Arhive pe categorii: Predestination

The Doctrine Of Predestination Stated, & Set In The Scripture Light by John Gill

The Doctrine Of Predestination Stated,
& Set In The Scripture Light
by John Gill
(London: Wm. Hardcastle, 1814)
Thou hast given a standard to them that fear thee;
that it may be displayed because of the truth
— Psalm 60:4
SERMON 7
In Opposition To Mr. Wesley’s Predestination Calmly Considered,
With A Reply To The Exceptions Of The Said Writer To The
Doctrine Of The Perseverance Of The Saints.

Mr. Wesley having declared himself the author of the Serious Thoughts
upon the Perseverance of the Saints, to which I lately returned an answer;
has been pleased to shift the controversy from perseverance to
predestination: contenting himself with some low, mean and impertinent
exceptions to a part of what I have written on the subject of perseverance;
not attempting to answer any one argument advanced by me in vindication
of it; and yet he has the assurance in the public papers, to call this miserable
piece of his, chiefly written on another subject, A full answer to Dr. Gill’s
pamphlet on perseverance; any other man but Mr. Wesley would, upon
reflection, be covered with shame and confusion; though to give him his
due, in his great modesty, he has left out the word full in some after-papers;
as being conscious to himself, or it may be, some of his friends
pointed it to him, that it was an imposition on the public, and tended
greatly to expose himself and his cause since he has left me in tile full
possession of all my arguments; which I will not say are unanswerable,
though I think they are; and it looks as if Mr. Wesley thought so too,
seeing he has not attempted to answer one of them; yet this I may say, that
as yet they are not answered at all, and much less is a full answer given
unto them.
And now, though I might be very well excused following him in this wild
pursuit on the subject of predestination; since he has not meddled with my
argument from it for the saints perseverance; since he has not pursued that
subject, as his title promises; and since throughout the whole he does not
argue, only harangue upon it; and that only a part of it, reprobation, which
he thought would best serve his purpose; yet for the sake of weak and
honest minds, lest through his subtlety, they should be corrupted from the.3
simplicity that is in Christ; I shall endeavour to state the doctrine of
predestination, and set it in a true light according to the Scriptures, with
the proofs of it from thence; and take notice of the principal objections
raised by Mr. Wesley in his harangue on that part of it which respects
reprobation; and then close this treatise with a reply to his trifling
exceptions to what I have written on the subject of the saints perseverance.
As to the doctrine of predestination, it may be considered either,
I. In general as respecting all things that have been, are, or shall be, or
done in the world; every thing comes under the determination and
appointment of God
“he did, as the assembly of divines say in their confession, from all
eternity, unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;”
or, as they express it in their catechism,
“God’s decrees are the wise, free and holy acts of the counsel of his
will whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory,
unchangeably fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass in time:”
and this predestination and fore-appointment of all things, may be
concluded from the fore-knowledge of God;
known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,
ap aiwnV, from eternity (

Acts 15:18);
they were known by him as future, as what would be, which became so by
his determination of them; for, the reason why he knew they would be, is,
because he determined they should be: also from the providence of God,
and his government of the world, which is all according to the counsel of
his own will (

Ephesians 1:11): for he does every thing according to
that, or as he has determined in his own mind. Eternal predestination in this
sense, is no other than eternal providence, of which actual providence in
time is the execution. To deny this, is to deny the providence of God, and,
his government of the world, which none but Deists and Atheists will do; at
least it is to think and speak unworthy of God, as not being the all-knowing
and all-wise and sovereign ruler of the world, he is once more the very
wonderful thing, prophecy, or foretelling things to come, could not be
without a predestination of them; of which there are so many instances in
Scripture such as the stay of the Israelites in Egypt, and their departure.4
from thence; the seventy years captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and their
return at the end of that time; the exact coming of the Messiah at such a
certain time; with many others, and some seemingly the most casual and
contingent; as the birth of persons by name a hundred or hundreds of years
before they were born, as Josiah and Cyrus; and a man’s carrying a pitcher
of water, at such a time, to such a place (

1 Kings 13:2;

Isaiah 44:28;
45:1;

Luke 22:10, 13): how could these things be foretold with
certainty, unless it was determined and appointed they should be? There is
nothing comes by chance to God, nothing done without his knowledge, nor
without his will or permission, and nothing without his determination;
every thing, even the most minute thing, respecting his creatures, and what
is done in this world in all periods and ages of time, is by his appointment;
for the proof of which see the following passages.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2-To every thing there is a season, and a time
to every purpose under the heaven; a time to be born and a time to
die, &c. a time fixed by the purpose of God for each of these.

Job 14:5-Seeing his days are determined, the number of his
months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he
cannot pass.

Job 23:14, He performeth the thing that is appointed for me,
and many such things are with him.

Daniel 4:35-And he doth 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 dost thou?

Ephesians 1:11-Being predestinated according to the purpose of
him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.

Acts 15:18-Known unto God are all his works from the
beginning of the world.

Acts 17:26—and hath determined the times before appointed,
and the bounds of their habitation.

Matthew 10:29, 30-Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fail to the ground without your Father;
but the very hairs of your head are all numbered..5
II. Predestination may be considered as special, and as relating to
particular persons, and to things spiritual and eternal; whereas
predestination in general respects all creatures and things, even things
temporal and civil.
First, Christ himself is the object of predestination; he was fore-ordained
to be the mediator between God and man; to be the propitiation for sin; to
he the redeemer and saviour of his people; to be the head of the church;
king of saints, and judge of the world: hence he is called, God’s elect, and
his chosen one; and whatsoever befell him, or was done unto him, was by
the determinate council and fore-knowledge of God; even all things
relating to his sufferings and death in proof of which read the following
Scriptures.

Romans 3:5-Whom God hath set forth, proeqeto, fore-ordained
to be a propitiation.

1 Peter 1:20-Who verily was fore-ordained before the
foundation of the world, that is, to he the Lamb slain. See chapter
2:4.

Luke 22:29-And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father
hath appointed unto me.

Acts 18:31-Because he hath appointed a day in the which he
will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath
ordained. See also chapter 10:42.

Isaiah 43:1-Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in
whom my soul delighteth. See

Matthew 12:18.

Luke 22:22-And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was
determined, but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed.

Acts 2:23-Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and
fore-knowledge of God, ye have taken, &c.

Acts 4:28—For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel
determined before to be done.
Secondly, Angels also are the objects of predestination, good and bad; the
blessed angels are chosen unto life, and to continue in their happy state to.6
all eternity: and their perseverance therein, and eternal felicity, are owing to
the eternal choice of them in Christ their head;
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect
angels, that thou observe these things (

1 Timothy 5:21).
The evil angels are rejected of God, and left in that miserable estate their
apostasy brought them into, without any provision of grace and mercy for
them: they are delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved to the
judgment of the great day; and everlasting fire is prepared for them,
according to the determinate counsel and will of God, (

2 Peter 2:4;

Matthew 25:41).
Thirdly, Predestination which the Scriptures chiefly treat of, is what
respects men, and consists of two parts, election and reprobation; the one
is a predestination unto life, the other unto death.
I. Election, which is a predestination unto life, is an act of the free grace of
God, of his sovereign and immutable will, by which from all eternity he has
chosen in Christ, out of the common mass of mankind, some men, or a
certain number of them, to partake of spiritual blessings here, and
happiness hereafter, for the glory of his grace.
1. The objects of election are some men, not all, which a choice supposes;
to take all would be no choice; called therefore,
a remnant according to the election of grace (

Romans 11:3).
These are a certain number, which though unknown to us, how many, and
who they are, are known to God;
the Lord knows them that are his (

2 Timothy 2:19).
And though they are in themselves a
great multitude, which no man can number (

Revelation 7:9),
yet when compared with those from whom they are chosen, they are but
few;
many are called, but few chosen (

Matthew 20:16)..7
These are chosen out of the same common mass of mankind, be it
considered as corrupt or pure; all were on an equal level when the choice
was made;
hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make
one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour
(

Romans 9:21)?
these are not whole nations, churches, and communities, but particular
persons, whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life;
Jacob have I loved, &c. salute Rufus chosen in the Lord: according
as he hath chosen us in him &c. (

Romans 9:13;

16:13;

Ephesians 1:4),
not a set of prepositions, but persons; not characters, but men; or not men
under such and such characters, as believers, holy, &c., but men as having
done neither good nor evil; before they had done either (

Romans 9:11).
2. This act of election, is an act of God’s free grace, to which he is not
moved by any motive or condition in the object chosen: wherefore it is
called the election grace; concerning which the Apostle’s reasoning is
strong and invincible; and
if by grace, then it is no more of works, other wise grace is no more
grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise
work is no more work (

Romans 11:5, 6),
it is according to the sovereign and unchangeable will of God, and not
according to the will or works of men;
having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus
Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will
(

Ephesians 1:5),
and again, verse 11, being predestinated according to the purpose of him
who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will; hence it stands
immutably firm and sure, even
the purpose of God according to election, not of works but of him
that calleth (

Romans 9:11)..8
3. This act of election is irrespective of faith, holiness, and good works, as
causes or conditions of it; faith flows from it; is a fruit and effect of it, is
secured by it, and is had in consequence of it:
as many as were ordained unto eternal life, believed
(

Acts 13:48),
hence it is called the faith of God’s elect (

Titus 1:1), and though
holiness is a means provided in the act of election, it is not the cause of it;
men are chosen, not because they are, but that they should he holy
(

Ephesians 1:4), good works do not go before, but follow after
election; it is denied to be of them, as before observed, and it passed before
any were done (

Romans 9:11;

11:5, 6), they are the effects of God’s
decree, and not the cause of it;
God hath fore-ordained them that we should walk in them
(

Ephesians 2:10),
4. The act of election was made in Christ, as the head, in whom all the elect
were chosen, and into whose hands, by this act of grace, were put their
persons, grace, and glory; and this is an eternal act of God in him;
according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world (

Ephesians 1:4),
and so the apostle tells the Thessalonians (

2 Thessalonians 2:13),
God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation;
not from the first preaching of the gospel to them, or from the time of their
conversion by it, but from the beginning of time, even from all eternity, as
the phrase is used in

Proverbs 7:23, hence nothing done in time could
be the cause or condition of it.
5. What men are chosen unto by this act are, grace here, and glory
hereafter; all spiritual blessings, adoption, justification, sanctification, belief
of the truth, and salvation by Jesus Christ. Salvation is the end proposed
with respect to men; sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth are
the means appointed and prepared for that end.

Ephesians 1:4, 5, Hath chosen us in him,—that we should be
holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us
unto the adoption of children, &c..9

2 Thessalonians 2:13, We are bound to give thanks to God
always 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.

1 Peter 1:2, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the
Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and
sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:9, For God hath not appointed us to wrath,
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
6. Both means and end are sure to the chosen ones, since this is an act of
God’s immutable will; these are redeemed by the blood of Christ: he died
for their sins, and made satisfaction for them; they are justified by his
righteousness and no charge can be laid against them; they are effectually
called by the grace of God; they are sanctified by his Spirit; they persevere
to the end, and cannot totally and finally be deceived and fall away, but
shall be everlastingly glorified:

Romans 8:33, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s
elect? it is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth!
That is, the elect. It is Christ that died, that died for them.

Romans 8:30, Whom he did predestinate, them he also called:
and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified,
them he also glorified.

Matthew 24:24, For there shall arise false Christs, and false
Prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that if
it were possible they shall deceive the very elect; but that is not
possible.
7. The ultimate end of all this, with respect to God, is his own glory; the
glory of all his divine perfections; the glory of his wisdom in forming such a
scheme, in fixing on such an end, and preparing means suitable unto it; the
glory of his justice and holiness, in the redemption and salvation of these
chosen ones, through the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of his Son;
and the glory of his rich grace and mercy exhibited in his kindness to them
through him; and the whole of it is,.10
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us
accepted in the beloved (

Ephesians 1:6).
This now is the Scripture doctrine of predestination, or that part of it which
is called election; from whence it appears to be absolute and unconditional,
irrespective of any thing in man as the cause and condition of it. Mr.
Wesley believes, that, “election is a divine appointment of some men to
eternal happiness;” so that he owns a particular and personal election, and
calls it an eternal decree; but believes that it is conditional: but if it is
conditional, the condition is to be named; let him name the condition of it:
let: him point it out to us, and in what passage of Scripture it is; this lies
upon him to do, and I insist upon it, or else he ought to give up his
unscriptural notion of conditional election.

Mark 16:16. is no
expression of this decree, but a declaration of the revealed will of God: and
points out to us what will be the everlasting state of believers and
unbelievers: But believers, as such, are not the objects of God’s decree; it
is true, indeed, that they who are real believers, are the elect of God; but
then the reason why they are the elect of God is not because they are
believers, but they become believers, because they are the elect of God;
their faith is not the cause or condition of their election, but their election
the cause of their faith; they were chosen when they had done neither good
nor evil, and so before they believed: and they believe in time, in
consequence of their being ordained unto eternal life, from eternity: faith is
in time, election before the world was; nothing temporal can be the cause
or condition of what is eternal. This is the doctrine of the Scriptures; if Mr.
Wesley will not attend to these, let him hear the articles of his own church;
the seventh of which runs thus:
“Predestination to 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. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent
a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit
working in due season: they through grace obey the calling: they be
justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be
made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they
walk religiously in good works, and at length by God’s mercy, they
attain to everlasting felicity.”.11
This is an article agreeable to the Scripture; an article of his own church; an
article which he as a true son of the church, has treacherously departed
from; an article which Mr. Wesley must have subscribed and sworn to; an
article which will stare him in the face as long as subscriptions and oaths
stand for any thing with him.
The doctrine of election, as above stated, standing in so glaring a light in
the sacred Scriptures, and appearing with such evidence, as is impossible
for all the art and sophistry of men to set aside; the other branch of
predestination necessarily follows, which we deny not, but maintain. Mr.
Wesley would have an election found out which does not imply
reprobation; but what election that can be, the wit of man cannot devise;
for if some are chosen, others must be rejected; and Mr. Wesley’s notion of
election itself implies it; for if, as he says, “election means a divine
appointment of some men to eternal happiness;” then others must be left
out of that choice, and rejected. I proceed therefore,
II. To the other branch of predestination commonly called Reprobation;
which is an immutable decree of God, according to his sovereign will, by
which he has determined to leave some men in the common mass of
mankind, out of which he has chosen others, and to punish them for sin
with everlasting destruction, for the glory of his power and justice. This
decree consists of two parts, a negative and a positive; the former is by
some called preterition, or passing by, a leaving some when others are
chosen; which is no other than non-election; the latter is called pre-damnation,
being God’s decree to condemn or damn men for sin.
First, Preterition is God’s act of passing by, or leaving some men when he
chose others, according to his sovereign will and pleasure; of which act of
God there is clear evidence in the sacred Scripture; as well as it is
necessarily implied in God’s act of election which has such clear and
uncontestable proof. These are oi loipoi, the rest, those that remain
unelected whilst others are chosen; the election hath obtained it; or elect
persons obtain righteousness, life and salvation, in consequence of their
being chosen; and the rest are blinded (

Romans 9:7), being left, they
remain in their native darkness and ignorance, and for their sins are given
up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart. These are they that are left
out of the book of life, whilst others have their names written in it; of
whom it is said,.12
whose names are not written in the book of life (of the Lamb) from
the foundation of the world (

Revelation 13:8; 17:8).
Secondly, Pre-damnation, is God’s decree to condemn men for sin, or to
punish them with everlasting damnation for it: And this is the sense of the
Scriptures; and this is the view which they give us of this doctrine
(

Proverbs 16:4),
The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea,
even the wicked for the day of evil.
Not that God made man to damn him; the Scripture says no such thing, nor
do we; nor is it the sense of the doctrine we plead for; nor is it to be
inferred from it. God made man neither to damn him, nor save him, but for
his own glory, that is his ultimate end in making him, which is answered
whether he is saved or lost: but the meaning is, that God has appointed all
things for his glory, and particularly he has appointed the wicked man to
the day of ruin and destruction for his wickedness. Jude verse 4,
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of
old ordained to this condemnation:
But who are they? They are after described ungodly men, turning the
grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our
Lord Jesus Christ. Hence the objects of this decree are called vessels of
wrath fitted to destruction, that is, by sin (

Romans 9:22). And now
what is there shocking in this doctrine, or disagreeable to the perfections of
God? God damns no man but for sin, and he decreed to damn none but for
sin.
Thirdly, This decree, we say, is according to the sovereign will of God,
for nothing can be the cause of his decree but his own will let the object of
that part of the decree, which is called Preterition, be considered either in
the corrupt or pure mass of mankind, as fallen or unfallen creatures, they
are to be considered in the same view, and as on an equal foot and level
with those that are chosen and therefore no other reason can he given, but
the will of God, that he should take one, and leave another. And though in
that branch of it, which is an appointment of men to condemnation, sin is
the cause of the thing decreed, damnation; yet; it is the will of God that is
the cause of the decree itself, for this invincible reason; or otherwise he
must have appointed all men to damnation, since all are sinners: let any.13
other reason be assigned if it can be, why he has appointed to condemn
some men for their sin, and not others.
Fourthly, God’s end in all this is the glorifying of himself, his power and
his justice; all his appointments are for himself, for his own glory, and this
among the rest; What if God willing, to shew his wrath, his vindictive
justice, and to make his power known, in the punishment of sinners for
their sin,
endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to
destruction! (

