OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.
FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.
POSITION 1. -God did, from all eternity, decree to leave some of Adam’s fallen posterity in their sins, and to exclude them from the participation of Christ and His benefits. For the clearing of this, let it be observed that in all ages the much greater part of mankind have been destitute even of the external means of grace, and have not been favoured with the preaching of God’s Word or any revelation of His will. Thus, anciently, the Jews, who were in number the fewest of all people, were, nevertheless, for a long series of ages, the only nation to whom the Deity was pleased to make any special discovery of Himself, and it is observable that our Lord Himself principally confined the advantages of His public ministry to that people; nay, He forbade His disciples to go among any others (Mat 10:5,6), and did not commission them to preach the Gospel indiscriminately to Jews and Gentiles until after His resurrection (Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47). Hence many nations and communities never had the advantage of hearing the Word preached, and consequently were strangers to the faith that cometh thereby.
It is not indeed improbable, but some individuals in these unenlightened countries might belong to the secret election of grace, and the habit of faith might be wrought in these. However, be that as it will, our argument is not affected by it. It is evident that the nations of the world were generally ignorant, not only of God Himself, but likewise of the way to please Him, the true manner of acceptance with Him, and the means of arriving at the everlasting enjoyment of Him. Now, if God had been pleased to have saved those people, would He not have vouchsafed them the ordinary means of salvation? Would He not have given them all things necessary in order to that end? But it is undeniable matter of fact that He did not, and to very many nations of the earth does not at this day. If, then, the Deity can consistently with His attributes deny to some the means of grace, and shut them up in gross darkness and unbelief, why should it be thought incompatible with His immensely glorious perfections to exclude some persons from grace itself, and from that eternal life which is connected with it, especially seeing He is equally the Lord and sovereign Disposer of the end to which the means lead, as of the means which lead to that end? Both one and the other are His, and He most justly may, as He most assuredly will, do what He pleases with His own.
Besides, it being also evident that many, even of them who live in places where the Gospel is preached, as well as of those among whom it never was preached, die strangers to God and holiness, and without experiencing anything of the gracious influences of His Spirit, we may reasonably and safely conclude that one cause of their so dying is because it was not the Divine will to communicate His grace unto them, since, had it been His will, He would actually have made them partakers thereof, and had they been partakers of it they could not have died without it. Now, if it was the will of God in time to refuse them this grace, it must have been His will from eternity, since His will is, as Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The actions of God being thus fruits of His eternal purpose, we may safely, and without any danger of mistake, argue from them to that and infer that God therefore does such and such things, because He decreed to do them, His own will being the sole cause of all His works. So that, from His actually leaving some men in final impenitency and unbelief, we assuredly gather that it was His everlasting determination so to do, and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world. And as this inference is strictly rational, so is it perfectly Scriptural. Thus the Judge will in the last day declare to those on the left hand, “I never knew you” (Mat 7:23), 1:e., “I never, no, not from eternity, loved, approved or acknowledged you for Mine,” or, in other words, “I always hated you.” Our Lord (in John 17:) divides the whole human race into two great classes – one He calls the world; the other, “the men who were given Him out of the world.” The latter, it is said, the Father loved, even as He loved Christ Himself (ver. 23), but He loved Christ “before the foundation of the world” (ver. 24), 1:e., from everlasting; therefore He loved the elect so too, and if He loved these from eternity, it follows, by all the rules of antithesis, that He hated the others as early. So, “The children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God,” etc. (Rom 9:). From the example of the two twins, Jacob and Esau, the apostle infers the eternal election of some men and the eternal rejection of all the rest.
Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady
Chapter 11- Seeing it is not possible that the Reprobate should receive this Grace and live, and also seeing this is infallibly Foreseen of God, and again, seeing God hath – Fore. determined to suffer it so to be, why doth he yet Will and Command that the Gospel, and so Grace in the general tenders thereof, should be proffered unto them!
WHY, then, is the Gospel offered them? Well, that there is such a thing as eternal reprobation I have showed you, also what this eternal reprobation is I have opened unto you; and shall now show you also that though these reprobates will infallibly perish, which God not only foresaw, but foredetermined to suffer them most assuredly to do so, yet there is reason, great reason, why the Gospel, and so the grace of God thereby, should be tendered, and that in general terms, to them as well as others.
But before I come to lay the reasons before you I must mind you afresh of these particulars:
1. That eternal reprobation makes no man a sinner.
2. That the foreknowledge of God that the reprobate would perish makes no man a sinner.
3. That God’s infallibly determining upon the damnation of him that perisheth makes no man a sinner.
4. God’s patience and long-suffering and forbearance until the reprobate fits himself for eternal destruction makes no man a sinner.
So, then, God may reprobate, may suffer the reprobate to sin, may foredetermine his infallible damnation, through the preconsideration of him in sin, and may also forbear to work that effectual work in his soul that would infallibly bring him out of this condition, and yet neither be the author, contriver, nor means of man’s sin and misery.
Again, God may infallibly foresee that this reprobate, when he hath sinned, will be an unreasonable opposer of his own salvation, and may also determine to suffer him to sin and be thus unreasonable to the end. yet be gracious, yea, very gracious, if he offer him life, and that only upon reasonable terms, which yet he denieth to close with.
The reasons are —
1. Because not God, but sin, hath made him unreasonable, without which, reasonable terms had. done his work for him; for reasonable terms are the most equal and righteous terms that can be propounded between parties at difference; yea the terms that most suiteth and agreeth with a reasonable creature, such as man; nay, reasonable terms are, for terms, the most apt to work with that man whose reason is brought into and held captive by very sense itself.
