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Arminian Errors Pt 2

The cardinal doctrines of the everlasting gospel which Arminians wrest to their own destruction are:

(i) THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN HIS GRACE

God could have justly left all mankind to perish in their sin and misery, as He left the angels which kept not their first estate, but according to the good pleasure of His will, He chose in Christ, before the foundation of the world, all whom He purposed to save. “According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4,5). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified them He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30). These verses from among many which could be quoted, and the whole scheme of redemption from Genesis to Revelation, afford infallible and unqualified proof that salvation is of free and sovereign grace.

The ninth chapter of Romans is the Holy Spirit’s commentary on the eternal decrees of God. In connection with these sublime mysteries it becomes us, as sinful finite creatures, to be still and to know that He is God, just in all His ways, holy in His works all, that His judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out. As the election of all whom He purposed to save flows from His sovereign good pleasure, so the passing by the rest of mankind has also its source in the unsearchable counsel of His sovereign will, in all the actings of which He is holy, just, and true. “Election is the expression of the divine mercy; reprobation of the divine justice. Whoever hold the doctrine of election must hold the doctrine of reprobation. Reprobation implies that God simply passes by the sinner leaving him as he is. In election He makes choice of the sinner in His sovereign grace. Both are acts of the sovereignty of God.” (Rev. D. Beaton, Free Presbyterian Magazine, Vol. 35: p. 244). The non-elect are ordained of God, according to the unsearchable counsel of His will “to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice” (Confession of Faith, Chapter 3, section 7). It is not for their being passed by that they are punished, but for their sins. Their being passed by is a sovereign act: their condemnation is a judicial act of God in His capacity as a Judge. “Salvation is all of grace; damnation all of sin. Salvation of God from first to last—the Alpha and the Omega; but damnation of men not of God: and if you perish, at your own hands must your blood be required” (C. H. Spurgeon).

“The Sovereignty of God is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go contending with God about His sovereignty it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God as an absolute sovereign, and the sovereign of our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom He will have mercy and harden whom He will” (Jonathan Edwards).

“All God’s people, sooner or later, are brought to this point to see that God has a ‘people,’ ‘a peculiar people,’ a people separate from the world, a people whom He has ‘formed for Himself, that they should show forth His praise. Election sooner or later, is riveted in the hearts of God’s people. And a man, that lives and dies against this blessed doctrine, lives and dies in his sins; and if he dies in that enmity, he will be damned in that enmity (J.C. Philpot).

“The Arminians, on the other hand, hold and teach conditional election on a ground of foreseen faith. This is contrary to the Truth. As long as men are unregenerate, they are in a state of unbelief, without hope in God and without faith in Christ. When saved by grace, they have faith, but that not of themselves. It is not of their own power or free-will, but the gift of God through the efficacious teaching of the Holy Spirit. Faith, therefore, cannot be the cause of election. It is the effect of it and is insured by it. ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48). ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The text quoted by Arminians in support of their doctrine of conditional election on the ground of foreseen faith, is ‘Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate, etc.’ (Romans 8:29). Such a view is superficial and untenable. “The word ‘foreknow’ in the New Testament usage, as pointed out by Dr. W.G.T. Shedd, is employed in the sense of the Hebrew yada (know) which denotes love and favour. ‘Not foreknowledge as bare prescience,’ says Calvin, ‘but the adoption by which God had always from eternity distinguished His children from the reprobate.’ The Scriptures represent election as occurring in the past, irrespective of personal merit. ‘The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ (Romans 9:11-13). The sovereignty of God’s choice comes out clearly in the Pauline statement that Christ died for His people while they were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). It has been well said that Arminians take the choice out of the hands of God and place it in the hands of men” (‘The Reformed Faith’ by the Rev. D. Beaton, p. 24). ‘But of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to whom be glory for ever. Amen’ (Romans 11:36).

