I,
p. 509-14; Sermon II, p. 528-29; Sermon III, p. 46, &c.)
ft26 – Summ. Controv. l. x. de Brownistis p. 714
ft27 – Animadvers. Irenieae c. 12 6 p. 148
ft28 – Neonomian unmasked part III debate 17. p. 26
ft29 – page 18-20
ft30 – page 98
ft31 – page 125
ft32 – page 34, 42, 49, 53, 69, 173
ft33 – Against Baxter, part 1. chap. 22. p. 264, 265, &c.
ft34 – Vid. Hoornbeeck. Sum. Controv. 1. 10, p. 690, 691.
ft35 – Hoc anno secta prodiit corum qui dicunter Antinomini; hi
poenitentiam ex decalogo non esse decendam dicunt; & illos
impugnant, qui docent, non esse praedicandum evangelium, nisi
primum quassatis animis atqne fractis per explicationem legis; ipsi vero
statuunt, quaecunque tandem sit hominis vita & quantumvis impura,
justificari tamen cum, si modo promissionbus evangelii credat. Sleidan.
Comment. 1. 12. p. 33.
ft36 – Fertur etiam usque adeo fuisse bonis morbus inimicus ut asseveraret
quod nihil cuiquam obesset quorumlibet perpetratio, ac perseverantia
peccatorum, si hujus, quae ab illo docebatur, fidei particeps esset.
August. de Haeres. cap. 54.
ft37 – Contra Haeres. 76.
ft38 – Wv gar to coikon adunaton swthriav metascein (ou gar
einai leigousin autoi dektikon authv) outwv palin to
pneumapikon qelousin oi autoi, einai adunaton fqoran
katadexasqai kan opoiaiv sugkatagenwntai praxesin on gar
tropon crusov en borborw katateqeiv ouk apoballei thn.55
kallonhn autou alla thn idiam fusin diafulattei tou
borborou mhden adikhsai ton cruson outo de kai antouv
legousi kan en opoiaiv ulikaiv praxesi katage nontai mhden
autouv parablaptesqai mhde apoballein thn pneumatikhn
upovasin dio de kai ta apeirhmena panta adewv oi
teleiotatoi prattousin autwn. Irenaeus adv. Haeres. 1. 1. c. 1. p.
26. edit. Paris.
ft39 – Hi qui in cum & Helenam ejus spem habent & ut liberos agere quae
velint. Irenaeus adv. Haeres 1.1. c. 20 p. 116
ft40 – (Vol. I. Part I, p. 62)
ft41 – (Vol. I. Part I, p. 64)
ft42 – (Ibid. Part II, p. 215)
ft43 – (Ibid. Part III, p. 40)
ft44 – (Vol. III. Book V, Chp. 20, p. 347)
ft45 – Unito sunt Christo,–In oeterno Dei decreto.–2. Unione
confoederationis aeternae, qua Christus a Patre eonstitutus est caput
omnium servandorum.–3. Vera & reali unione, sed quae ab ipsorum
parte duntaxat passiva est, uniuntur Christo, quando Spiritus Christi
eos primum occupat, & novae vitae principium infundit.–Porro qumn
fides sit actus ex principio spiritualis vitae emanans, palam est sano
sensu dici posse, quod homo electus vere & realiter Christo unitus sit
ante actualem idem. Wits. Iren. Animadv. c. 6. &. 1–3.
ft46 – (Mr. Richard Taylor’s Scripture Doctrine of Justification, pp. 14, 15)
ft47 – On Rom. 8:1. p. 51.
ft48 – Haec unio est mutuus inter Christum & fideles amor, sive mutua
Christi & fidelium obligatio ad sese mutuo amandum. Alsted Lexicon
Theolog. c. 10. p. 189.
ft49 – For the further proof of what I assert, see Mr. Cotton’s arguments for
union before faith, in Dr. Chauncy’s Neonomianism unmasked, part 2.
debate 11. p. 225.
ft50 – Vid. Act. Synod. Dordrect. p. 4, 83, 86, 87. Ames. Medull. Theolog.
c. 25. & 27. Walaei opera, tom 1. p. 330. Polani Syntag. Theolog. p.
248. Synops. Pur. Theolog. disput. 24. thes. 26. p. 281. Zanch. in Eph.
1:4. Dr. Goodwin, vol. 1. part 1. p. 62. Mr. Richard Taylor on
Justification, p. 15. with many others..56
ft51 – Armin. Examen Praedest. Perkins. p. 512, 594, 599. inter opera ejus
edit. 1631, 4to. Script. advers. Coll. Hag p, 64. Apolog. pro Confess.
Remonstr. c. 18. p. 197. Corvid. contr. Molin. c. 19. p. 284, 285. &
advers. Bogerman. par. 2. c. 23. p. 552. Vorst. Amic. Collat. cum
Piscat. &. 112. p. 233.
ft52 – Certum est nos esse electos & respectos in Christo antequam essemus
fideles. quod probatur invictis his locis, Eph. 5:25. Rom. 5:8. 1 John
4:10. 2 Tim. 1:9. Haec loco evincunt, electorum aliquam in Christo
existentiam fuisse etiam, antequam crederent. Nisi enim aliqua fuisset
unio inter Christum & membra, Christus non esset caput eorum, & pro
iis satis facere non potuisset. Walaeus de electione, iter opera ejus,
tom. 1. p. 239. Vid. etiam p. 358, 359. & tom. p. 227. & Synops. Pur.
Theolog. disput. 24. thes. 27. p. 281.
ft53 – (See a Defense of Some Import Doctrines of the Gospel by Several
Ministers, Vol. II, p. 512)
ft54 – H dh eunoia filia men eoiken ou men esin ge filia All oude
filhsiv esin eioke dh arch filiav einai wsper tou eran h
dia thv oyewv hdonh mh gar prohqeiv th idea ouqeiv era,
Aristotel. Ethic. 1. 9. c. 5.
ft55 – Vocem µy[wç[ç quod attinet, novies eandem deprehendimus in
sacris, & semper quidem de oblectatione intima, multiplici,
suavissimmaque, quando rem aliquam non satis intueri, meditari aut
amplexari possumus, ulteriori semper eo propendentes cupidine; nam
radix est h[ç aspexit, ubi geminatio radicalium radicis quoque geminat
significatum. Gejer. in Prov. 8:30.
ft56 – Vid. Aben Ezra in Psalm 65:2.
ft57 – So ltltp is very perverse,

Deut. 32:5. qrqry very yellow,

Psalm 69:12. trjrjç very black,

Cant. 1:6. typypy
exceedingly fairer,

Psalm 65:2. wrmrmj very much troubled,

Lam. 1:20. with many other instances of the like kind.
ft58 – Vid. Script. Advers. Coll. Hag. p. 63.
ft59 – Dicitur enim Deus etiam dilectionem suam manifestare erga hostes
suos, Rom. 5:8, 10. si ipsos dilexit etiam quum hostes essent, necesse
est placuerint ipsi antequam crederent. Ibid. p. 71..57
ft60 – Quamvis autem Deo displiceat, quicquid sit sinc fide, potest tamen dici
Deum amare quasdam personas, quarum facta ei displicent; sic
personam Pauli amabat, prius quam ad fidem Christi convertereter-de-nique
est quaedam (si fas ita loqui) complacentia personae antequam
ejus opera & fides Deo placeant. Molinaei Enodatio Graviss. Quaest.
Tract. 7. c. &. p. 269, 270
ft61 – Sermon of the Causes of the Decay of Practical Religion, p. 584. in
Vol. 2. of the Defence of some important Doctrines of the Gospel.

A Southern Baptist Looks at the Biblical Doctrine of Election ELECTION STATED AND DEFENDED

A Southern Baptist Looks at the Biblical Doctrine of Election
ELECTION
STATED AND DEFENDED

Its Meaning
Its Blessings
Its Evidences
Its Implications, etc.

Election is the gracious purpose of God,
according to which He regenerates,
sanctifies, and glorifies sinners…
Baptist Faith and Message, Article V

By ERNEST C. REISINGER
521 WILDWOOD PARKWAY
CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA 33904

Chapter 1
THE IMPORTANCE
OF DOCTRINE:
James L. Sullivan, past president of the Sunday School Board, wrote in the Florida Witness, April 17, 1975.
Baptist doctrines are more important than most of us realize. They not only express our experiences and beliefs, they also determine our directions. They even shape our programs whether local or national. They are to the church essentially what the backbone is to the human body. They give unity and stability; they provide sturdiness enabling us to endure the bumps of opposition, even persecution.

Doctrines are of the utmost importance whether they are oral or written. They systematize our expressions of faith. They express our experiences in written understandable form. They proclaim to others our Christian testimony. They constitute the framework in which we carry on our daily activities.

The church which neglects to teach doctrine weakens its membership, works against its unity, invites instability in its fellowship, lessens conviction among its members and stalemates its future progress. It is impossible for us to exaggerate the importance of doctrine. This truth needs to be stressed constantly before every believer.

ABSTRACT OF PRINCIPLES

The following is an excerpt from the Fundamental Laws of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary written into its charter on April 30, 1858: „9 Every Professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting Professorships in this Seminary, shall be considered by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down.” (Mueller: History of Southern Seminary; BROADMAN PRESS: P. 238).

I. THE SCRIPTURES

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.

II. GOD

There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of himself, all perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience.

III. THE TRINITY

God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.

IV. PROVIDENCE

God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

V. ELECTION

Election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life – not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ – in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.

VI. THE FALL OF MAN

God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.
VII. THE MEDIATOR

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law, suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He ever liveth to make intercession for His people. He is the only Mediator, the Prophet, Priest and King of the Church, and Sovereign of the Universe.

VIII. REGENERATION

Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God’s free and special grace alone.

IX. REPENTANCE

Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things.

X. FAITH

Saving faith is the belief, on God’s authority of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.

XI. JUSTIFICATION

Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who believe in Christ, from all sin, through the satisfaction that Christ has made; not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith.

XII. SANCTIFICATION

Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified, by God’s word and Spirit dwelling in them. This sanctification is progressive through the supply of Divine strength, which all saints seek to obtain, pressing after a heavenly life in cordial obedience to all Christ’s commands.

XIII. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may fall, through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

XIV. THE CHURCH

The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all his true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for its government. According to his commandment, Christians are to associate themselves into particular societies or churches; and to each of these churches he hath given needful authority for administering that order, discipline and worship which he hath appointed. The regular officers of a Church are Bishops or Elders, and Deacons.

XV. BAPTISM

Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It is prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in the Lord’s Supper.

XVI. THE LORD’S SUPPER

The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be Observed by his churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate his death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond, pledge and renewal of their communion with him, and of their church fellowship.

XVII. THE LORD’S DAY

The Lord’s Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

XVIII. LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary to His word, or not contained in it. Civil magistrates being ordained of God, subjection in all lawful things commanded by them ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

XIV. THE RESURRECTION

The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits return immediately to God – the righteous to rest with Him; the wicked, to be reserved under darkness to the judgment. At the last day, the bodies of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised.

XX. THE JUDGMENT

God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when every one shall receive according to his deeds: the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment; the righteous, into everlasting life.

Chapter 2
ARTICLES OF FAITH
V

ELECTION
„Election is God’s eternal choice of PERSONS unto everlasting life – NOT BECAUSE OF FORESEEN MERIT IN THEM, but of His mere mercy in Christ – in consequence of which choice they are called, justified, and glorified.”

How Important is the Doctrine
of Election?????

This Important

IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE DOCTRINE
OF ELECTION,

NO ONE WOULD BE SAVED ! ! !

WHAT ELECTION IS NOT:
• Not salvation, but unto salvation. 11 Thes. 2:13, 14; Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29, 30.

• Not exclusive of means. II Thes. 2:14; Eph. 1:5, 13; II Tim. 2:10; I Pet. 1:2.

• Not a respecter of persons. Rom. 9:18-24.

• Fame, wealth, wisdom, position, etc., did not cause God to have respect for some and elect them (Job 34:19).

• All being ungodly, none could have been saved had He not shown grace to some.

• Not „salvation regardless,” but unto salvation through the redemption of Christ, applied by the Spirit through the gospel. John 6:37; Rom. 10:17; I Thes. 1:4, 5; II Thes. 2:13, 14; Acts 13:48.

• Not opposed to the Gospel, but the Gospel is a means in accomplishing election’s purpose. (See scriptures already cited).

• Not an enemy of righteousness, but through its appointed means causes those once ungodly to live godly. Eph. 1:4; I Thes. 1:4-10.

• Not based on foreseen faith or works, but it produces faith and works. Rom. 9:11-16; 11:5, 6; Phil. 1:6; II Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8-10; Acts 13:48; I Cor. 3:5; Rom. 12:3; Eph. 4:7; Acts 5:31; II Tim. 2:25.

• Does not shut the door of salvation, but opens that door for all those who come to Christ. John 6:37, 44, 63, 65; 10:9; 14:6.

• Not a hindrance to gospel preaching, but assures the gospel of success. Isa. 55:11; John 10:27; 6:37, 45; 17:20, 21;A cts 15:14; 16:14; 18:27; II Tim. 2:9, 10.

• Not of the Jews only. Rom. 9:24; 11:5-8, 11, 12, 25; John 11:52.

• Not merely to service, but to salvation. II Thes. 2:13, 14; II Tim. 2:10.

• Not fatalism, but is the work of God. I Thes. 1:4; Rom. 8:28, 30.

• Does not destroy man’s so-called „free will.” The will of man is his desire, wish or choice. His choice is sin. John 3:19, 20; 5:40; 3:11; 2:2, 3; 4:17-19; Jer. 17-9; 13:23; etc. Man „freely” chooses sin and by God’s grace the elect freely choose Christ –Ps. 65:4; 110:3; John 6:44, 65; Acts 13:48. Lazarus „freely” rotted, but at the word of Christ he „freely” came forth (John 11). So do the elect of God.

