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Diş Ç OU RSE V.
The State of the Question.
Wzowa (14) that they who are preferved from falling ore so preferred by
ne poeth all thall do so who were once que believers, season i. What our adverfusios grint
The arguments against the doétrine of perseverance of all true believers to the end are taken, #
declarations to the contrary, Ez. xviii, 24, 26. xxxiii. 13. Setiion 1, gedly
In this chapter is contained an answer to the arguments produced from scripture to prove the
This chapter aufwers the texts produced to prove that God. Aande engaged by promises to pre-
A comparison betwixt the two doctrines (ift) as to the comfort of believers, where it is prov.
to the cona
Containing an Answer to THREE OBJections against
the DOCTRINES afferted, and the ARGUMENTS by which they are confirmed.
His chapter contains a reply to two grand objections, againf whac hath bech difcoursed on the foregoing heads, viz. Obj. 18. That moft of the objectiona made again the decrees of God and the unfrultrable icflux of God on man, and the determination of his will to good or evil, are as Atong against the prestience of God. To this objectiou it is said, tt. That this argument from prcfcience overthrows these decrees, or renders them fuperfluous, sectio: 1. 2dly. That the Hobbists and the Fatalists did, and may take sanctuary in the divine prefeience, as well as the De creccalists. 3dly, That God's proscience hath no influence at all upon our actions, whereas God's decree of election is powerful and active, and comprehends the preparation and exhibition of such scans as fhallinfallibly produce the end, 4thly. That God's pielcience renders no actions necessa, sy, whereas these decrees sul do so. 5thly. That God's prescience respects not only things future dubthings possible; what may be done by them who will not do it, and may be left undone by them who do uot lo, He forefees also after what manter they will be performned, that free actions will be done freely, that is when we might abstain from doing them, and omitted freely, that is, when we might perform them. 6thly. That this argument only proposeth a great difficulty arising from a mode of knowledge God, of which we have no idea, again the plain declarations of his revealed will, and is answered by the distinction between God's incommunicable and his communicable attributes; of the fire we have no ideas, as to the and so are only bound to believe they are in God, but not to imitate them. In bis communicable attributes, we are bound to relemble hiin, for follow his example, and so must have a true, though not a perfect knowledge of them, Section 2. Objection 2. That by our arguments we weaken the providence of God; for if he doth not effecQually move the wills of men, he cannot compass the designs of his providence. Answer ift. This argument is attended with this great absurdity, that it inakes God as much the author of all the evil as of all the good that is done in the world. 2dly. All that is necessary to accomplish the designs of providence, may be done without laying any necessity upon human actions. 3dly. The justice, wisdom, holiness, the goodness and sincerity of providence, are all entirely overthrown by the docia trincs we write againit, Section 3, 4.
CH A P T E R II. The objection, that God feems to have dealt as severely with the heathens, to whom the knowl. ledge of his will and gospel never was revealed, as we can imagine him to bave dealt with inen according to the doctrine of absolute clection and reprobation, and the denial of grace sufficient to the greatest part of mankind, is 'answered. - By thewing, that it cannot be applied to the chief arguments produced against those doctrines, Seeion 1. adly. That what God hath plainly and frequently revealed in the scriptures concerning his goodness and kindness to the sons of men, ought firmly to be believed ; though we are not able to discern how it comports, with his providential difpenfations in the world, there being greater depths in providence than we can fathom, Seca tion s. 3dly. Because we know so little of the future state of heathens, that we cannot pass any certain judgment concerning their future Nate, ibid. 4thly. This objection supposeth it the same thing to be without a gospel revelation, and to be without any means of grace at all, and that with. out a revelation no man can do any thing which is well pleasing to God or acceptable in his light; the falfhood of which supposition is proved by lix arguments from scripture, 'Section 3. And by two arguments froin reason, Section 4. 5thly. It seems not well coofident with divine equiry and goodness, to make that a condition of any man's happiness which he cannot know to be his duty, or knowing is not able to perform, Section 5. 6thly. That God will only judge men, at the laft, for Gnning against the means he hath vouchsafed them to know and perform their duty: and to will only judge the heathens for fins committed again that light of nature he shad given them, Section 6. 7thly. That God having laid down this method in the dispensation of his gifts, that he who is faithful t in the improvement of the least talent shall have a suitable reward and that to him that fo hath shall more be given ; it is reasonable to conceive, he will deal with the heathens according to this rule, Section 7. Lafiy, That we may reasonably conclude God will deal'with them both in refpece to the acceptation and reward of their good, and his displeasure against, and punithinent of their evil actions, according to the measures of their ignorance and knowledge, the abilities, motives and inducements afforded to them to do, or to avoid them, And therefore if. That their good actions dont upon less motives and convietions, may be more acceptable to God than the like actinns done by christians, upon mnch greater evidence and higher motives and more powerful assistances. gdly. That they may expect a reward upon performance of léts due ty, because less will be required of thein, zdly. That God should be moje ready to pardon and pars by their offences, as having in them more of ignorance and less of contempt." 4thly. That he Thonld be more patient, and longfuffering toward them, before be punilh, because the less the light is they enjoy, the less is their offence againk it. Lastly, That God may be more gentle in punim. ing their iniquities, and lay the fewer Aripes upon them, because they did not know their Maker'a will, Section 8.
