A Letter of full Accordance, Written to D. ROBERT SANDERSON, CONCERNING Gods Grace and Decrees.
§. 1. HAving had a sight of the Letter which you sent M.—about the Antiremon∣strant Controversies dated Mar. 26. and observing one of the reasons, which you render of your having avoided to appear on that theme, [A loathness to engage in a quarrell whereof you should never hope to see an end] I thought my self in some degree qualified to an∣swer this reason of yours, and thereby to do ac∣ceptable service to many, who do not think fit that any considerations, which have not real and weighty truth in them, should obstruct that which may be so much to the common good, I mean, your writing and declaring your mind on any profitable subject.
§. 2. That which qualifies me more then some others, to evacuate the force of this one reason of yours, and makes me willing to attempt it, though not to appear in opposition to any other passage, that ever you have written, is the true friendship that hath passed between us, and the sweet con∣versation that for sometime we enjoyed, with∣out Page 2 any allay or unequableness, sharp word, or unkind, or jealous thought. The remembrance whereof assures me unquestionably, that you and I may engage in this question, as far as either of us shall think profitable, without any the least beginning of a quarrel, and then that will com∣petently be removed from such, as of which you cannot hope to see an end.
§. 3. And before I go any farther, I appeal to your own judgement, whether herein I do not at least speak probably, and then whether it were not a misprision, which you are in all reason to deposite, to apprehend such insuperable difficul∣ties or impossibilities at a distance, which when they are prudently approached, and examined, so presently vanish before you. If this one re∣flection do not convince you, it remains, that the speculation be brought to practice, and exempli∣fied to your senses.
§ 4. You set out with a mention of some *positions, wherein, you say, Divines, though of contrary Judgements, do yet all agree. And then it is not credible that you and I should be so sin∣gular, as to differ in them endlesly; of this num∣ber you propose five, 1. That the will of man is free in all his actions. 2. That very many things in the world happen contingently. 3. That God from all eternity foreseeth all, even the most free and contingent events. 4. That whatsoever God fore∣seeth shall infallibly come to pass. 5, That sinners are converted by the effectual working of Gods grace. Of each of these you say we have from Scripture, Reason and Experience, as good and ful assurance, as can be desired for the〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or truth of them, that they are so.] And I who fully sub∣scribe Page 3 to the undoubted truth of each of the Pro∣positions, and do it also upon the very same three grounds (of Scripture, Reason, and Experience) which you mention, need not the intercession of our friendship to render it impossible to give you any the least trouble of so much as explaining your sence in any of these.
§. 5. Next, when you resolve, that all the*difficulty is about the〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (referring that to no more then three heads) 1. How to reconcile the certain futurition of what God foreseeth, with the liberty of the rational creature, and the contingency of casual effects, as they proceed from inferiour causes. 2. In what manner or measure the effe∣ctual Grace of God cooperateth and concurreth with the free will of man, in the conversion of a sinner. 3. How to cut so even a thread, as to take the whole of what we do amiss to our selves, and leave the whole glory of what we do well to his grace.] You are again as secure as any amulet can make you, that this resolution of abbreviating the Contro∣versies, and confining them to these few heads, shall never engage you in the least degree of De∣bate: And then I shall challenge you to feign, how it can remain possible, without contradicting ones self (which still is not quarrelling with you) to en∣gage you in any uneasie contention, unless it be on one of these three heads,, and when I have by promise obliged my self, which now I do, not to raise any Dispute, or attempt to ensnare or intan∣gle you in any of these three, you have then no∣thing to retract but your fears, to which if I tell you, you cannot adhere, discerning a sure and near period to that which you apprehended endless, this is all the victory I shall project, or be capable of in this matter.
Page 4 §. 6. Of the first of these three Difficulties, * the reconciling the certain futurition of what God foresees, with the liberty of the rational creature, and the contingency and casual effects, It falls out, that you have in your shorter Letter, dated Ap. 8. given that account, which evidenceth it to be, in your opinion, no invincible difficulty, your words are these, [That Gods praescience layeth no necessi∣ty at all upon any event, but that yet all events, as they are foreseen of God, so shall they certainly and infallibly come to pass, in such sort as they are fore∣seen, else the knowledge of God should be fallible, which certainty of the event may in some sort be called necessity, to wit, consequentis or ex hypothe∣si, according as all the most contingent things are necessary, when they actually exist, which is a ne∣cessity infinitely distant from that which praedeter∣mination importeth.] This I take to be so clear an explication of that difficulty, and so solid a de∣termining of the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the manner of recon∣ciling praescience with contingency, that as I fully consent to it in every part of your period, so I doubt not but the last part alone hath made it as intelligible to any ordinary understanding, as whole books of Philosophers have attempted to do.
