« PreviousContinue »
9. To rectify men's wicked wills and dispositions, God giveth them a world of means; the whole creation, and documents of providence; all the precepts, promises, threats of Scripture ; preaching, example, mercies, judgments, patience and inward motions of the Spirit; all which might do much to men's conversation and salvation, if they would but do what they could on their own part.
10. Adam could have stood when he fell, without any more grace than that which he abused and neglected. God's grace, which was not effectual to him, was as much as was necessary to his standing, if he would have done his best : and it was left to his freewill, to have made that help effectual by improvement. He fell, not because he could not stand, but because he would not.
11. For aught any can prove, multitudes that believe not now, but perish, may have rejected a help as sufficient to their believing, as Adam's was to his standing.
12. All men have power to do more good, and avoid more evil than they do; and he that will not do what he can do, justly suffereth.
13. Heathens and infidels are not left unredeemed under the remediless curse, and covenant of innocency, which we broke in Adam ; but are all brought by the redemption wrought by Christ, under a or terms,
grace. (1.) God made a covenant of grace with all mankind in Adam ; (Gen. jii. 15.) who was by tradition to acquaint his posterity with it, as he did to Cain and Abel, the ordinances of oblation and sacrifice. (2.) This covenant was renewed with all mankind in Noah. (3.) This covenant is not repealed, otherwise than by a more perfect edition to them that have the plenary Gospel. (4.) The full Gospel-covenant is made for all, as to the tenor of it, and the command of preaching and offering it to all. (5.) They that have not this edition, may yet be under the first edition. (6.) The Jews, under the first edition were saved without believing in this determinate person of Jesus, or that he should die for sin, and rise again, and send down the Spirit: for the apostles believed it not beforehand; (Luke xviii. 34. John xii. 16. Luke ix. 45. Mark ix. 34. Luke xxiv. 21. 25, 26. Acts i. 6—8.) yet were they then in a state of saving grace, as apeareth by John xiv. xv. xvi. xvii. through
out. (7.) The rest of the world that had not the same supernatural revelation, were not then bound to believe so much as the Jews were, about the Messiah. (8.) God himself told them all, that they were not under the unremedied curse of the covenant of innocency, by giving them a life full of those mercies which they had forfeited, which all did tend to lead them to repentance, and to seek aster God (Rom. ii. 4. Acts xvii. 27.), and “ find him; yea, he left not himself without witness, for that which may be known of him, and his invisible things are manifested and clearly seen in his works;" so that the wicked are without excuse ; Rom. i. 19, 20. Acts xiv. 17. So that all heathens are bound - to believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him;" (Heb. xi. 6.) And are all under the duty of using certain means, in order to their own recovery and salvation, and to believe that they are not commanded to do this in vain : so that God's own providence by a course of such mercies, which cannot stand with the execution of the unremedied, violated law of innocency, together with his obliging all men to repentance, and to the use of a certain course of means, in order to their salvation, is a promulgation of a law of grace, according to the first edition, and distinguisheth man from unredeemed devils.
And they that say that all the infidel world have all this mercy, duty, means and hope, without any redemption or satisfaction of Christ as the procuring cause, are in the way to say next, “That the church's mercies too might have been given without Christ.' (9.) “Of a truth, God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him ;” Acts x. 34, 35. For “God will render to every man according to his deeds : to them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honor, and incorruptibility, eternal life;" Rom. ii. 6, 7. ry, honor, and peace, 10 every man that worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek;” ver. 10. “For there is no respect of persons with God;" ver. 11. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one anothVOL. II.
er;" ver. 14, 15. And they shall be judged according to that law which they were under, natural or mosaical, “ even by Jesus Christ;" ver. 12. 16. And it is the work of the Spirit promised to belierers, to write the law of God in their hearts.
(10.) Though a special promise was made to Abraham, as an eminent believer, and the Jewish nation were the peculiar people of God, advanced to greater privileges than any others in the world; yet were they not the whole kingdom of God the Redeemer, nor the only people that were in a covenant of grace, or in a state of salvation. For Shem was alive after Abraham's death, who was not like to be less than a king, and to have a kingdom and a people governed according to his fidelity. And Melchisedec was a king of righteousness and peace, not like to be Shem by the situation of his country. And a righteous king would govern in righteousness. Job and his friends are evidences of the same truth. And we have no proof or probability that all Abraham's seed by Ishmael, and Esau, and Keturah, were apostates, for they continued circumcision. And what all the rest of the world was we know not, save that in general most grew idolatrous, and the Canaanites in special. But that they all apostatized from the covenant of grace made with Adam and Noah, there is no proof. We have not the history of any of their countries fully, so as to determine of such cases. In Nineveh God ruled by that law of grace which called them to repent, and spared them upon their belief and repentance; " Because he was a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth of the evil :” Jonah iv. 2.
