Page images

of life (of the Lamb) from the foundation of the world, Rev. xiii. 8. and chap. xvii. 8.


Secondly, Pre-damnation is God's decree to condemn men for fin, or to punish them with everlasting damnation for it: And this is the fenfe of the Scriptures; and this is the view which they give us of this doctrine, Prov. xvi. 4. The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Not that God made man to damn him; the fcripture fays no fuch thing, nor do we; nor is it the sense of the doctrine we plead for; nor is it to be inferred from it. God made man neither to damn him, nor fave him, but for his own glory; that is his ultimate end in making him, which is answered whether he is faved or loft: but the meaning is, that God has appointed all things for his glory, and particularly he has appointed the wicked man to the day of ruin and destruction for his wickedness. Jude, ver 4. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation : But who are they? They are after described; ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lafcivioufnefs, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jefus Chrift. Hence the objects of this decree are called veffels of wrath fitted to deftruction, that is, by fin, Rom. ix. 22. And now what is there fhocking in this doctrine, or difagreeable to the perfections of God? God damns no man but for fin, and he decreed to damn none but for fin.

Thirdly, This decree, we fay, is according to the fovereign will of God, for nothing can be the cause of his decree but his own will: let the objects of that part of the decree, which is called Preterition, be confidered either in the corrupt or pure mafs of mankind, as fallen or unfallen creatures, they are to be confidered in the fame view, and as on an equal foot and level with those that are chosen ; and therefore no other reafon can be given, but the will of God, that he should take one, and leave another. And though in that branch of it, which is an appointment of men to condemnation, fin is the cause of the thing decreed, damnation; yet it is the will of God that is the cause of the decree itself, for this invincible reafon; or otherwife he must have appointed all men to damnation, fince all are finners; let any other reafon be affigned if it can be, why he has appointed to condemn fome men for their fin, and not others.

Fourthly, God's end in all this is the glorifying himself, his power and his justice, all his appointments are for himself, for his own glory, and this among the reft; What if God, willing to fhew his wrath, his vindictive juftice, and to make his power known, in the punishment of finners for their fin, endured with much long fuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to deftruction? Rom. ix. 22.


M m



The doctrine of reprobation, confidered in this light, has nothing in it contrary to the nature and perfections of God. Harth expreffions, and unguarded phrafes, which fome may have used in speaking or writing about this doctrine, I will not take upon me to defend; but as it is thus ftated, I think it is a defenfible one, equally as the doctrine of election, and is demonftrable by it. The Scriptures are indeed more fparing of the one than of the other, and have left us to conclude the one from the other, in a great measure, though not without giving us clear and full evidence; for though reprobation is not fo plentifully spoken of, yet it is clearly spoken of in the facred writings: wherefore, upon this confideration, we judge it most proper and prudent, not fo much to infift on this fubject in our difcourfes and writings; not from any confciousness of want of evidence, but because of the awfulness of the fubject. This our opponent's are aware of; and therefore press us upon this head, in order to bring the doctrine of election into contempt with weak or carnal men; and make their first attacks upon this branch of predeftination, which is beginning wrong; fince reprobation is no other than non-election, or what is opposed to election; let the doctrine of election be demolished, and the other will fall on courfe; but that will coft too much pains; and they find a better account with weak minds in taking the other method; a method which the Remonftrants formerly were de. firous of, at the fynod of Dort, could it have been allowed; a method which Dr Whitby has taken in his discourse of the five points; and this is the method which Mr Wesley has thought fit to take, and indeed he confines himself wholly to this fubject for though he calls his pamphlet, Predeftination calmly confidered; yet it only confiders one part of it, reprobation, and that not in à way of argument, but harangue; not taking notice of our arguments from fcripture or reafon, only making fome cavilling exceptions to it; fuch as have the face of an objection, I fhall gather up, as well as I can, from this wild. and immethodical performance, and make answer to. And,