§. 7. For Gods praescience from all eternity being but the seeing every thing that ever exists, as it is, contingents, as contingents, necessary, as necessary, can neither work any change in the object, by thus seeing it, (convert a contingent into a necessary) nor it self be deceived in what it sees, which it must be, if any thing in process of time should be otherwise, then from all eter∣nity God saw it to be.
§. 8. I was lately advised with by a Divine, to Page 5 me unknown, but one that seems to be a man of good learning, about the distinction frequently made in this matter, betwixt inevitably and in∣fallibly, and my answer and replyes to his seve∣rall objections, (because I would demonstrate the perfect accordance betwixt you and me in this, which, within this year or two is put into a very grave attire, and revered as a great difficulty) I will give you at large by way of Appendage at the end of this Letter, having by hap a copy retained by me, and though it cost you some minutes to survey them, yet I know your patience of all such exercises so well, that I doubt not of your willing∣ness to be thus detained by me, which yet here you shall not, loco non suo.
§. 9. Then for the second, In what manner and measure the effectuall Grace of God cooperateth, or*concurreth with the free will of man in his conver∣sion] you seem to me to have given a punctuall account of each part of that also, in the said se∣cond Letter, in these words, That God worketh not by his Grace irresistibly, but yet so effectually on those whom he hath ex beneplacito appointed to salvation, in ordering the means, occasions and op∣portunities with such congruity to that end, as that de facto it is not finally resisted] Here it is evi∣dent your resolution comes home to each terme in the difficulty; For if effectuall Grace worke not irresistibly, then we see in what manner it coope∣rates with the free will of man, viz. so as it still remains possible for him to resist it. And if the effectualness of his working consist in ordering the means, occasions, and opportunities with such con∣gruity, &c. then as that stateth the measure of the cooperation (the onely second part of the dif∣ficulty) Page 6 and doth it expresly in Bishop Overals way, so this supposeth Grace sufficient to con∣version and salvation to be given to those, who are not converted, and saved, quite contrary to the three grand praetensions of Doctor Twisse, the Supralapsarians, and Sublapsarians, and whether it be true or no, is presently freed from all the odi∣ous consequences charged on the several Schemes of the Antiremonstrants, and so may safely be granted, or not opposed by them, who yet want evidence of Scripture to establish it, and so this is not likely to bring any uneasie engagement upon you.
§. 10. And then as there remains no more dif∣ficulties, but the third, so, if you mark it, the * grounds are already laid, whereby that is unque∣stionably resolved, for having granted that God gives sufficient Grace, and yet, when he coope∣rates most effectually, he doth it not irresistibly, this is the very thred you seek to cut by, so as to devolve the whole blame of all our miscarriages on our selves, and the entire glory and praise of all our 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, good performances, or good successes on his Grace. Were any of us so left or past by, as to be denyed sufficient grace, and yet destined to perish, meerly through want of neces∣saries; the whole blame could not rationally fall on our selves, it could not be said of Christs yoke, that it were *easie, or his †Commandment not far from us, the fault that was found with the Mosai∣cal oeconomy, Heb. viii. 8. and which made ano∣ther (the Evangelical) necessary, would still lye a∣gainst this, viz. that men were not enabled to perform what was required, and yet the non-per∣formance eternally revenged on many of them. Page 7 But sufficient Grace being tendred by God, and by no default, but their own, proving ineffectu∣all, the entire blame falls unavoidably on those, who do not thus open to him that knocks, so receive, as to make use of it, but resist, or grieve, or quench what was so mercifully designed, and might have been improved by the humble and diligent receivers unto their greatest advantages.
§. 11. On the other side, if our nature being universally corrupted by Adam's fall, all possibi∣lity of rising out of that grave of sin be the effect and benefit of the Grace, as that is of the death of Christ, if it be God that worketh in us both to will and to do, of his good pleasure, the first by his preventing, the second by his assisting Grace, and both those bottom'd meerly in his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉good pleasure, nothing in us any way meriting the first act, or purpose of Giving Grace, any far∣ther then our wants and miseries rendered us the proper objects of his compassions and reliefs; and the subsequent aids in like manner challengeable, onely from his promise, and the purport of the parable of the Talents, of Giving to him that hath, rewarding the use of the lower, with the gift of an higher degree of Grace, then still is this, the attributing nothing to our selves, but demerits, and provocations, and giving the whole glory to God.