Romans 9:22).
The doctrine of reprobation, considered in this light, has nothing in it
contrary to the nature and perfections of God. Harsh expressions, and
unguarded phrases, which some may have used in speaking or writing
about this doctrine, I will not take upon me to defend: but as it is thus
stated, I think it is a defensible one, equally as the doctrine of election, and
is demonstrable by it. The Scriptures are indeed more sparing of the one
than of the other, and have left us to conclude the one from the other, in a
great measure, though not without giving us clear and full evidence; for
though reprobation is not so plentifully spoken of, yet it is clearly spoken
of in the sacred writings; wherefore, upon this consideration we judge it
most proper and prudent, not so much to insist on this subject in our
discourses and writing; not from any consciousness of want of evidence,
but because of the awfulness of the subject. This our opponents are aware
of; and therefore press us upon this head, in order to bring the doctrine of
election into contempt with weak or carnal men; and make their first
attacks upon this branch of predestination, which is beginning wrong since
reprobation is no other than non-election, or what is opposed to election;
let the doctrine of election be demolished, and the other will fall of course;
but that will cost too much pains; and they find a better account with weak
minds in taking the other method; a method which the Remonstrants
formerly were desirous of, at the synod of Dort, could it have been
allowed, a method which Dr. Whitby has taken in his discourse of the five
points; and this is the method which Mr. Wesley has thought fit to take,
and indeed he confines himself wholly to this subject: for though he calls
his pamphlet, Predestination Calmly Considered; yet it only considers one
part of it, reprobation, and that not in a way of argument, but harangue;
not taking notice of our arguments from Scripture or reason, only making
some caviling exceptions to it; such as have the face of an objection, shall.14
gather up, as well as I can, from this wild and unmethodical performance,
and make answer to. And,
1st, He desires it may be impartially considered, how it is possible to
reconcile reprobation with the following Scriptures:

Genesis 3:17 and
4:7;

Deuteronomy 7:9, 12;

12:26-28. and

30:15;

2 Chronicles
15:1;

Ezra 9:13, 14;

Job 36:5;

Psalm 145:9;

Proverbs 1:23;

Isaiah 65:2;

Ezekiel 18:26;

Matthew 7:26; 11:20;

12:41;

13:11, 12;

22:8; and chapter 25;

John 3:18 and

5:44;

Acts
8:20;

Romans 1:20; and

2 Thessalonians 2:10 (Predestination
Calmly Considered, p. 13). In all which there is not a word that militates
against the doctrine of reprobation; nor is any thing pointed at worthy of
consideration: we know very well, nor is it contrary to this doctrine, that
the curse came upon men for sin; and that it is that which renders them
unacceptable to God, and is the reason why at last they shall find none with
him, nor him favorable to them: there is a repentance which may be found
in non-elect persons; instances of that kind do not at all weaken the
doctrine.

Matthew 13:11 and 12, proves it. The word any, is not in the
original text in

Job 36:5. It is certain there are some whom God
despises,

Psalm 53:5 and

73:20. It is pity but he had transcribed two
or three hundred more passages when his hand was in; even the whole
books of Chronicles, and the book of Esther, which would have been as
much to his purpose as those he has produced.
2dly, He proposes the following Scriptures which declare God’s
willingness that all should be saved, to be reconciled to the doctrine of
reprobation,

Matthew 21:9;

Mark 16:15;

John 5:34;

Acts
17:24;

Romans 5:18 and

10:12;

1 Timothy 2:3, 4;

James 1:5;

2 Peter 3:9;

1 John 4:14 (P.C.C., pp. 16, 17). Some of which do not
respect eternal salvation at all, but the temporal salvation of the Jews; and
others have nothing to do with salvation in either sense; some speak only
of God’s will to save his elect, to whom he is long-suffering; and others of
his will, that Gentiles as well as Jews, should be saved; and that it is his
pleasure that some of all sorts should he saved by Christ; neither of which
militate against the doctrine of reprobation.
3dly, He thinks this doctrine is irreconcilable with the following Scriptures,
which declare that Christ came to save all men; that he died for all; that he
atoned for all, even for those that finally perish;

Matthew 17:11;

John 1:29;

3:17 and

7:14;

Romans 14:15;

1 Corinthians.15
7:11;

2 Corinthians 5:14;

1 Timothy 2:6;

Hebrews 2:9;

2
Peter 2:1 and

1 John 2:1, 2 (P.C.C., pp. 16, 17). But these Scriptures
say not that Christ came to save all that are lost; or that be came to save all
men, or died for all men, for all the individuals of human nature; there is
not one text of Scripture in the whole Bible that says this: that which seems
most like it is

Hebrews 2:9, That he might taste death for every man;
but the word man is not in the original text; it is only uper pantov , for
every one; for every one of the sons of God, of the children, of the
brethren of Christ, and seed of Abraham a spiritual sense, as the context
determines it. As for the above-cited passages, they regard either the world
of God’s elect; or the Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews; or all sorts
of men; but not all the individuals of mankind: and those who are
represented as such that should perish, or in danger of it, are either such
who only professed to be bought by Christ or real Christians whose peace
and comfort were in danger of being destroyed, but not their persons; and
none of the passages militate against the doctrine under consideration.
4thly, This doctrine is represented as contrary to, and irreconcilable with
the justice of God, and with those Scriptures that declare it, particularly
Ezekiel 18 (P.C.C., p. 19). To which may be replied, that, that chapter in
Ezekiel concerns the people of the Jews only, and not all mankind; and
regards only the providential dealings of God with them, with respect to
civil and temporal things, and a vindication of them from inequality and
injustice; and not spiritual and eternal things: or the salvation and
damnation of men; and therefore is impertinently produced. And if any one
does but seriously and impartially consider the doctrine as above stated,
they will see no reason to charge God with injustice, or find any difficulty
in reconciling it to his justice. In the first branch of this decree, called
Preterition, let the objects be creatures fallen or unfallen, it puts nothing
into them; it leaves them as it finds them; and therefore does them no
injustice: in the other branch of it, appointment to condemnation, this is
only but for sin; is there unrighteousness with God on that account? No
surely; if it is not injustice in him to condemn men for sin, it can be no
injustice in him to decree to condemn them for sin: and if it would have
been no unrighteousness in him to have condemned all men for sin, and to
have determined to have done it, as he doubtless might; it can be no ways
contrary to his justice to condemn some men for sin, and to determine so
to do; wherefore all that is said under this head is all harangue, mere noise
and stands for nothing. Let the above argument be disproved if it can..16
5thly, This doctrine is represented as contrary to the general judgment; and
that upon this scheme there can be no judgment to come, nor any future
state of reward and punishment (P.C.C., pp. 26, 30): but why so? How
does this appear? Why, according to our scheme, “God of old ordained
them to this condemnation:” but then it was for sin; and if for sin, how
does this preclude a future judgment? It rather makes one necessary; and
certain it is, that a future judgment is agreeable to it, and quite inevitable by
it; God decrees to condemn men for sin; men sin, and are brought to the
judgment-seat of God, and are justly condemned for it. The judgment of
God takes place, and the just reward of punishment pursuant to the
righteous purpose of God, and according to the rules of justice. But this
writer has the assurance to affirm, that we say, that
“God sold men to work wickedness, even from their mother’s
womb; and gave them up to a reprobate mind, or ever they hung
upon their mother’s breasts.”
This is entirely false; we say no such thing; we, say, with the Scripture, that
men sell themselves to work wickedness as they grow up; and that God
gives men up to a reprobate mind after a long train and course of sinning;
and it must be a righteous thing with God to bring such persons to
judgment, and condemn them for their wickedness. But then it is said they
are condemned
“for not having that grace which God hath decreed they never
should have.”
This is false again; we say no such thing; nor does the doctrine we hold
oblige us to it; we say, indeed, that the grace of God is his own; and
whether it is the sense of the text in Matthew or no, it matters not, it is a
certain truth he may do what he will with his own grace: we own that he
has determined to give it to some and not to others, as we find in fact he
does: but then we say, he will condemn no man for want of this grace he
does not think fit to give them; nor for their not believing that Christ died
for them; but for their sins and transgressions of his righteous law. And is
not here enough to open the righteous judgment and proceed upon?
Besides the sovereign decrees of God respecting the final state of men, are
so far from rendering the future judgment unnecessary, that will proceed
according to them, along with other things: for with other books that will
be opened then, the book of life will be one, in which some men’s names
are written, and others not;.17
and the dead will be judged out of those things which are written in
the books, according to their works.—And whosoever is not found
written in the book of life, shall be cast into the lake of fire
(

Revelation 20:12, 15);
I never knew you, depart from me (

Matthew 7:23).
6thly, This doctrine is said to agree very ill with the truth and sincerity of
God, in a thousand declarations, such as these,

Ezekiel 18:23,

32:32;

Deuteronomy 5:29;

Psalm 81:12;

Acts 17:30;

Mark 16:15
(P.C.C., pp. 31, 33). To which I reply, that some of those declarations,
concern the Jews only, and not all mankind; and are only compassionate
inquiries and vehement desires after their civil and temporal welfare: and at
most only shew what is grateful to God, and approved of by him, and what
was wanting in them; with which they are upbraided, notwithstanding their
vain boasts to the contrary. Others only shew what is God’s will of
command, or what he has made the duty of man; not what are his purposes
man shall do, or what he will bestow upon him; and neither of them
suggests any insincerity in God, supposing the doctrine of reprobation. The
gospel is indeed ordered to be preached to every creature to whom it is
sent and comes; but as yet, it has never been brought to all the individuals
of human nature; there have been multitudes in all ages that have not heard
it. And that there are universal offers of grace and salvation made to all
men I utterly deny; nay, I deny they are made to any; no, not to God’s
elect; grace and salvation are provided for them in the everlasting
covenant, procured for them by Christ, published and revealed in the
gospel, and applied by the Spirit; much less are they made to others
wherefore this doctrine is not chargeable with insincerity on that account.
Let the patrons of universal offers defend themselves from this objection; I
have nothing to do with it; till it is proved there are such universal offers,
then Dr. Watts’s reasoning on that head, will require some attention; but
not till then.
7thly, It is said that the doctrines of election and reprobation least of all
agree with the scriptural account of the love and goodness of God (P.C.C.,
p. 135). The doctrine of election surely can never disagree with the love
and goodness of God; since his choosing men to salvation is the fruit and
effect of his everlasting love and free grace; the reason why any are chosen
is, because they are beloved of God; election presupposes love: this the
apostle points out clearly to us, when he says,.18
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 (

2 Thessalonians 2:13).
And the goodness of God greatly appears in consequence of this decree in
the redemption of the chosen ones by Christ, in the regeneration and
sanctification of them by the Spirit, and in bringing them at last to eternal
glory and happiness according to his original design. But it may be, it is the
doctrine of reprobation only, though both are put together by our author,
that so ill agrees with the love and goodness of God. It is not inconsistent
with his providential goodness; in which sense the Lord is good to all, and
his tender mercies are over all his works; and notwithstanding this decree,
all men have a large share of this goodness of God; and though they may
abuse this goodness, which will be an aggravation of their condemnation;
this is their own sin and fault, and not to be charged on the decree of God,
as this writer falsely does; who says, that God, according to us, gives men
this world’s goods on purpose to enhance their damnation; and every one
of their comforts is, by an eternal decree of God, to cost them a thousand
pangs in hell; whereas the abuse of mercies given, which will enhance their
damnation, flows not from the decree, but from their own wickedness. The
special mercy and goodness of God is denied to such indeed, which is at
his sovereign will to give to whom he pleases; who will have mercy on
whom he will have mercy: the act of election is an act of God’s love, and
flows from it; reprobation indeed flows from his hatred, which is an
appointment to wrath; but then it is from his hatred of sin, which is no
ways contrary to his being a God of love and goodness: besides there is a
much greater display of the love, grace, mercy, and goodness of God in
choosing some men to salvation and infallibly securing it unto them, and
bringing them safely to the enjoyment of it, than in the contrary scheme:
according to which not one man is absolutely chosen to salvation; salvation
is not insured to any one single person; it is left to the precarious and fickle
will of man: and it is possible, according to that scheme, that not one man
may be saved; nay, it is impossible that any one man should be saved by the
power of his own free-will. Let it be judged then, which scheme is most
merciful and kind to men, and most worthy of the God of love and
goodness. Upon the whole, the doctrine of reprobation, though set in so ill
a light, and represented in such an odious manner, is a defensible doctrine
when stated and cleared; nor are we afraid to own and maintain it..19
This cloven foot does not affright us; so Mr. Wesley calls (P.C.C., p. 11),
as he thinks, beautifully, but most blasphemously, an act of the divine will;
nor is this a millstone that hangs about the neck of our hypothesis, as he
no doubt very elegantly expresses it (P.C.C., p. 77); but let me tell him, it
will be his distinguishing mercy, if it is not a millstone about his own neck.
From hence he wanders to free-will and irresistible grace: sometimes he is
for free-will, sometimes for free-grace; sometimes for resistible, and
sometimes for irresistible grace. When he can agree with himself, he will
appear in a better light, and may be more worthy of notice. What he says of
free-will on the one side and reprobation on the other, as agreeing or
disagreeing with the perfections of God, may be reduced to one or other of
the above objections, where they have had their answer.
It is scarcely worth my while to observe what be says of the covenant of
grace (P.C.C., p. 52); which he owns he has no understanding of; and I
believe him, as 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, in
consequence of which these must be saved.”
And then he asks where it is written? And in what part of Scripture this
covenant is to be found? Now not to inform or instruct Mr. Wesley, but for
the sake of such who are willing to be informed and instructed, read

Psalm 40:6-8;

Isaiah 49:1-6 and

53:10-12;

Psalm 89:3, 4, 28-
36, in which will appear plain traces and footsteps of a covenant, or
agreement, of a stipulation and re-stipulation, between the Father and the
Son; in which the Father proposes a work to his Son, and calls him to it,
even the redemption of his people; to which the Son agrees, and says, Lo I
come to do thy will, O my God! and for a recompence of his being an
offering for sin, and pouring out his soul unto death; it is promised he
should see his seed and prolong his days, and have a portion divided him
with the great, and a spoil with the strong. And that theme was such a
covenant subsisting before the world began is clear; for could there be a
Mediator set up from everlasting, as there was, and a promise of life before
the world began made to Christ and put into his hand, and all spiritual
blessings provided, and all grace given to his people in him, before the
foundation of the world; and yet no covenant in being? See

Proverbs
8:23;

Titus 1:2;

2 Timothy 1:1, 9 and

Ephesians 1:3. The.20
covenant of circumcision made with Abraham, and that made with the
Israelites on mount Sinai, are no instances of the covenant of grace; but
are covenants that are waxen old, and vanished away; and do not so
concern us who are not under the law, but under grace: but however these
covenants were conditional to them that were under them; the covenant of
grace is absolute and unconditional to us, being made with Christ our head,
who has fulfilled all the conditions of it.
But I proceed now to vindicate what I have written on the subject of the
saints Final Perseverance, from the exceptions made unto it. Mr. Wesley
says (P.C.C., p. 57), “this is so pleasing an opinion, so agreeable to flesh
and blood, so suitable to whatever of nature remains in those who have
tasted the grace of God, that I see nothing but the mighty power of God,
which can restrain any who hear it from closing with it.” Strange! that the
doctrine of perseverance in grace and holiness, for no other perseverance
do we plead for, should be so pleasing and agreeable to corrupt nature,
besides much who have tasted the grace of God, as they have a principle of
grace in them, cannot easily give into a doctrine which manifestly gratifies
corrupt nature, but would oppose and reject it; surely it must come with
very great evidence, that nothing but the power of God can restrain from
closing with it; and which they close with, not to indulge their corruptions,
but to encourage their faith and hope, and to promote holiness of heart and
life; to which they are induced both by arguments, from experience, and
from Scripture; the former it seems, weigh but little with those who believe
the possibility of falling; and the latter are not plain and cogent. There are
some Scriptures, it is said, against perseverance, and determine the other
way; the arguments from them have been considered in a former treatise;
to which Mr. Wesley has made some exceptions, and to which I shall now
make a reply.
The first text produced against the perseverance of the. saints, is