• Not anti-missionary, but gives the foundation for missions. John 6:37; 17:20,21; II Tim. 2:10; Isa. 55:11; II Pet. 3:9, 15.

• Does not destroy the responsibility of man. Men are responsible for whatever light they have, be it conscience (Rom. 2:15), nature (Rom. 1:19, 20), written law (Rom. 2:1727), or the gospel (Mark 16:15, 16). Man’s inability to do righteousness no more frees him from responsibility than does Satan’s inability to do righteousness.

• Does not make God unjust. His blessing of a great number of unworthy sinners with salvation is no injustice to the rest of the unworthy sinners. If a governor pardons one convict, is it injustice to the rest? I Thes. 5:9.

• Does not discourage convicted sinners, but welcomes them to Christ. „Let him that is athirst come ” (Rev. 17:17). The God who convicts is the God who saves. The God who saves is the God who has elected men unto salvation. He is the same God who invites.

• Does not discourage prayer. To the contrary, it drives us to God, for He it is who alone can save. True prayer is the Spirit’s prompting; and thus will be in harmony with God’s will. Rom. 8:26.

• Not of man. Some say, „God votes, the devil votes, and man votes. ” The Bible teaches that election is not of the devil and man, but „of God.” I Thes. 1:4; John 10:16; I John 4:10, 19.

• Not of reason, but of Revelation. At first, it does not appeal to man’s reason, but when man accepts God’s Word, it is seen to be the only thing that could be „reasonable.” Matt. 20:15.

I am shocked that many people do not know that ELECTION is in the Bible. I am more shocked that the biblical teaching on the subject has not been discussed, taught or preached. Someone, back along the line, must have thought it important because it is in our Baptist Faith and Message.

„Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.. .”( Baptist Faith and Message, p. 12)

It is not only in our ARTICLES of FAITH, but we sing it in many of our hymns…. „The Church’s One Foundation”- the second stanza „Elect from every nation…. ”

More importantly, it is in the Bible and in this chapter on the subject I wish to make one point only, that is, EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES THE BIBLE MUST BELIEVE IN ELECTION. They may not understand what the Bible teaches about it. They may not agree as to what the Bible teaches about it, BUT, they must believe that it is in the Bible.

The words Elect – Election – Foreordination – Chosen – Foreknow and Foreknowledge demand that we believe the Bible teaches a doctrine of election, of some kind.

Scriptures where we find it:

Matthew 24:22 „And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the ELECT’S sake those days shall be shortened.”

Matthew 24:24 „. . . insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very ELECT.”

Matthew 24:31 „. . . and they shall gather together HIS ELECT from the four winds . . . ”

Mark 13.20, 22, 27

Romans 8.28-33 N.B. V 33 „Who shall lay anything to the charge of GOD’S ELECT? It is God that justifieth.”

Romans 9:11 „For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to ELECTION might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. ”

Romans 11:5, 7 „Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according TO THE ELECTION OF GRACE. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but THE ELECTION hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. ”

Romans 11:28 „. . . but as touching the ELECTION, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. ”

Col. 3.12 „Put on therefore, as the ELECT of God. . .”

I Thes. 1:4 „Knowing, brethren beloved, YOUR ELECTION OF GOD.”

II Thes. 2:13 „. . . because God hath from the beginning CHOSEN you to salvation . . . ”

II Tim. 2:10 „Therefore I endure all things for the ELECT’S SAKES, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

Titus 1 „. . . according to the faith of God’s ELECT. . . ”

II Peter 1:10 „. . . give diligence to make your calling and ELECTION sure . . .”

See also Isa. 42:1; 45:4; 65:9; 65:22.

These passages establish the fact that ELECTION is in the Bible. We could do the same thing with the word „chosen.” Eph. 1:4; Ps. 65:4.

My only point in this chapter is to establish the fact that the Bible is full of the blessed doctrine of election.

In future chapters on this subject we will consider:

The benefits and blessings of this truth.
The encouragement it gives to evangelism.
How it insures the success of the gospel.
How it honors God and humbles man.

WARNING:

1. Don’t make derogatory remarks about what is in the Bible whether you understand it or not.

2. Don’t reject what the Bible teaches on any subject, especially if you have not studied what the Bible says about it.

3. Don’t make a hobby out of any one doctrine. Although this doctrine is of vital importance, it is only one doctrine end must not be separated from all Christian truth.

4. Don’t reject any doctrine because it has been abused and misused. All the key doctrines have been perverted.

Chapter 3

ANTINOMY?

(WHAT IS THAT??)

Here is one. Acts 2:23 . . .

„Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God –
100% Sovereignty of GOD
ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”
100% Human Responsibility
All the devils in Hell or men on earth could not keep Jesus from the Cross – Why?
Because it was determined by the counsel and foreknowledge of God – that is
100% Divine Sovereignty
Yet man was charged with the murder of Christ „ye by wicked hands have crucified and slain” that is –
100% Human Responsibility
Both of these are equally true – they are both in the Bible – and we have no trouble in our minds when we consider them separately, BUT, we cannot ( in our minds) put them together.
DON’T TRY – they are Friends and do not need to be reconciled by us. We cannot reconcile DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY and HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY, but God will do what we cannot do.
The ANTINOMY is only with us – not with God.

ARTICLE IV – PROVIDENCE

„God from eternity decrees or permits all things to come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of man. ” (Free to act according to his nature.)

The last words of Article IV are „responsibility of man.”The one thing no one can do is reconcile the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God.

It is here that most people get into real trouble, and, especially preachers, since we are called upon to preach the whole counsel of God. What do we see in the scriptures? A God Who is Absolutely Sovereign in Creation – Redemption and Providence. And just as clearly we see the Bible teaches that man is 100% responsible.

The errors to be avoided are:

1. Soft peddling either of these subjects. If you do this, you have a God who is something less than Sovereign (not the God of the Bible) and a man who is something less than responsible. Both are 100% true – so believe – teach and preach them. Many times they are both in the same verse. Example – John 6:37 „All that the Father giveth me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
II Tim 2:19. „Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

2. Another danger is being unwilling to go as far as the Bible goes on these subjects, or, with human reasoning, logic or speculation, to go beyond what the Bible reveals.

Deut. 29:29 is a good place to camp. ” The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

3. The third, and probably the most common error is to try to reconcile God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility.

What we have here is an antinomy (this may be a new word for your vocabulary). What is an antinomy? The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines it as „a contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary.” In the case of biblical theology we should say „an appearance of a contradiction.” To put it another way – An antinomy is when we look at two different statements, both very clear and equally true, when we consider them separately, but we cannot reconcile them to each other. This is the case with God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility. They are both in the Bible – both true – but humanly we cannot reconcile them with each other.

That great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was once asked if he could reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility. „I wouldn’t try,” he replied; „I never reconcile friends.” Friends? Yes, friends. They are both in the same book – the Bible.

For further study on this point, I recommend the following books:

A Southern Baptist Looks At Predestination – by P. H. Mell
Abstract of Systematic Theology – by James P. Boyce
Theology and Church Order – by John L. Dagg
Election – by Charles H. Spurgeon
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God – by J. I. Packer
The Sovereignty of God – by A. W. Pink
Predestination – by Loraine Boettner

Chapter 4

GOD’S ELECTING LOVE
EXPRESSED IN A HYMN

I WAS A WAND’RING SHEEP
I was a wand’ring sheep,
I did not love the fold:
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice,
I would not be controlled.
I was a way-ward child,
I did not love my home:
I did not love my Father’s voice,
I loved afar to roam.
The Shepherd sought His sheep,
the Father sought His child:
He followed me o’er vale and hill,
o’er deserts waste and wild:
He found me nigh to death,
famished, and faint and lone,
He bound me with the bands of love,
He saved the wand’ring one.
Jesus my Shepherd is:
‘Twas He that loved my soul,
‘Twas He that washed me in His blood,
‘Twas He that made me whole:
‘Twas He that sought the lost,
That found the wand’ring sheep:
‘Twas He that bro’t me to the fold,
‘Tis He that still doth keep.
No more a wand’ring sheep,
I love to be controlled,
I love my tender Shepherd’s voice,
I love the peaceful fold:
No more a way-ward Child,
I seek no more to roam:
I love my heavenly Father’s voice,
I love, I love His home!

Horatius Bonar

Election is such an important biblical doctrine that if it were not for the doctrine of ELECTION no one would be saved, and Christ’s death would be of no effect, that is, it would not affect any one savingly.

I want to show that it is not only in the Bible, but our Baptist fathers believed it, taught it and preached it.

JOHN A BROADUS, former president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: „From the divine side, we see that the Scriptures teach an eternal election of men to eternal life simply out of God’s good pleasure. ”

B. H. CARROLL, founder and first president of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary: „Every one that God chose in Christ is drawn by the Spirit to Christ. Every one predestined is called by the Spirit in time, and justified in time, and will be glorified when the Lord comes.”

JAMES P. BOYCE, founder and first president of Southern Baptist Seminary: „God, of His own purpose, has from eternity determined to save a definite number of mankind as individuals, not for or because of any merit or works of theirs, nor of any value of them to Him; but of His own good pleasure.”

W. T. CONNER, professor of theology, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas: „The doctrine of election means that God saves in pursuance of an eternal purpose. This includes all the gospel influence, work of the Spirit and so on, that leads a man to repent of his sins and accept Christ. So far as man’s freedom is concerned, the doctrine of election does not mean that God decrees to save a man irrespective of his will. It rather means that God purposes to lead a man in such a way that he will freely accept the gospel and be saved.”

CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON, The Prince of Preachers, in a sermon delivered on Matthew 24:24 (April 22, 1860): „I do not hesitate to say, that next to the doctrine of the crucifixion and the resurrection of our blessed Lord – no doctrine had such prominence in the early Christian church as the doctrine of the election of Grace.”

If Spurgeon is correct (and he is) there sure have been a lot of preachers successful in avoiding a very important and prominent Bible truth. Spurgeon said, „There seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine, and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded.”

If it were true in Spurgeon’s day, I wonder what he would say now when most pulpits are silent about it, and therefore, the pews ignorant of it.

The Old Baptist Confessions, such as, The Baptist Confession of 1689 (London Confession): The Philadelphia Confession of 1742; The New Hampshire Confession – all these confessions are crystal clear on the blessed doctrine of Sovereign Election.

There is no doctrine so grossly neglected and misrepresented in all the Bible. One of our Fathers said, „From hostile lips a fair and correct statement of the doctrine of election is never heard.”

The treatment the doctrine of election receives from the hands of its enemies is much like that received by the early Christians from pagan Roman Emperors. The early Christians were often clothed in the skins of animals and then subjected to attack by ferocious wild beasts. So the doctrine of election is often clothed in ugly garb and held up to ridicule and erroneous attacks.

Chapter 5

GOD’S ELECTING
GRACE EXPRESSED
IN A HYMN

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me:
It was not I that found. O Saviour true,
No, I was found of thee.
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea,
‘Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
As thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but, O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee;
For thou wert long before-hand with my soul,
Always thou lovedst me.

All of the present Bible believing preachers and teachers must also believe in election, but most of them do not preach election at all. And those who do, many times, do not teach what the Bible teaches about it.

In this chapter I want to make some general remarks to turn away preconceived prejudice by those who have never gone to the Bible to search what it actually says about the subject.

1. ELECTION PRECEDES SALVATION.
Election is not salvation but it is unto salvation. ‘ What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election (elect) hath obtained it and the rest were blinded’ (Rom. 11:7).

‘God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation’ (II Thes. 2:13).

Conclusion – if the elect obtain salvation, and since election is to salvation – election must precede salvation.

2. ELECTION HARMS NO ONE.
Election is not the cause of anyone going to hell, for election is unto salvation. Neither is non-election responsible for the damnation of sinners. Sin is what sends men to hell, and all men are sinners by nature and practice.

It does not follow that because election is unto salvation, that non-election is unto damnation. SIN is the cause of damnation; Election, therefore, harms no one but brings salvation to many.

3. ELECTION IS THE MOTHER OF A HOLY LIFE.
Election does not prevent the salvation of any one who wants to be saved. But a very important distinction must be made between a mere desire to escape hell and a desire to be saved from sin. The desire to be saved from hell is a natural desire – no one wants to burn. The desire to be saved from sin is a spiritual desire and is a result of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit – God’s electing grace is the mother of this desire to be saved from sin.

‘. . . he has CHOSEN (elected) us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be HOLY and without blame before him in love:’Eph. 1:4.

Were it not for the redemptive work of Christ, there would be no gospel feast; were it not for the convicting, converting and compelling work of the Holy Spirit there would be no guests. A mere outward invitation brings nobody to the gospel feast.

4. ELECTION IS THE FOUNDATION OF GRACE.
Electing love belongs to the system of grace. In the epistle of Romans Paul tells us that a remnant among the Jews were saved ‘. . . according to the election of GRACE. ‘The attitude of men toward election is the acid test of their belief in salvation by grace. Those who oppose election cannot consistently claim to believe in salvation by grace. A simple proof is seen in the study of the Creeds of Christendom. The denominations that believe in salvation by works, religious ceremony, or ritual have no place in their confessions for the doctrine of Election. But those who believe in salvation by grace, apart from human merit, have not failed to include the blessed doctrine of election in their written Creeds or Confessions. This is just why we have it as Article Five in our ARTICLES OF FAITH and this is why I am calling it to our attention – we believe in salvation by Sovereign Grace.

THE ELECT ARE MARKED.

The elect are ultimately manifest in repentance and faith and good works. These graces, being God-wrought in man, are not the cause but the evidence of election (See I Thes. 1:3-10; II Peter 1:510).

‘Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure'(PhiL 2:12, 13).

‘And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?’ (Luke 18:7).

The man who does not pray, who does not repent of his sins, trust in the Person and work of Christ, and the man who does not engage in good works has no right to claim that he is one of God’s elect.

Chapter 6

THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF
THEOLOGY

IT REACHES FROM ETERNITY PAST
–PREDESTINED–TO ETERNITY
FUTURE–GLORIFIED

.