2. God goeth yet further: he addeth promises of mercy, as those that are inseparable to the terms he offereth, even to pour forth his Spirit unto them: “Turn at my reproof, and behold I will pour forth of my Spirit unto you, and incline your ear; come unto me, hear, and your soul shall live.”
Now, then, to the question itself — to wit, that seeing it is impossible the reprobate should be saved, seeing also this is infallibly foreseen of God, and seeing also that God hath beforehand determined to suffer it so to be, yet I shall show you it is requisite, yea, very requisite, that he should both will and command that the Gospel, and so grace in the general tenders thereof, should be proffered unto them
THE FIRST REASON
And that, first, to show that this reprobation doth not in itself make any man absolutely incapable of salvation; for if God had intended that by the act of reprobation the persons therein concerned should also by that only act have been made incapable of everlasting life, then this act must also have tied up all the means from them that tendeth to that end, or at least have debarred the Gospel’s being offered to them by God’s command for that intent; otherwise who is there but would have charged the Holy One as guilty of guile and worthy of blame for commanding that the Gospel of grace and salvation should be offered unto this or that man, whom yet he hath made incapable to receive it by his act of reprobation? Wherefore this very thing — to wit, that the Gospel is yet to be tendered to those eternally reprobated — showeth that it is not simply the act of God’s reprobation, but sin, that incapacitateth the creature of life everlasting; which sin is no branch of this reprobation, as is evident, because the elect and reprobate are both alike defiled therewith.
THE SECOND REASON
Secondly. God also showeth by this that the reprobate doth not perish for want of the offers of salvation, (though he hath offended God,) and that upon most righteous terms, according to what is written: “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but that the wicked turn from his wicked way and live. Turn unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.” So, then, here lieth the point between God and the reprobate, (I mean the reprobate since he hath sinned:) God is willing to save him upon reasonable terms, but not upon terms above reason; but no reasonable terms will down with the reprobate, therefore he must perish for his unreasonableness.
That God is willing to save even those that perish for ever is apparent, both from the consideration of the goodness of his nature, of man’s being his creature, and indeed in a miserable state. But, I say, as I have also said already, there is a great difference between his being willing to save them through their complying with these his reasonable terms, and his being resolved to save them whether they, as men, will close therewith or no; so only he saveth the elect themselves, even; according to the riches of his grace, even according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus working effectually in them what the Gospel, as a condition, calleth for from them. And hence it is that he is said to give faith, (yea the most holy faith, for that is the faith of God’s elect,) to give repentance, to give a new heart, to give his fear, even that fear that may keep them for ever from everlasting ruin, still engaging his mercy and goodness to follow them all the days of their lives, that they may dwell. in the house of the Lord for ever; and as another Scripture saith, “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God.”
But, I say, his denying to do thus for every man in the world cannot properly be said to be because he is not heartily willing they should close with the tenders of the grace held forth in the Gospel and live. Wherefore you must consider that there is a distinction to be put between God’s denying grace on reasonable terms and denying it absolutely, and also that there is a difference between his withholding further grace and of hindering men from closing with the grace at present offered; also that God may withhold much when he taketh away nothing, yea, take away much when once abused, and yet be just and righteous still. Further, God may deny to do this or that absolutely, when yet he hath promised to do not only that, but more, conditionally. Which things considered, you may with ease conclude that he may be willing to save those not. elect upon reasonable terms, though not without them.
It is no unrighteousness in God to offer grace unto the world, though but on those terms only that they are also foreseen by him infallibly to reject, both because to reject it is unreasonable, especially the terms being so reasonable as to believe the truth and live, and also because it is grace and mercy in God so much as once to offer means of reconciliation to a sinner, he being the offender, but the Lord the God offended, they being but dust and ashes, he the heavenly Majesty. If God, when man had broke the law, had yet with all severity kept the world to-the utmost condition of it, had he then been unjust? had he injured man at all? was not every tittle of the law reasonable, both in the first and second table? How much more, then, is he merciful and gracious even in but mentioning terms of reconciliation, especially seeing he is also willing so to condescend if they will believe his word and receive the love of the truth! Though the reprobate then doth voluntarily and against all strength of reason run him-. self upon the rocks of eternal misery, and split himself thereon, he perisheth in his own corruption by rejecting terms of life.
Objection. 1. But the reprobate is not now in a capacity to fulfill these reasonable terms.
Answer. But, I say, suppose it should be granted, is it because reprobation made him incapable, or sin? Not reprobation, but sin; if sin, then before he quarrel let him consider the case aright., where, in the result, he will find sin, being consented to by his voluntary mind, hath thus disabled him, and because, I say, it was sin by his voluntary consent that. did it, let him quarrel with himself for consenting so as to make himself incapable to close with reasonable terms, yea, with those terms because reasonable, therefore most suitable (as terms) for him, notwithstanding his wickedness. And I say again, forasmuch as. these reasonable terms have annexed unto them, as their inseparable companions, such wonderful mercy and grace, as indeed there is, let even them that perish yet justify God, yea, cry, “His goodness endureth for ever,” though they, through the wretchedness of their hearts, get no benefit by it.
