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Chapter 9-Whether God would in deed and in truth that the Gospel, with the Grace thereof, should be tendered to those that yet he hath bound up under Eternal Reprobation?

February 13, 2014 1 comment

To this question I shall answer — First. In the language of our Lord, “Go preach the Gospel unto every creature,” and again: “Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye sawed; and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” And the reason is, because Christ died for all, tasted death for every man, is the Savior of the world, and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

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

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

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

Thus you see the Gospel is to be tendered to all in general, as well to the reprobate is to the elect, to sinners as sinners; and so are they to receive it and to close with the tenders thereof.

 

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 8- Whether Eternal Reprobation in itself, or in its Doctrine, be in very deed an Hindrance to any Man in seeking the Salvation of his Soul?

February 6, 2014 1 comment

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

I. It hindereth not in itself, as is clear by the ensuing considerations:

1. That which hindereth him is the weakness that came upon hint by reason of sin. Now God only made the man, but man’s listening to Satan made him a sinner, which is the cause of all his weakness. This therefore is it that hindereth him, and that also disenableth him in seeking the salvation of his soul “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man. God made man upright, but he hath sought out many inventions.”

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

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

1. It is not by this act that Satan is permitted to tempt them that they might be tried, because then the Son of God himself first be reached by this reprobation, he being tempted by the devil as much if not more than any; yea, and then must every one of the elect be under eternal reprobation; for they also, and that after their conversion, are greatly assaulted by him: “Many are the troubles of the righteous,” etc.

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

3. It is yet far more evident that reprobation hindereth no man from seeking the salvation of his soul, because, notwithstanding all that reprobation doth, yet God giveth to divers of the reprobates great encouragements thereto; to wit, the tenders of the Gospel in general, not excluding any; great light also to understand it, with many a sweet taste of the good work of God and the powers of the world to come; he maketh them sometimes also to be partakers of the Holy Ghost, and admitteth many of them into fellowship with his elect; yea, some of them to be rulers, teachers, and governors in his house; all which, without doubt, both are and ought to be great encouragements, even to the reprobates themselves, to seek the salvation of their souls.

II. As it hindereth not in itself, so it hindereth not by its” doctrine; for all that this doctrine saith is, that some are left out of God’s election, as considered upright, Now this doctrine cannot hinder any man, for —

1. No man still stands upright.

2. Though it saith some are left, yet it points at no man, it nameth no man, it binds all faces in secret. So, then, if it hinder, it hindereth all, even the elect as well as reprobate; for the reprobate hath as much ground to judge himself elect, as the very elect himself hath before he be converted, being both alike in a state of nature and unbelief, and both alike visibly liable to the curse for the breach of the commandment. Again, as they are equals here, so also have they ground alike to close in with Christ and live; even the open, free, and full invitation of the Gospel and premise of life and. salvation by the faith of Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

 

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 7-Whether any under Eternal Reprobation have Just Cause to Quarrel with God for not Electing of them?

January 30, 2014 1 comment

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

If thou say, Because God hath not chosen them as well, as chosen others, I answer, “Say but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Behold, as the clay is in the hand, of the potter, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” So then, if I should say no more but that God is the only Lord and Creator, and that by his sovereignty he hath power to dispose of them according to his pleasure, either to choose or to refuse according to the counsel of his own will, who could object against him and be guiltless? “He giveth no account of any of his ways, and what his soul desireth that doth he.”

Again, God is wiser than man, and therefore can show a reason for what he acts and does, both when and where at present thou seest none. Shall God, the only wise, be arraigned at the bar of thy blind reason: and there be judged and condemned for ills acts done in eternity? “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who hath been his counselor?” Do you not know that he is fax more above us than we are above our horse or mule that is without understanding? “Great things doth he that we cannot comprehend;; great things, and unsearchable and marvelous things, without number.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God did not intend that all that ever he would do should be known to every man, no nor yet to the wise and prudent; it is as much a duty sometimes to stay ourselves and wonder, and to confess our ignorance in many things of God, as it is to do other things that are duty without dispute. So, then, let poor dust and ashes forbear to condemn the Lord because he goeth beyond them; and also they should beware they speak not wickedly for him, though. it be, as they think, to justify his actions: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”

 

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 6-Whether to be Reprobated be the same with being Appointed beforehand unto Eternal Condemnation? If not, how do they Differ? Also whether Reprobation be the Cause of Condemnation?