„MOREOVER WHOM HE DID PREDESTINATE,
THEM HE ALSO CALLED: AND WHOM HE
CALLED, THEM HE ALSO JUSTIFIED:
AND WHOM HE JUSTIFIED,
THEM HE ALSO GLORIFIED.”

ROMANS 8:30

ELECTION AND DESTINY

I. IS DESTINY IN A CHRISTIAN’S HANDS BEFORE HE IS SAVED?
The statement we so often hear – that every man’s destiny is in his own hands – is a denial of the whole tenor and teaching of the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that at no time was the destiny of any Christian in his own hands, neither before he was saved or afterwards. If his destiny was in his hands before he was saved, then he regenerated himself out of the state of spiritual DEATH and, if that were true, salvation would be by man and not by grace. If his destiny was in his hands, he is his own benefactor and can thank himself for his great power and wisdom in determining his own destiny. Perish the thought!

John 1:13 ” Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This one scripture should forever put to silence such a thought. (Read Eph. 2:1-10; I Tim. 1:9; James 1:18).

II. IS DESTINY IN A CHRISTIAN’S HANDS AFTER HE IS SAVED?
If so, then he will either keep himself saved or lose his salvation. The Bible says we are kept by the power of God through faith (read I Peter 1:15; Ps. 37:28; John 10:27-29; Phil. 1:6′ Heb. 13:5).

If the Christian’s destiny is not safe in his own hands after he is saved, how could it be thought to be safe in his own hands before his conversion? Matt. 24:24 „For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” This one verse should settle the question. It teaches that the ELECT cannot be deceived. Matt. 24:22 „And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened ” This text teaches us that the rigor of God’s punishments are abated – WHY?? For the elect’s sake. In both of these verses we see that destiny is being controlled by God.

III. IS DESTINY IN A CHRISTIAN’S HANDS AFTER DEATH?
The Christian dies, his body is consigned to the grave and becomes dust. Is his destiny in his own hands then? If so, what hope does he have of coming out of the grave with an immortal and incorruptible body?? None at all.

The theory that destiny is in the hands of man begets self-confidence and self-righteousness; the belief that destiny is in the hands of God begets SELF-ABNEGATION and faith in God.

The Golden Chain of Theology proves that destiny is in the hands of the ALL WISE – ALL POWERFUL GOD of heaven and earth. This Golden Chain is expressed in our verse of scripture, Romans 8:30 „Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified ” Please note in this verse that it begins in eternity past and extends to eternity future. All the „us’s” found from verse 31 to 39 refer back to this unbreakable Golden Chain. No wonder the great apostle could say in verse 33 „Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”

Chapter 7

EVANGELISM
AND
ELECTION

Where is the HOPE
for the SUCCESS of EVANGELISM?

THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION is the certainty of success in the work of EVANGELISM. It is the FOUNDATION and HOPE of MISSIONARY ENDEAVOR.

If the hope of preachers and missionaries was in their own power and ability to convert sinners, or, if our hope was in the power or ability of dead sinners to give themselves life, all would despair. But when the worker’s hope for results is in the work of the Holy Spirit, who alone can quicken, we labour on with hope and expectation . . . in what God will do, and be sure He will effectually call His sheep by His own will and power THROUGH prayer and preaching.

EVANGELISM AND ELECTION

God elected the MEANS of salvation as well as the persons to salvation. His Word reveals that He chose to save His own through preaching and witnessing – „Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

But we must ever remember that preaching and prayer are the means and not the cause of anyone’s salvation. The cause is God’s unconditional Electing Love – „For God so loved the world that the ‘whosoevers’ will believe and will not perish. ”

WHO ARE THE „WHOSOEVERS”?

ANSWER –

John 6:37 „All that the Father giveth … shall come….

John 10:27 „My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.”

WHY IS IT THAT SOME DO NOT BELIEVE?

ANSWER –

John 10:26 „But ye believe NOT because ye are not my sheep.

You see, the Father gave His Son some sheep and He has sent us out to preach and witness because that is the means He employs to call them.

John 17:2 „As thou has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as THOU HAST GIVEN HIM. ”

THEY WILL COME – CHRIST HAS PRAYED FOR THEM.

John 17:9 „I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for THEM WHICH THOU HAST GIVEN ME: for they are thine. ”

JESUS PRAYED FOR THE FUTURE SHEEP WHO WOULD COME.

John 17:20 „Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ”

John 17:24 „Father, I will that they also, WHOM THOU HAST GIVEN ME, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, WHICH THOU HAST GIVEN ME: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. ”

WHY IS GOD’S ELECTING LOVE SO IMPORTANT TO THE PREACHER AND MISSIONARY?

It is the doctrine that assures the success of our missionary efforts.

The greatest preacher-evangelists in the History of the church believed in the biblical doctrine of Election:

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, and a great preacher.
George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist, ever to set foot on American soil.
John Paton – Missionary to New Hebrides.
Jonathan Edwards – William Carey – Charles Haddon Spurgeon and others.

It was the hopeful doctrine of election that God used to encourage the Apostle Paul when he was afraid to go to Corinth; God said to him, „. . . I have much people in this city ” (Acts 18:9, 10).

No, the doctrine of Election does not dampen evangelism if it is rightly held, but rather, it guarantees the success of it and should be the greatest encouragement that we have.

Chapter 8

AMAZING GRACE

If you do not believe in the biblical doctrine of ELECTION, you do not understand what it means to be saved by SOVEREIGN GRACE. You will have to write a song entitled AMAZING DECISION, how sweet the sound! It is either by GRACE or by something else, and, since it is by GRACE ALONE. it must be because of ELECTING LOVE.

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved:
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come:
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures:
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this heart and flesh shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease:
I shall possess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine:
But God who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
– John Newton –
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.
(Added later)

SUMMARY
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE
OF ELECTION?

1. If it were not for God’s Electing love no one would be saved, that is, man left to himself would not seek God.
2. No one will be clearly convinced, as he ought to be, that our salvation flows from the Fountain of Free Mercy until he is acquainted with God’s Sovereign, Unconditional, Electing Love. Ignorance of this great biblical truth detracts from divine glory and diminishes true humility. On the other hand, an understanding of Election honors God and humbles man. Therefore, a true biblical view of Election brings Praise, Reverence, Admiration and Worship to God; and brings humility, diligence, consolation and comfort to believers.
WHO DOES THE ELECTING??

II Thes. 2:13 „GOD HATH FROM THE BEGINNING CHOSEN YOU

WHEN WAS THE ELECTING DONE??

For an answer we are shut up to the Scriptures. But the Bible answers with sunlight clearness. In Eph. 1:4, we read that „He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” The expression ‘before the foundation of the world’ is found in John 17:24 where it speaks of the Father’s eternal love for the Son, and in I Peter 1:20, where it refers to the eternal determination of the Divine mind concerning the death of Christ. There are many similar expressions. See Rev. 13:8; II Thes. 2:13; II Tim. 1:9. ELECTION IS FINAL!

WHY WAS THE ELECTING DONE??

The answer the Scriptures give is found in Eph. 1:5, „Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself ACCORDING TO THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS WILL.” And, Eph. 1:11, „In whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE OF HIM WHO WORKETH all things after the counsel of his own will.”

There is one thing for sure – it was not because he saw faith and repentance in some and chose them. This cannot be because election precedes Faith and Repentance and therefore, cannot be the Effect – To say that election is because foreseen faith in sinners is as if the President would issue a decree saying that the sun must rise tomorrow morning because he foresees that it would. Romans 8:29 „For WHOM he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. ”

Please note well it does not say what God foreknew, but WHOM HE DID FOREKNOW – and foreknow here means forelove. Not He knew WHAT they would do, but WHOM He did foreknow (forelove).

Thank God our founders knew the importance of this doctrine and thus, we have Article V.

„Election is God’s eternal choice of persons unto everlasting life -not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ–in consequence of which choice they are called, justified, and glorified.”

For those who care to study this more, I suggest Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Arthur W. Pink, and James P. Boyce (Founder of the first Southern Baptist Seminary, Theology Professor).

Election no Discouragement to Seeking Souls

Election no Discouragement to Seeking Souls

A Sermon
(No. 553)
Delivered on Sunday Morning, February 7th, 1864, by the
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