THE THIRD REASON
Thirdly. God may will and command that his Gospel, and so the grace thereof, be tendered to those that shall never be saved, (besides what hath been said,) to show to all spectators what an enemy sin, being once embraced, is to the salvation of man. Sin, without the tenders of the grace of the Gospel, could never have appeared so exceeding sinful as by that it both hath and doth: “If I had not come and spoken unto them,” saith Christ, “they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin.” As sins that oppose the law are discovered by the law that is, by the goodness, and justness, and holiness of the law so the sins that oppose the Gospel are made manifest by that, even by the love, and mercy, and forgiveness of the Gospel. (“If he that despised Moses’s law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?”) Who could have thought that sin would have opposed that which is just, but especially mercy and grace, had we not seen it with our eyes? And how could we have seen it to purpose had not God left some to themselves? Here indeed is sin made manifest: “For all he had done so many miracles amongst them,” (to wit, to persuade them to mercy,) “yet they believed him not.” Sin, where it reigneth, is a mortal enemy to the soul; it blinds the eyes, holds the hands, ties the legs, and stops the ears, and makes the heart implacable to resist the Savior of souls. That man will neither obey the law nor the Gospel who is left unto his sin; which also God is willing should be discovered and made manifest, though it cost the damnation of some: “For this very purpose,” saith God to Pharaoh, “have I raised thee up, that I might show in thee my power, and that my name might be declared in all the earth.” For God, by raising up Pharaoh to his kingdom and suffering him to walk to the height according as his sin did prompt him forward, showed unto all beholders what a dreadful thing sin is, and that without the special assistance of his Holy Spirit sin would neither be charmed by law nor Gospel. This reason, though it be no profit unto those that are damned, yet it is for the honor of God and the good of those he hath chosen. It is for the honor of God, even for the honor of his power and mercy, for his power is now discovered indeed, when nothing can tame sin but that; and his mercy is here seen indeed, because that doth engage him to do it. Read Romans 9:22, 23.
THE FOURTH REASON
Fourthly. God commandeth that the tender of the Gospel, and the grace thereof, be in general offered to all, that means thereby might be sufficiently provided for the elect, both to beget them to faith and to maintain it in them to the end, in what place, or state, or condition soever they are. God, through the operation of his manifold wisdom, hath an end, and an end in his acts and doings amongst the children of men, and so in that he commandeth that his Gospel be tendered to all — an end, I say, to leave the damned without excuse and to provide sufficiency of means for the gathering all. his elect. “Oh that God would speak,” saith Zophar, “and open his mouth against thee, and show thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is!” For though God worketh with and upon the elect otherwise than with and upon the reprobate, yet he worketh with and upon the elect with and by the same word he commandeth should be held forth and offered to the reprobate. Now the text thus running in most free and universal terms, the elect then hearing thereof, do, through the mighty power of God, close in with the tenders therein held forth, and are saved. Thus that word that was offered to the reprobate Jews, and by them most fiercely rejected, even that word became yet effectual to the chosen, and they were sawed thereby. “They gladly received, the word, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Not as though the word of God had taken none effect; God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew.” The word shall accomplish the thing for which God hat, h sent it, even the salvation of the few that are chosen, when tendered to all, though rejected by most, through the rebellion of their hearts.
Objection. 2. But if God hath elected, as you have said, what. need he lay a foundation so general for the begetting faith in his chosen particulars, seeing the same Spirit that worketh in them by such means could also work in them by other, even by a word, excluding the most, in the first tenders thereof, amongst men?
Answer. I told you before that though this be a principal reason of the general tenders of the grace of the Gospel, yet it is not all the reason why the tender should be so general as the three former reasons show.
But again, in the bowels of God’s decree of election is contained the means that are also ordained for the effectual bringing of those elected to that glory for which they were fore-appointed, even to gather together in one all the children of God; “whereupon he called you,” saith Paul, “by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God’s decree of election, then, destroyeth not the means which his wisdom hath prepared; it rather establisheth, yea, ordains and establisheth it; and maketh that means which in the outward sign is indefinite and general effectual to this and that man, through a special and particular application; thus that Christ that in general was offered to all is by a special act of faith applied to Paul in particular: “He loved me and gave himself for me.”
Further. As the design of the heavenly Majesty is to bring his elect to glory by means, so by the means thus universal and general as most behooveful and fit, if we consider not only the way it doth please him to work with some of his chosen, in order to this their glory, but also the trials, temptations, and other calamities they must go through thereto.
1. Touching hits working with some, how Invisible is it to those in whose souls it is yet begun! How is the word buried under the clods of their hearts for months, yea, years together! Only thus much is discovered thereof: it showeth the soul its sin, the which it doth also so aggravate and apply to the conscience (Jesus still refraining, like Joseph, to make himself known to his brethren) that were there not general tenders of mercy, and that to the worst of sinners, they would soon miscarry and perish as do the sons of perdition. But by these the Lord upholdeth and helpeth them, that they stand when others fall for ever.
2. And so likewise for their trials, temptations and other calamities, because God will not bring them to heaven without, but by them, therefore he hath also provided a word so large as to lie fair for the support of the soul in all conditions, that it may not die for thirst.
3. I might add also in this place that their imperfect state after grace received doth call for such a word, yea, many other things which might be named, which God, only wise, hath thought fit should accompany us to the ship, yea, in the sea, to our desired haven.