Ezekiel 18:24. When the righteous man turneth away from his
righteousness, &c. This passage, and the whole context, I have observed
wholly and solely regard the house of Israel, and is impertinently
produced. Mr. Wesley calls upon me to prove this. What proof would he
have? Let him read the chapter, and he will see it with his own eyes; the
house of Israel is mentioned by name, and that only; the addresses are only
made to them; the expostulations and reasonings are only with them; and
the exhortations are unto them; the dispute is between God and them, the
charge against God is brought by them; and the answer to it is returned to.21
them. Let Mr. Wesley disprove this if he can; it lies upon him to point out
any other person or persons than the house of Israel, to whom any passage
in the chapter is directed. The righteousness of the righteous man, spoken
of in it, I have affirmed to be his own righteousness, and not the
righteousness of faith nor is there the least hint of the sanctifying grace of
the Spirit in the account of it. To disprove this, Mr. Wesley refers to verse
31. Cast away from you all your transgressions—make you a new heart,
&c. Monstrous! This is a most evident proof that the Jews had no true
righteousness; that notwithstanding their pretensions to it, they had not
cast away their transgressions, and were without any inward principle of
grace or holiness. I further observe, that what as said of the righteous man,
admitting him truly righteous, is only a supposition. This Mr. Wesley flatly
denies. But if he reads over the chapter to which he directs, he will find the
facts supposed and not asserted, verse 5, If a man be just, &c. verse 10, if
he beget a son—that doth not any of these duties, &c. verse 24, If he beget
a son that seeth all his father’s sins, &c. and in the passage under
consideration, verse 24, When the righteous man turneth away from his
righteousness; that is, if he should; and so it is rendered in the Vulgate
Latin version, and by Pagnine, and is the sense of our own translation; for
a supposition is as well expressed by when, an adverb of time, as by the
conjunction if: For instance; when Mr. Wesley writes more to the purpose,
he will deserve more attention; that is, if he should. Whereas I explained
the death in verse 26, of one and the same death, a temporal death for sin;
it is no unusual thing for one and the same thing to he expressed by
different words; and which may be the case here, without any force upon
the text, or making it speak nonsense; for which I have given a reason that
is not taken notice of: and that this death is a temporal, and not an eternal
one, is clear, because it was now upon them, and of which they
complained, and from whence they might be delivered by repentance and
reformation; and which, I say again, cannot be said of eternal death, when a
person is once under it. Upon the whole, as this chapter relates not to
eternal salvation or damnation, the passage from it is an insufficient proof
of the apostasy of real saints.
The second text of Scripture brought in favor of the said, doctrine, is

1
Timothy 1:19,
holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away,
concerning faith have made shipwreck:.22
in which I have observed, that it does not appear, that these men referred
to, whose names are mentioned in the next verse, ever had their hearts
purified by faith; but were ungodly men, and so no instances of the
apostasy of true believers. To this no reply is made. I further observe, that
putting away a good conscience, does not necessarily suppose they had it,
but rather that they had it not; which I support; by the use of the same
word in

Acts 13:46, where the Jews are said to put the word of God
from them. This instance Mr. Wesley says makes full against me, it being
undeniable they had the word of God till they put it away. But this I must
deny; they never had it; they never received it, never gave their assent to it,
or embraced it, but contradicted and blasphemed it; and so is an instance of
the use of the word to my purpose. It is owned by him that men may have
a good conscience in some sense, without true faith; but such is not that
the apostle speaks of, because he exhorts Timothy to hold it. Be it so; yet it
does not appear that these men had such a conscience that arises from a
heart purified by faith; putting it away, we see, does not prove it; and,
besides, it deserves consideration, that it is not said they made shipwreck
of a good conscience, which it does not appear they even had, but of faith
which they once professed, even the doctrine of faith: but that faith means
only the doctrine of faith, wants better proof, he says. What proof would
he have? I have shewn that the phrase is never used but of the doctrine of
faith, and have pointed to the places where it is so used; nay have pointed
out the particular doctrine of faith they made shipwreck of. It lies upon him
to disprove this. From the whole it appears, that this also is an insufficient
proof of the apostasy of real saints.
The third text of Scripture insisted on as a proof of the doctrine, is

Romans 11:17-24, concerning the breaking off of the branches, and
cutting off those that are grafted into the olive-tree; which olive-tree I
understand not of the invisible church, but of the outward gospel-church-state,
or the visible gospel-church. This Mr. Wesley says, I affirm, and he
proves the contrary. But though I affirm, yet not without a reason for it; a
reason which he takes no notice of, nor makes any reply to: and how does
he prove the contrary, that it is the invisible church? Why, because it
consists of holy believers which none but the invisible church does. But
does not the visible church consist of such? Are there no holy believers in
it? Read over the epistles to the visible churches, and you will find the
members of them are called holy and believer’s, saints and faithful in Christ
Jesus. I observe that those signified by the broken branches, were never the.23
believers in Christ, and so no instances of the apostasy of such. To this he
replies, That he was not speaking of the Jews. Very well, but I was; but of
the Gentiles, exhorted to continue in his goodness, and so true believers;
and yet liable to be cut off. So they might be, though it does not necessarily
follow from the apostle’s exhortation; which is to be understood not of the
goodness of love, and favor of God; but of the goodness of a gospel-church
state, the ordinances of it, and an abiding in them, and walking
worthy of them; or otherwise they were liable to be cut off from the
church-state in which they were. This is said to be a forced and unnatural
construction, and requires some argument to support it. But what else
could they be cut off from? If the olive-tree in which they are said to be
engrafted, is not the invisible, but the visible church, as is proved by an
argument not answered; then the cutting off from the olive-tree, must be a
cutting off from that. And whereas there is a strong intimation that the
Jews, the broken branches, may be grafted in again; why may not those be
grafted in again which are cut off, when restored by repentance, which is
often the case. It remains then, that this passage of Scripture does not in
the least militate against the final perseverance of the saints.
The fourth text of Scripture quoted as against the doctrine of perseverance,
is

John 15:1-5, concerning the branches in Christ the vine, which abide
not, are taken away, are cast forth and withered, and are cast into the fire
and burned. I observe that there are two sorts of branches in Christ, the
one fruitful, the other unfruitful; the one in him by regenerating grace, the
other only by profession; of the latter are all the above things said, not of
the former. This Mr. Wesley says is begging the question, and taking for
granted the point to he proved: far from it, I answer to the instance alleged,
by distinguishing the different branches in the vine; I prove the distinction
from the text and context; as well as illustrate it by time instances of the
churches in Judea and Thessalonica, being said to be in Christ; all the
members of which cannot be thought to be really in him, but by profession.
There are some that never bore fruit, and so never gave any evidence of
their being true believers, and consequently can be no instances of the
apostasy of such. There are others that bring forth fruit and are purged,
that they may bring forth more fruit, and whose fruit remain, and are
instances of perseverance. Let it be proved, if it can, that any of those who
never brought forth any fruit, that we read of, were true believers in Christ;
or ever received true grace or life from him, that are said to be cast out and
burnt; and that any of those who brought forth fruit and were purged and.24
pruned by the Father of Christ, that they might bring forth more fruit, ever
withered away and were lost. Till this is done, this passage will be of no
service for the apostasy, or against the perseverance of the saints.
The fifth text of Scripture pressed into this argument is,

2 Peter 2:20,
21, concerning those that have escaped the pollutions of the world through
the knowledge of Christ, being entangled therein and overcome. Of whom
I observe, that it does not appear that those persons had an inward
experimental knowledge of Christ; which is what ought to be proved, or
else it furnishes out no argument against the perseverance of real saints.
Had it been such, I add, they could not have lost it. This Mr. Wesley calls
begging the question. It might seem so, if my argument had rested here;
but I gave reasons why such a knowledge cannot be lost: which he
conceals and takes no notice of; as the promise of God, that such shall
follow on to know him, and the declaration of Christ, that eternal life is
inseparably connected with such knowledge (

Hosea 6:3;

John 15:3).
Escaping the pollutions of the world does not prove the persons to have
such knowledge, or to be real saints, since it signifies no more, I say, that
an outward reformation. Here, he says, I aim at no proof at all. Let him
make more of it, if he can. He owns that these persons might he called
dogs and swine before their profession of religion, and after their departure
from it, but not whilst under it: but unless it can he proved that they passed
under a real change, and were truly converted, which their having
knowledge and escaping the pollutions of the world are no proofs of; they
might as well deserve the appellation during the time of their profession, as
before and after. If any thing is done to any profession from this instance, it
should be proved that these men had an inward spiritual and experimental
knowledge; that from dogs and swine they became the sheep of Christ, and
had the nature of such, and from the sheep of Christ became dogs and
swine again; or it can never be thought to be any proof of the final and
total falling away of true believers.
The Sixth text produced in favor of the saint’s apostasy, is

Hebrews
6:4-6, which speaks of enlightened persons, and such that have tasted the
heavenly gift, &c. falling away. Upon which I observe, that the words
contain only a supposition, if they fall away. Mr. Wesley says, there is no if
in the original. I reply, though it is not expressed, it is implied, and the
sense is the same, as if it was; and that the words in the original lie literally
thus; It is impossible that those who were once enlightened—kai
parapesontav , and they falling away, to renew them again to.25
repentance; that is, should they fall away, or if they fall away. Here Mr.
Wesley rises up in great wrath, and asks, “Shall a man lie for God? Either
you or I do;” and avers, that the words do not literally lie thus; and that
they are translated by him, and have fallen away, as literally as the English
tongue will bear; and calls upon all that understand Greek to judge between
us. I am well content, and extremely desirous they should, and even willing
to be determined by them, which is the most literal version, mine, which
renders it as a participle as it is; or his, which renders it as a verb, which it
is not. I am supported in mine by the authority of the great and learned Dr.
Owen (On Perseverance, c. 17), whose knowledge of the Greek tongue no
one will scruple, that is acquainted with his writings: he says, that verbum
de verbo, or literally the words lie in the text, and they falling away, just as
I have rendered them. Take some instances of the participle of the same
tense, both in the simple theme of the word, and in other compounds, as so
rendered by our translators; peswn (

1 Corinthians 14:25), falling down
on his face; prospesousav (

Luke 8:47), falling down before him;
peripesontev (

Acts 27:41), falling into a place where two seas met.
Did these learned men lie for God? Mr. Wesley’s quibble is, because the
participle is not of the present but of the aorist: the instances now given
are of the same tense. Every one that has learned his Greek Grammar
knows that the aorist or indefinite, as he names it, is so called, because it is
undetermined as to time, being used both of time present, and of time past
(Of which see instances in Dugard’s Greek Grammar, p. 126); and when of
the latter, it is left undetermined, whether just now past, or sometime ago,
is meant, but as the circumstances of the place shew: but let it be rendered
either way, either in the present or past, the sense is the same, and the
condition is implied; be it and they falling away, or and they having fallen
away; for one or other it must be to render it literally; that is, should they
fall away, or should they have fallen away; or, in other words, if they
should. And now why all this wrath, rudeness, and indecency? Is this the
calm Considerer, as the title of his book promises? The man is pinched and
rages. This puts me in mind of a story of a country fellow listening with
great attention to a Latin disputation; which a gentleman observing,
stepped to him, and said, Friend you had better go about your business,
than stand here idling away your time to hear what you do not understand.
To which he replied, I am not so great a fool neither, but I know who is
angry; suggesting by the temper of the disputants, one of them being very
angry, he knew who had the better, and who the worst of the argument.
And since Mr. Wesley has brought it to this dilemma, that either he or I.26
must lie for God; I am very unwilling to take it to myself, seeing no reason
for it: and therefore without a compliment, must leave it to him to get out,
and off, of it as he can. But to return to the argument; let it be a
supposition or a fact contained in the words; the question is, who these
persons supposed, or said to fall away are, and from what they fell? There
is nothing in the characters of them, as has been observed, which shew
them to be regenerated persons, real saints, and true believers in Christ.
This ought to be proved, ere they can be allowed to be instances of the
apostasy of such; whereas they are distinguished from them, and are
opposed to them, verses 7-9. There is nothing in the account of them, but
what may be said of a Balaam, who had his eyes open and saw the vision
of the Almighty, and of such who are only doctrinally enlightened; or of a
Herod that heard John gladly, and of the stony-ground hearers, who
received the word with joy; or of a Judas who had no doubt both the
ordinary and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, and a power of performing
miraculous works, called the powers of the world to come, or the gospel
dispensation. So that from hence nothing can be concluded against the
perseverance of the saints.
The seventh passage of Scripture brought into this controversy, is

Hebrews 10:38.
The just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall
have no pleasure in him:
But very impertinently; since he that is said to live by faith, and he that is
supposed to draw back, is not one and the same person. Mr. Wesley asks,
“Who is it then? Can any one draw back from faith, who never came to it?”
To which I answer, though he cannot draw back from faith he never had,
yet he may draw back from a profession of faith he has made. In order to
make it appear, that one and the same person is meant, Mr. Wesley, finding
fault with our translation, renders the words thus: If the just man that lives
by faith draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. This
translation I call inaccurate. He desires to know wherein; I will tell him.
Ean, if, is by force removed from its proper place, even from one sentence
back to another; inserting the word that before live is doing violence to the
text; rendering znsetai, that lives, as if it was of the present tense, when it
is future, and should be shall live. Leaving out kai, and or but, which
distinguishes two propositions; so confounding them and making them one.
And after all, were one and the same person meant, it is only a supposition,.27
which, I say again, proves no matter of fact; let Mr. Wesley shew that it
does if he can: it is a clear case, that the just man in the text, and he that
draws back, are two sorts of persons; it is most manifest, and beyond all
contradiction, that in the original text in Habakkuk 2;4 the man whose soul
is lifted up with pride and conceit of himself, and is not upright in him, has
not the truth of grace in him, is the person who both according to the
Apostle and the Seventy is supposed to draw back; from whom the just
man that lives by faith is distinguished, and to whom he is opposed: and by
the Apostle two sorts of persons are all along spoken of in the context,
both before and after; besides, that these two must be different and not the
same, is evident, since it is most surely promised the just man, that he shall
live; which would not be true of him, if he drew hack to perdition. So that
this also is an insufficient testimony against the perseverance of the saints.
The eight text of Scripture made use of to prove the Apostasy of true
believers, is

Hebrews 10:29,
Of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy who
hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the
blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy
thing.
The stress of this proof lies upon the person being sanctified with the blood
of the covenant, who is supposed to be the same that trod under foot the
Son of God. But I have observed that the antecedent to the relative he is
the Son of God, and so consequently he, and not the apostate, is said to be
sanctified with the blood of the covenant; wherefore the words are no
proof of the apostasy of truly sanctified persons. Mr. Wesley says I forgot
to look at the original, or my memory fails. Neither, is the case. However, I
have looked again to refresh my memory, had it failed; and find indeed
other words going before, but no other substantive but ui, the Son of
God, to whom the relative he can refer; and that this does refer to the Son
of God in the clause immediately preceding, is not a singular opinion of
mine that learned Dutchman Gomarus (Comment in

Hebrews 10:29),
and our very learned countrymen Dr. Lightfoot (Harmony, &c. p. 341),
and Dr. Owen (On Perseverance, p. 432), of the last age, and Dr. Ridgley
(Body of Divinity, Vol. II, p. 125), of the present, are of the same
sentiment. But admitting that it refers to the apostate, since this may be
understood of his being sanctified or separated from others by a profession
of religion, by church-membership and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, in.28
which the blood of the covenant is represented; and of his being sanctified
by it in his own esteem and in the esteem of others, when he was not
inwardly sanctified by the Spirit; this can be no proof of the apostasy of a
real saint. It should be proved, that this sanctification is to be understood
of inward sanctification, or else it proves not the point in debate. Mr.
Wesley thinks it may be so understood, and that for this reason; because
the words immediately following are, and hath done despite unto the Spirit
of grace. Surprising; that a man’s having done despite to the Spirit of
grace, should be a proof of his having been inwardly sanctified by him;
which might more reasonably be thought to be a proof of the very reverse.
So then it remains, that this passage also does not militate against the
doctrine of the saints final perseverance.
Mr. Wesley has thought fit to add several other texts, which he proposes to
consideration, as proving that a true believer may finally fall; but as he has
not advanced any argument upon them, I shall not enter into any
examination of them, and of the weight they bear in this controversy; and
besides, they being such as either do not respect true believers, about
whom the question is, or only them falling from some degree of grace and
steadfastness of it, and do not design a total and final falling away; or else
they only intend persons receiving the doctrine of grace and a falling from
that, and so are nothing to the purpose. And unless something more to the
purpose is offered, than yet has been, I shall not think myself under any
obligation to attend unto it.