§. 12. Having gone thus far without any con∣siderable disagreement, about the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, how to reconcile these three seeming repugnancies, wherein you apprehended the greatest difficulty to lye, and being hereby, as by so many postula∣ta accorded between us, competently provided and furnished of a standard, and umpire, (in Page 8 case any light difference should arise) what ob∣jection can S. Pauls〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Rom. xi. 33. (be∣longing * expresly to another matter, the cutting off the obdurate, and gathering all perswasible believing Jews and Gentiles, and no way appli∣cable to this) interpose, why we should not pro∣ceed together to the consideration of the Doctrine of Decrees, as it hath been variously debated by others, and by you perspicuously recapitulated in the process of your papers?
§. 13. To this therefore I presume of your good leave that we now proceed, and whereas you have prudently chosen to begin with an hi∣story of your own thoughts on this subject, which you have laid down with great particula∣rity, I shall set out with a bare transcript of that, which will need no comment of mine, to render * it usefull to the Reader, in discovering to him the true and sole originall of the thriving (for some time) of those Doctrines among us, and how so many of our Church came to be seasoned with them, and in giving him a but necessary caution for the laying the grounds of the study of Divi∣nity in the writings of the antient Church, ra∣ther then in our modern systemes and Instituti∣ons. Your words are these,
§. 14. When I began to set my self to the Stu∣dy of Divinity as my proper business, (which was after I had the degree of Master of Arts, being then newly xxi. years of age) the first thing I thought fit for me to do, was to consider well of the Articles of the Church of England, which I had formerly read over twice, or thrice, and whereunto I had subscribed. And because I had then met with some Puritanicall Pamphlets written against thePage 9Liturgie, and Ceremonies; although most of the Arguments therein were such as needed no great skill to give satisfactory answers unto, yet for my fuller satisfaction (the questions being de rebus a∣gendis, and so the more suitable to my proper in∣clination) I read over with great diligence and no less delight that excellent piece of Learned Hoo∣ker's Ecclesiasticall Politie. And I have great cause to bless God for it that so I did, not onely for that it much both cleared and setled my judge∣ment for ever after in very many weighty points (as of Scandall, Christian Liberty, Obligation of Laws, Obedience, &c.) but that it also proved (by his good providence) a good preparative to me (that I say not, Antidote) for the reading of Calvin's Institutions with more caution then perhaps (other∣wise) I should have done. For that Book was commended to me, as it was generally to all young Scholars in those times, as the best and perfectest systeme of Divinity, and fittest to be laid as a ground work in the study of that profession. And indeed being so prepared as is said, my expectation was not at all deceived, in the reading of those In∣stitutions. I found, so far as I was then able to judge, the method exact, the expressions clear, the style grave, equall and unaffected: his Doctrine for the most part conform to S. Augustines, in a word, the whole worke very elaborate, and usefull to the Churches of God in a good measure; and might have been (I verily believe) much more usefull, if the honour of his name had not given so much reputation to his very errours. I must acknowledge my self to have reaped great benefit by the reading thereof. But as for the questions of Election, Re∣probation, Effectuall Grace, Perseverance, &c. IPage 10took as little notice of the two first, as of any o∣ther thing contained in the book; both because I was alwayes affraid to pry much into those secrets, and because I could not certainly inform my self from his own writings, whether he were a Supralapsari∣an (as most speak him, and he seemeth often to in∣cline much that way) or a Sublapsarian, as sun∣dry passages in the book seem to import. But giving my self mostly still to the study of Moral Divinity, (and taking most other things upon trust, as they were in a manner generally taught both in the Schools and Pulpits in both Vniversities) I did for many years together acquiesce without troubling my self any farther about them, in the more com∣monly received opinions concerning both these two, and the other points depending thereupon. Yet in the Sublapsarian way ever, which seemed to me of the two, the more moderate, rationally and agreeable to the goodness, and justice of God: for the rigid Supralapsarian doctrine could never find any enter∣tainment in my thoughts from first to last. But MDCXXV. a Parliament being called, wherein I was chosen one of the Clerks of the Convocation for the Diocesse of Lincoln, during the continu∣ance of that Parliament (which was about four moneths, as I remember) there was some expectati∣on that those Arminian points (the onely questions almost in agitation at that time) should have been debated by the Clergy, in that CONVOCATION. Which occasioned me (as it did sundry others) be∣ing then at some leasure, to endeavour by study and conference to inform my self, as throughly and ex∣actly in the state of those Controversies, as I could have opportunity, and as my wit would serve me for it. In order whereunto, I made it my first bu∣sinessPage 11to take a survey of the severall different opi∣nions concerning the ordering