Another subterfuge resorted to by the Arminians in order to explain away the particular election of individuals, is to say that the text ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ (Romans 9:13) means a national election, not particular persons, but Jacob’s children and Esau’s children—the children of Israel and the children of Edom. “Now, we ask them by everything reasonable,” comments C.H. Spurgeon, “is it not equally unjust of God to choose one nation and leave another? The argument which they imagine overthrows us overthrows them also. There never was a more foolish subterfuge than that of trying to bring out national election. What is the election of a nation, but the election of so many units, of so many people?—and it is tantamount to the same thing as the particular election of individuals. In thinking, men cannot see clearly that if— which we do not for a moment believe—there be any injustice in God choosing one man and not another, how much more must there be injustice in choosing one nation and not another. No! The difficulty cannot be got rid of thus, but is greatly increased by this foolish wresting of God’s Word. Besides here is the proof that it is not correct: read the verse preceding it. It does not say anything at all about nations; it says, ‘For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth: It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger… referring to the children, not to the nation. Of course the threatening was afterwards fulfilled in the position of the two nations; Edom was made to serve Israel. But the text means just what it says; it does not mean nations, but it means the persons mentioned. ‘Jacob’—that is the man whose name was Jacob—’Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.’ Take care, my dear friends, how any of you meddle with God’s Word. I have heard of folk altering passages they did not like. It will not do, you know, you cannot alter them; they are really just the same. Our only power with the Word of God is simply to let it stand as it is, and to endeavour by God’s grace to accommodate ourselves to that. We must never try to make the Bible bow to us, in fact we cannot, for the truths of divine revelation are as sure and fast as the throne of God. If a man wants to enjoy a delightful prospect, and a mighty mountain lies in his path, does he commence cutting away at its base, in the vain hope that ultimately it will become a level plain before him? No, on the contrary, he diligently uses it for the accomplishment of his purpose by ascending it, well knowing this to be the only means of obtaining the end in view. So must we do; we cannot bring down the truths of God to our poor finite understanding; the mountain will never fall before us, but we can seek strength to rise higher and higher in our perception of divine things and in this way only may we hope to obtain the blessing.” (From sermon on ‘Jacob and Esau’ by C.H. Spurgeon).

Cautions Against a Wrong Use of the Doctrine of Election

The Westminster divines in Chapter 3, Section 8 of the ‘Confession of Faith’ state that “the doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care.” It is as far removed from the dead and blind doctrine of fatalism as light is from darkness. The book of God’s eternal decrees is in the hands of the Saviour (Rev. 5). In the days of His flesh He gave thanks to the Father for the sovereignty of His grace. ‘I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight’ (Matthew 11:25,26). In the full light of that sovereignty which He as the eternal Son could fathom, and which to Him was the cause of praise and thanksgiving, He goes on in His mercy and love to give the gospel call, full, free and unfettered to sinners labouring and heavy laden to come unto Him as the One in whom alone they would find rest for their souls. If the sovereignty of God in His grace was a cause of praise and thanksgiving to the Great Prophet of the Church, who alone revealed to us the will of God for our salvation, how impious the caviling of those who reject the doctrine of election, or explain it away by attributing it to the fickle will of man, and not as the Scriptures do, to the good pleasure of God’s eternal will. When Christ gives thanks to the Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, let us seek to have the mind that was in Him, and to offer praise and adoration before the Sovereign will of the great I AM, on the one hand, and on the other to give the call and free offer of the gospel, which He by His Spirit is able to make effectual to salvation.

The Rev. R. M. McCheyne in his sermon on the words, ‘Unto you, O men, I call: and my voice is to the sons of man’ (Proverbs 8:4) says: “Very often awakened persons sit and listen to a lively description of Christ, and of His work of substitution in the stead of sinners; but their question still is ‘Is Christ a Saviour to me?’ Now to this question I answer: Christ is offered freely to all the human race. ‘Unto you, O men, I call.’ There is no subject more misunderstood by unconverted souls than the unconditional freeness of Christ. So little idea have we naturally of free grace that we cannot believe that God can offer a Saviour to us, while we are in a wicked, hell-deserving condition. Oh, it is sad to think how men argue against their own happiness, and will not believe the very word of God!