Anunțuri

THE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION STATED, AND SET IN THE SCRIPTURE LIGHT

THE DOCTRINE OF
PREDESTINATION
STATED, AND SET IN THE
SCRIPTURE LIGHT;

In Opposition to Mr. Wesley’s Predestination calmly Considered, with a Reply to the Exceptions of the said Writer to The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.
By John Gill

Mr. Wesley having declared himself the author of the Serious Thoughts upon the Perseverance of the Saints, to which I lately returned an answer; has been pleased to shift the controversy from perseverance to predestination: contenting himself with some low, mean and impertinent exceptions to a part of what I have written on the subject of perseverance; not attempting to answer any one argument advanced by me in vindication of it; and yet he has the assurance in the public papers, to call this miserable piece of his, chiefly written on another subject, A full answer to Dr. Gill’s pamphlet on perseverance; any other man but Mr. Wesley would, upon reflection, be covered with shame and confusion; though to give him his due, in his great modesty, he has left out the word full in some after-papers; as being conscious to himself, or it may be, some of his friends pointed it to him, that it was an imposition on the public, and tended greatly to expose himself and his cause since he has left me in tile full possession of all my arguments; which I will not say are unanswerable, though I think they are; and it looks as if Mr. Wesley thought so too, seeing he has not attempted to answer one of them; yet this I may say, that as yet they are not answered at all, and much less is a full answer given unto them.
And now, though I might be very well excused following him in this wild pursuit on the subject of predestination; since he has not meddled with my argument from it for the saints perseverance; since he has not pursued that subject, as his title promises; and since throughout the whole he does not argue, only harangue upon it; and that only a part of it, reprobation, which he thought would best serve his purpose; yet for the sake of weak and honest minds, lest through his subtlety, they should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ; I shall endeavour to state the doctrine of predestination, and set it in a true light according to the Scriptures, with the proofs of it from thence; and take notice of the principal objections raised by Mr. Wesley in his harangue on that part of it which respects reprobation; and then close this treatise with a reply to his trifling exceptions to what I have written on the subject of the saints perseverance.
As to the doctrine of predestination, it may be considered either,
I. In general as respecting all things that have been, are, or shall be, or done in the world; every thing comes under the determination and appointment of God „he did, as the assembly of divines say in their confession, from all eternity, unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;” or, as they express it in their catechism, „God’s decrees are the wise, free and holy acts of the counsel of his will whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass in time:” and this predestination and fore-appointment of all things, may be concluded from the fore-knowledge of God; known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world, , from eternity (Acts 15:18); they were known by him as future, as what would be, which became so by his determination of them; for, the reason why he knew they would be, is, because he determined they should be: also from the providence of God, and his government of the world, which is all according to the counsel of his own will (Eph. 1:11): for he does every thing according to that, or as he has determined in his own mind. Eternal predestination in this sense, is no other than eternal providence, of which actual providence in time is the execution. To deny this, is to deny the providence of God, and, his government of the world, which none but Deists and Atheists will do; at least it is to think and speak unworthy of God, as not being the all-knowing and all-wise and sovereign ruler of the world, he is once more the very wonderful thing, prophecy, or foretelling things to come, could not be without a predestination of them; of which there are so many instances in Scripture such as the stay of the Israelites in Egypt, and their departure from thence; the seventy years captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and their return at the end of that time; the exact coming of the Messiah at such a certain time; with many others, and some seemingly the most casual and contingent; as the birth of persons by name a hundred or hundreds of years before they were born, as Josiah and Cyrus; and a man’s carrying a pitcher of water, at such a time, to such a place (1 Kings 13:2; Isa. 44:28; 45:1; Luke 22:10, 13): how could these things be foretold with certainty, unless it was determined and appointed they should be? There is nothing comes by chance to God, nothing done without his knowledge, nor without his will or permission, and nothing without his determination; every thing, even the most minute thing, respecting his creatures, and what is done in this world in all periods and ages of time, is by his appointment; for the proof of which see the following passages.
• Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2-To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to be born and a time to die, &c. a time fixed by the purpose of God for each of these.
• Job 14:5-Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. Chapter 23:14, He performeth the thing that is appointed for me, and many such things are with him.
• Daniel 4:35-And he doth 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 dost thou?
• Ephesians 1:11-Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
• Acts 15:18-Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Chapter 17:26—and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.
• Matthew 10:29, 30-Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fail to the ground without your Father; but the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
II. Predestination may be considered as special, and as relating to particular persons, and to things spiritual and eternal; whereas predestination in general respects all creatures and things, even things temporal and civil.
First, Christ himself is the object of predestination; he was fore-ordained to be the mediator between God and man; to be the propitiation for sin; to he the redeemer and saviour of his people; to be the head of the church; king of saints, and judge of the world: hence he is called, God’s elect, and his chosen one; and whatsoever befell him, or was done unto him, was by the determinate council and fore-knowledge of God; even all things relating to his sufferings and death in proof of which read the following Scriptures.
Romans 3:5-Whom God hath set forth,  fore-ordained to be a propitiation.
• 1 Peter 1:20-Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, that is, to he the Lamb slain. See chapter 2:4.
• Luke 22:29-And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.
• Acts 18:31-Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained. See also chapter 10:42.
• Isaiah 43:1-Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. See Matthew 12:18.
• Luke 22:22-And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined, but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed.
• Acts 2:23-Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God, ye have taken, &c. Chapter 4:28—For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Secondly, Angels also are the objects of predestination, good and bad; the blessed angels are chosen unto life, and to continue in their happy state to all eternity: and their perseverance therein, and eternal felicity, are owing to the eternal choice of them in Christ their head; I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things (1 Tim. 5:21). The evil angels are rejected of God, and left in that miserable estate their apostasy brought them into, without any provision of grace and mercy for them: they are delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved to the judgment of the great day; and everlasting fire is prepared for them, according to the determinate counsel and will of God, (2 Pet. 2:4; Matthew 25:41).
Thirdly, Predestination which the Scriptures chiefly treat of, is what respects men, and consists of two parts, election and reprobation; the one is a predestination unto life, the other unto death.
I. Election, which is a predestination unto life, is an act of the free grace of God, of his sovereign and immutable will, by which from all eternity he has chosen in Christ, out of the common mass of mankind, some men, or a certain number of them, to partake of spiritual blessings here, and happiness hereafter, for the glory of his grace.
1. The objects of election are some men, not all, which a choice supposes; to take all would be no choice; called therefore, a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom. 11:3). These are a certain number, which though unknown to us, how many, and who they are, are known to God; the Lord knows them that are his (2 Tim. 2:19). And though they are in themselves a great multitude, which no man can number (Rev. 7:9), yet when compared with those from whom they are chosen, they are but few; many are called, but few chosen (Matthew 20:16). These are chosen out of the same common mass of mankind, be it considered as corrupt or pure; all were on an equal level when the choice was made; hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour (Rom. 9:21)? these are not whole nations, churches, and communities, but particular persons, whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life; Jacob have I loved, &c. salute Rufus chosen in the Lord: according as he hath chosen us in him &c. (Rom 9:13; 16:13; Eph. 1:4), not a set of prepositions, but persons; not characters, but men; or not men under such and such characters, as believers, holy, &c., but men as having done neither good nor evil; before they had done either (Rom. 9:11).
2. This act of election, is an act of God’s free grace, to which he is not moved by any motive or condition in the object chosen: wherefore it is called the election grace; concerning which the Apostle’s reasoning is strong and invincible; and if by grace, then it is no more of works, other wise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work (Rom. 11:5, 6), it is according to the sovereign and unchangeable will of God, and not according to the will or works of men; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will (Eph. 1:5), and again, verse 11, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will; hence it stands immutably firm and sure, even the purpose of God according to election, not of works but of him that calleth (Rom. 9:11).
3. This act of election is irrespective of faith, holiness, and good works, as causes or conditions of it; faith flows from it; is a fruit and effect of it, is secured by it, and is had in consequence of it: as many as were ordained unto eternal life, believed (Acts 13:48), hence it is called the faith of God’s elect (Titus 1:1), and though holiness is a means provided in the act of election, it is not the cause of it; men are chosen, not because they are, but that they should he holy (Eph. 1:4), good works do not go before, but follow after election; it is denied to be of them, as before observed, and it passed before any were done (Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 6), they are the effects of God’s decree, and not the cause of it; God hath fore-ordained them that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10),
4. The act of election was made in Christ, as the head, in whom all the elect were chosen, and into whose hands, by this act of grace, were put their persons, grace, and glory; and this is an eternal act of God in him; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and so the apostle tells the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:13), God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation; not from the first preaching of the gospel to them, or from the time of their conversion by it, but from the beginning of time, even from all eternity, as the phrase is used in Proverbs 7:23, hence nothing done in time could be the cause or condition of it.
5. What men are chosen unto by this act are, grace here, and glory hereafter; all spiritual blessings, adoption, justification, sanctification, belief of the truth, and salvation by Jesus Christ. Salvation is the end proposed with respect to men; sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth are the means appointed and prepared for that end. Ephesians 1:4, 5, Hath chosen us in him,—that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, &c. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, We are bound to give thanks to God alway 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. 1 Peter 1:2, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:9, For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
6. Both means and end are sure to the chosen ones, since this is an act of God’s immutable will; these are redeemed by the blood of Christ: he died for their sins, and made satisfaction for them; they are justified by his righteousness and no charge can be laid against them; they are effectually called by the grace of God; they are sanctified by his Spirit; they persevere to the end, and cannot totally and finally be deceived and fall away, but shall be everlastingly glorified: Romans 8:33, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? it is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth! That is, the elect. It is Christ that died, that died for them. Romans 8:30, Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Matthew 24:24, For there shall arise false Christs, and false Prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect; but that is not possible.
7. The ultimate end of all this, with respect to God, is his own glory; the glory of all his divine perfections; the glory of his wisdom in forming such a scheme, in fixing on such an end, and preparing means suitable unto it; the glory of his justice and holiness, in the redemption and salvation of these chosen ones, through the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of his Son; and the glory of his rich grace and mercy exhibited in his kindness to them through him; and the whole of it is, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Eph. 1:6).
This now is the Scripture doctrine of predestination, or that part of it which is called election; from whence it appears to be absolute and unconditional, irrespective of any thing in man as the cause and condition of it. Mr. Wesley believes, that, „election is a divine appointment of some men to eternal happiness;” so that he owns a particular and personal election, and calls it an eternal decree; but believes that it is conditional: but if it is conditional, the condition is to be named; let him name the condition of it: let: him point it out to us, and in what passage of Scripture it is; this lies upon him to do, and I insist upon it, or else he ought to give up his unscriptural notion of conditional election. Mark 16:16. is no expression of this decree, but a declaration of the revealed will of God: and points out to us what will be the everlasting state of believers and unbelievers: But believers, as such, are not the objects of God’s decree; it is true, indeed, that they who are real believers, are the elect of God; but then the reason why they are the elect of God is not because they are believers, but they become believers, because they are the elect of God; their faith is not the cause or condition of their election, but their election the cause of their faith; they were chosen when they had done neither good nor evil, and so before they believed: and they believe in time, in consequence of their being ordained unto eternal life, from eternity: faith is in time, election before the world was; nothing temporal can be the cause or condition of what is eternal. This is the doctrine of the Scriptures; if Mr. Wesley will not attend to these, let him hear the articles of his own church; the seventh of which runs thus:
Predestination to 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. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
This is an article agreeable to the Scripture; an article of his own church; an article which he as a true son of the church, has treacherously departed from; an article which Mr. Wesley must have subscribed and sworn to; an article which will stare him in the face as long as subscriptions and oaths stand for any thing with him.
The doctrine of election, as above stated, standing in so glaring a light in the sacred Scriptures, and appearing with such evidence, as is impossible for all the art and sophistry of men to set aside; the other branch of predestination necessarily follows, which we deny not, but maintain. Mr. Wesley would have an election found out which does not imply reprobation; but what election that can be, the wit of man cannot devise; for if some are chosen, others must be rejected; and Mr. Wesley’s notion of election itself implies it; for if, as he says, „election means a divine appointment of some men to eternal happiness;” then others must be left out of that choice, and rejected. I proceed therefore,
II. To the other branch of predestination commonly called Reprobation; which is an immutable decree of God, according to his sovereign will, by which he has determined to leave some men in the common mass of mankind, out of which he has chosen others, and to punish them for sin with everlasting destruction, for the glory of his power and justice. This decree consists of two parts, a negative and a positive; the former is by some called preterition, or passing by, a leaving some when others are chosen; which is no other than non-election; the latter is called pre-damnation, being God’s decree to condemn or damn men for sin.
First, Preterition is God’s act of passing by, or leaving some men when he chose others, according to his sovereign will and pleasure; of which act of God there is clear evidence in the sacred Scripture; as well as it is necessarily implied in God’s act of election which has such clear and uncontestable proof. These are , the rest, those that remain unelected whilst others are chosen; the election hath obtained it; or elect persons obtain righteousness, life and salvation, in consequence of their being chosen; and the rest are blinded (Rom. 9:7), being left, they remain in their native darkness and ignorance, and for their sins are given up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart. These are they that are left out of the book of life, whilst others have their names written in it; of whom it is said, whose names are not written in the book of life (of the Lamb) from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8).
Secondly, Pre-damnation, is God’s decree to condemn men for sin, or to punish them with everlasting damnation for it: And this is the sense of the Scriptures; and this is the view which they give us of this doctrine (Prov. 16:4), The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Not that God made man to damn him; the Scripture says no such thing, nor do we; nor is it the sense of the doctrine we plead for; nor is it to be inferred from it. God made man neither to damn him, nor save him, but for his own glory, that is his ultimate end in making him, which is answered whether he is saved or lost: but the meaning is, that God has appointed all things for his glory, and particularly he has appointed the wicked man to the day of ruin and destruction for his wickedness. Jude verse 4, For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation: But who are they? They are after described ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence the objects of this decree are called vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that is, by sin (Rom. 9:22). And now what is there shocking in this doctrine, or disagreeable to the perfections of God? God damns no man but for sin, and he decreed to damn none but for sin.
Thirdly, This decree, we say, is according to the sovereign will of God, for nothing can be the cause of his decree but his own will let the object of that part of the decree, which is called Preterition, be considered either in the corrupt or pure mass of mankind, as fallen or unfallen creatures, they are to be considered in the same view, and as on an equal foot and level with those that are chosen and therefore no other reason can he given, but the will of God, that he should take one, and leave another. And though in that branch of it, which is an appointment of men to condemnation, sin is the cause of the thing decreed, damnation; yet; it is the will of God that is the cause of the decree itself, for this invincible reason; or otherwise he must have appointed all men to damnation, since all are sinners: let any other reason be assigned if it can be, why he has appointed to condemn some men for their sin, and not others.
Fourthly, God’s end in all this is the glorifying of himself, his power and his justice; all his appointments are for himself, for his own glory, and this among the rest; What if God willing, to shew his wrath, his vindictive justice, and to make his power known, in the punishment of sinners for their sin, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction! (Rom 9:22).
The doctrine of reprobation, considered in this light, has nothing in it contrary to the nature and perfections of God. Harsh expressions, and unguarded phrases, which some may have used in speaking or writing about this doctrine, I will not take upon me to defend: but as it is thus stated, I think it is a defensible one, equally as the doctrine of election, and is demonstrable by it. The Scriptures are indeed more sparing of the one than of the other, and have left us to conclude the one from the other, in a great measure, though not without giving us clear and full evidence; for though reprobation is not so plentifully spoken of, yet it is clearly spoken of in the sacred writings; wherefore, upon this consideration we judge it most proper and prudent, not so much to insist on this subject in our discourses and writing; not from any consciousness of want of evidence, but because of the awfulness of the subject. This our opponents are aware of; and therefore press us upon this head, in order to bring the doctrine of election into contempt with weak or carnal men; and make their first attacks upon this branch of predestination, which is beginning wrong since reprobation is no other than non-election, or what is opposed to election; let the doctrine of election be demolished, and the other will fall of course; but that will cost too much pains; and they find a better account with weak minds in taking the other method; a method which the Remonstrants formerly were desirous of, at the synod of Dort, could it have been allowed, a method which Dr. Whitby has taken in his discourse of the five points; and this is the method which Mr. Wesley has thought fit to take, and indeed he confines himself wholly to this subject: for though he calls his pamphlet, Predestination Calmly Considered; yet it only considers one part of it, reprobation, and that not in a way of argument, but harangue; not taking notice of our arguments from Scripture or reason, only making some caviling exceptions to it; such as have the face of an objection, shall gather up, as well as I can, from this wild and unmethodical performance, and make answer to. And,
1st, He desires it may be impartially considered, how it is possible to reconcile reprobation with the following Scriptures: Genesis 3:17 and 4:7; Deuteronomy 7:9, 12; 12:26-28. and 30:15; 2 Chronicles 15:1; Ezra. 9:13, 14; Job 36:5; Psalm 145:9; Proverbs 1:23; Isaiah 65:2; Ezekiel 18:26; Matthew 7:26; 11:20; 12:41; 13:11, 12; 22:8; and chapter 25; John 3:18 and 5:44; Acts 8:20; Romans 1:20; and 2 Thessalonians 2:10 (Predestination Calmly Considered, p. 13). In all which there is not a word that militates against the doctrine of reprobation; nor is any thing pointed at worthy of consideration: we know very well, nor is it contrary to this doctrine, that the curse came upon men for sin; and that it is that which renders them unacceptable to God, and is the reason why at last they shall find none with him, nor him favorable to them: there is a repentance which may be found in non-elect persons; instances of that kind do not at all weaken the doctrine. Matthew 13:11 and 12, proves it. The word any, is not in the original text in Job 36:5. It is certain there are some whom God despises, Psalm 53:5 and 73:20. It is pity but he had transcribed two or three hundred more passages when his hand was in; even the whole books of Chronicles, and the book of Esther, which would have been as much to his purpose as those he has produced.
2dly, He proposes the following Scriptures which declare God’s willingness that all should be saved, to be reconciled to the doctrine of reprobation, Matthew 21:9; Mark 16:15; John 5:34; Acts 17:24; Romans 5:18 and 10:12; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4; James 1:5; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 4:14 (Predestination Calmly Considered, pp. 16, 17). Some of which do not respect eternal salvation at all, but the temporal salvation of the Jews; and others have nothing to do with salvation in either sense; some speak only of God’s will to save his elect, to whom he is long-suffering; and others of his will, that Gentiles as well as Jews, should be saved; and that it is his pleasure that some of all sorts should he saved by Christ; neither of which militate against the doctrine of reprobation.
3dly, He thinks this doctrine is irreconcilable with the following Scriptures, which declare that Christ came to save all men; that he died for all; that he atoned for all, even for those that finally perish; Matthew 17:11; John 1:29; 3:17 and 7:14; Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 2:1 and 1 John 2:1, 2 (Predestination Calmly Considered, pp. 16, 17). But these Scriptures say not that Christ came to save all that are lost; or that be came to save all men, or died for all men, for all the individuals of human nature; there is not one text of Scripture in the whole Bible that says this: that which seems most like it is Hebrews 2:9, That he might taste death for every man; but the word man is not in the original text; it is only , for every one; for every one of the sons of God, of the children, of the brethren of Christ, and seed of Abraham a spiritual sense, as the context determines it. As for the above-cited passages, they regard either the world of God’s elect; or the Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews; or all sorts of men; but not all the individuals of mankind: and those who are represented as such that should perish, or in danger of it, are either such who only professed to be bought by Christ or real Christians whose peace and comfort were in danger of being destroyed, but not their persons; and none of the passages militate against the doctrine under consideration.
4thly, This doctrine is represented as contrary to, and irreconcilable with the justice of God, and with those Scriptures that declare it, particularly Ezekiel 18 (Predestination Calmly Considered, p. 19). To which may be replied, that, that chapter in Ezekiel concerns the people of the Jews only, and not all mankind; and regards only the providential dealings of God with them, with respect to civil and temporal things, and a vindication of them from inequality and injustice; and not spiritual and eternal things: or the salvation and damnation of men; and therefore is impertinently produced. And if any one does but seriously and impartially consider the doctrine as above stated, they will see no reason to charge God with injustice, or find any difficulty in reconciling it to his justice. In the first branch of this decree, called Preterition, let the objects be creatures fallen or unfallen, it puts nothing into them; it leaves them as it finds them; and therefore does them no injustice: in the other branch of it, appointment to condemnation, this is only but for sin; is there unrighteousness with God on that account? No surely; if it is not injustice in him to condemn men for sin, it can be no injustice in him to decree to condemn them for sin: and if it would have been no unrighteousness in him to have condemned all men for sin, and to have determined to have done it, as he doubtless might; it can be no ways contrary to his justice to condemn some men for sin, and to determine so to do; wherefore all that is said under this head is all harangue, mere noise and stands for nothing. Let the above argument be disproved if it can.
5thly, This doctrine is represented as contrary to the general judgment; and that upon this scheme there can be no judgment to come, nor any future state of reward and punishment (Predestination Calmly Considered, pp. 26, 30): but why so? How does this appear? Why, according to our scheme, „God of old ordained them to this condemnation:” but then it was for sin; and if for sin, how does this preclude a future judgment? It rather makes one necessary; and certain it is, that a future judgment is agreeable to it, and quite inevitable by it; God decrees to condemn men for sin; men sin, and are brought to the judgment-seat of God, and are justly condemned for it. The judgment of God takes place, and the just reward of punishment pursuant to the righteous purpose of God, and according to the rules of justice. But this writer has the assurance to affirm, that we say, that „God sold men to work wickedness, even from their mother’s womb; and gave them up to a reprobate mind, or ever they hung upon their mother’s breasts.” This is entirely false; we say no such thing; we, say, with the Scripture, that men sell themselves to work wickedness as they grow up; and that God gives men up to a reprobate mind after a long train and course of sinning; and it must be a righteous thing with God to bring such persons to judgment, and condemn them for their wickedness. But then it is said they are condemned „for not having that grace which God hath decreed they never should have.” This is false again; we say no such thing; nor does the doctrine we hold oblige us to it; we say, indeed, that the grace of God is his own; and whether it is the sense of the text in Matthew or no, it matters not, it is a certain truth he may do what he will with his own grace: we own that he has determined to give it to some and not to others, as we find in fact he does: but then we say, he will condemn no man for want of this grace he does not think fit to give them; nor for their not believing that Christ died for them; but for their sins and transgressions of his righteous law. And is not here enough to open the righteous judgment and proceed upon? Besides the sovereign decrees of God respecting the final state of men, are so far from rendering the future judgment unnecessary, that will proceed according to them, along with other things: for with other books that will be opened then, the book of life will be one, in which some men’s names are written, and others not; and the dead will be judged out of those things which are written in the books, according to their works.—And whosoever is not found written in the book of life, shall be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:12, 15); I never knew you, depart from me (Matt. 7:23).
