« НазадПродовжити »
possibility of asserting one of these decrees without owning the other also: and so whatsoever argument holds good against an absolute decree of Reprobation, must certainly destroy the opposite decree of absolute Election.
Now is there any need of arguments to confute such a supposed decree as this? I behold, through the fall of Adam, (by my mere pleasure imputed to his whole posterity yet unborn, as if it were their action, and they had personally consented to it) the whole race of inankind obnoxious to my eternal wrath, and utterly unable to recover from it; and though they be all, fouls that I have made, equally wanting, and equally capable of my favour (nor have I any reason to extend it to any of them, rather than to all) yet do I absolutely decree to vouchsafe this favour only to some few of them; leaving the far greater part under a sad necessity of perishing everlastingly, for the offence of their fore-father Adam, committed long before they had a being: so that they shall be as sure to be damned eternally as they are to be born in time; and yet I will proclaim myself unto them, a God merciful, and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness, on purpose that they may not perish, but be lead by it to repentance; and declare to them that my delight is in sewing mercy. I will intreat them with the greatest earnellness, and even befeech them to be reconciled to me, as being so far recon, ciled to them in Christ Jesus, as not to impute to them their transgressions and fins. I will send them all my, messengers and prophets, declaring that I do it, because I have compassion on them. I will allure them to repentance with the promise that all their fins shall then be blotted out, and not one of them remembered against them. I will tell them that I would have purged them, but they would not be purged, I would have ga. thered them, but they would not be gathered. I will ask them, Why will you die? and enquire of them what I could have done more to prevent it which I have not done? Yea, I will seriously, and folemnly protest and swear unto them by the
greatest greatest oath, even that of my own Life, that I would not the death of him that dies, but rather that he should return and live, But after all, I will be true, and constant to that absolute decree of Reprobation which must render their damnation unfrustrable, and to the negative decree of with-holding from them that grace which can alone enable them to escape it, or to receive any advantage from all these declarations.
Hence we learn the falsehood of that assertion of the same good Bishop, “That Reprobation is not a denial of sufficient grace, but a denial of such special grace, as God knows would infallibly bring them to glory; and that we cannot thence con. clude, that being not elected, they are left without all remedy or sufficient means of salvation, or that being reprobated they are without sufficient remedies or means to escape damnation, were not their own wicked will the only hinderance; for can men be left infallibly to fail of eternal life, and
yet not be left without all remedy, or sufficient means of salvation ? If, as he says, God leaving them under the want of that special grace, they never fail of running themselves upon their own damnation, have they then sufficient remedies, or means to escape damnation? Sure it is, there can be no falvation, and no escaping of damnation without conversion of the will from sin to God; if then these Reprobates have no fufficient means to turn their perverted wills from sin to God, they can have no sufficient means to escape damnation. Again, either these means are sufficient to render them truly willing to believe and repent, or they are not : either they are sufficient to remove the disability of will contracted by the fall, or they are not: if they are not, how are they means sufficient for the attainment of the salvation which belongs only to the believer, or the escaping of that damnation which necessarily follows upon the disability, for which no sufficient remedy is provided ? If they are sufficient, then may they be. lieve and repent, and so they on whom God hath passed this act of Reprobation, may be saved, as well, though not as
certainly, as they who are elected to obtain salvation. Sup. pose a man hath broken his leg by a fall, hath he therefore sufficient means to walk, because he might have done so had not his leg been broken? If then the will of man by his fall be as much disabled to walk in the ways of God, as this man's body is to walk at all, can it truly be said he hath sufficient means to walk in those ways, because he would have had them, had not his will been thus disabled ? Adam indeed, as che Bishop faith, “ Though not predestinated to fand in the state of innocency, had yet sufficient means of standing." because he had no defectiveness or disability in his will to do so; but what is this to the case of those who are supposed to be so disabled, that if they be left to their own wills as Adam was, are so disabled that they cannot stand?
I will now put the two decrees one under the other, that they may blush at one another.
1. Absolute Election contains an eternal, absolute, infallible decree, that Peter shall believe, repent, persevere unto the end, and be saved.
The Evangelical conditional decree is, That if Peter do not believe, repent, and persevere unto the end, he shall infallibly be damned. And therefore God, in it, speaks to Peter thus, Except thou repent thou shalt perish; pass therefore the time of thy sojourning here in fear; work out thy salvation with fear and trembling; continue in the faith, for if thou drawest back my soul shall have no pleasure in thee; yea, give all diligence to make thy calling and election sure.
2. Absolute Reprobation is an absolute, infallible decree, That Judas shall unavoidably fail of obtaining life eternal ; that this event shall be so certain, that he shall never fail to Tun himself wilfully upon his damnation.'
The Evangelical conditional decree is this, That if Judas will repent, believe and persevere, he shall be saved, and in pur. fuance of this decree, God lovingly invites him to believe, and repent; exhorts, and even entreats him by his Ambassadors,
to be reconciled to him; to turn from his evil ways and live, alluring him to do so by the hopes of pardon and salvation, if he will hearken to God's calls, and persuading him by the miseries which he will then incur, not to neglect so great faluption, expoftulating the case with him, why after all these methods to prevent his ruin, he will die and not live? Why he will not be purged and made clean? and how long it will be ere he will hearken to his invitations ? declaring that he doth all this, because he hath compafhon on him, and is long-suffering to him, because he is not willing he should perish, but should come to repentance, though his decree of Reprobation hath sendered his damnation a certain and infallible event.
2dly, Observe, That though the greatest part of them who assert an absolute Election and Reprobation, or Preterition, make the object of them, not man, as man, but as fallen, and therefore finful man; yet is the difference betwixt them, and those who are called Supralapsarians, very little; for the Supralapsarians say, God decreed that Adam should be the head of all mankind, and therefore to impute his first sin, and that only to his posterity, and not to impute to them his repentance for it, though there was equal reason to do both, or neither ; and foreseeing that he would fall, and render his pofterity obnoxious to his eternal displeasure, he designed to glorify bis free grace and mercy in saving some of them, and to in bestowing on them infallibly that grace which shall unfrustrably bring them to salvation.
Others he absolutely decrees to pass by, and not: bestow that grace upon them without which they cannot obtain falvation, or avoid eternal misery
[To be continued.]
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as founding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, są as to remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing
WE know. All feripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is therefore true and right concerning all things. But we know likewise, that there are some scriptures which more immediately commend themselves to every man's conscience. In this rank we may place the passage before us : there are scarce any that object to it. On the contrary, the generality of men very readily appeal to it. Nothing is more common than to find even those who deny the authority of the holy scriprures, yet affirming, “This is my religion: that which is described in the thirteenth chapter of the Corinthians." Nay, even a Jew, Dr. Nunes, a Spanish Physician,