“‘If I knew I were one of the elect, I would come; but I fear I am not!’ To you I answer: Nobody ever came to Christ because they knew themselves to be elect. It is quite true that God has of His mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it till they came to Christ. Christ nowhere invites the elect to Him. The question for you is not, Am I one of the elect? but, Am I of the human race?

“‘If I could repent and believe, then Christ would be free to me; but I cannot repent and believe.’ To you I say, Are you not a man, before you repent and believe? Then Christ is offered to you before you repent and believe. Christ is not offered to you because you repent, but because you are a vile, lost sinner. If Christ be freely offered to all men, then it is plain that all who live and die without accepting Christ shall meet with the doom of those who refuse the Son of God.”

‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, etc.’ (Deut. 29:29). It belongs not to us as sinners to pry presumptuously into the secret things which belong to the Lord our God. Let us rather concern ourselves with what the Lord says belongs to us. The free offers and invitations and warnings of the gospel belong to us, that we repent and turn to the Lord. ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7).

“No man,” writes Christopher Ness, “may judge himself a reprobate in this life, and so grow desperate; for final disobedience (the only infallible evidence of reprobation) cannot be discovered till death.” (‘An Antidote Against Arminianism,’ p. 51).

“No person who is seeking God and salvation through His Son,” said the great divine [theologian], Dr. John Love, “ought to apply the doctrine of the divine sovereignty thus: God is sovereign and therefore though I am seeking salvation yet He may deny it to me. This is false. But thus, God is sovereign and therefore He might have left me as He left others not to seek Him, but to reject and despise Him, but this He has not done. That is the proper sphere of sovereignty. It is manifested in the wonderful working whereby in the course of His providence one sinner is made to seek after Him while another is left not to do so. But it is not manifested in this that any ever sought His face in vain. ‘They shall praise the Lord that seek Him.’ Yea, in every degree of seeking Him, this reflection should encourage and lead to say, ‘Blessed be God who has brought me thus far, further than others.’ The doctrine as to practice should be applied to things past, and not to anything that is to come. So it is always in Scripture. We know the divine determination concerning events by the events themselves.”

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

By the preaching of predestination man is duly humbled, and God alone is exalted

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

III. -By the preaching of predestination man is duly humbled, and God alone is exalted; human pride is levelled, and the Divine glory shines untarnished because unrivalled. This the sacred writers positively declare. Let St. Paul be spokesman for the rest, “Having predestinated us – to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph 1:5,6). But how is it possible for us to render unto God the praises due to the glory of His grace without laying this threefold foundation?

(1) That whosoever are or shall be saved are saved by His alone grace in Christ in consequence of His eternal purpose passed before they had done any one good thing.

(2) That what good thing soever is begun to be wrought in our souls (whether it be illumination of the understanding, rectitude of will or purity of affections) was begun altogether of God alone, by whose invincible agency grace is at first conferred, afterwards maintained, and finally crowned.

(3) That the work of internal salvation (the sweet and certain prelude to eternal glory) was not only begun in us of His mere grace alone, but that its continuance, its progress and increase are no less free and totally unmerited than its first original donation. Grace alone makes the elect gracious, grace alone keeps them gracious, and the same grace alone will render them everlastingly glorious in the heaven of heavens.