of Gods Decrees, as to the salvation or damnation of men; not as they are supposed to be really in Mente Divina (for all his Decrees are eternall and therefore coeternall, and so no priority or posteriority among them:) but quoad nostrum intelligendi modum, because we can∣not conceive or speak of the things of God, but in a way suitable to our own finite condition, and understanding: Even as God himself hath been plea∣sed to reveal himself to us in the holy Scriptures by the like suitable condescensions and accommoda∣tions. Which opinions, the better to represent their differences to the eye, uno quasi intuitu, for their more easie conveying to the understanding by that means, and the avoiding of confusion and tedious discoursings, I reduced into five Schemes or Tables, much after the manner as I had used to draw Pedi∣grees (a thing which I think you know I have ve∣ry much fancied, as to me of all others the most de∣lightfull recreation) of which Schemes, some spe∣ciall friends, to whom I shewed them, desired copies: who, as it seemeth, valuing them more then I did (for divers men have copies of them, as I hear, but I do not know that I have any such my self) com∣municated them farther, and so they are come into many hands. Those are they which Doctor Rey∣nolds, in his Epistle prefixed to Master Barlees Correptory Correction, had taken notice of. Ha∣ving all these Schemes before my eyes at once, so as I might with ease compare them one with ano∣ther, and having considered of the conveniences and inconveniences of each, as well as I could, I soon discerned a necessity of quitting the Sublapsarian way of which I had a better liking before, as wellPage 12as the Supralapsarian, which I could never fancy.]
§. 15. Thus far your history, which, I verily believe to have perfect truth in every step of it, without any disguise or varnish, and so I pass from it without any farther Reflections.
§. 16. Next then follows your distincter view of the severall wayes, which have been embra∣ced by those of the Antiremonstrant perswasion, and the motives on which you were forced to dissent and depart from each of them, and to this I am obliged to attend you 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. And the wayes being especially three, the method of greatest advantage will be to begin with a tran∣sient view of those, each of which you with great reason reject, and to set Doctor Twisses first (though it came last into the world and adorn'd it self with the spoiles of the other two) because that sets the object of Election higher, then the other do, homo creabilis, man considered before he is created. His design and scheme you have perspicuously drawn, thus, [That God making*his own Glory the only end of all other his Decrees, all these decrees of creating man, of permitting sin, of sending Christ, of preaching the Gospel, of Ele∣cting some, of Reprobating others, and the rest, make up one entire coordinate Medium, conducing to that one End, and so the whole subordinate to it, but not any one part, or joynt thereof subordinate to any o∣ther of the same.] Against this, your objection I profess to be very convincing, taken from his * own beloved axiome, so oft repeated by him, (and borrowed from him, and built upon by o∣thers) that whatsoever is first in the intention, is last in the execution. For as it is most evident, Page 13 that of these his supposed coordinate decrees some are after others in execution (the fall after the cre∣ation, the coming of Christ after both, and so of the rest) so if he will stand to his principle, he must, as you say, grant, that those that were thus after any other in the execution, were in Gods inten∣tion before them, which will necessarily bring in a subordination among them, and so quite overthrow this (as you call it) new crochet of coordination.
§. 17. Your other causes of dislike to His way are equally rational, 1. the falsness of that his Lo∣gick Maxime, which he builds so much upon, which yet hath no certain truth, or other then ca∣suall, but when it is applyed to final causes, and the means used for the attaining any end. 2. The pro∣digiousness of his other doctrine, that there are more degrees of bonity in damnato quam annihila∣to, (because the bonitas entis) and so that it is better for the Creature to be in eternall misery, then simply not to be; when Christ expresly pro∣nounceth the contrary of wicked men, that it had been better for them never to have been born, to have a milstone about the neck, and to be cast into the sea, (a figure to represent annihilation) then to be involved in those dangers that attend their sins. 3. His resolving Gods Election of a man to life eternall to be*no act of his mercy, and likewise his†reprobating and ordaining to damnation to be no act of his Justice, but of his pleasure.] A few such Propositions as these are competent to blast and defame any cause, which requires such aids, stands in need of such supporters, and therefore you will be confident I concurr with you in reje∣ction of that, though I think neither of us likely to undertake the travel of refuting of his whole work.
Page 14 §. 18. Next then for the Supralapsarians, with whom the object of the decree is homo conditus,* man created, not yet fallen, and the Sublapsarians, with whom it is Man fall'n, or the corrupt Mass, your rejections and reasons thereof are twined to∣gether, and are especially two, which you justly call very weighty, and so I suppose they will be deem'd by any man, that shall consider the force of them, without prejudice, I shall therefore set them down from your letter in your own words.