THE FIFTH REASON
Fifthly. God willeth and commandeth the Gospel should be offered to all, that thereby distinguishing love, as to an inward and spiritual work, might the: more appear to be indeed the fruit of special and peculiar love. For in that the Gospel is tendered to all in general when yet but some do receive it, yea, and seeing these some are as unable, unwilling, and by nature as much averse thereto as those that refuse it, and perish, it is evident that something more of heaven and the operation of the Spirit of God doth accompany the word thus tendered for their life and salvation that enjoy it; not now as a word barely tendered, but backed by the strength of heaven: “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God! — even we who believe according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” This provoketh to distinguishing admiration, yea, and also to a love like that which hath fastened on the called, the preserved, and the glorified: “He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord.” Now are the sacrifices bound even to the horns of the altar, with a “Lord, how is it that thou shouldst manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world? He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters, he delivered me from my strong enemy and from them that hated me, for they were too strong for me.”
For thus the elect considereth: Though we all came alike into the world and are the children of wrath by nature, yea, though we have alike so weakened ourselves by sin that the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint, being altogether gone out of the way, and every one become altogether unprofitable, both to God and ourselves, yet that God should open mine eyes, convert my soul, give me faith, forgive my sins, raise me, when I fall, fetch me again when I am gone astray — this is wonderful! Yea, that he should prepare eternal mansions for me, and also keep me by his blessed and mighty power for that; and that in a way of believing, which without his assistance I am in no way able to perform — that he should do this notwithstanding my sins, though I had no righteousness, yea, that he should do it according to the riches of his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ our Lord, even according to an everlasting covenant of grace, which yet the greatest part of the world are void of, and will for ever miss and fall short of! Besides, that he should mollify my heart, break it, and then delight in it, put his fear in it, and then look to me, and keep me as the apple of his eye; yea, resolve to guide me with his counsel, and then receive me to glory! Further, that all this should be the effect of unthoughtof, undeserved, and undesired love — that the Lord should think on this before he made the world, and sufficiently ordain the means before he had laid the foundation of the hills, — for this he is worthy to be praised; yea, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord; praise ye the Lord.”
Objection 3. But you have said before that the reprobate is also blessed with many Gospel mercies, as with the knowledge of Christ, faith, light, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the tastes or relish of the powers of the world to come; if so, then what should be the reason that yet he perisheth? Is it because the grace that he receiveth differeth from the grace that the elect are saved by? If they differ, where lieth the difference? Whether in the nature, or in the degree, or in the management thereof?
Answer. To this objection I might answer many things, but for brevity take this reply:
1. That a non-elect may travel very far both in the knowledge, faith, light, and sweetness of Jesus Christ, and may also attain to the partaking of the Holy Ghost; yea, and by the very operation of these things also escape the pollution of the world and become a visible saint, join in church communion and be as chief amongst the, very elect themselves. This the Scriptures everywhere do show us.
The question then is Whether the elect and reprobate receive a differing grace? To which I answer, Yes, in some respects, both as to the nature thereof and also the degree.
To begin:, then, with the nature of it:
1. The faith that the chosen are blessed with, it goeth under another name than any faith besides, even the faith of God’s elect, as of a faith belonging to them only, of which none others do partake; which faith also, for the nature of it, is called faith most holy, to show it goes beyond all other, and can be fitly matched nowhere else but with their most blessed faith who infallibly attain eternal glory; even like precious faith with us, saith Peter, with his elect companions. And so of other things. For if this be true that they differ in their faith, they must needs therewith differ in, ether things; for faith, being the mother of grace, produceth all the rest according to its own nature to wit, love that abounds, that never fails, and that is never contented till it attain the resurrection of the dead, etc.
They differ as to their nature in this: the faith, and hope, and love that the chosen receive, it is that which floweth from election itself; he hath blessed us according as he hath chosen us, even with those graces he set apart for us when he in. eternity did appoint us to life before the foundation of the world; which grace, because the decree in itself is most absolute and infallible, they also, that they may completely answer the end, will do the work infallibly likewise, still through the management of Christ: “I have prayed that thy faith fail not.”
But secondly. As they differ in nature, they differ also in degree; for though it be true that the reprobate is blessed with grace, yet this is also as true, that the elect are blessed with more grace; it is the privilege only of those that are chosen, to be blessed with [all] spiritual blessings, and to have [all] the good pleasure of the goodness of God fulfilled in and upon them. Those who are blessed with [all] spiritual blessings must needs be blessed with eternal life; and those in whom the Lord not only works all his good pleasure, but fulfilleth all the good pleasure of his goodness upon them, they must needs be preserved to his heavenly kingdom; but none of the non-elect have these things conferred upon them; therefore the grace bestowed upon the one doth differ both in nature and degree from the other.
Thirdly. There is a difference as to the management also; the reprobate is principal for the management of the grace he receiveth, but Jesus Christ is principal for the management of the grace the elect receiveth. When I say principal, I mean chief; for though the reprobate is to have the greatest hand in the management of what mercy and goodness the Lord bestoweth on him, yet not so as that the Lord will not help him at all; nay, contrariwise, he will, if first the reprobate do truly the duty that lieth on him: “If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted? But if not well, behold sin lieth at the door.” Thus it was also with Saul, who was rejected of God upon this account. And I say, as to the elect themselves, though Jesus Christ our blessed Savior be chief as to the management of the grace bestowed on his chosen, yet not so as that he quite excludeth them from striving according to his working which worketh in them mightily; nay, contrariwise, if those who in truth are elect shall yet be remiss and do wickedly, they shall feel the stroke of God’s rod, it may be till their bones do break. But because the work doth not lie at their door to manage as chief, but at Christ’s, therefore though he may perform his work with much bitterness and grief to them, yet he, being engaged as the principal, will perform that which concerneth them, even until the day (the coming) of Jesus Christ.