Conversion and salvation must, in the very nature of things, be wrought and effected either by ourselves alone, or by ourselves and God together, or solely by God Him self. The Pelagians were for the first. The Arminians are for the second. True believers are for the last, because the last hypothesis, and that only, is built on the strongest evidence of Scripture, reason and experience: it most effectually hides pride from man, and sets the crown of undivided praise upon the head, or rather casts it at the feet, of that glorious Triune God, who worketh all in all. But this is a crown which no sinners ever yet cast before the throne of God who were not first led into the transporting views of His gracious decree to save, freely and of His own will, the people of His eternal love. Exclude, therefore, O Christian, the article of sovereign predestination from thy ministry or from thy faith, and acquit thyself if thou art able from the charge of robbing God.

When God does, by the omnipotent exertion of His Spirit, effectually call any of mankind in time to the actual knowledge of Himself in Christ; when He, likewise, goes on to sanctify the sinners He has called, making them to excel in all good works, and to persevere in the love and resemblance of God to their lives’ end, the observing part of the unawakened world may be apt to conclude that these converted persons might receive such measures of grace from God because of some previous qualifications, good dispositions, or pious desires and internal preparations, discovered in them by the all-seeing eye, which, if true, would indeed transfer the praise from the Creator and consign it to the creature. But the doctrine of predestination, absolute, free, unconditional predestination, here steps in and gives God His own. It lays the axe to the root of human boasting, and cuts down (for which reason the natural man hates it) every legal, every independent, every self-righteous imagination that would exalt itself against the grace of God and the glory of Christ. It tells us that God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in His Son, “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world,” in order to our being afterwards made “holy and blameless before Him in love” (Eph 1:).

Of course, whatever truly and spiritually good thing is found in any person, it is the especial gift and work of God, given and wrought in consequence of eternal unmerited election to grace and glory. Whence the greatest saint cannot triumph over the most abandoned sinner, but is led to refer the entire praise of his salvation, both from sin and hell, to the mere goodwill and sovereign purpose of God, who hath graciously made him to differ from that world which lieth in wickedness. Such being the tendency of this blessed doctrine, how injurious both to God and man would the suppression of it be! Well does St. Augustine argue: “As the duties of piety ought to be preached up, that he who hath ears to hear may be instructed how to worship God aright; and as chastity should be publicly recommended and enforced, that he who hath ears to hear may know how to possess himself in sanctification; and as charity, moreover, should be inculcated from the pulpit, that he who hath ears to hear may be excited to the ardent love of God and his neighbour, in like manner should God’s predestination of His favours be openly preached, that he who hath ears to hear may learn to glory not in himself, but in the Lord.”*

* De Bono Persever. cap. 20.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

God’s predestination is most certain and unalterable, so that no elect person can perish nor any reprobate be saved

April 25, 2014 1 comment

Chapter IV

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 9. -Notwithstanding God’s predestination is most certain and unalterable, so that no elect person can perish nor any reprobate be saved, yet it does not follow from thence that all precepts, reproofs and exhortations on the part of God, or prayers on the part of man, are useless, vain and insignificant.

(1) These are not useless with regard to the elect, for they are necessary means of bringing them to the knowledge of the truth at first, afterwards of stirring up their pure minds by way of remembrance, and of edifying and establishing them in faith, love and holiness. Hence that of St. Augustine:* “The commandment will tell thee, 0 man, what thou oughtest to have, reproof will show thee wherein thou art wanting, and praying will teach thee from whom thou must receive the supplies which thou wantest.”

* De Corrept. et Grat., chap. 3.

(2) Nor are these vain with regard to the reprobate, for precept, reproof and exhortation may, if duly attended to, be a means of making them careful to adjust their moral, external conduct according to the rules of decency, justice and regularity, and thereby prevent much inconvenience to themselves and injury to society. And as for prayer, it is the duty of all without exception. Every created being (whether elect or reprobate matters not as to this point) is, as such, dependent on the Creator for all things, and, if dependent, ought to have recourse to Him, both in a way of supplication and thanksgiving.