§. 19. The first reason is, because though it might perhaps be defensible, as to the justice of*God, in regard of his absolute power over his own creature, yet it seems very hardly reconcileable with the goodness of God, and his exceeding great love to mankind, as they are plentifully and passionately set forth in his holy word, to decree the eternall dam∣nation of the greater part of mankind, for that sin, and for that sin onely which was utterly and natu∣rally impossible for him to avoid, for the Decree of Reprobation according to the Sublapsarian Doctrine, being nothing else but a meer preterition or non-ele∣ction of some persons whom God left, as he found them, involved in the guilt of the first Adams trans∣gression, without any actuall personall sin of their own, when he withdrew some others, as guilty as they, without any respect to Christ the second A∣dam, it must needs follow that the persons so left are destin'd to eternall misery, for no other cause, but this onely, that Adam some thousand years since did eat the forbidden fruit, and they being yet un∣born could not help it.
§. 20. The other reason was, because the Scri∣pture not onely saith expresly, that God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world,Page 15 Eph. 1. 4, 5. and consequently the decree of sending Christ must be praecedaneous to that of Election, but also doth every where, and upon all occasions hold forth the death of Christ, as intended by God for the benefit of mankind, in the utmost extent, [the world, the whole world, mankind, every man, &c.] and not for the benefit of some few onely, the rest by an antecedent peremptory decree excluded. To which it would be consequent, that according to the tenure of (the more moderate of these) the Sublapsarians doctrine, Jesus Christ the Judge at the last day, when he should proceed to pronounce sentence upon the damned, should bespeak them to this effect, Ite maledicti, voluit enim Pater meus pro beneplacito, ut Adam peccato suo vos perderet, noluit ut ego sanguine meo vos redimerem, Go ye cursed, for my Father of his meer pleasure will'd that Adam by his sin should destroy you, will'd not that I by my blood should redeem you, the very thought whereof (you say) your soul so much abhorr'd, that you were forced to forsake that opinion of the Sublapsa∣rians, (having, as you profess, never phansied the Superlapsarians) and conclude it unsafe to place the decree of Election before that of sending Christ.
§. 21. These two reasons of changing your judgement, are, I confess, so worthy of a consi∣dering man, who makes Gods revealed will his Cynosure, and doth not first espouse doctrines of men, and then catch at some few obscure places of Scripture, to countenance them, nor makes his retreat to the abyss of Gods unfathomable Coun∣sels, as the reason of (that which is its contradi∣ctory) his attempting to fathome and define them, that I doubt not but the tendering of them to all dispassionate seekers of truth, that have not so me Page 16 interests to serve by adhering peremptorily and ob∣stinately to their prepossessions, will be of the same force to disabuse and extort from them the same confessions, which they have from you, causing them fairly to deposite these two Schemes, and either not to desine at all, or to seek out other solider Methods, and more Catholick Grounds of defining; and if the wise heathen were in the right
this will be some degree of proficiency, which they that shall with unspeakable joy have tran∣scribed from you, will also have temptation to accuse your fears, or waryness, that they received not this lesson sooner from you, especially when they are told, what here you express, that these have been your thoughts, ever since the year 1625. i. e. 34. years since, which is an age or generation in the Scripture-use of the word.
§. 22. That none may be any longer deprived of this means of their conviction, or permitted to think or teach securely and confidently, and as in accord with you, what you profess your soul thus long to have abhorred the very thought of, I desire you will at length communicate your thoughts your self, or else allow this letter of mine to be your 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and do it for you, un∣der some testimony of your full approbation of this your sence.
§. 23. But all this, thus far advanced, is but the rejection of the severall erroneous wayes, and onely the negative part of your thoughts, which Page 17 yet, by the way let me tell you, is fully sufficient both to the peace of Churches, and of particular * souls; If the erroneous wayes be rejected, from whence all the misapprehensions of God, and ill consequences thereof flow, the Church is com∣petently secured from tares, and then what need express articles, and positive definitions come in to her rescue?
§. 24. This I suppose the reason both of our Churches Moderation in framing the Article of*Predestination, and of our late Kings Declaration, in silencing the debate of the questions. For if by these methods the Church could but have prevailed to have the definitions of the several pretenders forgotten, all men contenting themselves, as our Article prescribes, with the promises of God, as they are declared in Scripture, (which sure are Ʋniversal and conditionate, not absolute and par∣ticular) the turmoil and heat, and impertinence of Disputes had been prevented, which now goes for an engagement in Gods cause, the bare fervour and zeal in which is taken in commutation for much o∣ther piety, by many the most eager contenders. The doctrines being deemed doctrines of God, are counted evidences of sanctified men, and affix the censure of carnality on opposers, and from hence come bitter envyings, railings, and at the least evil surmisings, and these are most contrary to the out∣ward peace of a Church or Nation.