The State of the Question concerning God's Absolute De
crees of Election and Reprobation.
nant, “That no medium can be assigned,
ely pretermitted, and left infallibly to
fail of the obtainment of eternal life ; which we call Absolute Reprobation. As for example: Let us fuppose the number of mankind to be two millions of men, if out of these, one million only, by the Decree of Election, be infallibly appointed to eternal life, and these certainly and absolutely distinguished from others, not only as to their number, but their persons also; who can deny but that one million also,
(a) Animad, on Hord, p. 205
and those certain as to their persons, are as absolutely compriled under the Decree of Nonelection or. Reprobation, as the others were under the Decree of Election or Predeftination ? So that there is no possibility of asserting one of these Decrees without owning the other also; and so whatfoever argument holds good against an absolute Decree of Reprobation, must certainly destroy the opposite Decree of Absolute Election.
Now, is there any need of arguments to confute such a fupposed Decree as this ?" I behold, through the fall of Adam, (by my mere pleasure imputed to his whole pofterity yet unborn, as if it were their action, and they had personally consented to it) the whole race of mankind obnoxious to my eternal wrath, and utterly unable to recover from it; and though they be all the fouls that I have made, all equally wanting, and equally capable of my favor; nor have I any reason to extend it to any of them, rather than to all ; yet do I absolutely Decree to vouchfafe this favor only to fome few of them, leaving the far greateft part of them under a fad neceflity of perishing everlastingly, for the offence of their forefather Adam, committed long before they had a being ; so that they shall be as sure to be damned eternally as they are to be born in time; and yet I will proclaim myself unto them, a God merciful, and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness, on purpose that they may not perish, but be led by it to repentance, and declare to them that my delight is in fhewing mercy. I will entreat them with the greatest earnestnefs, and even befeech them to be reconciled to me, as being so far reconciled to them in Christ Jesus, as not to impute to them their tranfgreflions and sins: I will send to them all my messengers and prophets, declaring that I do it, bea cause I have compassion on them: I will allure them to repentance with the promise that all their fins fhall then be blotted out, and not one of them remembered against them: I will tell them that I would have purged them, but they would not be purged : 1 would have gathered them, but they would not be gathered: I will ask them, Why will you die ? and inquire of them what I could have done more to prevent it which I have not done? Yea, I will seriously, and solemnly protest and swear unto them by the greatest oath, even that of my own life, that I would not the death of him that dies, but rather that he should return and live. But after all, I will be true and constant to that abfolute Decree of Reprobation, which must render their damnation urfruftra. ble, and to the negative decree of withholding from them that grace which can alone enable them to escape it, or to receive any advantage from all these declarations,
And hence we learn the falsehood of that affertion of the fame good (b) Bishop, That“Reprobation is not a denial of sufficient grace, but a denial of such special grace which God knows would infallibly bring them to glory; and that we cannot thence cona
clude, (c) that being not elected they are left without all, remedy " or sufficient means of salvation, or that being reprobated they " are without sufficient remedies or means to escape damnation,
were not their own wicked will the only hindrance : "For can men be left infallibly to fail of eternal life, and yet not be left without all remedy or sufficient means of salvation?;lf, as he says, (d) God leaving them under the want of that special grace, and effectual guidance proceeding from Divine Predestination, they never fail of running themselves wittingly and willingly upon their own damnation; have they notwithstanding sufficient remedies, or means to escape damnation ? Sure it is, there can be no falva. tion, and no escaping of damnation, without conversion of the will from sin to God, and a continuance in this estate unto the end. It then these Reprobates have no sufficient means to turn their wicked and perverted wills from sin to God, they can have no sufficient means
either to obtain falvation, or escape damnation. If they have sufficient means to convert their wicked wills from the love of fin to a prevailing love to God, the pravity of these wills can never be the cause why they are left infallibly to fail of life eternal, or why they never fail of running on wilfully to their own damnation ; seeing they have means sufficient to rectify the pravity of their wills. Again, either these means are sufficient to render them truly willing to believe and repent, or they are not ; either they are sufficient to remove the defectiveness and disability of will they have contracted by the fall of Adam to these saving actions, or they are not: If they are not, how are they means sufficient for the attainment of the falvation which belongs only to the believer and the penitent, or the escaping that damnation which necef. farily follows upon the disability and defect for which no fuf, ficient remedy is by grace provided ? and then how have they grace fufficient for these ends? If they are thus fufficient, then may they truly be willing to believe and repent; and then this fufficient grace being vouchfafed to them, there can be no ob ftruction in their will which neceffarily hinders their believing and repenting, and then they on whom God hath passed this act of Reprobation, or of preterition, may believe and repent, and therefore may be saved, as well, though not as certainly, as
06) Corol. p. 24. (C) P. 30.-(d) P. 28.