„I will be gracious upon whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy upon whom I will show mercy.”—Exodus 33:19.
ECAUSE GOD IS THE MAKER, and creator, and sustainer of all things, he has a right to do as he wills with all his works. „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 honor, and another unto dishonor?” God’s absolute supremacy and unlimited sovereignty naturally flow from his omnipotence, and if it were not so, the superlative excellence of the divine character would entitle him to absolute dominion. He should be chief who is best. He who cannot err, being perfect in wisdom; he who will not err, being as perfect in holiness; he who can do no wrong, being supremely just; he who must act in accordance with the principles of kindness, seeing he is essentially love, is the most fitting person to rule. Tell me not of the creatures ruling themselves: what a chaos were this! Talk not of a supposed republic of all created existences, controlling and guiding themselves. All the creatures put together, with their combined wisdom and goodness—if, indeed, it were not combined folly and wickedness—all these, I say, with all the excellencies of knowledge, judgment, and love, which the most fervid imagination can suppose them to possess, could not make the equal of that great God whose name is holiness, whose essence is love, to whom all power belongeth, and to whom alone wisdom is to be ascribed. Let him reign supreme, for he is infinitely superior to all other existences. Even if he did not actually reign, the suffrages of all wise men would choose the Lord Jehovah to be absolute monarch of the universe; and if he were not already King of kings and Lord of lords, doing as he wills among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of this lower world, it were the path of wisdom to lift him up to that throne. Since men have sinned, there becomes a yet further reason, or, rather a wider scope for the display of sovereignty. The creature, as a creature, may be supposed to have some claim upon the Creator; at least, it may expect that he shall not make it intentionally and despotically to put it to pain; that he shall not arbitrarily and without cause or necessity, cause its existence to be one of misery. I will not venture to judge the Lord, but I do think it is altogether incompatible with his goodness that he should have made a creature, and, as a creature, have condemned it to misery. Justice seems to demand that there shall be no punishment where there is no sin. But man has lost all his rights as a creature. If he ever had any, he has sinned them away. Our first parents have sinned, and we, their children, have attainted ourselves, by high treason against our liege lord and sovereign. All that a just God owes to any one of us on the footing of our own claim, is wrath and displeasure. If he should give to us our due, we should not longer remain on praying ground, breathing the air of mercy. The creature, before its Creator, must now be silent as to any demands upon him; it cannot require anything of him as a matter of right. If the Lord willeth to show mercy, it shall be so; but, if he withholds it, who can call him to account? „Can I not do as I will with mine own?” is a fit reply to all such arrogant enquiries; for man has sinned himself out of court, and there remains no right of appeal from the sentence of the Most High. Man is now in the position of a condemned criminal, whose only right is to be taken to the place of execution, and justly to suffer the due reward of his sins. Whatever difference of opinion, then, there might have been about the sovereignty of God as exercised upon creatures in the pure mass, there should be none, and there will be none, except in rebellious spirits, concerning the sovereignty of God over rebels who have sinned themselves into eternal ruin, and have lost all claim even to the mercy, much more the love of their offended Creator.
However, whether we all of us agree to the doctrine that God is sovereign or not, is a very little matter to him, for he is so. De jure, by right, he should be so; de facto, as matter of fact, he is so. It is a fact, concerning which you have only to open your eyes and see that God acts as a sovereign in the dispensation of his grace. Our Saviour, when he wished to quote instances of this, spake on this wise: many widows there were in Israel in the time of Elias the prophet, but unto none of these was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman who was a widow. Here was election! Elias is not sent to nourish and to be nourished by an Israelitish widow, but to a poor idolatress across the border, the blessing of the prophet’s company is graciously granted. Again our Saviour says, „Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them were cleansed, save only Naaman the Syrian”—not an Israelite at all, but one who bowed in the house of Rimmon. See how distinguishing grace finds out strange objects! Although our Saviour only gave these two instances, and no more, because they sufficed for his purpose, there are thousands of such cases on record. Look at man and the fallen angels. How is it that fallen angels are condemned to endless fire, and reserved in chains of darkness unto the great day? There is no Saviour for angels; no precious blood was ever shed for Satan. Lucifer falls, and falls for ever, never to hope again. There is no dispensation of mercy to those nobler spirits; but man who was made lower than the angels, is selected to be the object of divine redemption. What a great deep is here! This is a most illustrious and indisputable instance of the exercise of the prerogatives of divine sovereignty. Look again at the nations of the earth. Why is the gospel preached today, to us Englishmen? We have committed as many offenses—I will even venture to say we have perpetrated as many political crimes as other nations. Our eye is always prejudiced toward everything which is English; but if we read our history fairly, we can discover in the past, and detect in the present, grave and serious faults which disgrace our national banner. To pass by as minor offenses the late barbarities in Japan, and our frequent wars of extermination in New Zealand, and at the Cape, let it crimson the cheek of every inhabitant of the British Isles when we do but hint at the opium traffic with China. Yet to us the gospel is graciously sent, so that few nations enjoy it so fully as we do. It is true that Prussia and Holland hear the Word, and that Sweden and Denmark are comforted by the truth, but their candle burns but dimly; it is a poor flickering lamp which cheers their darkness, while in our own dear land, partly from the fact of our religious liberty, and yet more graciously through the late revival, the sun of the gospel shines brightly, and men rejoice in the light of day. Why this? Why no grace for the Japanese? Why no gospel preached to the inhabitants of Central Africa? Why was not the truth of God displayed in the Cathedral of Santiago, instead of the mummeries and follies which disgraced both dupes and deceivers, and were the incidental cause of the horrible burnings of that modern Tophet? Why today is not Rome, instead of being the seat of the beast, become the throne of Jesus Christ? I cannot tell you. But assuredly, divine sovereignty passing by many races of men, has been pleased to pitch upon the Anglo-Saxon family, that they may be as the Jews were aforetime, the custodians of divine truth, and the favorites of mighty grace.
We need not further speak upon national elections, for the principle is plainly carried out in individuals. See ye anything, my brethren, in that rich publican whose coffers are gorged with the results of his extortion, when he climbs the sycamore-tree, that his short stature may not prevent his seeing the Saviour—see ye anything in him why the Lord of glory should halt beneath that sycamore-tree and say, „Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house?” Can you find me a reason why yonder adulterous woman, who has had five husbands, and who is now living with a man who is not her husband, should constrain the Saviour to journey through Samaria that he might tell her of the water of life? If you can see anything, I cannot. Look at that bloodthirsty Pharisee, hurrying to Damascus with authority to hail men and women to prison, and shed their blood. The heat of midday cannot stop him, for his heart is hotter with religious rage than the sun with noontide rays. But see, he is arrested in his career, a brightness shines round about him; Jesus speaks from heaven the words of tender rebuke; and Saul of Tarsus becomes Paul, the apostle of God. Why? Wherefore? What answer can we give but this? „Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Read the „Life of John Newton;” had he not ripened into the grossest of all villains? Turn to the history of John Bunyan, by his own confession the lowest of all blackguards, and tell me, can you find in either of these offenders any sort of reason why the Lord should have chosen them to be among the most distinguished heralds of the cross? No man in his senses will venture to assert that there was anything in Newton or Bunyan why they should engross the regard of the Most High. It was sovereignty, and nothing but sovereignty. Take your own case, dear friends, and that shall be the most convincing of all to you. If you know anything of your own heart, if you have formed a right estimate of your own character, if you have seriously considered your own position before the Most High, the reflection that God loveth you with an everlasting love, and that, therefore, with the bands of his kindness he has drawn you, will draw forth from you at once the exclamation, „Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for truth’s sake.” Brethren! the whole world is full of instances of divine sovereignty, for in every conversion some beam of the absolute dominion of God shines forth upon mankind.
When a sinner is anxiously disturbed about his soul’s affairs, his chief and main thought should not be upon this subject; when a man would escape from wrath and attain to heaven, his first, his last, his middle thought should be the cross of Christ. As an awakened sinner, I have vastly less to do with the secret purposes of God, than with his revealed commands. For a man to say, „Thou commandest all men to repent, yet will I not repent, because I do not know that I am chosen to eternal life,” is not only unreasonable, but exceedingly wicked. That it is unreasonable you will clearly see on a moment’s reflection. I know that bread does not of itself nourish my body, „For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” It depends, therefore, upon God’s decree whether that bread shall nourish my body or not; for if he has not purposed that it shall, it may even choke me, and so become rather the cause of my death than the staff of my life. Do I therefore, when I am hungry, thrust my hands into my pockets and stand still, and refuse to help myself from the well-loaded table, because I do not know whether God has decreed that the bread shall nourish me or not? If I did, I should be an idiot or madman; or if in my senses, I should starve myself on such a pretence, I should richly deserve the burial of a suicide. I am not absolutely sure that there will be a harvest upon my field next year: unless God has ordained that the corn shall spring up and shall ripen, all my husbandry will be labor lost. There are worms in the earth, frosts in the air, birds in the sky, mildews in the winds—all of which may destroy my corn, and I may lose every single grain of the handsful which I throw into my furrows. Shall I, therefore, leave my farm to be one perpetual fallow, because I do not know whether God has decreed that there shall be a harvest or not next year? If I become a bankrupt—if I am unable to pay my rent—if the thorn and the thistle grow taller and higher, and if at last, my landlord thrusts me from my tenancy, all that men will say, will be, „It serves him right!”—because I was such a fool as to make the secret purposes of God a matter of paramount consideration, instead of performing my known duty. I am ill and sick: a physician comes to me with medicine. I am not clear that his medicine will heal me; it has healed a great many others, but if God has decreed that I shall die, I shall die, let me take any quantity of physic, or take none at all. My arm mortifies, but I will not have it cut off, because I do not know whether God has decreed that I shall die of mortification or not. Who but a crazed idiot, or raving maniac, would talk thus? When I put the case in that light, you all reply, „Nobody ever talks in that way; it is too absurd.” Of course, nobody does. And the fact is, even in the things of God, nobody really does argue in that way. A man may say, „I will not believe in Christ, because I am afraid I am not elected;” but the thing is so stupid, so absurd, that I do not believe that any man, not absolutely demented, can be so grossly foolish as to believe in his own reasoning. I am far rather inclined to think that is a wicked and perverse method of endeavoring to stultify conscience, on the theory that a bad excuse is better than none, and that even a foolish argument is better than having one’s mouth shut in speechless confusion.
But since men will everlastingly be getting to his point, and there are so many who are always giving this as a reason why they do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, because, „It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,” I shall try, this morning, to talk with these people on their own ground; and I shall endeavor, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to show that the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, so far from discouraging anybody, has not in it, if regarded aright, any sort of discouragement whatever, for any souls believing in Jesus Christ.
For one moment let me detain you from my object, while I reply to a very common method of misrepresenting the doctrine. It may be as well to start with a clear idea of what the doctrine really is. Our opponents put the case thus: suppose a father should condemn some of his children to extreme misery, and make others supremely happy, out of his own arbitrary will, would it be right and just? Would it not be brutal and detestable? My answer is, of course, it would; it would be execrable in the highest degree, and far, very far be it from us to impute such a course of action to the Judge of all the earth. But the case stated is not at all the one under consideration, but one as opposite from it as light from darkness. Sinful man is not now in the position of a well-deserving or innocent child, neither does God occupy the place of a complacent parent. We will suppose another case far nearer the mark, indeed, it is no supposition, but an exact description of the whole matter. A number of criminals, guilty of the most aggravated and detestable crimes, are righteously condemned to die, and die they must, unless the king shall exercise the prerogative vested in him, and give them a free pardon. If for good and sufficient reasons, known only to himself, the king chooses to forgive a certain number, and to leave the rest for execution, is there anything cruel or unrighteous here? If, by some wise means, the ends of justice can be even better answered by the sparing of the pardoned ones, than by their condemnation, while at the same time, the punishment of some tends to honor the justice of the lawgiver, who shall dare to find fault? None, I venture to say, but those who are the enemies of the state and of the king. And so may we well ask, „Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” „What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” Who is he that shall impugn the mingled mercy and severity of heaven, or make the eternal God an offender, because „he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy?” Let us now proceed to our proper subject, and endeavor to clear this truth from the terrors supposed to cluster around it.
I. Let us begin with this assertion, which we are absolutely sure is correct: THIS DOCTRINE DOES NOT OPPOSE ANY COMFORT DERIVED FROM OTHER SCRIPTURAL TRUTHS.
This doctrine, stern as it may seem to be, does not oppose the consolation which may be rightly derived from any other truth of revelation. Those who hold the free-will theory, say that our doctrine, that salvation is of the Lord alone, and that he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, takes away from man the comfort derivable from God’s goodness. God is good, infinitely good in his nature. God is love; he willeth not the death of any, but had rather that all should come to repentance. „As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live.” Our friends very properly insist upon it that God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; that the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy; let me assure them that we shall never quarrel on these points, for we also rejoice in the same facts. Some of you have listened to my voice for these ten years: I ask you whether you have heard me utter a single sentence which at all contradicts the doctrine of God’s great goodness? You may have so construed it by mistake, but no such teaching has passed my lip. Do I not, again and again, assert the universal benevolence of God—the infinite and overflowing goodness of the heart of the Most High? If any man can preach upon the great text, „God is love,” though I may not be able to preach with the same eloquence, I will venture to view with him in the decision, heartiness, delight, earnestness, and plainness, with which he may expound his theme, be he who he may, or what he may. There is not the slightest shadow of a conflict between God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness. He may be a sovereign, and yet it may be absolutely certain that he will always act in the way of goodness and love. It is true that he will do as he wills; and yet it is quite certain that he always wills to do that which, in the widest view of it, is good and gracious. If the sons of sorrow fetch any comfort from the goodness of God, the doctrine of election will never stand in their way. Only mark, it does with a two-edged sword cut to pieces that false confidence in God’s goodness which sends so many souls to hell. We have heard dying men singing themselves into the bottomless pit with this lullaby, „Yes, sir, I am a sinner, but God is merciful; God is good.” Ah! dear friends, let such remember that God is just as well as good, and that he will by no means spare the guilty, except through the great atonement of his Son Jesus Christ. The doctrine of election, in a most blessedly honest manner does come in, and breaks the neck, once for all, of all this false and groundless confidence in the uncovenanted mercy of God. Sinner, you have no right to trust to the goodness of God out of Christ. There is no word in the whole Book of Inspiration, which gives the shadow of a hope to the man who will not believe in Jesus Christ. It says of him, „He that believeth not shall be damned.” It declares of you, who are resting upon such a poor confidence as the unpromised favor of heaven, „Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ the righteous.” If this be an evil to rob you of a false refuge, the doctrine of election certainly does this; but from the comfort properly derivable from the largest view of God’s bounteous goodness and unlimited love, election does not detract a single grain.