From what hath been said there ariseth this conclusion:
The elect are always under eternal mercy, but those not elect always under eternal justice; for you must consider this: there is eternal mercy and eternal justice, and there is present mercy and present justice. So, then, for a man to be in a state of mercy, it may be either a state of mercy present or both present and eternal also. And so, again, for a man to be in a state under justice, it may be understood either of present justice only or of both present and eternal also.
That this may yet further be opened I shall somewhat enlarge. I begin with present mercy and present justice. That which I call present mercy is that; faith, light, knowledge and state of the good word of God that a man may have and perish. This is called in Scripture “believing for awhile, during for awhile, and rejoicing in the light for a season.” Now I call this mercy, both because none (as men) can deserve it, and also because the proper end thereof is to do good to those that have it. But I call it present mercy, because those that are only blessed with that may sin it away and perish; as did some of the Galatians, Hebrews, Alexandrians, with the Asians, and others. But yet observe again, I do not call this present mercy because God hath determined it shall last but awhile absolutely, but because it is possible for man to lose it, yea, determined he shall, conditionally.
Again. As to present justice, it is that which lasteth but awhile also; and as present mercy is properly the portion of those left out of God’s election, so present justice chiefly hath to do with God’s beloved, who yet at that time are also under eternal mercy. This is that justice that afflicted Job, David, Heman, and the godly, who notwithstanding do infallibly attain, by virtue of this mercy, eternal life and glory. I call this justice, because in some sense God dealeth with his children according to the quality of their transgression; and I call it also present justice, because though the hand of God for the present be never so heavy on those that are his by election, yet it lasteth but awhile; wherefore though this indeed be called wrath: yet this is but a little wrath — wroth for a moment, time, or season. “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.”
Thus you! see there is present mercy and present justice; also that the elect may be under present justice when the rest may be under present mercy.
Again. As there is present mercy and present justice, so there is eternal mercy and. eternal justice; and I say, as the elect may be under present justice when the non-elect may be under present mercy, so the elect at that time are also under eternal mercy, but the other under eternal justice.
That the elect are under eternal mercy, and that when under present justice, is evident from what hath been said before — namely, from their being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, as also from the consideration of their sound conversion and safe preservation quite through this wicked world, even safe unto eternal life; as he also saith by the prophet Jeremiah: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee;” and hence it is that he calleth the elect his sheep, his children, and people, and that before conversion; for though none of them as yet were his children by calling, yet were they his according to election.
Now the elect being under this eternal grace and mercy, they must needs be under it before present justice seizeth upon them, while it seizeth them and also continueth with them longer than present justice can, it being from everlasting to everlasting. This being so, here is the reason why no sin, nor yet temptation of the enemy, with any other evil, can hurt or destroy those thus elect of God; yea, this is that which maketh even those things that in themselves are the very bane of men, yet prove very much for good to those within this purpose; and as David saith, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted;” and again, “For when we are judged of the Lord we are chastened, that we should not be condemned with the world.” Now afflictions, etc., in themselves are not only fruitless and unprofitable, but, being unsanctified, are destructive: “I smote him, and he went on frowardly;” but now eternal mercy, working with this or that affliction, makes it profitable to the chosen: “I have seen his ways, and will heal him, and will restore comfort to him and to his mourners;” as he saith in another place, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastisest and teachest out of thy law.” For eternal mercy doth not look on those who are the elect and chosen of God as poor sinful creatures only, but also as the generation whom the Lord hath blessed, in whom he hath designed to magnify his name to the utmost by pardoning the transgressions of the remnant of his heritage, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, wherein also he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Wherefore, I say, the elect, as they do also receive that grace and mercy that may be sinned away, so they have that grace and mercy which cannot be lost and that sin cannot deprive. them of even mercy that abounds and goeth beyond all sin; such mercy as hath engaged the power of God, the intercession of Christ, and the communication of the blessed Spirit of adoption; which Spirit also engageth the heart, directs it into the love of God, that it may not depart from God after that rate as the reprobates do. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, (saith God,) that I will not turn away from them to do them good, but will put my fear in their heart, that they shall not depart from me.”
But now I say, God’s dealing with the non-elect is far otherwise, they being under the consideration of eternal justice, even then when in the enjoyment of present grace and mercy. And hence it is that as to their standing before the God of heaven they are counted dogs, and sows, and devils, even then when before the elect of God themselves they are counted saints and brethren: “The dog is returned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” And the reason is, because notwithstanding all their show before the world their old nature and. corruptions do still bear sway within, which in time also, according to the ordinary judgment of God, is suffered so to show itself that they are visible to saints that are elect, as was the case of Simon Magus and that wicked apostate Judas, who went out from us, “but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they should no doubt have continued with us; but they went out from us, that it might be manifest they were not all of us:” they were not elect as we, nor were they sanctified as the elect of God themselves; wherefore eternal justice counts them the sons of perdition when under their profession. And I say, they being under this eternal justice, it must needs haw to do with them in the midst of their profession; and because also it is much offended with them for conniving with their lusts, it taketh away from them, and that most righteously, those gifts and graces, and benefits and privileges that present mercy gave them; and not only so, but cuts them off for their iniquity, and layeth them under wrath for ever. “They have forsaken the right way, (saith God,) they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor; these are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest, trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
These things thus considered, you see —
1. That there is present grace and present mercy, eternal grace and eternal mercy.
2. That the elect are under eternal mercy, and that when under present justice; and that the reprobate is under eternal justice, and that when under present mercy.