§. 25. And for particular mens souls, if the ri∣gid * doctrines be found apt to cool all those mens love of God, who have not the confidence to be∣lieve themselves of the number of the few chosen vessels, and to beget security and presumption in others, who have conquered those difficulties, and Page 18 resolved that they are of that number, and to ob∣struct industry and vigorous endeavours, and fear of falling, and so to have malignant influences on practise, yet seeing it is the believing the Antire∣monstrant Schemes (one or other of them) to be the truth of God, which lyes under these ill conse∣quences, the bare laying them aside, leaves every man indispensably under the force of Christs com∣mands to disciples, terrours to the unreformed, and conditional (most expresly conditional) promises to all; and those being substantially backed with the firm belief of all the Articles of the Creed, parti∣cularly of the judgement to come, are by the grace of God abundantly sufficient to secure Evangelical obedience, the true foundation of peace to every Christian soul, and therefore I say, est aliquid pro∣dire tenus, your negative part, if there were no more behind, will be of soveraign use to all that have been seduced into any liking of those errours, which are by a man of your moderation and judge∣ment, in despight of contrary prepossessions, on reasons so convincing and perspicuous, rejected.
§. 26. But in the space of thirty four years, though you have permitted your genius to lead you to other studies (which if your rejections be gran∣ted, I shall willingly confess to be more universally profitable, then any minuter searches into the de∣crees) those of moral or practical Divinity, yet it seems you have not liv'd such an obstinate Recluse from the disputes and transactions of men, but that occasions you have met with to excite your faculties, to wade a little farther into the Positive part of these Doctrines: and indeed it is hard to conceive how a man can have spent so many hours, as the Survey of Doctor Twisses Vindiciae Gratiae,Page 19 were it never so slight and desultory, must have cost you, without some other reflections, besides those of bare aversation to his Hypotheses.
§. 27. To these you at length proceed, propo∣sing them with difference, owning some of them, as your present thoughts, and opinion, whilst in o∣thers you profess to be purely sceptick, and to pro∣pose them onely as conjectures, that seem to you in the mean time not improbable, untill you meet with some other more satisfactory. And in ma∣king this difference I fully accord with you, di∣scerning that undeniable evidence of grounds in the former, which is not so readily discoverable in the latter. I shall therefore follow your directi∣on herein, and rank these severally, setting down * those which you own as your opinion first, and af∣terward, with that note of difference, proceed to your Conjectures.
§. 28. Concerning the Decrees of Election and*Reprobation, your present opinion is contained in these three propositions (prefaced with two more, which are but the disavowing the three wayes of Massa nondum condita, condita ante lapsum, & corrupta.)
§. 29. I. That man being made upright, and so left*in manu consilii sui (God permitting him to act according to that freedome of will wherewith as a reasonable creature he had endowed him) did by his own voluntary disobedience, through the cunning of Satan, tempting him thereunto, fall away from God, cast himself into a state of sin and misery, un∣der the bondage of Satan, without any power, possi∣bility, or so much as desire to recover himself out of that wretched condition; All which God did decree not to hinder, as purposing to make use thereof, as aPage 20fit occasion for the greater manifestation of his po∣wer, wisdome, goodness, mercy, justice, &c. Of this my opinion is, that it is, in every branch of it, so undeniably founded in the express affirmations of holy Writ, that there can be no doubt of it to any Christian.
§. 30. II. That man being thus falln, God out of his infinite compassion to his creature, made after*his own image (and that Satan might not finally triumph in so rich a conquest, if the whole mass of mankind should perish) decreed to send his onely be∣gotten Son Jesus Christ into the world, to undertake the great work of our Redemption, and to satisfie his Justice for sin, that so notwithstanding the same, the whole mass of mankind lost by the fall of the first Adam, might be restored to a capability of salvation, through the mercy of God, and the merits of Jesus Christ, the second Adam.