6thly, This doctrine is said to agree very ill with the truth and sincerity of God, in a thousand declarations, such as these, Ezekiel 18:23, 32:32; Deuteronomy 5:29; Psalm 81:12; Acts 17:30; Mark 16:15 (Predestination Calmly Considered, pp. 31, 33). To which I reply, that some of those declarations, concern the Jews only, and not all mankind; and are only compassionate inquiries and vehement desires after their civil and temporal welfare: and at most only shew what is grateful to God, and approved of by him, and what was wanting in them; with which they are upbraided, notwithstanding their vain boasts to the contrary. Others only shew what is God’s will of command, or what he has made the duty of man; not what are his purposes man shall do, or what he will bestow upon him; and neither of them suggests any insincerity in God, supposing the doctrine of reprobation. The gospel is indeed ordered to be preached to every creature to whom it is sent and comes; but as yet, it has never been brought to all the individuals of human nature; there have been multitudes in all ages that have not heard it. And that there are universal offers of grace and salvation made to all men I utterly deny; nay, I deny they are made to any; no, not to God’s elect; grace and salvation are provided for them in the everlasting covenant, procured for them by Christ, published and revealed in the gospel, and applied by the Spirit; much less are they made to others wherefore this doctrine is not chargeable with insincerity on that account. Let the patrons of universal offers defend themselves from this objection; I have nothing to do with it; till it is proved there are such universal offers, then Dr. Watts’s reasoning on that head, will require some attention; but not till then.
7thly, It is said that the doctrines of election and reprobation least of all agree with the scriptural account of the love and goodness of God (Predestination Calmly Considered, p. 135). The doctrine of election surely can never disagree with the love and goodness of God; since his choosing men to salvation is the fruit and effect of his everlasting love and free grace; the reason why any are chosen is, because they are beloved of God; election presupposes love: this the apostle points out clearly to us, when he says, 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 (2 Thess. 2:13). And the goodness of God greatly appears in consequence of this decree in the redemption of the chosen ones by Christ, in the regeneration and sanctification of them by the Spirit, and in bringing them at last to eternal glory and happiness according to his original design. But it may be, it is the doctrine of reprobation only, though both are put together by our author, that so ill agrees with the love and goodness of God. It is not inconsistent with his providential goodness; in which sense the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; and notwithstanding this decree, all men have a large share of this goodness of God; and though they may abuse this goodness, which will be an aggravation of their condemnation; this is their own sin and fault, and not to be charged on the decree of God, as this writer falsely does; who says, that God, according to us, gives men this world’s goods on purpose to enhance their damnation; and every one of their comforts is, by an eternal decree of God, to cost them a thousand pangs in hell; whereas the abuse of mercies given, which will enhance their damnation, flows not from the decree, but from their own wickedness. The special mercy and goodness of God is denied to such indeed, which is at his sovereign will to give to whom he pleases; who will have mercy on whom he will have mercy: the act of election is an act of God’s love, and flows from it; reprobation indeed flows from his hatred, which is an appointment to wrath; but then it is from his hatred of sin, which is no ways contrary to his being a God of love and goodness: besides there is a much greater display of the love, grace, mercy, and goodness of God in choosing some men to salvation and infallibly securing it unto them, and bringing them safely to the enjoyment of it, than in the contrary scheme: according to which not one man is absolutely chosen to salvation; salvation is not insured to any one single person; it is left to the precarious and fickle will of man: and it is possible, according to that scheme, that not one man may be saved; nay, it is impossible that any one man should be saved by the power of his own free-will. Let it be judged then, which scheme is most merciful and kind to men, and most worthy of the God of love and goodness. Upon the whole, the doctrine of reprobation, though set in so ill a light, and represented in such an odious manner, is a defensible doctrine when stated and cleared; nor are we afraid to own and maintain it.
This cloven foot does not affright us; so Mr. Wesley calls (Predestination Calmly Considered, p. 11), as he thinks, beautifully, but most blasphemously, an act of the divine will; nor is this a millstone that hangs about the neck of our hypothesis, as he no doubt very elegantly expresses it (Predestination Calmly Considered, p. 77); but let me tell him, it will be his distinguishing mercy, if it is not a millstone about his own neck. From hence he wanders to free-will and irresistible grace: sometimes he is for free-will, sometimes for free-grace; sometimes for resistible, and sometimes for irresistible grace. When he can agree with himself, he will appear in a better light, and may be more worthy of notice. What he says of free-will on the one side and reprobation on the other, as agreeing or disagreeing with the perfections of God, may be reduced to one or other of the above objections, where they have had their answer.
It is scarcely worth my while to observe what be says of the covenant of grace (Predestination Calmly Considered, p. 52); which he owns he has no understanding of; and I believe him, as 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, in consequence of which these must be saved.” And then he asks where it is written? And in what part of Scripture this covenant is to be found? Now not to inform or instruct Mr. Wesley, but for the sake of such who are willing to be informed and instructed, read Psalm 40:6-8; Isaiah 49:1-6 and 53:10-12; Psalm 89:3, 4, 28-36, in which will appear plain traces and footsteps of a covenant, or agreement, of a stipulation and re-stipulation, between the Father and the Son; in which the Father proposes a work to his Son, and calls him to it, even the redemption of his people; to which the Son agrees, and says, Lo I come to do thy will, O my God! and for a recompence of his being an offering for sin, and pouring out his soul unto death; it is promised he should see his seed and prolong his days, and have a portion divided him with the great, and a spoil with the strong. And that theme was such a covenant subsisting before the world began is clear; for could there be a Mediator set up from everlasting, as there was, and a promise of life before the world began made to Christ and put into his hand, and all spiritual blessings provided, and all grace given to his people in him, before the foundation of the world; and yet no covenant in being? See Proverbs 8:23; Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:1, 9 and Ephesians 1:3. The covenant of circumcision made with Abraham, and that made with the Israelites on mount Sinai, are no instances of the covenant of grace; but are covenants that are waxen old, and vanished away; and do not so concern us who are not under the law, but under grace: but however these covenants were conditional to them that were under them; the covenant of grace is absolute and unconditional to us, being made with Christ our head, who has fulfilled all the conditions of it.
But I proceed now to vindicate what I have written on the subject of the saints Final Perseverance, from the exceptions made unto it. Mr. Wesley says (Predestination Calmly Considered, p. 57), „this is so pleasing an opinion, so agreeable to flesh and blood, so suitable to whatever of nature remains in those who have tasted the grace of God, that I see nothing but the mighty power of God, which can restrain any who hear it from closing with it.” Strange! that the doctrine of perseverance in grace and holiness, for no other perseverance do we plead for, should be so pleasing and agreeable to corrupt nature, besides much who have tasted the grace of God, as they have a principle of grace in them, cannot easily give into a doctrine which manifestly gratifies corrupt nature, but would oppose and reject it; surely it must come with very great evidence, that nothing but the power of God can restrain from closing with it; and which they close with, not to indulge their corruptions, but to encourage their faith and hope, and to promote holiness of heart and life; to which they are induced both by arguments, from experience, and from Scripture; the former it seems, weigh but little with those who believe the possibility of falling; and the latter are not plain and cogent. There are some Scriptures, it is said, against perseverance, and determine the other way; the arguments from them have been considered in a former treatise; to which Mr. Wesley has made some exceptions, and to which I shall now make a reply.
The first text produced against the perseverance of the. saints, is Ezekiel 18:24. When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, &c. This passage, and the whole context, I have observed wholly and solely regard the house of Israel, and is impertinently produced. Mr. Wesley calls upon me to prove this. What proof would he have? Let him read the chapter, and he will see it with his own eyes; the house of Israel is mentioned by name, and that only; the addresses are only made to them; the expostulations and reasonings are only with them; and the exhortations are unto them; the dispute is between God and them, the charge against God is brought by them; and the answer to it is returned to them. Let Mr. Wesley disprove this if he can; it lies upon him to point out any other person or persons than the house of Israel, to whom any passage in the chapter is directed. The righteousness of the righteous man, spoken of in it, I have affirmed to be his own righteousness, and not the righteousness of faith nor is there the least hint of the sanctifying grace of the Spirit in the account of it. To disprove this, Mr. Wesley refers to verse 31. Cast away from you all your transgressions—make you a new heart, &c. Monstrous! This is a most evident proof that the Jews had no true righteousness; that notwithstanding their pretensions to it, they had not cast away their transgressions, and were without any inward principle of grace or holiness. I further observe, that what as said of the righteous man, admitting him truly righteous, is only a supposition. This Mr. Wesley flatly denies. But if he reads over the chapter to which he directs, he will find the facts supposed and not asserted, verse 5, If a man be just, &c. verse 10, if he beget a son—that doth not any of these duties, &c. verse 24, If he beget a son that seeth all his father’s sins, &c. and in the passage under consideration, verse 24, When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness; that is, if he should; and so it is rendered in the Vulgate Latin version, and by Pagnine, and is the sense of our own translation; for a supposition is as well expressed by when, an adverb of time, as by the conjunction if: For instance; when Mr. Wesley writes more to the purpose, he will deserve more attention; that is, if he should. Whereas I explained the death in verse 26, of one and the same death, a temporal death for sin; it is no unusual thing for one and the same thing to he expressed by different words; and which may be the case here, without any force upon the text, or making it speak nonsense; for which I have given a reason that is not taken notice of: and that this death is a temporal, and not an eternal one, is clear, because it was now upon them, and of which they complained, and from whence they might be delivered by repentance and reformation; and which, I say again, cannot be said of eternal death, when a person is once under it. Upon the whole, as this chapter relates not to eternal salvation or damnation, the passage from it is an insufficient proof of the apostasy of real saints.
The second text of Scripture brought in favor of the said, doctrine, is 1 Timothy 1:19, holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck: in which I have observed, that it does not appear, that these men referred to, whose names are mentioned in the next verse, ever had their hearts purified by faith; but were ungodly men, and so no instances of the apostasy of true believers. To this no reply is made. I further observe, that putting away a good conscience, does not necessarily suppose they had it, but rather that they had it not; which I support; by the use of the same word in Acts 13:46, where the Jews are said to put the word of God from them. This instance Mr. Wesley says makes full against me, it being undeniable they had the word of God till they put it away. But this I must deny; they never had it; they never received it, never gave their assent to it, or embraced it, but contradicted and blasphemed it; and so is an instance of the use of the word to my purpose. It is owned by him that men may have a good conscience in some sense, without true faith; but such is not that the apostle speaks of, because he exhorts Timothy to hold it. Be it so; yet it does not appear that these men had such a conscience that arises from a heart purified by faith; putting it away, we see, does not prove it; and, besides, it deserves consideration, that it is not said they made shipwreck of a good conscience, which it does not appear they even had, but of faith which they once professed, even the doctrine of faith: but that faith means only the doctrine of faith, wants better proof, he says. What proof would he have? I have shewn that the phrase is never used but of the doctrine of faith, and have pointed to the places where it is so used; nay have pointed out the particular doctrine of faith they made shipwreck of. It lies upon him to disprove this. From the whole it appears, that this also is an insufficient proof of the apostasy of real saints.
The third text of Scripture insisted on as a proof of the doctrine, is Romans 11:17-24, concerning the breaking off of the branches, and cutting off those that are grafted into the olive-tree; which olive-tree I understand not of the invisible church, but of the outward gospel-church-state, or the visible gospel-church. This Mr. Wesley says, I affirm, and he proves the contrary. But though I affirm, yet not without a reason for it; a reason which he takes no notice of, nor makes any reply to: and how does he prove the contrary, that it is the invisible church? Why, because it consists of holy believers which none but the invisible church does. But does not the visible church consist of such? Are there no holy believers in it? Read over the epistles to the visible churches, and you will find the members of them are called holy and believer’s, saints and faithful in Christ Jesus. I observe that those signified by the broken branches, were never the believers in Christ, and so no instances of the apostasy of such. To this he replies, That he was not speaking of the Jews. Very well, but I was; but of the Gentiles, exhorted to continue in his goodness, and so true believers; and yet liable to be cut off. So they might be, though it does not necessarily follow from the apostle’s exhortation; which is to be understood not of the goodness of love, and favor of God; but of the goodness of a gospel-church state, the ordinances of it, and an abiding in them, and walking worthy of them; or otherwise they were liable to be cut off from the church-state in which they were. This is said to be a forced and unnatural construction, and requires some argument to support it. But what else could they be cut off from? If the olive-tree in which they are said to be engrafted, is not the invisible, but the visible church, as is proved by an argument not answered; then the cutting off from the olive-tree, must be a cutting off from that. And whereas there is a strong intimation that the Jews, the broken branches, may be grafted in again; why may not those be grafted in again which are cut off, when restored by repentance, which is often the case. It remains then, that this passage of Scripture does not in the least militate against the final perseverance of the saints.
The fourth text of Scripture quoted as against the doctrine of perseverance, is John 15:1-5, concerning the branches in Christ the vine, which abide not, are taken away, are cast forth and withered, and are cast into the fire and burned. I observe that there are two sorts of branches in Christ, the one fruitful, the other unfruitful; the one in him by regenerating grace, the other only by profession; of the latter are all the above things said, not of the former. This Mr. Wesley says is begging the question, and taking for granted the point to he proved: far from it, I answer to the instance alleged, by distinguishing the different branches in the vine; I prove the distinction from the text and context; as well as illustrate it by time instances of the churches in Judea and Thessalonica, being said to be in Christ; all the members of which cannot be thought to be really in him, but by profession. There are some that never bore fruit, and so never gave any evidence of their being true believers, and consequently can be no instances of the apostasy of such. There are others that bring forth fruit and are purged, that they may bring forth more fruit, and whose fruit remain, and are instances of perseverance. Let it be proved, if it can, that any of those who never brought forth any fruit, that we read of, were true believers in Christ; or ever received true grace or life from him, that are said to be cast out and burnt; and that any of those who brought forth fruit and were purged and pruned by the Father of Christ, that they might bring forth more fruit, ever withered away and were lost. Till this is done, this passage will be of no service for the apostasy, or against the perseverance of the saints.
The fifth text of Scripture pressed into this argument is, 2 Peter 2:20, 21, concerning those that have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Christ, being entangled therein and overcome. Of whom I observe, that it does not appear that those persons had an inward experimental knowledge of Christ; which is what ought to be proved, or else it furnishes out no argument against the perseverance of real saints. Had it been such, I add, they could not have lost it. This Mr. Wesley calls begging the question. It might seem so, if my argument had rested here; but I gave reasons why such a knowledge cannot be lost: which he conceals and takes no notice of; as the promise of God, that such shall follow on to know him, and the declaration of Christ, that eternal life is inseparably connected with such knowledge (Hosea 6:3; John 15:3). Escaping the pollutions of the world does not prove the persons to have such knowledge, or to be real saints, since it signifies no more, I say, that an outward reformation. Here, he says, I aim at no proof at all. Let him make more of it, if he can. He owns that these persons might he called dogs and swine before their profession of religion, and after their departure from it, but not whilst under it: but unless it can he proved that they passed under a real change, and were truly converted, which their having knowledge and escaping the pollutions of the world are no proofs of; they might as well deserve the appellation during the time of their profession, as before and after. If any thing is done to any profession from this instance, it should be proved that these men had an inward spiritual and experimental knowledge; that from dogs and swine they became the sheep of Christ, and had the nature of such, and from the sheep of Christ became dogs and swine again; or it can never be thought to be any proof of the final and total falling away of true believers.
The Sixth text produced in favor of the saint’s apostasy, is Hebrews 6:4-6, which speaks of enlightened persons, and such that have tasted the heavenly gift, &c. falling away. Upon which I observe, that the words contain only a supposition, if they fall away. Mr. Wesley says, there is no if in the original. I reply, though it is not expressed, it is implied, and the sense is the same, as if it was; and that the words in the original lie literally thus; It is impossible that those who were once enlightened—, and they falling away, to renew them again to repentance; that is, should they fall away, or if they fall away. Here Mr. Wesley rises up in great wrath, and asks, „Shall a man lie for God? Either you or I do;” and avers, that the words do not literally lie thus; and that they are translated by him, and have fallen away, as literally as the English tongue will bear; and calls upon all that understand Greek to judge between us. I am well content, and extremely desirous they should, and even willing to be determined by them, which is the most literal version, mine, which renders it as a participle as it is; or his, which renders it as a verb, which it is not. I am supported in mine by the authority of the great and learned Dr. Owen (On Perseverance, c. 17), whose knowledge of the Greek tongue no one will scruple, that is acquainted with his writings: he says, that verbum de verbo, or literally the words lie in the text, and they falling away, just as I have rendered them. Take some instances of the participle of the same tense, both in the simple theme of the word, and in other compounds, as so rendered by our translators; 1 Cor. 14:25), falling down on his face; (Luke 8:47), falling down before him; (Acts 27:41), falling into a place where two seas met. Did these learned men lie for God? Mr. Wesley’s quibble is, because the participle is not of the present but of the aorist: the instances now given are of the same tense. Every one that has learned his Greek Grammar knows that the aorist or indefinite, as he names it, is so called, because it is undetermined as to time, being used both of time present, and of time past (Of which see instances in Dugard’s Greek Grammar, p. 126); and when of the latter, it is left undetermined, whether just now past, or sometime ago, is meant, but as the circumstances of the place shew: but let it be rendered either way, either in the present or past, the sense is the same, and the condition is implied; be it and they falling away, or and they having fallen away; for one or other it must be to render it literally; that is, should they fall away, or should they have fallen away; or, in other words, if they should. And now why all this wrath, rudeness, and indecency? Is this the calm Considerer, as the title of his book promises? The man is pinched and rages. This puts me in mind of a story of a country fellow listening with great attention to a Latin disputation; which a gentleman observing, stepped to him, and said, Friend you had better go about your business, than stand here idling away your time to hear what you do not understand. To which he replied, I am not so great a fool neither, but I know who is angry; suggesting by the temper of the disputants, one of them being very angry, he knew who had the better, and who the worst of the argument. And since Mr. Wesley has brought it to this dilemma, that either he or I must lie for God; I am very unwilling to take it to myself, seeing no reason for it: and therefore without a compliment, must leave it to him to get out, and off, of it as he can. But to return to the argument; let it be a supposition or a fact contained in the words; the question is, who these persons supposed, or said to fall away are, and from what they fell? There is nothing in the characters of them, as has been observed, which shew them to be regenerated persons, real saints, and true believers in Christ. This ought to be proved, ere they can be allowed to be instances of the apostasy of such; whereas they are distinguished from them, and are opposed to them, verses 7-9. There is nothing in the account of them, but what may be said of a Balaam, who had his eyes open and saw the vision of the Almighty, and of such who are only doctrinally enlightened; or of a Herod that heard John gladly, and of the stony-ground hearers, who received the word with joy; or of a Judas who had no doubt both the ordinary and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, and a power of performing miraculous works, called the powers of the world to come, or the gospel dispensation. So that from hence nothing can be concluded against the perseverance of the saints.
The seventh passage of Scripture brought into this controversy, is Hebrews 10:38. The just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him: But very impertinently; since he that is said to live by faith, and he that is supposed to draw back, is not one and the same person. Mr. Wesley asks, „Who is it then? Can any one draw back from faith, who never came to it?” To which I answer, though he cannot draw back from faith he never had, yet he may draw back from a profession of faith he has made. In order to make it appear, that one and the same person is meant, Mr. Wesley, finding fault with our translation, renders the words thus: If the just man that lives by faith draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. This translation I call inaccurate. He desires to know wherein; I will tell him. , if, is by force removed from its proper place, even from one sentence back to another; inserting the word that before live is doing violence to the text; rendering , that lives, as if it was of the present tense, when it is future, and should be shall live. Leaving out , and or but, which distinguishes two propositions; so confounding them and making them one. And after all, were one and the same person meant, it is only a supposition, which, I say again, proves no matter of fact; let Mr. Wesley shew that it does if he can: it is a clear case, that the just man in the text, and he that draws back, are two sorts of persons; it is most manifest, and beyond all contradiction, that in the original text in Habakkuk 2;4 the man whose soul is lifted up with pride and conceit of himself, and is not upright in him, has not the truth of grace in him, is the person who both according to the Apostle and the Seventy is supposed to draw back; from whom the just man that lives by faith is distinguished, and to whom he is opposed: and by the Apostle two sorts of persons are all along spoken of in the context, both before and after; besides, that these two must be different and not the same, is evident, since it is most surely promised the just man, that he shall live; which would not be true of him, if he drew hack to perdition. So that this also is an insufficient testimony against the perseverance of the saints.
The eight text of Scripture made use of to prove the Apostasy of true believers, is Hebrews 10:29, Of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing. The stress of this proof lies upon the person being sanctified with the blood of the covenant, who is supposed to be the same that trod under foot the Son of God. But I have observed that the antecedent to the relative he is the Son of God, and so consequently he, and not the apostate, is said to be sanctified with the blood of the covenant; wherefore the words are no proof of the apostasy of truly sanctified persons. Mr. Wesley says I forgot to look at the original, or my memory fails. Neither, is the case. However, I have looked again to refresh my memory, had it failed; and find indeed other words going before, but no other substantive but , the Son of God, to whom the relative he can refer; and that this does refer to the Son of God in the clause immediately preceding, is not a singular opinion of mine that learned Dutchman Gomarus (Comment in Heb. 10:29), and our very learned countrymen Dr. Lightfoot (Harmony, &c. p. 341), and Dr. Owen (On Perseverance, p. 432), of the last age, and Dr. Ridgley (Body of Divinity, Vol. II, p. 125), of the present, are of the same sentiment. But admitting that it refers to the apostate, since this may be understood of his being sanctified or separated from others by a profession of religion, by church-membership and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, in which the blood of the covenant is represented; and of his being sanctified by it in his own esteem and in the esteem of others, when he was not inwardly sanctified by the Spirit; this can be no proof of the apostasy of a real saint. It should be proved, that this sanctification is to be understood of inward sanctification, or else it proves not the point in debate. Mr. Wesley thinks it may be so understood, and that for this reason; because the words immediately following are, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace. Surprising; that a man’s having done despite to the Spirit of grace, should be a proof of his having been inwardly sanctified by him; which might more reasonably be thought to be a proof of the very reverse. So then it remains, that this passage also does not militate against the doctrine of the saints final perseverance.
Mr. Wesley has thought fit to add several other texts, which he proposes to consideration, as proving that a true believer may finally fall; but as he has not advanced any argument upon them, I shall not enter into any examination of them, and of the weight they bear in this controversy; and besides, they being such as either do not respect true believers, about whom the question is, or only them falling from some degree of grace and steadfastness of it, and do not design a total and final falling away; or else they only intend persons receiving the doctrine of grace and a falling from that, and so are nothing to the purpose. And unless something more to the purpose is offered, than yet has been, I shall not think myself under any obligation to attend unto it.