3. Thus you see again that the non-elect perish by reason of sin, notwithstanding present mercy, because of eternal justice; and that the elect are preserved from the death (though they sin and are obnoxious to the strokes of present justice) by reason of eternal mercy. What shall we say, then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid; “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and compassion on whom he will have compassion.”
John Bunyan-Reprobation Asserted; Or, The Doctrine Of Eternal Election And Reprobation Promiscuously Handled: In Eleven Chapters Wherein The Most Material Objections Made By The Opposers Of This Doctrine Are Fully Answered, Several Doubts Removed, And Sundry Cases Removed Conscience Resolved.
The Lord’s Supper
1. What other ordinance has Christ established?
The Lord’s Supper.
2. In what does this ordinance consist?
In eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Christ.
3. Who alone are authorized to receive it?
The members of His churches.
4. In what way is it to be observed?
As a church ordinance, and in token of church fellowship.
5. Is there any established order in which these ordinances are to be observed?
Yes; the believer must be baptized before he partakes of the Lord’s Supper.
6. What does the Lord’s Supper represent?
The death and sufferings of Christ.
7. Does the mere partaking, either of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper confer spiritual blessings?
No; they are worthless, if not injurious, to those who do not exercise faith.
8. But how is it when they are partaken of by those who do exercise faith?
The Spirit of God makes them, to such persons, precious means of grace.
9. Whom has Christ appointed to administer Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
The authorized ministers of His churches.
James P. Boyce-A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine
A. The eighth commandment forbids whatever does or may unjustly hinder our own, (1 Timothy 5:8; Proverbs 28:19, 21:6) or our neighbor’s wealth, or outward estate. (Ephesians 4:28)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism
Chapter 12-The Will of God
By the will of God is meant that power inherent in his nature, by which he purposes and chooses any end or object, or determines its existence.
I. That God must have this power is evident.
1. Because it is an attribute of personality. A conscious personal being cannot be without will. Every proof that we have, therefore, that God has personal existence, is evidence that he must have will.
2. Will is also a perfection, and must be found in the being of all perfection.
3. The absolutely independent God, who is controlled by, and dependent upon no person nor thing, must have will, which determines his own acts.
4. It cannot be separated from the possession of the power and wisdom seen in the creation of the universe and in all God’s outward acts, for, without it, the things which wisdom devises and power executes could neither be devised nor executed.
5. It is essential to the sovereignty by which he rules the universe, for will is the element in which sovereignty consists.
6. Without it there could be no existence whatever, not even of God himself.
II. The objects of that will are all beings that exist, and all events that take place.
1. God must will his own existence and nature. These are objects of supreme desire. The infinite excellence of that nature, which furnishes a completely worthy object of his complacent love, cannot be contemplated without a correspondingly infinite desire that it should exist, and should be what it is. The will thus exercised, however, is not causal, as it is towards all other objects. It does not give existence to God, nor make his nature what it is, but on the contrary, it is because God exists and has such a nature, that he must so will.
2. The will of God is also exercised in establishing and maintaining the personal relations revealed to us as existing in the Godhead. It is by the will of the Father that he begets the Son, and by the will of the Father and the Son that the Spirit proceeds. The action of the will here is causal, although these relations are eternal, and are characteristic of the Godhead. They are the results of the divine activity, and, as effects, must find their ultimate cause in the will which moves to action. The fact that because this is divine will and action, there can be no priority of time in the will to the act, does not forbid the causal relation which, because of the eternity of God, must make cause and effect in him co-eternal.
3. Another exhibition of will in the divine being is connected with the mutual love of the divine persons toward each other. This love proceeds from these persons as one form of eternal activity, and is willed by each to the full extent of its infinite exercise.
4. The will of God is more plainly made known, however, to his creatures, in his outward activity in creation. This was called into existence by the word of his power. He willed, and it was done. But for that will, it had not been. Viewed as a whole, or in its minutest part, the universe presents everywhere the impress of its maker’s will. To that will is due not only all material, but also all spiritual existence.
5. The will of God is also manifested in his providential care and government of the universe. In creating it, he has established laws, both mechanical and spiritual, by which it is regulated. Yet he has not withdrawn his own presence and power in its continued guidance and preservation; but is constantly developing, through it and in it, his eternal purpose.
6. In human affairs, however, the will of God is most distinctively exhibited in the work of redemption. Let this be admitted as a true work of God, and, at once, appear the proofs of a far-reaching end, accomplished by frequent acts of interposition and guidance, in which concentres and culminates the entire scope of God’s outward activity. The will of God is seen to be the propelling force of his devising wisdom and executing power in the accomplishment of one great purpose to which is indissolubly linked all his other acts and volitions.
III. A question arises as to this will of God, whether, in its exercise, he acts necessarily or freely.
It has been answered, that his will is exercised both necessarily and freely, according to the object of that will.
1. He is said to will necessarily, himself, his holy nature, and character, and the personal relations in the Godhead. This language may be admitted, if it be borne in mind, that the necessity here declared, is not one of fate, nor of outward compulsion. Whatever is meant by it must be fully consistent with God’s free agency. It is a necessity that arises from his nature, because of which, such must be the will of God, that he wills himself, his existence, and the relations of the persons of the Godhead. Such being the nature of the necessity, it would be better to express it in some way which would indicate its source and prevent misapprehension. The word “naturally” would suffice, were it not for its ambiguity in common use; consequently “essentially” is suggested as expressive of all the necessity, and at the same time of all the freedom which must accompany an act of the will proceeding from the very essence or nature of God.