In this, compared with what you before said, and afterwards add, I discern your full agreement to the words of our Church-Catechism, as those are exactly consonant to the manifold testimonies of sacred Writ, that Christ dyed for, and thereby re∣deemed all mankind; your words being not (to my apprehension) capable of any of those evasions, that others are willing to reserve themselves in this business, as of his dying sufficiently, but not intentionally for all, for that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is super∣seded by your words of Gods sending Christ &c. that so mankind &c.] which must needs import his unfeigned intention, that mankind should be re∣stored to a reall capability of salvation, which is not with truth affirmable, if any one individuall of that whole kind be absolutely passed by, or left, or excluded from his part in this restauration, and Page 21 capability of salvation, which yet we must resolve many millions to be, if that which is perfectly necessary to the recovery of those which were so totally lost, as your former proposition truly sup∣posed, be not really and effectively made up to them by Christ. And as in this full latitude I am obliged to understand you, so I wish not any more pregnant words to expresse it, then those which you have chosen.
§. 31. III. That man having by his fall rendred*himself uncapable of receiving any benefit from the Covenant made with him in his first Creation, God was graciously pleased to enter into a new Covenant with mankind, founded in his Son Jesus Christ, con∣sisting of Evangelical but conditional promises, of granting remission of sins, and everlasting life, up∣on the condition of faith in Christ, repentance from dead works, and new obedience: and gave command∣ment that the said Covenant by the preaching of the Gospel should be published throughout the world. this, you say, you conceive to be that which the Ar∣minians call the generall decree of Predestination, but is rejected by the Calvinists,] And that all these Decrees are (according to our weak manner of under∣standing the way of Gods counsells, salva coexisten∣tiâ & praesentialitate rerum omnium in mente di∣vinâ ab aeterno) antecedent to the decrees of Electi∣on and Reprobation.]
To this also I fully assent, both as to the truth, and fulness of the expression in every part, especi∣ally in that of Gods entring with mankind (with∣out any restraint) the new Covenant, founded in Christ: of the conditionateness of the promises of that new Evangelical Covenant: of repentance and new obedience, together with faith in Christ, making Page 22 up that compleat condition: of the antecedency of this Covenant in Christ (and the command of pub∣lishing it throughout the world) to the decrees of Election and Reprobation: which seems to me to be expresly set down from Christs words Mar. xvi. 15, 16. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, he that be∣lieveth not, shal be damned.] which evidently founds those two decrees in the precedaneous preaching, and mens receiving or rejecting of the Gospel.
§. 32. And when the Gospels are all so express in setting down that command of Christ to his A∣postles * of preaching the Gospel to all the world, to the whole Creation, i. e, the whole Gentile, as well as Jewish world, (and the travels of the Apostles witness their obedience to it) and when the com∣mand of Christ is equivalent with a decree, and his giving of that in time an evidence of its being by him predestin'd from all eternity, it is very strange that this should be denyed or questioned by the Calvinists, or the Arminians rejected by them, when in effect they do but repeat Christs own words, who if he gave command to publish the Gospel to all, then must the publishing of the Go∣spel be matter of a general decree, there being no other so sure a way of discerning what was ab aeter∣no predestined by God in his secret counsel, as the Scriptures telling us what was by the Father, or Christ in time actually commanded.
§. 33. Thus far and no farther reach those which you own to be your present opinions, and pro∣nounce of them, that you are so far convinced from the phrases and expressions frequent in Scripture, that you cannot but own them as such, And then let Page 23 me tell you, it were very happy that all men would agree in these, and yet more happy, it instead of more curious enquiries, they would sit down, and betake themselves uniformly and vigorously to that * task, which the•e data bind indispensably upon them, and which is of that weight, that it may well imploy the remainder of their lives to perform it to purpose, I mean the work of Evangelical obe∣dience, the condition of the new Covenant, with∣out which the capability of pardon and salvation, which was purchased for mankind in general and for every man, shall never be actuated to any.
§. 34. Beyond these therefore what you add, * you acknowledge to be but conjectures, which though to you they seem not improbable, yet you profess to maintain your 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or Scepticisme in them. And if in any of these I should, on the same terms of conjecture, or seeming probability, differ from you, this still were fully to accord with you in the general, viz. the suspension of belief, and proceeding no farther then conjectures in these things.
What the issue will be, shall now be speedily ex∣perimented, by proceeding to a view of them, re∣membring still that you propose them but as con∣jectures.