ift, He defires it may be impartially confidered, how it is poffible to reconcile reprobation with the following Scriptures: Gen. iii. 17. and chap. iv. 7. Deut. vii. 9, 12. and chap. xii. 26-28. and chap. xxx. 15. 2 Chron. xv. I. Ezra ix. 13, 14. Job xxxvi. 5. Pfal. cxlv. 9. Prov. i. 23. Ifa. lxv. 2. Ezek. xviii. 20. Matt. vii. 26. and chap. xi. 20. and chap. xii. 41. and chap. xiii. II, 12. and chap. xxii. 8. and chap. xxv. John iii. 18. and chap. v. 44. Ats viii. 20. Rom. i. 20. 2 Theff. ii. 10. In all which there is not a word that militates against the doctrine of reprobation; nor is any thing pointed at worthy of confideration: we know very well, nor is it contrary to this doctrine, that the

a Predeftination calmly confidered, p. 13.

the curfe came upon men for fin; and that it is that which renders them unacceptable to God, and is the reason why at last they fhall find none with him, nor him favourable to them there is a repentance which may be found in nonelect perfons; instances of that kind do not at all weaken the doctrine. Matt. xiii. 11, 12. proves it. The word any is not in the original text in Job xxxvi. 5. It is certain there are some whom God defpifes, Pfal. liii. 5. and lxxiii. 20. It is pity but he had transcribed two or three hundred more paffages when his hand was in; even the whole books of Chronicles, and the book of Esther, which would have been as much to his purpose as thofe he has produced.

2dly, He propofes the following Scriptures which declare God's willingness that all should be faved, to be reconciled to the doctrine of reprobation, Matt. xxi. 9. Mark xvi. 15. John v. 34. Acts xvii. 24. Rom. v. 18. and chap. x. 12. 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4. Jam. i. 5. 2 Pet. iii. 9. 1 John iv. 14. Some of which do not respect eternal falvation at all, but the temporal falvation of the Jews; and others have nothing to do with falvation in either fenfe; fome speak only of God's will to fave his elect, to whom he is long-fuffering; and others of his will, that Gentiles as well as Jews should be saved; and that it is his pleafure that fome of all forts fhould be faved by Chrift; neither of which militate against the doctrine of reprobation.

3dly, He thinks this doctrine is irreconcileable with the following Scriptures, which declare that Chrift came to fave all men; that he died for all that he atoned for all, even for thofe that finally perish; Matt. xvii. 11. John i. 29. and chap. iii. 17. and chap. xii. 47. Rom. xiv. 15. 1 Cor. viii. 11. 2. Cor. v. 14. 1 Tim. ii. 6. Heb. ii. 9. 2 Pet. ii. 1. and I John ii. 1, 2. But these Scriptures fay not that Chrift came to fave all that are loft; or that he came to fave all men, or died for all men, for all the individuals of human nature; there is not one text of scripture in the whole Bible that fays this: that which seems most like it, is Heb. ii. 9. That he might tafte death for every man ; but the word man is not in the original text; it is only up wav, for every one for every one of the fons of God, of the children, of the brethren of Christ, and feed of Abraham in a spiritual fenfe, as the context determines it. As for the other above-cited paffages, they regard either the world of God's elect; or the Gentiles, as diftinguished from the Jews; or all forts of men; but not. all the individuals of mankind: and those who are represented as fuch, that should perish or in danger of it, are either fuch who only profeffed to be bought by Chrift; or real chriftians whofe peace and comfort were in danger of being destroyed, but not their perfons; and none of the paffages militate against the doctrine under confideration.

M m 2

Predeftination calmly confidered, p. 16, 17.

e Ibid. p. 18.