Much comfort, too, flows to a troubled conscience from the promise that God will hear prayer. „Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you, for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” If you ask anything of God in the name of Jesus Christ, you shall receive it. Now, there are some who imagine that they must not pray because they do not know whether they are God’s chosen people. If you refuse to pray on the ground of such bad reasoning as this, you must do so at your own expense; but do mark our solemn assurance, for which we have God’s warrant, that there is nothing in the sovereignty of God which at all militates against the great truth, that every sincerely seeking soul, craving divine grace by humble prayer through Jesus Christ, shall be a finder. There may be an Arminian brother here who would like to get into this pulpit and preach the cheering truth, that God hath not said to the seed of Jacob, seek ye my face in vain. We not only accord him full liberty to preach this doctrine, but we will go as far as he can, and perhaps a little further, in the enunciation of that truth. We cannot perceive any discrepancy between personal election and the prevalence of prayer. Let those who can, vex their brains with the task of reconciling them; to us the wonder is how a man can believe the one without the other. Firmly must I believe that the Lord God will show mercy to whom he will show mercy, and have compassion on whom he will have compassion; but I know as assuredly that wherever there is a genuine prayer, God gave it; that wherever there is a seeker, God made him seek; consequently if God has made the man seek and made the man pray, there is evidence at once of divine election; and the fact stands true that none seek who shall not find.
Very much comfort also is supposed to be derived, and naturally so, from the free invitations of the gospel. „Ah,” cries one, „what a sweet thing it is that the Saviour cried, ‘Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ How delightful to read such a word as this, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price,’ Sir, my heart is encouraged when I find it written, ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ But, sir, I dare not come because of the doctrine of election.” My dear hearer, I would not say anything harshly to you, but I must express my conviction that this is nothing but an idle excuse for not doing what you have no mind to do; because invitations of the most general character, nay, invitations which shall be universal in their scope, are perfectly consistent with the election of God. I have preached here, you know it, invitations as free as those which proceeded from the lips of Master John Wesley. Van Armin himself, the founder of the Arminian school, could not more honestly have pleaded with the very vilest of the vile to come to Jesus than I have done. Have I therefore felt in my mind that there was a contradiction here? No, nothing of the kind; because I know it to be my duty to sow beside all waters, and like the sower in the parable, to scatter the seed upon the stony ground, as well as upon the good land, knowing that election does not narrow the gospel call which is universal, but only affects the effectual call, which is and must be from the Spirit of God. My business is to give the general call, the Holy Spirit will see to its application to the chosen. O my dear hearers, God’s invitations are honest invitations to every one of you. He invites you; in the words of the parable he addresses, „All things are ready; come ye to the supper, my oxen and my fatlings are killed.” Nay, he saith to his ministers, „Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in.” Though he foreknows who will come in, and has before all worlds ordained who shall taste of that supper, yet the invitation in its widest possible range, is a true and honest one; and if you accept it you shall find it so.
Furthermore, if we understand the gospel at all, the gospel lies in a nutshell. It is this:—”Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Or, to use Christ’s words, „He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.” This promise is the gospel. Now, the gospel is true, whatever else may be false. Whatever doctrine may or may not be of God, the gospel certainly is. The doctrine of sovereign grace is not contrary to the gospel, but perfectly consonant therewith. God has a people whom no man shall number, whom he hath ordained unto eternal life. This is, by no means, in conflict with the great declaration, „He that believeth on him is not condemned.” If any man who ever lived, or ever shall live, believes in Jesus Christ, he hath eternal life. Election or no election, if you are resting upon the rock of ages you are saved. If you, as a guilty sinner, take the righteousness of Christ—if all black, and foul, and filthy, you come to wash in the fountain filled with blood, sovereignty or no sovereignty, rest assured of this, that you are redeemed from the wrath to come. O my dear friends, when you say, „I will not believe in Christ because of election,” I can only say as Job did to his wife, „Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.” How dare you, because God reveals to you two things, which two things you cannot make square with one another—how dare you charge either the one or the other with being false? If I believe God, I am not only to believe what I can understand, but what I cannot understand; and if there were a revelation which I could comprehend and sum up as I may count five upon my fingers, I should be sure it did not come from God. But if it has some depths vastly too deep for me—some knots which I cannot untie—some mysteries which I cannot solve—I receive it with the greater confidence, because it now gives me swimming-room for my faith, and my soul bathes herself in the great sea of God’s wisdom, praying, „Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
Let it be said over and over again, that there shall be no doubt about this matter, that if there be any comfort derivable from the gospel; if there be any sweet consolation flowing from the free invitations and the universal commands of divine truth, all those may be received and enjoyed by you, while you hold this doctrine of divine sovereignty as much as if you did not hold it, and received some wider scheme. Methinks I hear one voice say, „Sir, the only comfort I can ever have lies in the infinite value of the precious blood of Christ; O sir, it seems to me such a sweet thing that there is no sinner so black that Christ cannot wash away his sins, and no sinner so old that the meritorious virtue of that atonement cannot meet his case—not one in any rank or in any condition whom that blood cannot cleanse from all sin. Now, sir, if that be true, how can the doctrine of election be true?” My dear friend, you know in your own heart that the two things are not opposed to each other at all. For what does the doctrine of election say? It says that God has chosen and has saved some of the greatest sinners who ever lived, has cleansed some of the foulest sins ever committed, and that he is doing and will do the same to the world’s end. So that the two things exactly tally. And I will venture to say that if in the fulness of a man’s heart he shall say, „There is no sin except the one excepted sin, which cannot be forgiven,” if he boldly announce that „All manner of sin shall be forgiven unto men,” and if he shall plead with power and earnestness that souls would now come to Christ and lay hold upon eternal life, he may go back to his Bible, and he may read every text teaching the sovereignty of God, and every passage upholding divine election; nd he may feel that all these texts look him in the face, and say, „Well done, our spirit and your spirit are precisely the same; we have no conflict together; we are two great truths which came from the same God; we are alike the revelation of the Holy Ghost.” But we leave that point. If there be any comfort, sinner, which you can truthfully and rightly get from any passage of Scripture, from any promise of God, from any invitation, from any open door of mercy, you may have it, for the doctrine of election does not rob you of one atom of the consolation which the truth of God can afford you.
II. But now will take another point for a moment. Our second head is, that THIS DOCTRINE HAS A MOST SALUTARY EFFECT UPON SINNERS. These may be divided into two classes: those who are awakened, and those who are hardened and incorrigible.
To the awakened sinner, next to the doctrine of the cross, the doctrine of distinguishing grace is perhaps the most fraught with blessings and comfort. In the first place, the doctrine of election, applied by the Holy Ghost, strikes dead for ever all the efforts of the flesh. It is the end of Arminian preaching to make men active, to excite them to do what they can; but the very end and object of gospel preaching is to make men feel that they have no power of their own, and to lay them as dead, at the foot of God’s throne. We seek, under God, to make them feel that all their strength must lie in the Strong One who is mighty to save. If I can convince a man that, let him do what he may, he cannot save himself; if I can show him that his own prayers and tears can never save him apart from the Spirit of God; if I can convince him that he must be born again from above; if I lead him to see that all which is born of the flesh is flesh, and only that which is born of the spirit is spirit, brethren! three parts of the great battle are already won. „I kill and I make alive,” saith God: „when a man is killed the work is half done.” „I wound and I heal: when a man is wounded his salvation is commenced.” What! am I to set a sinner industriously to labor after eternal life by his own works? Then, indeed, am I an ambassador of hell. Am I to teach him that there is a goodness in him which he is to evolve, to polish, and educate and perfect, and so to save himself? Then I am a teacher of the beggarly elements of the law and not the gospel of Christ. Are we to set forth man’s prayers, repentings, and humblings as the way of salvation; if so, let us renounce the righteousness of Christ at once, for the two will never stand together! I am a mischief-maker if I excite the activities of the flesh instead of pointing to the arms of the Redeemer! But if the potent hammer of electing sovereignty dashes out the brains of all a man’s works, merits, doings, and willings, while it pronounces over the dead carcass this sentence: „It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy;” then, the best thing is done for a sinner that can be done as a stepping-stone to the act of faith. When a man is weaned from self, and totally delivered from looking to the flesh for help, there is hope for him: and this the doctrine of divine sovereignty does through the Holy Spirit’s power.
Again, this doctrine gives the greatest hope to the really awakened sinner. You know how the case stands. We are all prisoners condemned to die. God, as sovereign, has a right to pardon whom he pleases. Now, imagine a number of us shut up in a condemned cell, all guilty. One of the murderers says within himself: „I know that I have no reason to expect to be delivered. I am not rich: if I had some rich relations, like George Townley, I might be found insane, and delivered. But I am very poor; I am not educated. If I had the education of some men I might expect some consideration. I am not a man of rank and position; I am a man without merit or influence, therefore I cannot expect that I should be selected as one to be saved.” No, I believe that if the present authorities of our land were the persons to be taken into consideration, a man who was poor might have a very poor chance of expecting any gratuitous deliverance. But when God is the great sovereign the case is different. For then, we argue thus: „Here am I; my salvation depends entirely upon the will of God: is there a chance for me? We take down a list of those whom he has saved, and we find that he saves the poor, the illiterate, the wicked, the godless, and the worst of the worst, the base things, and things that are despised. Well, what do we say? Then, why may he not choose me? Why not save me? If I am to look for some reason in myself why I should be saved, I shall never find any, and consequently never shall have a hope. But if I am to be saved for no reason at all but that God wills to save me, ah! then there is hope for me. I will to the gracious King approach, I will do as he bids me, I will trust in his dear Son, and I shall be saved.” So that this doctrine opens the door of hope to the worst of the worst, and the only persons it discourages are the Pharisees, who say: „Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other men are”—those proud, haughty spirits who say: „No! if I am not to be saved for something good in myself, then I will be damned!” as damned they will be with a vengeance, too.
Moreover, do not you see, dear friends, how the doctrine of election comforts the sinner in the matter of power. His complaint is, „I find I have no power to believe; I have no spiritual power of any kind.” Election stoops down and whispers in his ear—”But if God wills to save you, he gives the power, gives the life, and gives the grace; and therefore since he has given that power and might to others as weak as you, why not to you? Have courage, look to the cross of Christ and live.” And oh! what emotions of gratitude, what throbbings of love does this doctrine cause in human hearts. „Why,” saith the man, „I am saved simply because God would save me, not because I deserved it, but because his loving heart would save me; then, I will love him, I will live to him, I will spend and be spent for him.” Such a man cannot be proud, I mean not consistently with the doctrine. He lies humbly at God’s feet. Other men may boast of what they are, and how they have own eternal life by their own goodness, but I cannot. If God had left me, I had been in hell with others; and if I go to heaven, I must cast my crown at the feet of the grace which brought me there. Such a man will become kind to others. He will hold his opinions, but he will not hold them savagely, nor teach them bitterly, because he will say, „If I have light, and others have not, my light was given me from God, therefore, I have no cause to plume myself upon it. I will try to spread that light, but not by anger and abuse. For why should I blame those who cannot see, for could I have seen if God had not opened my blind eyes?” Every virtue this doctrine fosters, and every vice it kills, when the Holy Spirit so uses it. Pride it treads under foot, and humble, trustful confidence in the mercy of God in Christ, it cherishes as a darling child.
My time is gone; but I wanted to have said a word as to the effect of this gospel upon incorrigible sinners. I will just say this: I know what the effect of it ought to be. What do you say who have made up your minds not to repent, you who care not for God? Why, you believe that any day you like you can turn to God, since God is merciful, and will save you; and therefore, you walk about the world as comfortably as possible, thinking it all depends upon you, and that you will get into heaven just at the eleventh hour. Ah! man, that is not your case. See where you are. Do you see that moth fluttering in my hand! Imagine it to be there. With this finger of mine I can crush it—in a moment. Whether it shall live or not depends absolutely upon whether I choose to crush it or let it go. That is precisely your position at the present moment. God can damn you now. Nay, let us say to you, „Yours is a worse position than that.” There are some seven persons now doomed for murder and piracy on the high seas. You can clearly say that their lives depend upon Her Majesty’s pleasure. If Her Majesty chooses to pardon them she can. If not, when the fatal morning comes, the bolt will be drawn and they will be launched into eternity. That is your case, sinner. You are condemned already. This world is but one huge condemned cell in which you are kept, until the execution morning comes. If you are ever to be pardoned, God must do it. You cannot escape from him by flight; you cannot bribe him by actions of your own. You are absolutely in the hand of God, and if he leaves you where you are and as you are, your eternal ruin is as certain as your existence. Now, does not this make some sort of trembling come upon you? Perhaps not; it makes you angry. Well, if it does, that will not frighten me, because there are some of you who will never be good for anything until you are angry. I believe it is no ill sign when some persons are angry with the truth. It shows that the truth has pierced them. If an arrow penetrates my flesh, I do not like the arrow, and if you kick and struggle against this truth, it will not alarm me; I shall have some hope that a wound is made. If this truth should provoke you to think, it will have done for some of you one of the greatest things in the world. It is not your perverse thinking which frightens me; it is the utterly thoughtless way in which you go on. If you had sense enough to consider these things and fight against them, I should then have some faint hope of you. But alas! many of you have not sense enough, you say, „Yes, yes, it is all true,” you accept it, but then it has no effect upon you. The gospel rolls over you, like oil adown a slab of marble, and produces no effect.
If you are at all right in heart, you will begin to see what your state is, and the next thing that will startle your mind will be the reflection: „Is it so? am I absolutely in God’s hands? can he save me or damn me as he will? Then, I will cry to him, ‘O God, save me from the wrath to come—from eternal torment—from banishment from thy presence. Save me, O God! What wouldst thou have me to do? Oh! what wouldst thou have me to do, that I may find thy favor and live?'” Then comes the answer to you:—”Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved;” for „whosoever believeth in him shall never perish, but shall have eternal life.”
O that God might bless this divine doctrine to you. I have never preached this doctrine without conversions, and I believe I never shall. At this moment God will cause his truth to attract your hearts to Jesus, or to affright you to him. May you be drawn as the bird is drawn by the lure, or may you be driven as a dove is hunted by the hawk into the clefts of the rock. Only may you be sweetly compelled to come. May my Lord fulfill this desire of my heart. O that God may grant me your souls for my hire; and to him shall be the glory, world without end. Amen.