January 23, 2014 1 comment

IT hath been the custom of ignorant men much to quarrel at eternal reprobation, concluding (for want of knowledge in the mystery of God’s will) that if he reprobate any from eternity he had as good as said, “I wilt make this man to damn him; I will decree this man, without, any consideration, to the everlasting pains of hell,” when, in very deed, for God to reprobate, and to appoint beforehand to eternal condemnation, axe two distinct things, properly relating to two distinct attributes, arising, from two distinct causes.

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

Secondly. As to the attributes. Reprobation respects God’s sovereignty, but to appoint to condemnation, his justice.

Thirdly. As to the causes. Sovereignty being according to the will of God, but justice according to the sin of man. For God, though he be the only sovereign Lord, and that to the height of perfection, yet he appointeth no man to the pains of everlasting fire merely from sovereignty, but by the rule of justice. God damneth not the man because he is a man, but a sinner, and foreappoints him to that place and state by foreseeing of hint wicked.

Again, as reprobation is not the same with foreappointing to eternal condemnation, so neither is it the cause thereof.

If it be the cause, then it must either —

1. Leave him infirm; or,

2. Infuse sin into him; or,

3. Take from him something that otherwise would keep him upright; or,

4. Or both license Satan to tempt and the reprobate to close in with the temptation. But it doth none of these; there,)re it is not the cause of the condemnation of the creature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Objection. From what hath been said, there is concluded this at least, that God hath infallibly determined, and that before the world, the infallible damnation of some of his creatures; for if God hath before the world bound some over to eternal punishment, and that, as you say, for sin, then this determination must either be fallible or infallible; not fallible, for then your other position of the certainty of the number of God’s elect is shaken, unless you hold that there may be a number that shall neither go to heaven or hell. Well, then, if God hath indeed determined, foredetermined, that some must infallibly perish, doth not this his determination lay a necessity on the reprobate to sin, that he may be damned? for no sin, no damnation.

That is your own argument.

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

The determinations of God touching the destruction of the creature, they are either ordinary or extraordinary; those I count ordinary that were commonly pronounced by the prophets and apostles, etc., in their ordinary way of preaching, to the end men might be affected with the love of their own salvation; now these are either bound or loosed but as the condition or qualification was answered by the creature under sentence, and no otherwise.

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

Again. These two determinations are also distinguished thus: the ordinary is applicable to the elect as well as to the reprobate, but the other to the reprobate only; it is proper to say, even to the elect themselves, “He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned;” but not to say to them, These are appointed to utter destruction, or that they shall utterly perish in their own corruptions, or that for them is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

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

1. God most perfectly foreseeth the final impenitency of those that do sin from the beginning to the end of the world.

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

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

Answer. No, by no means, for

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Yet so that God will have the tinting, proceeding, bounding, and ordering thereof at his disposal: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”

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

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

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

1. By being offered.

2. By prevailing.

Touching the first of these, God, without the least injury to any creature in heaven or earth, might not only suffer it, but so far countenance the same that is so far forth as for trial only, as it is said of Abraham “God tempted Abraham to slay his only son, and led Christ by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” This is done without any harm at all; nay, it rather produceth good, for it tends to discover sincerity, to exercise faith in and love to his Creator, also to put him in mind of the continual need he hath of depending on his God for the continuation of help and strength, and to provoke to prayers to God whenever so engaged.

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

Answer. Well, this is granted; but, yet consider —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. It is yet more evident, because God doth even tell him of the danger: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

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

To conclude, then. Though sins did not come into the world without God’s sufferance, yet it did without his liking; God suffered also Cain to kill his ‘brother, and Ishmael to mock at Isaac, but he did not like the same.

Secondly. Therefore though God was first in concluding sin should be offered to the world, yet man was the first that consented to a being overcome thereby.

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

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

Answer. What more certain? But yet consider

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

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

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

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

 

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 5-Of the Unchangeableness of Eternal Reprobation

January 16, 2014 5 comments

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

First. Because they suit not with his nature, especially in these foundation acts. The foundation of God standeth sure, even touching reprobation, that the purpose of God according to election might, stand. “I know (saith Solomon) that whatsoever the Lord doth, it abideth for ever; nothing can be put unto it nor anything taken from it, etc. Hath he said it, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he; not bring it to pass?” His decrees are composed according to his eternal wisdom, established upon his unchangeable will, governed by his knowledge, prudence, power, justice, and mercy, and are brought to conclusion (on his part) in perfect holiness, through the abiding of his most blessed truth and faithfulness: “He is a rock, his way is perfect, for all his works are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