2. As to all else than himself, God wills freely, whether his will has regard to their existence, or mode of existence, or their actions, or the events which influence or control them. He does his own will, not that of another. He chooses what, and whom he will create, and the times, places and circumstances in which he will place those he creates. He marks out to all his intelligent creatures the paths of their lives. He uses them for his purposes. Though he gives to them also, like freedom of will, yet is their will subordinate to his, and, with their actions, is controlled by it. Yet is this so wisely done, and so truly in accordance with their own natures, as fully to preserve in them consciousness and conviction of the power of contrary choice, and of full responsibility for what they choose and do.
When it is said, however, that God will freely, it is not meant that no influence is exerted upon his will. It is only intended to deny that his will is influenced from without. In all his outward acts, as well as in those within, he is governed by his own nature. That nature, and that will, must always be in unison. As he is infinitely wise, so must his will and action be directed towards wise ends in the use of wise means. His infinite justice forbids that he should will or do anything contrary to the strictest justice. The God of truth must also purpose in accordance with truth and faithfulness. His love, too, which is so gracious a characteristic of God, forbids that he shall will otherwise than benevolently towards all; securing the happiness of the innocent, an desiring that even of the guilty, when it can be made consistent with his justice. The holiness of his nature makes it essential that, as all perfection, in perfect harmony, is involved in that holiness, so also must it be found in every purpose which he forms, as well as in every action by which his purposes are accomplished. When, therefore, God is said to will freely in all matters which are without, it is not meant to deny that he is governed by his nature in all respects, in which that nature ought to affect his will.
But, even in the volition thus formed, God does not will freely, in the sense of willing arbitrarily. He is not indifferent as to what he will do. There is choice, and not arbitrary choice. There are reasons perceived by him, which induce him to choose one end, rather than another, and one set of means to that end, in preference to others. There is in each case a prevailing motive, not necessarily dependent upon its own force or power, but upon the simple fact, that, in the midst of the numerous ends and means known to him through his infinite knowledge, this motive makes this end, and these means best pleasing to him. The very nature of choice in any being of intelligence and free agency makes this the method by which the will forms its decision. There is nothing in the nature of the omniscient and all-purposing God, which forbids that this also should be the method of his volitions. Our conception of God in this respect cannot be incorrect, although, as in all instances in which we attempt to arrive at the perfections of God through those recognized as such in man, this conception may be very inadequate.
IV. The discussion of the preceding question shows how truly man, so far as his will is concerned, had been made in the image of God. It suggests the propriety, therefore, of setting forth more particularly the points of similarity and dissimilarity between the will of man and that of God.
1. Some points of similarity may be mentioned.
(1.) In man, will is the element in which sovereignty exists; so also in God.
(2.) In man, will depends upon the understanding, that is, it is exercised, all other things being equal, in accordance with its dictates; so also in God.
(3.) In man, the will is essentially influenced by his nature; so also in God.
(4.) In man, the will is controlled by the prevailing motive, which is made the strongest, because it is that most pleasing to him; so also in God.
2. But there are also points of dissimilarity between these wills.
(1.) God never wills what he cannot do; man often does.
(2.) In God, the will is never influenced from without; in man this is frequently done.
By the outward control in man is not here meant that physical compulsion by which a man is sometimes said to act against his will; but those legitimate outward influences from persons, circumstances, and events, which lead men freely to choose, in accordance with the laws of the mind.
(3.) In God, the prevailing motive is not only the most pleasing, but, presumably, the best; in man, it is only the most pleasing, not the most reasonable and right, nor the most conducive to happiness; but often the very contrary of these.
(4.) In God there is but one will, or purpose, which comprehends all his ends and means; he does not will, by successive acts, nor in successive moments, but simultaneously, and eternally; man wills successively, one will follows another, and the volition of one man often succeeds the acts, as well as the volitions, of others.
(5.) The will of God is always accomplished; that of man is often defeated.
(6.) God never changes his will, nor perceives any reason for such change; man changes his frequently, from caprice, or because of new information, or because he sees the importance of a better life, or is carried off by passion to one that is worse.
V. Various distinctions as to the will of God have been pointed out, some of which are correct, or at least admissible, and others incorrect, and objectionable.
The following list is given by Turretine in the fifteenth and sixteenth questions of his third book. The statements made are in the main taken from his discussion.
1. The correct distinctions.
(1.) The first distinction is between the decretive and preceptive will of God.
By the decretive will is meant that will of God by which he purposes or decrees, whatever shall come to pass, whether he will to accomplish it himself effectively, or causatively, or to permit it to occur through the unrestrained agency or will of his creatures. In either case, however, he has determined, purposed, or decreed, either to bring it to pass, or to cause, or to permit it to be brought to pass.
By the preceptive will is meant that which he has prescribed to be done by others. Such are the laws under which he places his creatures, or the duties which he enjoins upon them. It is the rule of duty.
The decretive will must always be fulfilled; the preceptive may be disobeyed, and therefore remain unfulfilled.
(2.) Nearly corresponding to this first distinction is another into the will of eudokia, and that of euarestia. As the former was taken from two Latin, so this is from two Greek words, and these Greek words are scriptural. The former division was made in connection with purpose to do; this in connection with pleasure in doing, or desire to do, or to see done. But the two correspond in the fact that the will of eudokia, like that of decree, comprises what shall certainly be accomplished, and that of euarestia like that of precept embraces simply what it pleases God that his creatures shall do.