„Chosen to Salvation” Arthur W. Pink

„Chosen to Salvation”
Arthur W. Pink
„But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”
2 Thessalonians 2:13

There are three things here which deserve special attention. First, the fact that we are expressly told that God’s elect are „chosen to salvation”: Language could not be more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external privileges or rank in service! It is to „salvation” itself that God has chosen us. Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through „sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” It is not true that because God has chosen a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he believes or not: nowhere do the Scriptures so represent it. The same God who „chose unto salvation”, decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the spirit and belief of the truth. Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the apostle express this – „we are bound to give thanks always to God for you. brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation”, etc. Instead of shrinking back in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word, discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords, save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself.

CHOSEN FROM THE BEGINNING (Preached in Grove Chapel, Camerwell, on Sunday evening, June 3rd, 1877) By Thomas Bradbury

CHOSEN FROM THE BEGINNING
(Preached in Grove Chapel, Camerwell, on Sunday evening, June 3rd, 1877)
By Thomas Bradbury
„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 2:13-14).
Glorious and terrible truths are stated by the Holy Ghost in this chapter. Glorious inasmuch as the glory of a sovereign God is revealed to the faith of God’s elect, the faith which worketh by love, overcomes the world, and has for its end the salvation of the soul. This faith is of the operation of God, and beholds wondrous glory where unbelief and carnal reason see nought but what is hateful and obnoxious. I speak not this in a spirit of railing, or with a desire to wound or offend, but wishful to speak plainly the things of God, that each of us may know something of the position we occupy in relationship to a covenant and sovereign God.
In this chapter we have described two distinct parties, who, in spiritual and eternal things, are at the very antipodes to each other. Look on this picture and on that. These He loves–those He hates. These He accepts–those He rejects. These He chooses to salvation–those He leaves to damnation. Do any of you object to this? Why, you do the same yourselves. You accept to your companionship and confidence whom you will, and yet question God’s right to do as He will. Look at the enemies of God! They aspire not to equality with Him, but to superiority over Him. They not only question His authority, but in their feelings and fancies they usury His sovereignty. Poor, proud, and puny reason sets itself up in antagonism to eternal and infinite wisdom, calls into question the truths of Divine revelation, scouts the glorious doctrines of grace, and would drag JEHOVAH from His throne.
And, mark into that of Peter, and where you find altars and gods innumerable? Call this the temple of God? You might as well call any pig-sty in the world the temple of God. It is a temple of idolatry, blasphemy, and superstition, with nothing worthy of a covenant God about it. But notice the teaching of the whole New Testament Scripture in reference to the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16, 17): „Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Again (I Cor. 6:19): „What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” The temple of God is a spiritual temple, ye the spiritual worshippers ofttimes find therein that which is stated here: „So that he.” Who is he? Self, lordly reason, noble intellect, imperious self, „as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” We find all this in the natural tempers, wills, and dispositions of the children of God. Paul proceeds, „Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” What is this mystery of iniquity? Turn with me to III John verse 9: „I wrote unto the Church: but Diotrephes, who loveeth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” There is the workings of the mystery of iniquity–a determination to be somebody and to appear to be somebody at the expense of the peace and prosperity of Zion and of the glory of God. Paul knew this by painful experience, therefore was qualified to write thus: „For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only He who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wWcked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
Let the Father appear in His pure electing love, and the world is sure to question! Let the Son appear as the Redeemer of His elect ones, and the devil is sure to oppose! Let the Spirit appear in His regenerating grace, and the flesh is sure to struggle against Him. But let the God of all grace make His way to a redeemed sinner’s heart, and all these opposing forces are taken out of the way, and wicked self is seen in his true colors. But the Lord alone, „with the Spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming,” can settle matters with him. We who know these things find the flesh in ourselves and our surroundings ever opposing God and His truth.
In the Book of the Revelation you see the opposition of the beast and the false prophet. I am not prepared in this to throw stones at the pope and the Turk–for I find so much of the Pope and of the Turk, too, in me, that I am constrained to cry to the God of all mercy to keep them down in me. After stating many startling truths the Apostle comes to this solemn declaration: „And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” Can this be God’s truth? It is God’s truth, or it would not be here. Know you not that declaration in Isaiah 66:4? „I also will choose their delusion.” Know ye not Micaiah’s account of the LORD’S sending a lying spirit to deceive Ahab, and granting success to his lies? (I Kings 22:19-23). This is marvelous sovereignty. All attempts to disprove it must fail. Our reason bows, our faith adores before the revelation of such glorious mysteries. „That they all may be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in uprighteousness. But!” –This is one of God’s „buts.” I do love to look at them as they appear in the pages of God’s most Holy Word, so sovereign, so gracious, as so many breakwaters to repel the surging billows of error and superstition. „But.” Here we come to this precious text: „But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We will look at it in the order in which God the Holy Ghost has given it to us: –
I.–Confession and congratulation–„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord.”
II.–Choice and Salvation–„Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.”
III.–Sanctification and Faith–„Through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”
IV.–Grace and glory–„Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I.–CONFESSION AND CONGRATULATION–„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord.” Here I would give you a hint. Was this epistle written to the Thessalonians? No! It was written „unto the Church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” But that is rather too distinguishing and too discriminating for the fleshly religious mind. Look at it! In God with all His fullness! In the Father with all His affection! In the Lord with all His sovereignty! In Jesus with all His salvation! In Christ with all His anointing! Now for these Paul, and Silas, and Timothy were bound to give thanks. It is a blessed privilege when a preacher of God’s Gospel is constrained and moved by a gracious necessity–according to the words of the text he is bound, he cannot help himself, he must give thanks for the manifestation of covenant blessings and privileges to the people whom God has given to him in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
We will notice a few instances in these two epistles where thanksgiving is rendered to God for the conveyance and confirmation of covenant mercies to the saints at Thessalonica. God to the first epistle, 1:2-4: „We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” You may rest assured that there will be very little thanksgiving where there is no praying. See! I do not make my appearance in this pulpit without groans, and sighs, and cries; and these not presented by way of duty, but produced of necessity by the hidden movements of God the Holy Ghost, that my brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus may be instructed, refreshed, and comforted through His testimony from my exercised heart. You whom I know in the bonds of the covenant, in the freedom of the Gospel, in brokenness of spirit at His sacred feet, are ofttimes remembered as I walk by the way, as I lay my head on the pillow, and as He shuts me out from the world in hallowed seclusion with Himself. I cannot help but make mention of you in my prayers. You ask, What kind of prayers are these? I answer, Ejaculations, sighs, desires, and longings, somethings only a breathing homeward, heavenward, Godward, that in the riches of His grace and mercy He may bless, instruct, comfort, and preserve you, and keep us humble at the feet of a dear Redeemer, so that, when our anxious heads are throbbing and our weary hearts are aching, we may find a sweet pillow of rest upon His ever-loving bosom–I can truly say that the burden of my preaching and of my prayers is that you may be kept very near to Himself. But to return! „We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”
Now turn to the third chapter of the first epistle and 6th verse: „but now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” That is to say, we live hopefully and joyfully in witnessing your faith and fortitude, and in the enjoyment of fellowship in union with you. „For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?”
Look now at II Thess. 1:3: „We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly.”
Some of you are ready to say, That is not me, for I cannot see that I grow at all. If there is a growth it is in the knowledge and loathing of my heart’s depravity and deceitfulness. Well, my friends, there is only one spot where such knowledge is truly gained, and that is in the presence of redeeming Love. The more we grow in love with Jesus, and the more we are sure to grow in distrust and in disgust with ourselves. „We are bound to thank God.” Paul and his companions were worshipping priests in union with Christ, offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving on the behalf of those whose election of God was known, whose faith grew and whose love abounded. In this confession of what was known of the Thessalonian Christians, they are congratulated as „brethren beloved of the Lord.” Brethren, one with Jesus in the bonds of the everlasting covenant of grace, in eternal election, in all-wise predestination, and by spiritual regeneration. Jesus is the Elder Brother, the Firstborn among many brethren; brethren in the family of God who are brought and taught by the Holy Ghost to know their unchanging oneness with Him.
II.–CHOICE AND SALVATION–„Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Here we have a glorious reason why God receives the thanksgivings of poor sinners–„Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” I wonder how many pulpits in London today have heralded out thanksgiving to God for the sovereign, unconditional, and irrevocable election of His people in Christ Jesus? Or, I would ask, How many preachers in London, destitute of the faith of God’s elect, and ignorant of the love of a covenant God in Christ Jesus, have in their hearts been cursing this glorious truth? I speak advisedly and deliberately in asking these questions, knowing that every unregenerate person in his inmost soul despises the sovereignty of God, calls into question His everlasting love, and delights to laugh to scorn the elect of God.
Well, blessed be God, there is one pulpit at least, if it is near the top of a hill, and in an out-of-the-way spot, where the covenant verities of JEHOVAH are honestly declared, and His glorious sovereignty, though feebly, yet fearlessly, faithfully and feelingly proclaimed. Why say I this? Because I desire to be singular amongst the preachers and teachers of the day? No! I say it because God has so united Himself to me, a poor, sinful worm, that I cannot help but speak the things that I have seen and heard concerning Him, and sound forth His praises. He has manifested His love to me in days gone by and up to the present moment in such a wonderful and gracious manner, that it behooves me to uphold His glorious sovereignty before men with every word of my tongue, every action of my body, and every volition of my mind. O may He entwine the affections of His own elect and called ones more closely round my poor heart, and may I find my affection clinging more closely to His elect, despised, and persecuted ones. But let us now look at this part of the text in the light of God’s Word, that is Scripturally, and may the Spirit of wisdom, and revelation enlighten our understanding and comfort our hearts.
„God hath from the beginning.” What does this mean, from the beginning of time? Previous to that! Previous to that! „In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). But the choice of the eternally loved people of God was–
„Long ere time its race began.”
It took place in that period before time, which we, through our shortsightedness, call eternity past. The command of the Father to the Son, the Surety of the covenant, was, „Prepare Thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build Thine house” (Prov. 24:27). Preparation for the work of redemption was made without, or outside. Outside what? Time. Time is that short parenthesis separated, or cut off from eternity, beginning with the creation as recorded in Genesis 1:1, and ending with the declaration of the angel, who „sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer” (Rev. 10:6). Previous to creation’s work, ere time had its being, elect man dwelt in the thoughts of God. But one portion of God’s most Holy Word confirmatory of a truth is better than a whole hour’s argument; therefore, turn with me to John 1:1: „In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Now look at the first verse of His first epistle: „That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” What beginning is this? Turn to Proverbs 8:22, 23: „The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” As you read the subsequent part of this chapter, you will see that God’s works of old were, laying the foundations of the earth, preparing the heavens, and strengthening the foundations of the deep.
Now turn to Psalms 102:25, quoted by the apostle in Hebrews 1:10: „Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.” But see: „The beginning of His way before His works of old,” was His election of His people in Christ Jesus, and the manifestation of His love to them in that eternal, unconditional, irrevocable act. „God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” If we want further Spiritual proof, let us turn to Matthew 25:34: „Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Again, Ephesians 1:4: „According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Again: „Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Now look at this:
„Chosen you to salvation.” Here we have God’s election, God’s choice. Some of you may be ready to ask, What is God’s election? It is God’s choice of a people for Himself, in whom He will be everlastingly glorified. This may not be clear enough for you. Well, if you were in the North of England, you would often hear an old Saxon phrase like this, „Pick which you like.” Pick or choose! What is it to pick or choose? Let us be plain here. You go into a shop, when certain articles are put before you. The person waiting upon you says, „Pick or choose which you like. This does not mean that you are to take the whole lot, but that you are to take those you prefer and leave the rest. When God’s Word speaks of His choice, His election, it means that He, in His counsel and covenant, chose a people to be saved in Christ with an everlasting salvation, and left the rest who are born in sin, live in sin, love sin, die in sin, and perish in sin. O, say you, I cannot believe that! Who said you could? Who asked you to believe it? I never ask any one to believe this solemn but very precious truth, it being my privilege by God’s grace to „preach the Word,” and leave Him to do His own work, for–
„Application is the work of God alone.”
„God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Has He chosen you as the sheep of the good Shepherd, the bride of the heavenly Bridegroom, the heirs of His glory, and the partners of His throne? Glorious choice! He has knit together His elect in one fellowship in the mystical body of His dear Son to experience His salvation here below, and His glory up yonder.
„Christ be My First Elect, He said,
Then chose our souls in Christ our Head,
Before He gave the mountains birth,
Or laid foundations for the earth.”
He chose Christ as His First Elect, and then gave His elect people into His safe keeping. All in Christ are elected. All out of Christ are rejected. This is God’s solemn truth. But if you want still further confirmation in these precious verities, turn to Romans 11:5: „Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Were it not for the election of grace would be an utter impossibility. No election no salvation! Without God’s election the eternal damnation of all Adam’s race would be certain. This is the truth, whether you believe it or reject it. Mark well that solemn declaration in Romans 9:11: „For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” This is election, irrespective of works, merit, or anything seen in the creature, simply because He had a favor unto us. Some of His elect within these walls this evening may be sighing and crying, and inwardly inquiring, How am I to know that I am one of those for whom thanksgiving is rendered to God because of their election? To such I say, Notice the fruits of election abounding in the text.
„Chosen you to salvation.” Salvation „according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9). Salvation in the Person, blood, and obedience of Jesus. „He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Salvation by the power and gracious indwelling of the blessed Spirit from Satan, sin, the world, and self. Look at this! „Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). What does that mean? That a day is coming when we shall put off this body of death and corruption, when we shall be everlastingly free from all sin, suffering, and sorrow, when we shall enter into the presence of the King, and sing through a never-ending and glorious eternity, „Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb.”
If at this very moment the curtain which hides the heavenly country from our view could be drawn aside, and we were permitted to cast our eyes over the vast multitude of elect, redeemed, and glorified sinners, we should not see a single free-willer or co-operater there. There is no free-willer in glory. Every will is swallowed up in that of a sovereign God. Not one discordant note of creature merit, nor jarring sound of man’s free-will can mar the sweet music of the glorified saints’ song of everlasting praise to God. He hath chosen us to salvation, therefore we must be saved. If there is any failure between eternal choice and everlasting glory there must be a reflection on the character, love, wisdom, and power of JEHOVAH. But, blessed be His holy name, there is no failure seen by His own taught ones, and no reflection cast upon Him by any of His own who are brought into experimental union with Himself. We will now consider how we are to know that we are saved.
III.–SANCTIFICATION AND FAITH–„Through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Sanctification! What is it? It is setting apart, laying aside, consecrating, or separating to solemn and spiritual purposes. The most essential part of sanctification lies in the Source or Fountain thereof. Creature power, or creature holiness, have no place here, it being wholly of the Lord. See! it is set before us in the New Testament in its origin, work, and perfection. I love to view it in its sevenfold aspect. 1. Sanctified by the Father (Jude 1). 2. Sanctified by the Son (Eph. 5:26). 3. Sanctified by the Holy Ghost (II Thess. 2:13). 4. Sanctified by faith that is in Christ (Acts 26:18). 5. Sanctified by the Word of truth (John 17:17). 6. Sanctified with His own blood (Heb. 13:12). 7. Sanctified wholly (I Thess. 5:23).
Do we know and love the Father? Then we are sanctified or separated from the world. Is Jesus revealed in us as our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption, and Glory? Then we are sanctified, or separated, from the service of the devil. Is the Holy Ghost our Teacher, Guide, and Comforter? Then we are sanctified, or separated, from allegiance to the flesh. Is the faith of God’s Christ (Gal. 2:20), of God’s elect (Titus 1:1), of God’s operation (Col. 2:13) precious to you? Then you are sanctified from the faith of devils, and from the false duty-faith of fleshly professors. Has the Word of truth come with living power to your heart? Then you are sanctified, or separated, from every word save that of Jesus. Is the blood of Christ your only plea for acceptance? Then you are sanctified, or separated, from all the vain hopes and fleshly endeavors which characterize a carnal religion. Is Christ Jesus made of God unto you Sanctification? Then you are sanctified, or separated, wholly to God. This sanctification is seen, not in the improving, mending, or progressive renovation of our wretched fleshly nature; but in beholding the flesh in all its deformity and depravity low in the dust, while the elect sinner sighs for the period when, divested of the burden of the flesh, he will be for ever shut in with God, away from sin, and Satan, and hateful self.
„And belief of the truth.” Belief of the truth, or obedience thereto, is the means God has appointed and retains in His own hands for the purification of the soul (I Pet. 1:22) and the manifest sanctification of the saints (John 17:17). This is too simple for unsanctified souls, hence their endless objections to God having all things His own way with His own. Oh, say they, your election and sanctification does away with prayer, believing, and good works. Nay, Master Objector, you are totally wrong. We believe and maintain that all things pertaining to life and godliness are of God. Election is of God! sanctification is of God! prayer is of God! faith is of God! good works are of God! Turn to Luke 18:7: „And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him?” Is that doing away with prayer? No! the grace of election and the spirit of grace and supplication are inseparable in living souls. Look here! Titus 1:1: „Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” Here we see faith and election joined together by Divine decree and Divine power, and none can put them asunder. Now what about good works? Turn to Isaiah 65:22: „For as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” God’s elect, who are quickened into life by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, are a praying, believing, and working people; but they can neither pray, believe, or work at will, or by the authority, command, or dictation of mortals. Blessed be His Name, they pray, they believe, they work, not to influence His love, but because His love is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. We now consider briefly, –
IV.–GRACE AND GLORY–„Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Election and sanctification are revealed in calling. We see two callings in the Bible, one outward, the other inward. The outward sounds in the natural ear, the inward is received and obeyed by the spiritual understanding. See Matthew 20:16: „Many be called, but few chosen.” Look at Revelation 17:14: „And they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” In both of these quotations calling comes first. This is illustrated in the case of Gidson’s warriors. Numbers responded to his call, but comparatively few stood JEHOVAH’S test. So in God’s call, the declaration of God’s Gospel, the preaching of His Word, only those who stand the fire and endure the furnace are the chosen of God. The fleshly mind will object, Oh! if that is the truth then away goes all necessity for diligence. Don’t be in a hurry! Just ask our friend Peter. Listen! „Brethren give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10). Calling, election, and diligence appear here in sweet harmony, and all elect vessels of mercy within the sound of my voice know that when called by the sovereign grace and love of God to hate sin, dread Satan, and fear temptation, they do give diligence to make their calling and election sure. Sure, not in respect to God, but in their own heart’s experience. Objector asks, „Is this sureness dependent upon my diligence? No more than the sustenance of your body is dependent upon the food you eat. God gives the appetite, God give the food, God gives His blessing on what is eaten, to the nourishing and building up of the body. God is first, God is last, God is everything in providence and grace to His own Spirit-taught children.
„Our Gospel.” Not a yea and nay Gospel, but one which proclaims a full, free, and everlasting salvation for all who spiritually need it.
„The obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Not the incommunicable glory of His Godhead, but the obtaining, that is by the lot, or will of JEHOVAH, the glory which He treasured up in Him before all worlds, the glory of His kingdom, for He is our Lord, the glory of His salvation, for He is our Jesus; the glory of His communications, for He is our Christ, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King. See how this is confessed from His opened heart to the Father, in John 17:22: „The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them.” Precious Saviour! privileged sinners! See! He commands: „Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (ver. 24). The love of the Father to the Son revealed in His sons and daughters in the glory bestowed upon and obtained by the election of grace.
May the Lord add His blessing. Amen.