(3) But to come closer still. That absolute predestination does not set aside, nor render superfluous the use of preaching, exhortation, etc., we prove from the examples of Christ Himself and His apostles, who all taught and insisted upon the article of predestination, and yet took every opportunity of preaching to sinners and enforced their ministry with proper rebukes, invitations and exhortations as occasion required. Though they showed unanswerably that salvation is the free gift of God and lies entirely at His sovereign disposal, that men can of themselves do nothing spiritually good, and that it is God who of His own pleasure works in them both to Will and to do, yet they did not neglect to address their auditors as beings possessed of reason and conscience, nor omitted to remind them of their duties as such; but showed them their sin and danger by nature, and laid before them the appointed way and method of salvation as exhibited in the Gospel.

Our Saviour Himself expressly, and in terminis, assures us that no man can come to Him except the Father draw him, and yet He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour,” etc. St. Peter told the Jews that they had fulfilled “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” in putting the Messiah to death (Acts 2:), and yet sharply rebukes them for it. St. Paul declares, “It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth,” and yet exhorts the Corinthians so to run as to obtain the prize. He assures us that “we know not what to pray for as we ought” (Rom 8:), and yet directs us to “pray without ceasing” (1Th 5:). He avers that the foundation or decree of the Lord standeth sure, and yet cautions him who “thinks he stands, to take heed lest he fall” (1Ti 2:). St. James, in like manner, says that “every good and perfect gift cometh down from above,” and yet exhorts those who want wisdom to ask it of God. So, then, all these being means whereby the elect are frequently enlightened into the knowledge of Christ, and by which they are, after they have believed through grace, built up in Him, and are means of their perseverance in grace to the end; these are so far from being vain and insignificant that they are highly useful and necessary, and answer many valuable and important ends, without in the least shaking the doctrine of predestination in particular or the analogy of faith in general. Thus St. Augustine:* “We must preach, we must reprove, we must pray, because they to whom grace is given will bear and act accordingly, though they to whom grace is not given will do neither.”

* De Bon. Persev., cap. 14.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

The condemnation of the reprobate is necessary and inevitable

Chapter IV

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 6.-The condemnation of the reprobate is necessary and inevitable. Which we prove thus. It is evident from Scripture that the reprobate shall be condemned. But nothing comes to pass (much less can the condemnation of a rational creature) but in consequence of the will and decree of God. Therefore the non-elect could not be condemned was it not the Divine pleasure and determination that they should, and if God wills and determines their condemnation, that condemnation is necessary and inevitable. By their sins they have made themselves guilty of death, and as it is not the will of God to pardon those sin and grant them repentance unto life, the punishment of such impenitent sinners is as unavoidable as it is just. It is our Lord’s own declaration that “a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit” (Mat 7:), or, in other words, that a depraved sinner cannot produce in himself those gracious habits, nor exert those gracious acts, without which no adult person can be saved. Consequently the reprobate must, as corrupt, fruitless trees (or fruitful in evil only), be “hewn down and cast into the fire” (Mat 3:). This, therefore, serves as another argument in proof of the inevitability of their future punishment, which argument, in brief, amounts to this: they who are not saved from sin must unavoidably perish, but the reprobate are not saved from sin (for they have neither will nor power to save themselves, and God, though He certainly can, yet He certainly will not save them), therefore their perdition is unavoidable. Nor does it follow, from hence, that God forces the reprobate into sin, and thereby into misery, against their wills, but that, in consequence of their natural depravity (which it is not the Divine pleasure to deliver them out of, neither is He bound to do it, nor are they themselves so much as desirous that He would), they are voluntarily biassed and inclined to evil; nay, which is worse still, they hug and value their spiritual chains, and even greedily pursue the paths of sin, which lead to the chambers of death. Thus God does not (as we are slanderously reported to affirm) compel the wicked to sin, as the rider spurs forward an unwilling horse; God only says in effect that tremendous word, “Let them alone” (Mat 15:14). He need but slacken the reins of providential restraint and withhold the influence of saving grace, and apostate man will too soon, and too surely, of his own accord, “fall by his iniquity” ; he will presently be, spiritually speaking, a felo de se, and, without any other efficiency, lay violent hands on his own soul. So that though the condemnation of the reprobate is unavoidable, yet the necessity of it is so far from making them mere machines or involuntary agents, that it does not in the least interfere with the rational freedom of their wills, nor serve to render them less inexcusable.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