It must not be supposed, however, that, because of the meaning eudokia, (well pleasing,) the decretive will, expressed by this word, is confined to those volitions of God, in which the happiness and blessing of man are involved. It was with reference both to evil to some, and blessing to others, that Christ used it when he said, “Yea Father for so it was well pleasing in thy sight.” Matt. 11:26. The decretive will of God, whatever its effect upon his creatures, is “well pleasing” to God.
(3.) A third distinction is between the will of the signum and that of the beneplacitum.
By the beneplacitum is intended, a will of God which is confined to himself, until he makes it known by some revelation, or by the event itself. Any will thus made known becomes the signum. Manifestly these may differ in several respects.
If the will of the beneplacitum be confined, as it should be, to the decretive will of God, it will be broader, and narrower, than that of the signum; broader, because at no time has the whole decretive will of God been revealed; and narrower, because the will of the signum must extend, also, to the preceptive will of God, which God prescribes as duty, and yet does not determine shall be performed. In some cases, God even gives commands, which are, for the time, a rule of duty, and, therefore, a part of his preceptive will, and thus also of this will of signum, obedience to which he actually intends to prevent. Thus he ordered Abraham by the will of signum to sacrifice Isaac, which was thus made to his servant a rule of duty, yet, by the will of the beneplacitum, he not only did not purpose the sacrifice, but intended to interpose to prevent it.
(4.) A fourth distinction is between the secret and the revealed will of God. Turretine says, “The former of these is commonly referred to the will of decree, which for the most part is hidden in God; the latter to the will of the precept, which is revealed, and disclosed in the Law and the Gospel. Its basis is sought in Deut. 29:29: ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.’ The former is called a great deep and an unsearchable abyss. Ps. 36:6; Rom. 11:33, 34. The latter is accessible to all, nor is it far from us. Deut. 30:14; Rom. 10:8. That has for its object all those things which God will either to effect, or permit, and which, especially, he wishes to do concerning each man, and which are, therefore, absolute and fixed without exception. The latter refers to those things which belong to our duty, and which are conditionally set forth. The former is always done, the latter is often violated.”
2. The incorrect distinctions:
(1.) That of antecedent and consequent volitions.
By this is not meant one will, or decree, which precedes another in its logical order in the divine mind, or in its execution by God, as that of the creation of man, before that of his redemption; nor one will of the precept, which consists in the prescribed duty, followed by another which sets forth the consequent rewards and punishments. Were this so, the distinction would be objectionable only because of its inaccuracy in transferring to God such methods of our action, or logical conception, as belong to that succession in our acts and will which cannot exist in God. It would be only the same kind of misstatement, of which orthodox theologians are guilty, when under the form of sublapsarianism, or supralapsarianism, they attempt to set forth the order of God’s decrees. In one form, in which this distinction is incorrectly made, it is claimed that a consequent will in God arises after he sees the results of one which is previous, or antecedent; another that he forms a particular volition, especially affecting an individual man, following upon a general volition, or disposition, to seek the happiness of his creatures, or to prescribe a course by which that happiness may be secured.
To the distinction of antecedent, and consequent volitions, in these forms, there are many objections.
(a.) It admits succession in the decrees of God, and makes them many, when they are but one.
(b.) It makes them temporal, when they are eternal.
(c.) Turretine ably argues, that thus contrary wills would exist in God, who would thus be at one and the same time willing, and not willing, the same event.
(d.) He also justly states, that the antecedent will thus spoken of, could be only a mere wishing (velleitas), and not a will (voluntas.)
(e.) He suggests that thus the independence of God would be taken away, since he must wait upon man to will, and act, before he could will.
(2.) A second incorrect distinction is between the efficacious and inefficacious will of God.
This distinction would also be admissible, if by the efficacious will were meant that of the decree, and by the inefficacious, that of the precept. But, as introduced, both terms are applied to the will of the decree. Turretine objects to the application, in the first place, “because the scripture testifies, that the purpose of God is immutable, and his will cannot be resisted. Isa. 46:10; Rom. 9:19; but. if it cannot be resisted, he will surely perfect that which he intends; secondly, inefficacious will cannot be attributed to God, unless he is accused either of ignorance, because he knew not that the event would not occur, or of impotence, because he could not accomplish the result he purposed; finally, the same reasons which prove that antecedent and consequent will are not allowable, are also proofs against efficacious and inefficacious.”
(3.) The third of the incorrect distinctions is that of absolute and conditional.
If, by the conditional will, were meant the conditions appended to the preceptive will of God, in the promises and threats given as inducements to duty, it would not be objected to. But the object of those who present it, is to apply it to the decretive will, and to suppose that God, in his purposes, determines, on certain conditions, that he will do a certain act, which he will not do if those conditions fail. Whether these conditions shall fail, or not, is supposed to be unknown to God, or, if known, yet at least so far undetermined, that he has formed no purpose whether or not to permit, or to accomplish them. The purposes of God, thus formed, are not, therefore, absolute decrees, as are all those concerning what shall actually and absolutely take place, but are only conditional ones, based upon some antecedent condition, which must first occur.
This distinction is introduced, chiefly, to show how God can make an absolute decree about the salvation of mankind in general, and, yet, not about that of any one man in particular. Absolutely he decrees the salvation in general of all who believe. But the salvation of each one is decreed, only upon the condition that he believes. Whether that faith will be exercised by any one, is not determined by God. Nor so far as involved in any purpose made by him is it even known to God.
Such is the theory and purpose of this distinction. The objections presented against the other two of these incorrect distinctions are also justly made against it.
Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887
Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.
Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as saviour, master, lord, and king. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.
Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.
I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.
Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.