A Brief Look At Election by William L. Brown

A Brief Look At Election
by
William L. Brown
Pastor, Carmichael Baptist Church

„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” II Thessalonians 2:13.
„Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” II Timothy 1:9.
This subject of election unto salvation is one that is worthy of our attention. It is a subject that needs to be preached, and most assuredly a biblical doctrine that needs to be accepted and believed as the Bible presents it without the infection of man’s prejudice. In a recent article published in the Berea Baptist Banner (February 1998), the statement was made that „in 1792, in Asplund’s register of Baptist churches it is recorded that 92% of all Baptist churches in America believed in election.” Some have recorded that today it might be 8% of all Baptist churches that believe in election. Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptist churches seem to be more of a minority today than ever before. This doctrine is often grossly misrepresented. A.S. Pettie wrote, „From hostile lips a fair and correct statement of the doctrine is never heard”. C. D. Cole wrote that „The treatment election receives from the hands of its enemies is very much like that received by primitive Christians from pagan Roman Emperors. The ancient Christians were often clothed in the skins of slain animals and then subjected to attack by ferocious wild beasts. So the doctrine of election is clothed in an ugly garb and held up to ridicule and sport.” Carmichael Baptist Church has stood firm in the faith once delivered, without wavering, for 30 years. During that time churches that once stood with us in this faith have walked away and now teach election as an enemy as presented in the above statement by C.D. Cole. While some will seek to avoid this doctrine and others seek to explain it away, we seek understanding from God according to His word. Just mentioning the word „election” sometimes hardens some Christian’s hearts that they will hear nothing else that is said afterwards because of the hatred of what they conceive the doctrine to teach. Other Christians are just the opposite. When the word election is mentioned they immediately think of „Love before time.”
Defining Election!
The word election simply means choice, to select from among. In the case of our text in II Thessalonians 2:13, the Greek word „chosen” is in the second aorist tense, the middle voice, and indicative mood.
The second aorist places the emphasis on the action being a fact that exists, rather than in regard to time – we translate it in the past tense because the English language has no equivalent. The emphasis is that election is eternal. We will see that more clearly in other passages.
The middle voice indicates the subject performing an action for his own benefit. It emphasizes the fact that it is God that is doing the choosing and we are passive. It might be better illustrated by the phrasing used in Ephesians 1:4-8. „According to the good pleasure of His will.” „According to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” Understanding the word in this light is why we hold to the position of „unconditional” election. God does not elect man unto salvation because God foresaw who would and who would not believe. That simply makes man the sovereign and God the servant. Conditional election makes God’s election unto salvation contingent upon man rather than finding its inception, purpose, and pleasure in God. The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact whether it has occurred, is occurring, or will occur. Each illustrates the act of election as an absolute and sovereign decree of God, not man.
The doctrine of election is „God’s eternal and unconditional choice of certain individuals unto everlasting life.” „According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” (Ephesians 1:4). It means that God „set His choice upon certain individuals whom He gave to His Son, for whom Christ died, who in time hear the gospel and believe.” (C. D. Cole). Elections is; „God, in mercy, selecting from fallen men a people for His name. It is the very fountain of God’s goodwill to undeserving sinners.” God is clearly defined as the chooser, while believers are defined as the chosen. „And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48). It is not hard to see from the Bible, without any interference from man, that God ordained some (elected some) to eternal life. God chose and some believed. If you study the context you will see there was a means chosen by God to bring about this end as well.
One other fact about the doctrine of election needs to at least be mentioned. Election is NOT salvation, but UNTO salvation. It therefore precedes salvation. The elect are spoken of as having „obtained” something in time. We were not regenerated in eternity, nor are we converted in eternity. Both are contingent upon the fact of God’s purpose in an election that is carried out in time. Men are saved because they are elected unto salvation, not when they are elected. I like what John Gill wrote when he stated, „Election does not find men in Christ, but puts them there; it gives them a being in him, and union to him;”
The Nature of Election!
From the Scriptures it seems clear that the nature of election is first of all eternal. Just the simple phrase from II Thessalonians 2:13 „God hath from the beginning chosen you” and the same phrasing used in Proverbs 8:23 help us understand this. „I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” Some have tried to make the words in II Thessalonians mean the beginning of the preaching of the gospel, or the beginning of their believing but that is an awful stretch and twisting of Scripture.
This also means it is irrevocable and irreversible – JOH 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. The chosen are given, they will come, and the ones that come will never be cast out. Rather than twisting election into meaning something evil and disgusting the Bible declares it to be exciting and enlightening. One other verse which excites me when I read it is Jeremiah 31:3, The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Because this love is eternal it is with love He draws us. Now can you see election as „Love before Time?”
Election is a sovereign decree of God. The choice of God is solely in His purpose. Why would God tell us election is eternal and according to His good pleasure or sovereign choice? Why did He tell us about the choice of Jacob and rejection of Esau? Why did he say this was done before the children had been born and before they had an opportunity to do evil or good? „That the purpose of God according to election might stand.” (Romans 9:11) So that the purpose of election might stand, remain firm, or not be made into another purpose. The word „purpose” there means „the setting forth of a thing, the placing of it in view.” God told us about election so that we might not see it as being based on works or good or evil in the person. Yet this is exactly what some people do in trying to make the doctrine of election more palatable. It is according to HIS purpose, HIS will, and His good pleasure. Every act of God is sovereign and none can dictate to God or stay His hand. DAN 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
The Preaching of Election:
First of all it encourages the preaching of the gospel and witnessing. Some say it hinders the preaching of the gospel. I believe the exact opposite is true. I can preach that those who have been elected to be clothed with the garments of salvation are certain to be saved. I’d rather trust in God than trust in the fickle and fallen will of man to make the right choice. I rather trust in the power and purpose of God to regenerate rather than in the preacher’s abilities to convince the depraved and deceitful heart and mind of man of the truth of the gospel. What a blessing to know that we can preach with confidence and boldness. We can endure heartache and hardships knowing that God will save elect sinners because of His eternal purpose. That is exactly what the Apostle wrote when he said, Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (II Timothy 2:10).
Preaching election also abolishes confidence in human means. More importantly it abolishes confidence in the evangelism of easy-believism. No one can claim to be one of God’s elect unless the fruits of repentance, faith, and holiness are operating in their life to some degree. Why would we want to build a false sense of security in people who rightly should have no assurance of salvation? When you read I Peter 1:2 note it well. „Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” Telling people to remember the prayer they prayed or the intensity or sincerity of that prayer is not the same as „making your calling and election sure.” Now how often have you heard that preached? Those who have never been obedient unto the Lord and have never exhibited any holiness of life have no business being made comfortable in their profession of faith. Be sure of God’s work of grace, be sure it is a present reality.
Preaching election will also cancel despondency. If you know that God has set His affection upon you from all eternity and that it is an everlasting love without any interruption then hope and consolation can arise from this great doctrine. Whatever condition or circumstance you find yourself in be sure that God has set His everlasting love upon you. It is God „which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” With that in mind look also at Philippians 1:6, where we find that our state of life should be one of confidence never of despondency. „Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
A belief in, and preaching of, election will cause a church to stand fast in the old paths of apostolic doctrine and practice. It will solidify us to our history and encourage us to continue in our walk in unity with one another, with those who have stood for the faith before us, and in the truth of God’s Word. It will solidify our hearts one to another knowing there is no difference between us, we are all the objects of God’s free and amazing grace. „Who maketh thee to differ one from another.”
Lastly a biblical presentation and belief in election will glorify God not man. It puts man in the dust where he belongs. It raises God to the heights where He belongs as Sovereign rather than a servant or beggar who simply waits upon man. I like the Biblical presentation of a sovereign God that regenerates whom He wills rather than a god who whimpers before a dead sinner’s heart begging him to just open the door. I have a God who will save and whose will cannot be thwarted. I believe in a Savior who secured salvation for an elect people rather than a potential savior who might save if he is allowed. I have a God who will be glorified in the salvation of an undeserving and unworthy chosen people. Election is not a terrifying doctrine if you look at it from a Biblical perspective rather than from man’s prejudice.
Copyright  William Lee Brown, 1998 – all rights reserved

CHOSEN FROM THE BEGINNING (Preached in Grove Chapel, Camerwell, on Sunday evening, June 3rd, 1877) By Thomas Bradbury