Predestination

Predestination
Rev. Richard Fuller, D.D.
Late of Baltimore, MD

Predestination
„And now I exhort you to be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am and whom I serve, saying, Fear not Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar; and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship when they had let down the boat into the sea, under color as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved.” Acts 27:22, 23, 24, 30, 31.
It was Mr. Pitt, I believe, who, after reading Butler’s Analogy, remarked that „it suggested more doubts than it answered.” In removing one difficulty, we ought to be careful lest we create others which are greater. However, in speaking of the deep things of God, all we can do is to show how far the human understanding can go, when it ceases to obey reason, and debases itself to mere scholastic logic.
You are all familiar with the narrative of Paul’s shipwreck. In spite of some plausible objections, it is certain almost to demonstration that the vessel was lost upon the island now known as Malta. The whole description is very graphic; the impending danger; the commanding attitude of the Apostle during that fearful night; his inspiring address as the dim morning light reveals the terrified, haggard company–two hundred and seventy-six in all–shivering on the deck of the sinking ship; the effect of his exhortation; and the rescue of all on board.
As you read the account, you feel that, if the sailors believed Paul’s declaration as to a revelation from heaven, it would put fresh heart in them to work, as it really did. Nor does it strike you that there is any contradiction between this positive assurance of safety to all and the subsequent warning as to the impossibility of saving the passengers unless the crew remained in the stranded bark.
Our philosophers, however, are astonished at your simplicity, and, or course, at the simplicity of the Apostle and the inspired historian. For if God had determined that all should reach the land in safety, how could it be affirmed that in any case some would be lost?
The Roman centurion had, I dare say, quite as much sagacity as these cavillers yet he urged no objection, but at once complied with Paul’s counsels. And just so now. When in earnest, no man ever pretends that predestination has anything to do with his free agency. No farmer–though in theology the most fierce hyper-Calvinist–was ever heard of, foolish enough to neglect the cultivation of his fields, because nothing can be left to contingencies, and, therefore, it is predetermined whether he shall reap a harvest or not. In a shipwreck no fatalist ever folded his arms, saying „If I am to perish, I will perish; if I am to be saved, I will be saved.” When danger presses, the peasant and philosopher alike cry to God for deliverance, and put forth all their efforts. It is only in idle speculations, or when seeking to lull their consciences in impenitence and disobedience, that the enemies of God insult him, by pleading his decrees as pretext for their indolence and passions.
I am going to offer you some thoughts upon this difficult subject, treating it first doctrinally, and then practically. It is very seldom that such abstruse discussions find place in this pulpit; and now nothing is farther from my wishes than that any of you should be encouraged to leave the paths of pure, undefiled, simple piety, for the mysteries of tangled metaphysical polemics. „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.”
If we are properly engaged about the plain duties of the Gospel, we will not be tempted to perplex ourselves with the subtleties of controversial divinity, any more than will a traveller, pressing homeward, wish to leap into every quicksand that he may fathom its depths, or to rush into every thicket by the wayside that he may try how far he can penetrate. It was through pride of reasoning that man fell. Revelation constantly assails the arrogance which impiously arraigns the credibility of the divine word, unless our puny intellects can comprehend things which it is the glory of God to conceal. The design of the Gospel is to humble his temper, and to nourish in us the spirit of „a little child,” without which the mind will go on sounding its dim and perilous way, till it is lost in endless mazes, bewildered inextricably in dark, interminable labyrinths.
As, however, men affecting to be wits and geniuses are, in books and in conversation, forever parading their flippancies on the question of predestination and free-agency, it is worth while to show them, once for all, how little they can take by their infidelity and ribaldry.
I. I am first to treat our subject doctrinally. And you see at once that it presents the very question which, century after century, has been the source of bitter controversy; which has not only supplied the sceptic with his sneers, but has exasperated pulpit against pulpit, church against church, and council against council. The problem to which I refer is that of God’s decrees and man’s moral agency, to solve which two systems have been advocated, two parties have been formed. Let us examine each of these systems, let us hear each of these parties, whom–that I may avoid the shibboleths of hostile religious prejudices and factions–I will designate as the Libertarians and the Necessarians.
The Libertarians reject the doctrine of predestination; they deny that god has fore-ordained all things. But, now, can this negation be even mentioned without shocking our reason and our reverence for the oracles of eternal truth?
I might easily show that nothing is gained by this denial, that it only removes the difficulty a little farther back. This system rejects predestination, and maintains that God has left all men to act as they choose. But what is meant by a man’s acting as he chooses? It is, of course, that he obeys the impulses of his own feelings and passions. Well, did not God endow him with these passions? Did not God know that if certain temptations assailed the creature to whom he had given these passions, he would fall? Did he not foresee that these temptations would assail him? Did he not permit these temptations to assail him? Could he not have prevented these temptations: Why did he form him with these passions? Why did he allow him to be exposed to these temptations? Why, in short–having a perfect fore-knowledge that such a being, so constituted and so tempted, would sin and perish–why did he create him at all? None will deny the divine fore-knowledge; and I at once admit that the mere foreseeing an event, which we cannot hinder and have no agency in accomplishing, does his own sovereign pleasure, calls an intelligent agent into being, fashions him with certain powers and appetites, and places him amid scenes where he clearly sees that temptations will overcome him–in such a case it is self-evident that our feeble faculties cannot separate fore-knowledge from fore-appointment. The denial of preordination does not, therefore, at all relieve any objection, it only conceals the difficulty from the ignorant and unthinking.
But even if the theory of the Libertarians were not a plain evasion, it would be impossible for us to accept such a solution; for it dethrones Jehovah; it surrenders the entire government of the world to mere chance, to wild caprice and disorder. According to this system, nature, providence, grace are only departments of atheism; God has no control over the earth and its affairs; or–if that be too monstrous and revolting,–he exercises authority over matter, but none over the minds and hearts of men. „The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord as rivers of water, he turneth it withersoever he will”;–such is the declaration of the Holy Spirit; but this theory rejects this truth. God exercises no control over men’s hearts, consequently prophecy is an absurdity; providence is a chimera; prayer is a mockery; since God does not interfere in mortal events, but abandons all to the wanton humors and passions of myriads of independent agents, none of whose whims and impulses he restrains, by whom his will is constantly defeated and trampled under foot. A creed so odious, so abhorrent to all reason and religion, need only be carried out to its consequences and no sane mind can adopt it.
And this heresy is condemned on every page of the Bible. It is deeply to be lamented that theological partisans so often treat texts of Scripture, as hired advocates in our courts treat those witnesses whose evidence damages their cause,–cross-examining and brow-beating the clearest passages,–seeking to perplex their plain meaning–and to exhort from them a testimony they will not and cannot give. But after all ingenuity has been exhausted, how unequivocal is the language of inspiration. „The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thought of his heart to all generations.” „All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing, 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?” „And they prayed and said, Lord show whether of these two thou hast chosen that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship.” „Whom God did foreknow he did predestinate, moreover whom he did predestinate them he also called.” „Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsels of his own will.” Passages like these might be easily multiplied, but I prefer to take another course, and to establish the doctrines of the Sacred Oracles by a sort of proof which is very striking, and which silences all cavil and sophistry.
The depositions to which I now refer are gathered from those narratives in which man’s free agency is taken for granted or expressly affirmed, while at the same time, the entire event is ascribed directly to God’s over-ruling decrees. Let us turn for a moment to these records, and let us begin with the transportation of Joseph into Egypt. Read the history of his mission to his brethren, of the conspiracy among these brethren to slay him, of Reuben’s scheme to save his life and restore him to his father, of the arrival of the Ishmaelite merchants, of Judah’s proposition to sell him to them, and of the cruel and unnatural traffic. There never was a transaction in which human passions–envy, hatred, revenge, cupidity–were more confessedly the sole ruling cause and motive from first to last. „And the patriarchs,” said Stephen, „moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt.” Yet the result, from beginning to end, is ascribed to God’s purpose and decree. „And Joseph said unto his brethren, Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.” And the Psalmist utters the same declaration. „He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold as a servant, whose feet they hurt with fetters, he was laid in irons until the time that his word came, the word of the Lord tried him.”
Take, next, the fatal obduracy of Pharaoh. In the book of Genesis it is repeatedly said that „Pharaoh hardened his heart and sinned yet the more,” but in the same chapters it is declared that „The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh.” And in the epistle to the Romans it is written, „For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout the earth.”
In the first book of Kings, the people appeal to Rehoboam, to abate a portion of the burden under which they groaned. That the monarch seeks the counsel, first of the old men, and former companions of his father, and then of the young men who had grown up with. Wilfully rejecting the sage advice of the elders, he adopts the tyrannical measure recommended by the passions of his youthful associates. The consequence is, the revolt of the ten tribes. Here was an arbitrary decree of a despot, instigated by an evil heart and evil counsellors; yet the whole is attributed directly to God’s decree. „The king harkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Abijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the Son of Nebat.”
In the same regal history, Ahab disobeys God; and the prophet is sent to warn him that, as a punishment, he shall be slain in battle. The monarch disguises himself so that he is not known; and „a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness, and he died.” The archer aimed his shaft at no one, but discharged it „at a venture” against the confused masses. Yet it was winged and guided by God’s unerring decree.
In the entire volume of the Book nothing is more fearful than the epitaph upon the soul of Judas Iscariot, spoken by the Saviour himself, „It had been good for that man if he had not been born.” You at once perceive that this sentence consigned him to everlasting misery. The Universalist can never evade this passage. For if, after myriads of ages, the lost soul shall be released and translated to heaven, those centuries of wretchedness will be only as a moment, as nothing, compared with an eternity of happiness and it would not then be true that the culprit had better never been born. But now this treason–though instigated purely by covetousness, the ruling passion of the apostate–was a part of God’s prearranged purpose. „None of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that he Scriptures might be fulfilled.” „The Son of Man goeth as it is written of him, but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed, it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” „Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled which the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”
In fine, the great catastrophe of the Bible, the crucifixion of the Redeemer–if ever a deed was perpetrated by cruel, relentless malignity, it was the murder of that innocent benefactor of mankind. The actors in that tragedy were charged with heinous guilt in having „killed the Prince of Life,” whom „with wicked hands they crucified and slew.” Nor did these murderers attempt any palliation. „They were pricked to the heart,” and cried out in anguish, „What shall we do?” Yet this conspiracy and its triumph only accomplished the predetermination of eternal wisdom and love. „Those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” „Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” „For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together: for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.”
If anything be certain, then, it is that the antipredestinarian system is wholly untenable. It is good for nothing, since it solves no difficulty, it stultifies our reason, it is practical atheism, and it contradicts the express assertions of the Bible.
This argument is highly pleasing to some of you, I perceive. I read your approbation in your countenances. I see you are ready to come forward and extend to me the hand of fellowship and cordial congratulation. „Certainly,” I hear you exclaim, „all that you have advanced is incontestible; it is just what we firmly believe. None but an idiot can reject the doctrine of predestination. Reason and Scripture both condemn the heresy which leaves man a free, independent agent. We have always maintained this, and your reasoning ought to silence the presumption of those who proudly arrogate liberty of will and action.” The men who thus speak belong to the other class I have mentioned; they are Necessarians; they hold that God not only foreknows but fore-determines all things that his decree controls irresistibly all matter, all mind, all feeling, all action; and therefore, that man’s free agency is a tenet false, unscriptural, and absurd. Let us turn to this system, and examine it for moment. Now, in the very outset we encounter one objection to this creed, which amounts to a refutation, and which nothing can remove; it is the consciousness of free will and free agency which every man carries in his own bosom. Reason, refine, cavil as we may, one thing is certain, we feel that we are free agents. Consciousness is an inward faculty which informs us of what passes within us; and its intuitions are conclusive and final as to the principles of our mental constitution–just as the authority of the senses convinces us of what takes place in the outward world. No matter what metaphysicians and schoolmen say, I am not sure that I see the sun in the heavens, than that I act in accordance with my own unrestrained volitions. Suppose a man should construct an ingenious argument to prove that you do not see and cannot walk. You might not be able to detect the fallacy of his reasoning, but so long as you do see and do walk, you know that his logic is all false.
Just so in the case before us; the testimony of the interior sense is equally conclusive against all specious denials of our freedom. Indeed, if our will and conduct are not free, they are, of course, under compulsion; and it is impossible for conscience either to approve or to condemn our actions or our motives; the deliberate murderer is no more guilty than the innocent victim of brute force, who, in spite of his protestations is compelled to discharge a pistol into the breast of a stranger.
Whatever theological dogmas men may adopt, there are some original truths written in the very structure of our nature, and our moral responsibility is one of these primary truths.
But let us look a little more closely at this scheme of necessity, and see if it does not conduct us to issues quite as monstrous as those which have just shocked us in the opposite system. If man is not free, what then? Why, then, he is not accountable when he sins. If man be forced by necessity, it is absurd to predicate any moral quality of his actions, to call them either good of evil. If man be compelled, it is impossible to deny that God is the author of sin–of all the sin which is perpetrated. From conclusions so profane and repulsive as these, even the hyper-Calvinist and fatalist shrink back, yet they are committed inevitably to them by their creed.
This is not all. The system of the Necessarians is condemned by the Scriptures as unequivocally as that of their opponents. The cases which I have just now cited to establish the doctrine of predestination, are equally as convincing as to man’s free moral agency. For you remember that the inspired writers expressly charge the crimes upon their authors, without the slightest intimation that God’s decrees have anything to do with the man’s guilt. In fact, they announce each of the doctrines now before us in the same sentence without any attempt to reconcile them, without seeming to be aware of any sort of contradiction between them. Recall the illustrations I submitted to you a moment since–the cases of Joseph, of Pharaoh, of Ahab, of Rehoboam, of Judas, of the crucifixion–and you will find them just as incontestable with reference to Liberty as to Necessity. They take for granted man’s free agency, as well as God’s sovereign and universal control. Indeed, it is manifest that every call, every threat, every expostulation, every exhortation in the Bible supposes that man is a free agent. If he be not free, if he be the passive victim of inexorable, irresistible destiny, the Sacred Volume is a compilation of glaring inconsistencies–or sheer, downright falsehood and mockery. If a fixed fate has fore-doomed men as mere machines, how can God utter those tender complaints of their conduct with which the Scriptures abound? If his decrees compel men, how can he so earnestly admonish and beseech them to repent and turn from their evil ways? If men are forced by God’s pre-ordination, how can he utter that assurance, „As I live, I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he turn and live?” How could Jesus affirm that, if the mighty works done in Chorazin „had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes,” and that if the mighty works done in Capernaum „had been done in Sidon, it would have remained until this day?” In a word, if God’s purposes bind men inflexibly in chains, what is the meaning of that touching, weeping exclamation, „O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate!”
If you have followed me, I think you will confess now, that neither of the two classes indicated can be right. The Libertarian is plainly in error when he rejects the doctrine of predestination; and the Necessarian is as plainly in error when he rejects the doctrine of free agency. And these are the only two parties. I am aware that some theologians profess to belong to a third and moderate school: and they undertake to reconcile the difficulties of our subject by this solution:–that God, who appoints the end, appoints also the means. This is the proposition advanced by Dr. Chalmers in an admirable sermon upon the very text now before us. It is no doubt very true; but it elucidates nothing, it only removes the difficulty one step farther. The advocates of this thesis do not belong to a third class, they are Necessarians, and ascribe all events to God’s decrees as rigorously as if no agent had been employed. In a former part of this discourse I remarked that those who admit God’s foreknowledge, but deny his fore-appointment, gain nothing by the discrimination since, in the Creator, our minds can draw no distinction between foreseeing and fore-ordaining. I make a similar observation now as to the interposition of a medium. Nothing is gained by it. The unthinking may be thus satisfied; but it is an old axiom, that he who performs an act by another, performs it himself. In human affairs God never acts immediately, except when working miracles; he uses instruments and agents. These, of course, are chosen by him; and if they are necessitated by his decrees–as is supposed in the case before us–the introduction of one or many agencies produces no modification in the system, which is that of mechanical force and stern compulsion. In these assemblies where you are compelled to listen in silence, a preacher may think that he has triumphed, when he thus disposes of an objection; but he deceives himself. His hearers see clearly that he has not fairly met the difficulty; he has only shifted it a little out of sight.
In the recital from which our text is taken, Paul announced by express revelation from heaven, that not a soul on board the ship should perish. Yet when the seamen were about to leave in the boats, he as confidently declared that unless they remained in the vessel the passengers could not be saved. According to the intermediate system, the Apostle was very inconsistent in this last admonition; since he must have seen clearly that if God had predetermined the salvation of all, he had also indefeasibly adjusted the means, and that his decree could no more be frustrated by the treachery of the mariners than by the winds and the waves.
In reference to predestination and free agency, there are, only two systems–that of the Libertarians, and that of the Necessarians. These schemes seem to our minds not only irreconcilable, but antagonistical. Yet the rejection of either involves us in consequences absurd and impious. And what is still more confounding, the Bible, with a directness and plainness admitting of no dispute or evasion, inculcates both of these conflicting doctrines, requiring our unmutilated faith in each, without even noticing the inscrutable difficulty and seemingly palpable contradiction by which our intellects are bewildered.
Thus perplexed and staggered, what are we to do? Thus far we have only been entangling ourselves in a labyrinth; following first a path which leads one way; then returning and pursuing another path running in the opposite direction; but every attempt involving us more inextricably, until we feel hopelessly lost. What are we to do? It is evident that there is only one hope left us. We must confess our absolute blindness, and procure a guide who comprehends all the dark intricacies; one in whom we have perfect confidence; who can and will conduct us safely; and we must surrender ourselves to him. Suppose that two men born blind were to enter into a dispute as to the color of an object; one affirming that it is red; and the other that it is blue. It is clear that these discussions would be simple absurdities; since neither of them possesses that sense by which color can be known. Mr. Locke gives the case of a blind man who insisted that he knew what the color of scarlet resembled; and when asked what, he answered „The sound of a trumpet.” Their controversy could be decided only in one way. An umpire must be found who can see; and who will decide the question truly and they must submit to his arbitrament. This analogy illustrates exactly our condition as to the subject before us, which is confessedly beyond the reach of human faculties. But, now, can we secure such a guide as we have described? Where is the arbiter to be found, who perfectly comprehends these deep things of God, and to whom we may with perfect confidence refer the difficulty?