The non-elect were predestinated, not only to unbelief, but to infernal death hereafter

Chapter IV

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 3. -The non-elect were predestinated, not only to continue in final impenitency, sin and unbelief, but were likewise, for such their sins, righteously appointed to infernal death hereafter.

This position is also self-evident for it is certain that in the day of universal judgment all the human race will not be admitted into glory, but some of them transmitted to the place of torment. Now, God does and will do nothing but in consequence of His own decree (Psalms 135:6; Isa 4:11; Eph 1:9,11); therefore the condemnation of the unrighteous was decreed of God, and if decreed by Him, decreed from everlasting, for all His decrees are eternal. Besides, if God purposed to leave those persons under the guilt and the power of sin, their condemnation must of itself necessarily follow, since without justification and sanctification (neither of which blessings are in the power of man) none can enter heaven (John 13:8; Heb 12:14). Therefore, if God determined within Himself thus to leave some in their sins (and it is but too evident that this is really the case), He must also have determined within Himself to punish them for those sins (final guilt and final punishment being correlatives which necessarily infer each other), but God did determine both to leave and to punish the non-elect, therefore there was a reprobation of some from eternity. Thus, “Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat 25.); for Satan and all his messengers, emissaries and imitators, whether apostate spirits or apostate men.

Now, if penal fire was, in decree from everlasting, prepared for them, they, by all the laws of argument in the world, must have been in the counsel of God prepared, i.e., designed for that fire, which is the point I undertook to prove. Hence we read “of vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, put together, made up, formed or fashioned, for perdition” (Rom 9:), who are and can be no other than the reprobate. To multiply Scriptures on this head would be almost endless; for a sample, consult Pro 16:4; 1 Peter 2; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 1:4; Rev 13:8.

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!

February 27, 2014 1 comment

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.

Chapter 10- Seeing, then, that the Grace of God in the Gospel is by that to be Proffered to Sinners as Sinners, as well to the Reprobate as the Elect, is it possible for those who indeed are not Elect to Receive it and be Saved?

February 20, 2014 1 comment

TO this question I shall answer several things, but first I shall show you what that grace is that is tendered in the name Gospel, and secondly, what it is to receive it and be saved.

First, then. The grace that is offered to sinners as sinners, without respect to this or that. person, it is a sufficiency of righteousness, pardoning grace, and life, laid up in the person of Christ, held forth in the exhortation and word of the Gospel, and promised to be theirs that receive it; yea, I say, in so universal a tender that not one is by it excluded or checked in the least, ‘but rather encouraged if he hath the least desire to life; yea, it is held forth to beget both desires and longings after the life thus laid up in Christ.

Secondly. To receive this grace thus tendered by the Gospel, it is —

1. To believe it is true.

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

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

Now then to the question:

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

To which I answer in the negative. Igor yet to the elect themselves — I mean as considered dead in trespasses and sins, which is the state of all men, elect as well as reprobate. So, then, though there be a sufficiency of life and righteousness laid up in Christ for all men, and this tendered by the Gospel to them without exception, yet sin coming in between the soul and the tender of this grace, it hath in truth disabled all men, and so, notwithstanding this tender, they continue to be dead. For the Gospel, I say, coming in word only, sayeth no man, because of man’s impediment; wherefore those that indeed are saved by this Gospel, the word comes not to them in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost is mixed with faith, even with the faith of the operation of God, by whose exceeding great and mighty power they are raised from this dearth of sin and enabled to embrace the Gospel. Doubtless, all men being dead in trespasses, and sins, and so captivated under the power of the devil, the curse of the law, and shut up in unbelief, it must be the power of God, yea, the exceeding greatness of that power, that raiseth the soul from this condition to receive the holy Gospel.