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

Now as touching the elect, they are by this decree confined to that, limited number of persons that must amount; to the complete making up the fullness of the mystical body of Christ; yea, so confined by his eternal purpose that nothing can be diminished from or added thereunto; and hence it is that they are called his body and members in particular, the fullness of Him that fills all in all, and the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; which body, considering him as the Head thereof, in conclusion maketh up one perfect mart and holy temple for the Lord. These are Christ’s substance, inheritance, and lot; and are said to be booked, marked, and sealed with God’s most excellent knowledge, approbation, and liking. As Christ said to his Father, “Thine eyes did see my substance yet being imperfect, and in thy book are all my members written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.” This being thus, I say it is in the first place impossible that any of those members should miscarry, “for who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” And because they are as to number every way sufficient, being his body and so by their completing to be made a perfect man, therefore all others are rejected, that the “purpose of God according to election might stand.” Besides, it would not only argue weakness in the decree, but monstrousness in the body, if after this any appointed should miscarry or any besides them be added to them.

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

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

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 4-Of the Causes of Reprobation

HAVING thus in a word or two showed the antiquity of reprobation, I now come in this place to show you the causes thereof; for doubtless this must stand a truth, that whatever God doth, there is sufficient ground therefor, whether by us apprehended or else without our reach.

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

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

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

Now the very exercise of this sovereignty produceth reprobation; therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth; hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump? And doth he not make his pots according to his pleasure? Here therefore the mercy, justice, wisdom, and power of God take liberty to do what they will, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”

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

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

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

3. This choice blessing could not be denied to Ishmael because he had disinherited himself by sin, for this blessing was entailed to Isaac before Ishmael had a being also.

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

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

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

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 2-What Reprobation is

December 26, 2013 1 comment

HAVING thus showed you that there is such a thing as a reprobation, I come now to show what it is, which, that I may do to your edification, I shall first show you what this word reprobation signifieth in the general, as it concerneth persons temporary and visibly reprobate. Secondly, more particular, as it concerneth persons that are eternally and invisibly reprobate.

First generally, as it concerneth persons temporary and visibly reprobate: thus, to be reprobate is to be disapproved, void of judgment, and rejected, etc. To be disapproved, that is, when the word condemns them, either as touching the faith or the holiness of the Gospel; the which they must needs be that are void of spiritual and heavenly judgment in the mysteries of the kingdom, a manifest token they are rejected. And hence it is that they are said to be reprobate or void of judgment concerning the faith; reprobate or void of judgment touching every good work; having a reprobate mind to do those things that are not convenient either as to faith or manners. And hence it is again that they are also said to be rejected of God, cast away and the like.

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

But to pass this, and more particularly to touch the eternal, invisible reprobation, which I shall thus hold forth. It is to be passed by in or left out of God’s election, yet so as considered upright; in which position you have these four things considerable:

First. The act of God’s election.

Secondly. The negative of that act.

Thirdly. The persons reached by that negative. And,

Fourthly. Their qualification when thus reached by it. For the first. This act of God in electing, it is a choosing or foreappointing of some. infallibly unto eternal life, which he also hath determined shall he brought to pass by the means that should be made manifest and efficacious to that very end.

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

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

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

This is evident —

First, from this consideration: that reprobation is God’s act, even the negative of his choosing or electing, and none of the acts of God make any man a sinner.

Secondly. It is further evident by the similitude that is taken from the carriage of the potter in the making of his pots; for by this comparison the God of heaven is pleased to show unto us the nature of his determining in the act of reprobation. “Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump?” etc. Consider a little, and you shall see that these three things do necessarily fall in to complete the potter’s action in every pot he makes:

1. A determination in his own mind what pot to make of this or that piece of clay — a determination, I say, precedent to the fashion of the pot; the which is true in the highest degree in Him that is excellent in working; he determines the end before the beginning is perfected: “For this very purpose have I raised thee up.”

2. The next thing considerable in the potter, it is the (so) making of the pot, even as he determined, a vessel to honor or a vessel to dishonor. There is no confusion or disappointment under the hand of this eternal God; his work is perfect and every way doth answer to what he hath determined.

3. Observe again, that whether the vessel be to honor or to dishonor, yet the potter makes it good, sound, and fit for service; his foredetermining to make this a vessel to dishonor hath no persuasion at all with him to break or mar the pot; which very thing doth well resemble the state of man as under the act of eternal reprobation, for “God made man upright.”

From these conclusions then consider —

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

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

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

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.