My brethren, the guide, the arbiter we seek is before us. It is God himself. He understands fully his decrees; he also comprehends man’s free agency; and he declares as we have seen, that all our speculations are wrong; that both these doctrines are true; and, of course, that there is no discrepancy between them. I have shown that it is impossible for us to reject either of these great truths, and it is equally impossible for our minds to reconcile them. But here, as everywhere, faith must come to our aid, teaching us to repose unquestioningly upon God’s veracity; reminding us that „secret things belong unto the Lord our God;” and rebuking the arrogance which demands that our intellects shall penetrate and reconcile those thoughts of the divine mind which are as high above our thoughts as the heavens are above the earth. With unspeakable condescension, God constantly invites us to confer and plead with him. „Come now,” he says, „let us reason together.” Only once, in all the Scriptures, does he silence the arguments of man by a stern, abrupt assertion of his sovereignty; and this is when an inquisitive objector has assumed the attitude of a caviller who, daring to believe less and resuming to comprehend more than is revealed, finds fault with his decrees because, as he pretends, they destroy man’s moral freedom. It is this very presumption the Apostle cuts short by that sudden retort, „Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?”
The pillar by which Jehovah led his people was luminous all night long, but in the day it became an impenetrable column of murky cloud; and it is thus God now reveals himself to us. His precepts and our duty are all so plain, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, need nor err therein but if instead of pursuing our way humbly and earnestly, we seek to fathom the abysses of his adorable wisdom, we are baffled clouds and darkness are round about him, „he makes darkness his secret place, his pavilions round about him are dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” And, as in the wilderness the blackness proclaimed the majestic presence as gloriously as the splendor, so now, „it is the glory of God to conceal a thing.” His independence, his infinite superiority to all creatures, that reverential awe which is due to such a Being, require that much in his providence and everything in his secret counsels shall be inscrutable to man.
If from Paul the traveller, animating his harassed, tempest-tossed fellow voyagers, we turn to Paul the theologian, and ask how the immutable purposes of God can be harmonized with the perfect freeness of men he does not attempt to gratify our curiosity; he has but one answer, he exclaims, „O God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.” And this temper–this humble confession of our incompetency, this profound submission of our reason to mysteries which are above us–is taught not only by inspiration but by natural reason. We have taken our text from the travels of an Apostle, let us borrow from another traveller a case of casuistry which has been well cited by his illustrious countryman, and which ought to be profitable to many now before me. This acute and accurate author has recorded much useful information concerning the Persians; and he tells us that among these Mohammedans the duty of remembering the limits of the human understanding is inculcated by the following curious anecdote.
„There were once three brethren who all died at the same time. The two first were men; the eldest having always lived in a habit of obedience to God; the second, on the contrary, in a course of disobedience and sin. The third was an infant, incapable of distinguishing good from evil. These three brothers appeared before the tribunal of God; the first was received into Paradise, the second was condemned to hell, the third was sent to a middle place where there was neither pleasure nor pain, because he had not done either good or evil. When the youngest heard his sentence, and the reasons on which the supreme Judge grounded it, grieved to be excluded from Paradise, he exclaimed, Ah, Lord, hadst thou preserved my life as thou didst that of my good brother, how much better would it have been for me. I should have lived as he lived, and then I should have enjoyed as he does the happiness of eternal glory. My child, replied God to him, I knew thee, and I knew, that hadst thou lived longer, thou wouldst have lived like thy wicked brother, and like him wouldst have rendered thyself deserving of the punishment of hell. The condemned brother, hearing this discourse of God, exclaimed, Ah, Lord, why didst thou not confer the same favor upon me as upon my younger brother, by depriving me of a life which I have so wickedly misspent as to bring myself under a sentence of condemnation? I preserved thy life, said God, to give thee an opportunity of saving thyself. The younger brother, hearing this reply, exclaimed again, Ah, why then, by God, didst thou not preserve my life also, that I might have had an opportunity of saving myself? God, to put an end to complaining and disputing, replied, Because my decree had determined otherwise.”
Let us, my brethren, study this fable, and be instructed by these ingenious heathen. Other teachers begin by proposing to their scholars the examples of those who have distinguished themselves in learning. Jesus commences by setting before us a little child, and requiring us to cultivate an humble, docile temper. The fact is, we are familiar with names, and we mistake this for a knowledge of things; we adopt a system and love that more than truth. The inspired writers never set themselves to build up well adjusted scientific schemes; they simply announce „God’s testimony.” But we must compact the truths revealed into a regular symmetrical body of divinity; we examine the Sacred Oracles, not to learn all they disclose, but with a fixed determination to defend our theory. Hence we study, not the Bible in its amplitude, but the authors who advocate our dogmas. And hence, too, we seek to wrest those Scriptures which conflict with the beauty and harmony of our ingeniously constructed systems.
Do you receive the doctrine of predestination? Certainly. To reject it, I would have to stultify my intellect, to discard prophecy, which is based upon this truth, to abjure the unequivocal teachings of the Bible, to believe that God has abandoned the earth to chance and disorder, and to plunge into I know not what absurdities. Well, then you do not receive the doctrine of man’s free agency. Indeed I do; for otherwise I must renounce my own distinct consciousness, I must disbelieve the Scriptures, I must make God the author and yet the punisher of sin, I must precipitate myself into I know not what absurdities. I embrace both doctrines. Nay, more; I see clearly that if I reject either of these great truths and cling to the other, it will tow me away into fathomless depths of folly and impiety. But, how do you reconcile these two doctrines? Reconcile! I do not reconcile them at all. I am not required to reconcile them. Who made me a judge and reconciler of God’s acts and attributes and clearly revealed testimonies? No, my brethren; let us rather with Job exclaim, „Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; yea, twice, but I will proceed no farther. Lo, these are parts of thy ways, but how little a portion is heard of him. I know that thou canst do everything there fore have I uttered that I understood not, things too wonderful for me which I knew not. Canst thou be searching find our God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know?
For my own part, as I contemplate these two grand doctrines I seem to see two parallel lines stretching away into eternity with thousands of other lines, all of which my vision can pursue but a little way. How they can ever meet, or whether they meet at all, I have no means of deciding. They appear to be ultimate facts, between which we can discover no links, but which are perfectly harmonious in the Divine Mind. We can discern no connection between them; but it is preposterous to affirm that there is collision;–pre-posterous in the exact meaning of the word, since a pre-requisite to such an assertion is a knowledge which we cannot possess.
When I affirm two distinct truths, you never refuse to believe each, unless I can show some connection between them. „There is such a country as England.” „The sun is shining brightly.” What would you think of his intellect who should say, Both these propositions are clear, but I will not receive them unless you show me the relation between them. Such a man you would pronounce a lunatic. Very well, now apply this reasoning to the doctrines before us. „god has preordained all things.” „Man is a free responsible agent.” Neither of these propositions can be denied; why do you reject either of them, unless I can show the connection between them? You will reply, Because they contradict each other. Now, this I deny, and this you cannot possibly prove. The whole matter is reduced to this single question: Can God foreordain all things, and yet form an intelligent being who shall be a perfectly free, moral, accountable agent? And it is clearly preposterous for any finite mind to attempt to answer that question; for the decision demands omniscience. God only can solve the problem, and, as we have his solution,–as he declares that he has peopled the earth with beings as free as if there were no decrees–our duty is plain. In this, as in other mysteries of Godliness, our speculations must cease, we must subject our „philosophy and vain deceit” to the decisions of Revelation. Reason must ascertain what God says, and then both faith and reason must acquiesce in humility and reverence.
True wisdom is always humble. The wisdom which descendeth from above is so profoundly humble that it at once confesses its ignorance and says, „If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” It feels that all our present knowledge are only puerilities which will be put aside when we become men–a sort of nescience with „shall vanish away” when our minds are emancipated from darkness. There is a region of truth inaccessible to argument and logic; there is a „sea of light” before whose excess of brightness our feeble intellects are dazzled into utter blindness. These domains we may one day fully penetrate. Now we can reach them, not by reasoning, but only by childlike love. And for true spiritual wisdom only one course remains. As to predestination and other kindred subjects we must „have faith in God;” we must not expect to comprehend all the parts and bearings of all things revealed in the Bible; we must never carry our systems farther than the teachings of the Word will justify; especially we must never impinge upon the clear doctrines of revelation. A profound philosopher has well remarked the „the wall of adamant which bounds human inquiry has scarcely ever been discovered by any adventurer until he has been roused by the shock which drove him back.” All which is necessary to the perfect repose of a devout mind, is the knowledge, either that the truth has been ascertained, or that it is inaccessibly concealed in the abysses of light in which God dwells. As to the abstruse topics upon which we have been meditating, we may, therefore, rest from all speculations with perfect confidence. If we attempt to explain and reconcile the doctrines of predestination and free agency, we find impassable barriers hemming us in, the sharp adamant striking us back. But the proofs of these doctrines are irrefragable. Their harmony we must leave with God; it is an ultimate fact transcending our thoughts; but clear to that Intellect which is the supreme fountain of all light and love.
II. So much for our text treated doctrinally. The few moments which remain I devote to the practical lessons of our subject, for these are very important; darkness serving us for light; darkness teaching us more than light-even as night reveals more of the starry glories of the firmament than the day.
And, first, it will not be in vain that I have conducted your through the intricacies of this discussion, if, once for all, we learn the folly of human wisdom, when in the presence of the deep things of God; if we are convinced that the philosopher must discard his „oppositions of science falsely so called,” and must, with the peasant, meekly receive the communications which God has vouchsafed to man. Those who cavil at the mysteries of revelation, and those who pretend to solve them, always affect superior wisdom and penetration; but in fact they only betray want of thought. „I do not understand everything connected with this proposition, therefore I cannot believe it.” The man who reasons thus will have a very short creed, for what truth is there, even in nature, which does not involve mysteries? Such language is simply foolish. For, there is nothing in them unworthy of a religion which is divine, they are „mysteries of Godliness” inspiring sacred veneration, teaching us to be holy. And whatever system we may seek to substitute for the Gospel–the religion of nature, infidelity, atheism–we cannot escape mysteries; we can explain nothing; we can only lose ourselves in fresh obscurities and difficulties. In heaven God promises that all shall be explained, as far as finite intellects can comprehend his conduct and perfections; but at present, every reflecting mind confesses that we are surrounded on every side by inexplicable enigmas. If anything be certain, if anything be true, elevating, worthy of all our confidence, it is the revelation contained in the Bible. Abandon that and we must surrender ourselves to universal scepticism.
There is, even among those who profess to be Christians, a want of that full confidence which the Bible challenges as a revelation from God. We must correct this lurking infidelity. When we consider God’s relation to us, and the incompetency of nature and reason to instruct us as to our future destiny, a communication directly from heaven seems to be an indispensable part of the divine intercourse with this earth. And supposing that God’s goodness and justice would cause him to make a revelation to man, there are only two ways by which it can be authenticated. There are, first, credentials conclusive to the mind; and secondly, internal evidence which convinces the heart–for the heart has its reasonings, and in religion they are prompter and surer than the deductions of the intellect.
Now, examined by each of these tests, the Sacred Oracles establish at once and forever their divine origin; and reason tells us that her highest office is to receive in all their integrity the things which „eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, but which God hath revealed by his Spirit.” To require God to reveal nothing which we cannot comprehend, is to demand of him more than he has done for unfallen angels, more than he can possibly do for any finite being. These pretexts are the stale cavils of philosophy flown with vanity and conceit. They are not only insane, but impious; for have these men any claims upon God? In a word, they are manifestly but the shifts and mere subterfuges of an evil heart; since if these objectors knew all they demand to know, their duty could not be made any plainer than it now is.
Theological prejudices are proverbially inveterate, and I do not expect that the arguments urged in this discourse will detach a single partisan from the creed to which he has long been bigoted; but surely the incomprehensibility of the divine mind ought to rebuke the fierce controversies which too often embitter the hearts of Christians; in waging which they entirely forget the admonition, that–though we understand all mysteries and all knowledge–we are nothing without charity. Marcellus said that, with all his imperial power, Tiberius Caesar could not give currency to a new word. Sectarian gladiators have unhappily invented and consecrated a good many new words, which have become the shibboleths of strife, bitterness and persecution. The two parties whom I have called Libertarians and Necessarians are well known in the churches by other names. And they have often been arrayed in hostile attitudes against each other, urging a war of uncompromising intolerance; for this is a melancholy fact that it has generally been about polemical abstractions, scarcely ever about moral duties, that theologians have fulminated their anathemas. Each of these factions has much truth; but each overlooks the fact that, as a mist is more dangerous than darkness, so partial truth is one of the most dangerous forms of error; that the most effectual method of perverting the Bible is to garble its teachings; and each has pushed its system so far as to trench upon other truths. How much uncharitableness, strife, hatred, malice would be avoided,–what peace, love, harmony would adorn the churches–if these partisans loved their dogmas less, and the unmutilated Scriptures more; if they would conquer their prejudices; if, instead of presumptuously seeking to reconcile God’s ways, they would remember that what seem discords to us, are only hidden, pre-established harmonies, which shall one day fill us with admiration and adoration; if, in short,–instead of a mistaken, harsh, hard orthodoxy–they possessed more of that reverence which is the sublimest faculty of man’s nature, before which self is humbled into nothing, and God’s ways are a vast infinitude edged with intolerable radiance–eternity spreading all around it and stretching far away as its back-ground?
The subject we have been discussing applies to our duties. Let us pray for grace that we may acquiesce in all the mysteries of God’s sovereignty, and yet hold inviolate all the strenuous activities of the life of faith. In a revelation from heaven there must be some mysteries; there will be much that no thought of man can fully reach–since it is wrapped in the very light in which God dwells unapproachable. But we would expect his will concerning us to be distinctly announced. And so we find it. Whatever is obscure, we clearly see our duty. In the narrative before us, there was no sort of doubt as to what was to be done. The assurance from heaven not only did not relax the earnestness of the apostle and the seamen, but it inspired fresh strength and ardor. And thus, if we are sincere, will it be with us in our religious duties. Take prayer for example. God promises to answer prayer, and we know he does answer prayer. Let us not perplex ourselves by curious speculations as to the manner in which our petitions can be granted, and how the prevalence of our supplications can consort with God’s unchangeableness. Prayer is the cry of human weakness, guilt and misery. If we are thoroughly in earnest, we will be encouraged by God’s promises; nor can any objection be drawn from the divine immutability, which would not equally prevent our planting, or toiling, or employing any means whatever to attain an object.
Again, we are under the most solemn obligations to seek the salvation of men; and we are only folding about us a fatal illusion, if we hope to escape this responsibility by pleading any decrees of God. When Paul was vehemently opposed in Corinth, the Lord said to him, „Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace, for I have much people in this city.” Does the Apostle argue that if God had much people in the city, it was unnecessary for him to labor and expose himself to suffering? Just the reverse. He devotes himself with renewed zeal to his work, and in this he furnishes a pattern to us, and a reproof to that antinomianism which has too long bee a pretext for indolence, covetousness, perfidiousness in the churches.
Lastly, and above all, let us learn to work out our „own salvation with fear and trembling.” As a motive to this duty, the Scriptures assure us that „it is God who worketh in us.” Let us admit all the force and comprehensiveness of this motive. God worketh in me; then I can work. God worketh in me; then I will work. God worketh in me; then I must work.
Amidst all our ignorance and weakness, what we most clearly perceive is, the transcendent importance of religion, the love of God, the atonement of the Cross and salvation through that atonement. Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners. His blood cleanses from all sin. The Holy Spirit can deliver us from all our corruptions. The gospel is adapted to all our wants, and offers us its treasures without money and without price. All this we know. And we know, too, that God’s hidden decrees do not at all affect our conduct and character. You are shocked at the guilt of Judas and of the murderers of Christ. No ingenuity can persuade you that they were innocent because their passions were overruled and accomplished what God had fore-ordained. Your conscience, then, seconds the declarations of the Bible on this subject.
And your reason seconds your conscience; for, after all your syllogisms to prove that the divine purposes hold and control man, nobody could induce you to leap into the sea, or to throw yourself from the summit of a precipice.
Apply this reasoning to the concerns of your soul. Lost and ruined as we are, a great salvation has been provided for us, and it is yours by faith in Jesus. God repels no imputation with such intense abhorrence as that which charges him with desiring the death of any sinner. „Oh, Israel,” he exclaims, „thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.” „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. Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?” Having–at such expense–wrought out a wonderful atonement, Jesus now calls you to turn to him and accept a full deliverance; he assures you he is not willing that „any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” „Come unto me,” he cries, „and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.”
But, still–as Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, „Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved”–so I tell you this day, that unless you are found in Christ, you cannot be saved. It has been well remarked, that any fool can ask questions which no wise man can answer; and the simplest man in that laboring vessel might have proposed just such impertinent inquiries as we now every day hear. If God has decreed that all of us shall be saved, how can the escape of the sailors reverse that decree? If Infinite Wisdom and Power have predetermined that „not a hair shall fall from the head of any of us,” why need we take some meat, why „lighten the ship and cast out the wheat into the sea”? „why loose the rudder bands and hoist up the mainsail to the wind”? why need some „swim” and the rest seize upon „boards and broken pieces of the ship”? These and similar questions any idiot might have asked; but no man was idiot enough to waste time in such casuistry. On a sinking vessel people find very little edification in metaphysical dialectics; they are altogether too much in earnest to bewilder their minds with these unprofitable subtleties. In the hour of danger, he would be regarded as a lunatic, who should stop to reason as our pretended philosophers reason. Had any one of the passengers refused to bestir himself and resolved to stand by his orthodoxy, he would certainly have been drowned, in spite of all his unanswerable logic. And so, my friends, if you neglect the great salvation, you cannot escape; you will perish, and all your pleas and pretences will only expose you to shame and everlasting contempt.
Be warned, be wise, before it is forever too late. O, think, how short and uncertain our life is. consider how perilous it is thus to defer that surrender to Jesus, which the word and providence and Spirit of God have so long been urging, and which you have so often secretly resolved upon. What is the great concern? „What?” you reply, „Why! The salvation of my soul, certainly. To abandon sin, to overcome the fatal spirit of procrastination, to receive the Gospel on the terms of the Gospel, to take up the cross and follow Jesus–this is the first great concern.” Such, my dear hearer, has been your confession a hundred times; such is your confession now. But what then? Alas, you have lived, and you will leave this house to go on living, as if salvation were the only affair unworthy of your serious attention. Lay these things solemnly to heart. Go not all the way to the judgment, to discover that your destruction is unnecessary and willful and wanton.
Or, if you are bent on self-destruction–if no entreaties from God, no restraints of his providence, no solicitations of the Spirit, no expostulations, no tears of your Saviour can stop you–at least do not insult Heaven by pretending that your are waiting for more effectual influences. This plea admits that you feel some strivings of he Holy Ghost; why do you not comply with these? Why resist these, and desire more powerful movements? What is this, but openly to proclaim that you will try conclusions with the Almighty? That you are resolved to strive against your Maker, to yield nothing to him willingly, to defy him as long as you can, and only to submit to a sad necessity when he shall compel you? Is there anything in Revelation–do you seriously think there is anything in the secret counsels of eternity–to justify the hope that God will thus be appeased? What, my beloved friend, what can you expect from such deliberate, unrelenting opposition to the Sovereign to the Universe? What must be the issue of such an unequal, disastrous, desperate conflict?
Let us adjure you–by the mercies of God and by the unspeakable danger of your soul, with only a brief and uncertain remnant of life left you–to adopt a different course. „Hear ye and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains.” He is the incomprehensible Jehovah; but the mysteriousness of his counsels casts no obscuration over his wisdom and love. It is subliming, rejoicing exercise of faith, to feel that in God’s ways there are heights and depths far out of our sight; to submit wholly to him; to ascribe all honor and salvation to him–of whom and through whom, and to whom are all things to whom be glory forever. AMEN.