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

But yet the cause of this impossibility —

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

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

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

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

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

Wherefore, whoever receiveth the grace that is tendered, in the Gospel, they must be quickened by the power of God, their eyes must be opened, their understandings illuminated, their ears unstopped, their hearts circumcised, their wills also rectified,, and the Son of God revealed in them; yet, as I said, not because there wanteth argument in these tenders, but because men. are dead, and blind, and cannot hear the word. “Why do you not understand my speech? (saith Christ) even because you cannot hear my word.”

For otherwise, as I said but now, there is

1. Rationality enough in the tenders of the Gospel.

2. Persuasions of weight enough to provoke to faith. And,

3. Arguments enough to persuade to continue therein.

First. Is it not reasonable that man should believe God in the proffer of the Gospel and live by it?

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

Again, touching its persuasions to provoke to faith —

First. With how many signs and wonders, miracles and mighty deeds, hath it been once and again confirmed, and that to this very end!

Secondly. With how many oaths, declarations, attestations, and proclamations is it avouched, confirmed, and established!

Thirdly. And why should not credence be given to that Gospel that is confirmed by blood, the blood of the Son of God himself — yea, that Gospel that did never yet fail any that in truth have cast themselves upon it since the foundation of the world?

Again, as there is rationality enough and persuasion sufficient, so there is also argument most prevalent, to persuade to continue therein, and that too heartily, cheerfully, and unfeignedly, unto the end, did not, as I have said, blindness, madness, deadness, and willful rebellion carry them away in the vanity of their minds and overcome them.

For, first, if they could but consider how they have sinned, how they have provoked God, etc. — if they could but consider what a dismal state the state of the damned is, and also that in a moment their condition is; like to be the same — would they not cleave to the Gospel and live?

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

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

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

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

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

1. Touching its timing: it is before, yea long before, there was either tender of the grace wrapped up in the Gospel to any, or any need of such a tender.

2. They also differ in latitude: the tender of grace in the Gospel are common and universal to all, but the extension of that of election special and peculiar to some. “There is a remnant according to the election of grace.

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

1. The grace that is offered in the genera tenders of the Gospel calleth for faith to lay hold upon and accept thereof, but the special grace of election worketh that faith which doth lay hold thereof.

2. The grace that is offered in the general tenders of the Gospel calleth for faith as a condition in us, without which there is no life, but the special grace of election worketh faith in us without any such conditions.

3. The grace that is offered in the general tenders of the Gospel promiseth happiness upon the condition of persevering in the faith only, but the special grace of election causeth this perseverance.

4. The grace offered in the general tenders of the Gospel when it sparkleth most leaveth the greatest part of men behind it, but the special grace of election, when it shineth least, doth infallibly bring every soul therein concerned to everlasting life.

5. A man may overcome and put out all the light and life that is begotten in him by the general tenders of the Gospel, but none shall overcome, or make void, or frustrate the grace of election.

6. The general tenders of the Gospel, considered without a concurrence of the grace of election, help not the elect himself when sadly fallen.

Wherefore, when I say the grace that is offered in the general tenders of the Gospel, I mean that grace when offered as not being accompanied with a special operation of God’s eternal love by way of conjunction therewith. Otherwise the grace that is tendered in the general offers of the Gospel is that which saveth the sinner now and that brings him to everlasting life; that is, when conjoined with that grace that; blesseth and maketh this general tender effectually efficacious. The grace of election worketh not without, but by these tenders generally; neither doth the grace thus tendered effectually work but by and with the grace of election: “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” the word being then effectual to life, when the hand of the Lord is effectually therewith to that end. “They spoke (saith the text) unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus; and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord.”

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

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

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.