CHOSEN FROM THE BEGINNING
(Preached in Grove Chapel, Camerwell, on Sunday evening, June 3rd, 1877)
By Thomas Bradbury
„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 2:13-14).
Glorious and terrible truths are stated by the Holy Ghost in this chapter. Glorious inasmuch as the glory of a sovereign God is revealed to the faith of God’s elect, the faith which worketh by love, overcomes the world, and has for its end the salvation of the soul. This faith is of the operation of God, and beholds wondrous glory where unbelief and carnal reason see nought but what is hateful and obnoxious. I speak not this in a spirit of railing, or with a desire to wound or offend, but wishful to speak plainly the things of God, that each of us may know something of the position we occupy in relationship to a covenant and sovereign God.
In this chapter we have described two distinct parties, who, in spiritual and eternal things, are at the very antipodes to each other. Look on this picture and on that. These He loves–those He hates. These He accepts–those He rejects. These He chooses to salvation–those He leaves to damnation. Do any of you object to this? Why, you do the same yourselves. You accept to your companionship and confidence whom you will, and yet question God’s right to do as He will. Look at the enemies of God! They aspire not to equality with Him, but to superiority over Him. They not only question His authority, but in their feelings and fancies they usury His sovereignty. Poor, proud, and puny reason sets itself up in antagonism to eternal and infinite wisdom, calls into question the truths of Divine revelation, scouts the glorious doctrines of grace, and would drag JEHOVAH from His throne.
And, mark into that of Peter, and where you find altars and gods innumerable? Call this the temple of God? You might as well call any pig-sty in the world the temple of God. It is a temple of idolatry, blasphemy, and superstition, with nothing worthy of a covenant God about it. But notice the teaching of the whole New Testament Scripture in reference to the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16, 17): „Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Again (I Cor. 6:19): „What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” The temple of God is a spiritual temple, ye the spiritual worshippers ofttimes find therein that which is stated here: „So that he.” Who is he? Self, lordly reason, noble intellect, imperious self, „as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” We find all this in the natural tempers, wills, and dispositions of the children of God. Paul proceeds, „Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” What is this mystery of iniquity? Turn with me to III John verse 9: „I wrote unto the Church: but Diotrephes, who loveeth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” There is the workings of the mystery of iniquity–a determination to be somebody and to appear to be somebody at the expense of the peace and prosperity of Zion and of the glory of God. Paul knew this by painful experience, therefore was qualified to write thus: „For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only He who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wWcked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
Let the Father appear in His pure electing love, and the world is sure to question! Let the Son appear as the Redeemer of His elect ones, and the devil is sure to oppose! Let the Spirit appear in His regenerating grace, and the flesh is sure to struggle against Him. But let the God of all grace make His way to a redeemed sinner’s heart, and all these opposing forces are taken out of the way, and wicked self is seen in his true colors. But the Lord alone, „with the Spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming,” can settle matters with him. We who know these things find the flesh in ourselves and our surroundings ever opposing God and His truth.
In the Book of the Revelation you see the opposition of the beast and the false prophet. I am not prepared in this to throw stones at the pope and the Turk–for I find so much of the Pope and of the Turk, too, in me, that I am constrained to cry to the God of all mercy to keep them down in me. After stating many startling truths the Apostle comes to this solemn declaration: „And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” Can this be God’s truth? It is God’s truth, or it would not be here. Know you not that declaration in Isaiah 66:4? „I also will choose their delusion.” Know ye not Micaiah’s account of the LORD’S sending a lying spirit to deceive Ahab, and granting success to his lies? (I Kings 22:19-23). This is marvelous sovereignty. All attempts to disprove it must fail. Our reason bows, our faith adores before the revelation of such glorious mysteries. „That they all may be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in uprighteousness. But!” –This is one of God’s „buts.” I do love to look at them as they appear in the pages of God’s most Holy Word, so sovereign, so gracious, as so many breakwaters to repel the surging billows of error and superstition. „But.” Here we come to this precious text: „But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We will look at it in the order in which God the Holy Ghost has given it to us: –
I.–Confession and congratulation–„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord.”
II.–Choice and Salvation–„Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.”
III.–Sanctification and Faith–„Through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”
IV.–Grace and glory–„Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I.–CONFESSION AND CONGRATULATION–„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord.” Here I would give you a hint. Was this epistle written to the Thessalonians? No! It was written „unto the Church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” But that is rather too distinguishing and too discriminating for the fleshly religious mind. Look at it! In God with all His fullness! In the Father with all His affection! In the Lord with all His sovereignty! In Jesus with all His salvation! In Christ with all His anointing! Now for these Paul, and Silas, and Timothy were bound to give thanks. It is a blessed privilege when a preacher of God’s Gospel is constrained and moved by a gracious necessity–according to the words of the text he is bound, he cannot help himself, he must give thanks for the manifestation of covenant blessings and privileges to the people whom God has given to him in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
We will notice a few instances in these two epistles where thanksgiving is rendered to God for the conveyance and confirmation of covenant mercies to the saints at Thessalonica. God to the first epistle, 1:2-4: „We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” You may rest assured that there will be very little thanksgiving where there is no praying. See! I do not make my appearance in this pulpit without groans, and sighs, and cries; and these not presented by way of duty, but produced of necessity by the hidden movements of God the Holy Ghost, that my brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus may be instructed, refreshed, and comforted through His testimony from my exercised heart. You whom I know in the bonds of the covenant, in the freedom of the Gospel, in brokenness of spirit at His sacred feet, are ofttimes remembered as I walk by the way, as I lay my head on the pillow, and as He shuts me out from the world in hallowed seclusion with Himself. I cannot help but make mention of you in my prayers. You ask, What kind of prayers are these? I answer, Ejaculations, sighs, desires, and longings, somethings only a breathing homeward, heavenward, Godward, that in the riches of His grace and mercy He may bless, instruct, comfort, and preserve you, and keep us humble at the feet of a dear Redeemer, so that, when our anxious heads are throbbing and our weary hearts are aching, we may find a sweet pillow of rest upon His ever-loving bosom–I can truly say that the burden of my preaching and of my prayers is that you may be kept very near to Himself. But to return! „We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”
Now turn to the third chapter of the first epistle and 6th verse: „but now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” That is to say, we live hopefully and joyfully in witnessing your faith and fortitude, and in the enjoyment of fellowship in union with you. „For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?”
Look now at II Thess. 1:3: „We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly.”
Some of you are ready to say, That is not me, for I cannot see that I grow at all. If there is a growth it is in the knowledge and loathing of my heart’s depravity and deceitfulness. Well, my friends, there is only one spot where such knowledge is truly gained, and that is in the presence of redeeming Love. The more we grow in love with Jesus, and the more we are sure to grow in distrust and in disgust with ourselves. „We are bound to thank God.” Paul and his companions were worshipping priests in union with Christ, offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving on the behalf of those whose election of God was known, whose faith grew and whose love abounded. In this confession of what was known of the Thessalonian Christians, they are congratulated as „brethren beloved of the Lord.” Brethren, one with Jesus in the bonds of the everlasting covenant of grace, in eternal election, in all-wise predestination, and by spiritual regeneration. Jesus is the Elder Brother, the Firstborn among many brethren; brethren in the family of God who are brought and taught by the Holy Ghost to know their unchanging oneness with Him.
II.–CHOICE AND SALVATION–„Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Here we have a glorious reason why God receives the thanksgivings of poor sinners–„Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” I wonder how many pulpits in London today have heralded out thanksgiving to God for the sovereign, unconditional, and irrevocable election of His people in Christ Jesus? Or, I would ask, How many preachers in London, destitute of the faith of God’s elect, and ignorant of the love of a covenant God in Christ Jesus, have in their hearts been cursing this glorious truth? I speak advisedly and deliberately in asking these questions, knowing that every unregenerate person in his inmost soul despises the sovereignty of God, calls into question His everlasting love, and delights to laugh to scorn the elect of God.
Well, blessed be God, there is one pulpit at least, if it is near the top of a hill, and in an out-of-the-way spot, where the covenant verities of JEHOVAH are honestly declared, and His glorious sovereignty, though feebly, yet fearlessly, faithfully and feelingly proclaimed. Why say I this? Because I desire to be singular amongst the preachers and teachers of the day? No! I say it because God has so united Himself to me, a poor, sinful worm, that I cannot help but speak the things that I have seen and heard concerning Him, and sound forth His praises. He has manifested His love to me in days gone by and up to the present moment in such a wonderful and gracious manner, that it behooves me to uphold His glorious sovereignty before men with every word of my tongue, every action of my body, and every volition of my mind. O may He entwine the affections of His own elect and called ones more closely round my poor heart, and may I find my affection clinging more closely to His elect, despised, and persecuted ones. But let us now look at this part of the text in the light of God’s Word, that is Scripturally, and may the Spirit of wisdom, and revelation enlighten our understanding and comfort our hearts.
„God hath from the beginning.” What does this mean, from the beginning of time? Previous to that! Previous to that! „In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). But the choice of the eternally loved people of God was–
„Long ere time its race began.”
It took place in that period before time, which we, through our shortsightedness, call eternity past. The command of the Father to the Son, the Surety of the covenant, was, „Prepare Thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build Thine house” (Prov. 24:27). Preparation for the work of redemption was made without, or outside. Outside what? Time. Time is that short parenthesis separated, or cut off from eternity, beginning with the creation as recorded in Genesis 1:1, and ending with the declaration of the angel, who „sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer” (Rev. 10:6). Previous to creation’s work, ere time had its being, elect man dwelt in the thoughts of God. But one portion of God’s most Holy Word confirmatory of a truth is better than a whole hour’s argument; therefore, turn with me to John 1:1: „In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Now look at the first verse of His first epistle: „That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” What beginning is this? Turn to Proverbs 8:22, 23: „The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” As you read the subsequent part of this chapter, you will see that God’s works of old were, laying the foundations of the earth, preparing the heavens, and strengthening the foundations of the deep.
Now turn to Psalms 102:25, quoted by the apostle in Hebrews 1:10: „Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.” But see: „The beginning of His way before His works of old,” was His election of His people in Christ Jesus, and the manifestation of His love to them in that eternal, unconditional, irrevocable act. „God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” If we want further Spiritual proof, let us turn to Matthew 25:34: „Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Again, Ephesians 1:4: „According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Again: „Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Now look at this:
„Chosen you to salvation.” Here we have God’s election, God’s choice. Some of you may be ready to ask, What is God’s election? It is God’s choice of a people for Himself, in whom He will be everlastingly glorified. This may not be clear enough for you. Well, if you were in the North of England, you would often hear an old Saxon phrase like this, „Pick which you like.” Pick or choose! What is it to pick or choose? Let us be plain here. You go into a shop, when certain articles are put before you. The person waiting upon you says, „Pick or choose which you like. This does not mean that you are to take the whole lot, but that you are to take those you prefer and leave the rest. When God’s Word speaks of His choice, His election, it means that He, in His counsel and covenant, chose a people to be saved in Christ with an everlasting salvation, and left the rest who are born in sin, live in sin, love sin, die in sin, and perish in sin. O, say you, I cannot believe that! Who said you could? Who asked you to believe it? I never ask any one to believe this solemn but very precious truth, it being my privilege by God’s grace to „preach the Word,” and leave Him to do His own work, for–
„Application is the work of God alone.”
„God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Has He chosen you as the sheep of the good Shepherd, the bride of the heavenly Bridegroom, the heirs of His glory, and the partners of His throne? Glorious choice! He has knit together His elect in one fellowship in the mystical body of His dear Son to experience His salvation here below, and His glory up yonder.
„Christ be My First Elect, He said,
Then chose our souls in Christ our Head,
Before He gave the mountains birth,
Or laid foundations for the earth.”
He chose Christ as His First Elect, and then gave His elect people into His safe keeping. All in Christ are elected. All out of Christ are rejected. This is God’s solemn truth. But if you want still further confirmation in these precious verities, turn to Romans 11:5: „Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Were it not for the election of grace would be an utter impossibility. No election no salvation! Without God’s election the eternal damnation of all Adam’s race would be certain. This is the truth, whether you believe it or reject it. Mark well that solemn declaration in Romans 9:11: „For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” This is election, irrespective of works, merit, or anything seen in the creature, simply because He had a favor unto us. Some of His elect within these walls this evening may be sighing and crying, and inwardly inquiring, How am I to know that I am one of those for whom thanksgiving is rendered to God because of their election? To such I say, Notice the fruits of election abounding in the text.
„Chosen you to salvation.” Salvation „according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9). Salvation in the Person, blood, and obedience of Jesus. „He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Salvation by the power and gracious indwelling of the blessed Spirit from Satan, sin, the world, and self. Look at this! „Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). What does that mean? That a day is coming when we shall put off this body of death and corruption, when we shall be everlastingly free from all sin, suffering, and sorrow, when we shall enter into the presence of the King, and sing through a never-ending and glorious eternity, „Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb.”
If at this very moment the curtain which hides the heavenly country from our view could be drawn aside, and we were permitted to cast our eyes over the vast multitude of elect, redeemed, and glorified sinners, we should not see a single free-willer or co-operater there. There is no free-willer in glory. Every will is swallowed up in that of a sovereign God. Not one discordant note of creature merit, nor jarring sound of man’s free-will can mar the sweet music of the glorified saints’ song of everlasting praise to God. He hath chosen us to salvation, therefore we must be saved. If there is any failure between eternal choice and everlasting glory there must be a reflection on the character, love, wisdom, and power of JEHOVAH. But, blessed be His holy name, there is no failure seen by His own taught ones, and no reflection cast upon Him by any of His own who are brought into experimental union with Himself. We will now consider how we are to know that we are saved.
III.–SANCTIFICATION AND FAITH–„Through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Sanctification! What is it? It is setting apart, laying aside, consecrating, or separating to solemn and spiritual purposes. The most essential part of sanctification lies in the Source or Fountain thereof. Creature power, or creature holiness, have no place here, it being wholly of the Lord. See! it is set before us in the New Testament in its origin, work, and perfection. I love to view it in its sevenfold aspect. 1. Sanctified by the Father (Jude 1). 2. Sanctified by the Son (Eph. 5:26). 3. Sanctified by the Holy Ghost (II Thess. 2:13). 4. Sanctified by faith that is in Christ (Acts 26:18). 5. Sanctified by the Word of truth (John 17:17). 6. Sanctified with His own blood (Heb. 13:12). 7. Sanctified wholly (I Thess. 5:23).
Do we know and love the Father? Then we are sanctified or separated from the world. Is Jesus revealed in us as our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption, and Glory? Then we are sanctified, or separated, from the service of the devil. Is the Holy Ghost our Teacher, Guide, and Comforter? Then we are sanctified, or separated, from allegiance to the flesh. Is the faith of God’s Christ (Gal. 2:20), of God’s elect (Titus 1:1), of God’s operation (Col. 2:13) precious to you? Then you are sanctified from the faith of devils, and from the false duty-faith of fleshly professors. Has the Word of truth come with living power to your heart? Then you are sanctified, or separated, from every word save that of Jesus. Is the blood of Christ your only plea for acceptance? Then you are sanctified, or separated, from all the vain hopes and fleshly endeavors which characterize a carnal religion. Is Christ Jesus made of God unto you Sanctification? Then you are sanctified, or separated, wholly to God. This sanctification is seen, not in the improving, mending, or progressive renovation of our wretched fleshly nature; but in beholding the flesh in all its deformity and depravity low in the dust, while the elect sinner sighs for the period when, divested of the burden of the flesh, he will be for ever shut in with God, away from sin, and Satan, and hateful self.
„And belief of the truth.” Belief of the truth, or obedience thereto, is the means God has appointed and retains in His own hands for the purification of the soul (I Pet. 1:22) and the manifest sanctification of the saints (John 17:17). This is too simple for unsanctified souls, hence their endless objections to God having all things His own way with His own. Oh, say they, your election and sanctification does away with prayer, believing, and good works. Nay, Master Objector, you are totally wrong. We believe and maintain that all things pertaining to life and godliness are of God. Election is of God! sanctification is of God! prayer is of God! faith is of God! good works are of God! Turn to Luke 18:7: „And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him?” Is that doing away with prayer? No! the grace of election and the spirit of grace and supplication are inseparable in living souls. Look here! Titus 1:1: „Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” Here we see faith and election joined together by Divine decree and Divine power, and none can put them asunder. Now what about good works? Turn to Isaiah 65:22: „For as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” God’s elect, who are quickened into life by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, are a praying, believing, and working people; but they can neither pray, believe, or work at will, or by the authority, command, or dictation of mortals. Blessed be His Name, they pray, they believe, they work, not to influence His love, but because His love is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. We now consider briefly, –
IV.–GRACE AND GLORY–„Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Election and sanctification are revealed in calling. We see two callings in the Bible, one outward, the other inward. The outward sounds in the natural ear, the inward is received and obeyed by the spiritual understanding. See Matthew 20:16: „Many be called, but few chosen.” Look at Revelation 17:14: „And they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” In both of these quotations calling comes first. This is illustrated in the case of Gidson’s warriors. Numbers responded to his call, but comparatively few stood JEHOVAH’S test. So in God’s call, the declaration of God’s Gospel, the preaching of His Word, only those who stand the fire and endure the furnace are the chosen of God. The fleshly mind will object, Oh! if that is the truth then away goes all necessity for diligence. Don’t be in a hurry! Just ask our friend Peter. Listen! „Brethren give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10). Calling, election, and diligence appear here in sweet harmony, and all elect vessels of mercy within the sound of my voice know that when called by the sovereign grace and love of God to hate sin, dread Satan, and fear temptation, they do give diligence to make their calling and election sure. Sure, not in respect to God, but in their own heart’s experience. Objector asks, „Is this sureness dependent upon my diligence? No more than the sustenance of your body is dependent upon the food you eat. God gives the appetite, God give the food, God gives His blessing on what is eaten, to the nourishing and building up of the body. God is first, God is last, God is everything in providence and grace to His own Spirit-taught children.
„Our Gospel.” Not a yea and nay Gospel, but one which proclaims a full, free, and everlasting salvation for all who spiritually need it.
„The obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Not the incommunicable glory of His Godhead, but the obtaining, that is by the lot, or will of JEHOVAH, the glory which He treasured up in Him before all worlds, the glory of His kingdom, for He is our Lord, the glory of His salvation, for He is our Jesus; the glory of His communications, for He is our Christ, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King. See how this is confessed from His opened heart to the Father, in John 17:22: „The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them.” Precious Saviour! privileged sinners! See! He commands: „Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (ver. 24). The love of the Father to the Son revealed in His sons and daughters in the glory bestowed upon and obtained by the election of grace.
May the Lord add His blessing. Amen.

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