IF PREDESTINATION IS TRUE – WHY PRAY? C.H. Spurgeon

IF PREDESTINATION IS TRUE – WHY PRAY?
C.H. Spurgeon

An objection has been raised which is very ancient indeed, and has a great appearance of force. It is raised not so much by sceptics, as by those who hold a part of the truth; it is this—that prayer can certainly produce no result, because of the decrees of God have settled everything, and those decrees are immutable. Now we have no desire to deny the assertion that the decrees of God have settled all events. It is our full belief that God has foreknown and predestinated everything that happened in heaven above or in the earth beneath, and that the foreknown station of a reed by the river is fixed as the station of a king, and „the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.”
Predestination embraceth the great and the little, and reacheth unto all things; the question is, wherefore pray? Might it not as logically be asked, wherefore breathe, eat, move, or do anything? We have an answer which satisfies us, namely, that our prayers are in the predestination, and that God has as much ordained his people’s prayers as anything else, and when we pray we are producing links in the chain of ordained facts. Destiny decrees that I should pray—I pray; destiny decrees that I shall be answered, and the answer comes to me.
Moreover, in other matters we never regulate our actions by the unknown decrees of God; as for instance, a man never questions whether he shall eat or drink, because it may or may not be decreed that he shall eat or drink; a man never enquires whether he shall work or not on the ground that it is decreed how much he shall do or how little; as it is inconsistent with common sense to make the secret decrees of God a guide to us in our general conduct, so we feel it would be in reference to prayer, and therefore still we pray. But we have a better answer than all this. Our Lord Jesus Christ comes forward, and he says to us this morning, „My dear children, the decrees of God need not trouble you, there is nothing in them inconsistent with your prayers being heard. ‘I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you.’ „Now, who is he that says this? Why it is he that has been with the Father from the beginning—”the same was in the beginning with God” and he knows what the purposes of the Father are and what the heart of God is, for he has told us in another place, „the Father himself loveth you.”
Now since he knows the decrees of the Father, and the heart of the Father, he can tell us with the absolute certainty of an eye-witness that there is nothing in the eternal purposes in conflict with this truth, that he that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth. He has read the decrees from the beginning to end: hath he not taken the book, and loosed the seven seals thereof, and declared the ordinances of heaven? He tells you there is nothing there inconsistent with your bended knee and streaming eye, and with the Father’s opening the windows of heaven to shower upon you the blessings which you seek. Moreover, he is himself God: the purposes of heaven are his own purposes, and he who ordained the purpose here gives the assurance that there is nothing in it to prevent the efficacy of prayer. „I say unto you.” O ye that believe in him, your doubts are scattered to the winds, ye know that he heareth your prayer.

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