4thly, This

4thly, This doctrine is represented as contrary to, and irreconcileable with the justice of God, and with those Scriptures that declare it, particularly Ezek. xviii. To which may be replied, that that chapter in Ezekiel concerns the people of the Jews only, and not all mankind; and regards only the providential dealings of God with them, with respect to civil and temporal things, and a vindication of them from inequality and injuftice; and not spiritual and eternal things: or the salvation and damnation of men; and therefore is impertinently produced. And if any one does but seriously and impartially confider the doctrine as above stated, they will fee no reason to charge God with injustice, or find any difficulty in reconciling it to his juftice. In the first branch of this decree, called Preterition, let the objects be creatures fallen or unfallen, it puts nothing into them; it leaves them as it finds them; and therefore does them no injustice: in the other branch of it, appointment to condemnation, this is only but for fin; is there unrighteousness with God on that account? No furely; if it is not injuftice in him to condema men for fin, it can be no injuftice in him to decree to condemn them for fin: and if it would have been no unrighteousnefs in him to have condemned all men for fin, and to have determined to have done it, as he doubtless might; it can be no ways contrary to his justice to condemn fome men for fin, and to determine fo to do; wherefore all that is faid under this head is all harangue, mere noife, and stands for nothing. Let the above argument be difproved if it can.

5thly, This doctrine is reprefented as contrary to the general judgment; and that upon this fcheme there can be no judgment to come, nor any future state of reward and punishment: but why fo? How does this appear? Why, according to our fcheme, "God of old ordained them to this condemnation:" but then it was for fin; and if for fin, how does this preclude a future judgment? It rather makes one neceffary; and certain it is, that a future judgment is agreeable to it, and quite inevitable by it; God decrees to condemn men for fin; men fin, are brought to the judgment-feat of God, and are justly condemned for it. The judgment of God takes place, and the juft reward of punishment pursuant to the righteous purpose of God, and according to the rules of justice. But this writer has the affurance to affirm, that we say, that “God fold men to work wickedness, even from their mother's womb; "and gave them up to a reprobate mind, or ever they hung upon their mo"ther's breasts." This is entirely falfe; we fay no fuch thing; we fay, with the Scripture, that men fell themfelves to work wickedness as they grow up; and that God gives men up to a reprobate mind after a long train and courfe of finning; Ibid, p. 26, 30.

Predeftination calmly confidered. p. 19.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

finning; and it must be a righteous thing with God to bring fuch perfons to judgment, and condemn them for their wickedness. But then it is faid they are condemned for not having that grace which God hath decreed they should never have." This is falfe again; we fay no fuch thing, nor believe any fuch thing; nor does the doctrine we hold oblige us to it; we fay, indeed, that the grace of God is his own; and whether it is the fenfe of the text in Matthew or no, it matters not, it is a certain truth he may do what he will with his own grace; we own that he has determined to give it to fome and not to others, as we find in fact he does: but then we fay, he will condemn no man for want of this grace he does not think fit to give them; not for what they have not; but for what they have and do; not for their not believing that Chrift died for them; but for their fins and tranfgreffions of his righteous law. And is not here enough to open the righteous judgment and proceed upon? Besides the fovereign decrees of God refpecting the final state of men, are fo far from rendering the future judgment unneceffary, that that will proceed according to them, along with other things: for with other books that will be opened then, the book of life will be one, in which fome mens names are written, and others not; and the dead will be judged out of those things which are written in the book, according to their works. And whofoever is not found written in the book of life, fhall be caft into the lake of fire, Rev. xx. 12, 15. I never knew you, depart from me, Matt. vii. 23.

6thly, This doctrine is faid to agree very ill with the truth and fincerity of God, in a thousand declarations, such as these, Ezek. xviii. 23. chap. xxxii. 32. Deut. v. 29. Pfal. lxxxi. 12. As xvii. 30. Mark xvi. 15. To which I reply, that fome of those declarations concern the Jews only, and not all mankind; and are only compassionate enquires and vehement defires after their civil and temporal welfare; and at most only fhew what is grateful to God, and approved of by him, and what was wanting in them; with which they are upbraided, notwithstanding their vain boasts to the contrary. Others only fhew what is God's will of command, or what he has made the duty of man; not what are his purpofes man fhall do,, or what he will bestow upon him; and neither of them fuggefts any infincerity in God, fuppofing the doctrine of reprobation. The gofpel is indeed ordered to be preached to every creature to whom it is fent and comes; but as yet, it has never been brought to all the individuals of human nature; there have been multitudes in all ages that have not heard it. And that there are univerfal offers of grace and falvation made



Predeftination, &c.p.3433.


« PreviousContinue »