And that God dealeth not with mankind now as the mere judge of the violated law of innocency; he declareth not only by the full testimony of his providence, or mercies given to the sinful world; but also by the very name, which he proclaimeth unto Moses (which signifieth his nature, and his mind towards others, and not what he is to Jews alone) Exod. xxiv. 6, 7. “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." All which is inconsistent with the relation of God, as a judge of a people, only under the curse of an unremedied violated law,
and unredeemed, though he add, “and that will by no means clear the guilty,” &c. that is, will neither judge them innocent that are guilty of the crime, nor judge them to life that are guilty of death, according to the tenor of the law which they are under; Purificando non purificabii' as the literal version ; that is, will not judge un
n jusıly, by acquitting him that is to be condemned, or as the Chaldee paraphrase hath it, not justifying those that are not converted.'
It is enough for us therefore to know, that the visible church hath manifold privileges above all others; Rom. iii. 1-3., &c. And that salvation is more easy, sure, and plenteous, where the Gospel cometh, than with any others; and that we have therefore great cause to rejoice with thankfulness for our lot, and that the poor world lieth in wickedness, and must be pitied, prayed for, and helped to our power, and that “God is the Savior of all men, but especially of them that believe ; and that he is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works;" and that he will never damn one soul that loveth him as God. But what is in the hearts of all men in the world, and consequently how they shall be used at last, he only that searcheth the heart can tell ; and it is neither our duty nor our interest, nor possible to us, to know it of all particulars, much less to conclude, that none among them have such love, who believe him to be infinitely good, and to be to them a merciful, pardoning God. And we know withal, that all they that know not Jesus Christ, as this determinate person that was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, buried, rose again, &c., do yet receive all the aforesaid mercies by him, and not by any other name or mediation, nor yet without his purchasing mediation.
14. And if besides all the mercy that God sheweth to others, he do antecedently and positively elect certain persons, by an absolute decree, to overcome all their resistances of his Spirit, and to draw them to Christ, and by Christ to himself, by such a power and way as shall infallibly convert and save them, and not leave the success of his mercy, and his Son's preparations, to the bare uncertainty of the mutable will of depraved man, what is there in this that is injurious to any others? Or that representeth God unmerciful to any but such whose eye is evil, because he is good, and as a free benefactor, may give more mercy to some than others of equal demerits ? If they that hold no grace but what is universal, and left, as to the success, to the will of man, as the determining cause, do think that this is well consistent with the mercifulness of God; surely they that hold as much universal grace as the former; and that indeed all have so much, as bringeth and leaveth the success to man's will, and deny to no man any thing which the other give, do make God no less merciful than they; but more, if they moreover assert a special decree and grace of God, which, with a chosen number, shall antecedently infallibly secure his ends in their repentance, faith, perseverance, and salvation. Is this any detraction from, or diminution of his universal grace? Or rather a higher demonstration of his good ness ? As it is no wrong to man that God maketh angels more holy, immutable and happy.
15. And what if men cannot here tell how to resolve the question “Whether any, or how many are ever converted and saved, by that mere grace which we call sufficient, or rather necessary, and common to those that are not converted; and whether man will ever make a saving, determining improvement of it;' must plain truth be denied, because difficulties cannot easily be solved? And yet in due place I doubt not but I have shewed, that this question itself is formed upon false suppositions, and is capable of a satisfactory solution.
16. I conclude in general, that nothing is more sure, than that God is most powerful, wise, and good, and that all his works, to those that truly know them, do manifest all these in conjunction and perfect harmony ; and that as to his decrees and providences, he is the cause of all good, and of no sin in act or habit, and that our sin and destruction is of ourselves, and of him is our holiness and salvation; and that he attaineth all his ends as certainly, as if men's will had no liberty, but were acted by physical necessitation : and yet that man's will hath as much natural liberty, as if God had not gone before it with any decree of the event, and as much moral liberty as we have moral virtue or holiness.
And these principles I have laid down in a little room, that tempted persons may see, that it is our dark and puzzled brains, and our