§. 35. The first is, That the object of the decrees of Election and Reprobation, as they are set forth in*the Scripture, seemeth to you to be man preached un∣to, Those being elected to eternal life, who receive Christ, as he is offer'd to them in the Gospel, viz. as their Lord and Saviour, and those reprobated, who do not so receive him.] Herein I not onely perfect∣ly agree with you, but more then so, I do think it an unquestionable truth, which carries it's evidence Page 24 along with it, and so will be acknowledged by any that observes the limitation by you affixt to the subject of the proposition, the object of the de∣crees [as they are set forth in the Scripture] For he that shall but consider, that the holy Scripture is a * donative afforded us by God, and designed for our eternal advantages, not to enable us to judge of o∣thers, but our selves, not to discover all the un∣searchable recesses of his closet, or secret counsels (abs condita Domino Deo nostro) but to reveal to men those truths, which themselves are concern'd in, would make no difficulty to conclude, that the Scripture speaks onely of those, to whom it speaks, and as the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. v. 12. What hath he to do to judge them that are without? leaving them wholly to Gods judgement, so doth the Scri∣pture declare Gods dealing onely with those, to whom the Scripture comes, to whom some way or other (whether by writing or preaching it matters not) the Gospel of Christ is revealed.
§. 36. This as it appears by innumerable evi∣dences in the Scripture, so it is put beyond all di∣spute by that even now recited text, at Christs fare∣well, Mar. xvi. his commission to his Apostles, and declaration of the fixed determin'd consequences of it, an express transcript of Gods eternal destinati∣ons or decrees in that matter, Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, He that be∣lieveth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that be∣lieveth not shall be damned] In which words what can be the meaning of [shall be saved, and shall be damned] but this, that God hath decreed salvation and damnation to such? Those therefore are the object of those divine decrees, who are the subject of that proposition, and those are evidently men Page 25 preached to, of which some believe, and are ba∣ptized, and those have their parts in the first decree, that of election to salvation, some reject the Go∣spel, and believe not, and those fall under the se∣cond branch, that of rejection to Damnation.
§. 37. Against the evidence of this, no opposi∣tion * can be made, and to this it is undeniably con∣sequent, that all the Decrees whereof Scripture treateth, are conditionate, receiving Christ as the Gospel offers him, as Lord, and Saviour, the for∣mer as well as the latter being the condition of Scri∣pture-election, and the rejecting or not receiving him thus, the condition of the Scripture-repro∣bation.
§. 38. As for any other which can be phansied distant from this (and so all absolute Election or inconditionate Reprobation) it must needs be re∣solved to be the meer invention and fabrick of mens brains, without the duct of Gods Spirit in Scripture, which if at least it hold not a strict ana∣logy with that which the Scripture hath thus re∣vealed to us, will never be excused from great te∣merity, * and the sin of dogmatizing, the rifling Gods secrets, and setting up our own imaginations, if not prejudices, for the oracles of God. If this were well thought of, it would infallibly set a peri∣od to all further disputes, on this subject. And the proposition, which I have last set down from you, is so irrefragably convincing, that I hope it may be successful to so good an end, and all men that read it, resolve it their duty to preach no other Decrees of God from Scripture, but this, that all that receive the Gospel preached, and live according to the praescript rule thereof, (for that is to receive Christ as there he is offered to them, as a Lord andPage 26Saviour) shall be saved, and all they that reject it, when it is thus revealed, or live in contradicti∣on to the terms whereon it is established, shall be damned. This would probably change curiosity into industry, unprofitable disquisitions into the search and trying of our own wayes, and working out our own salvation.
§. 39. To this proposition, if it shall be gran∣ted, you annex two Corollaries, and I that have not onely yielded but challenged the undoubted truth of the Proposition, can make no question of the Corollaries, The first is this,
§. 40. That it will be impossible to maintain the Doctrine of Ʋniversal Grace in that manner as the Remonstrants are said to assert it, against the obje∣ction which is usually made by their adversaries, how evangelical Grace can be offer'd to such nations or persons, as never had the Gospel preached unto them.]
§. 41. The truth of this Corollary (as of all o∣ther) must be judged of by the dependence from * the Principle, the connexion it hath with the for∣mer proposition; That spake of the Decrees, as they are set forth in Scripture, and of the condition re∣quired of them that are elected to salvation, recei∣ving Christ preached, as he is offered in the Gospel, and accordingly it is most evident, that they that will found their Doctrine on Scripture, must find not onely difficulty, but impossibility to maintain the gift of evangelicall Grace (which I suppose to be a supernaturall power to believe and obey the Gospel) to those, to whom the Gospel hath never been revealed. What the Remonstrants are said to assert in this matter, I shall forbear to examine, be∣cause I design not to engage in any controversie at Page 27 this time with any; onely as on one side it is evi∣dent, that their adversaries can receive no benefit by the objection, the salvability of all to whom the Gospel is preached, being as contrary to their Do∣ctrine of onely the Elect, as it would be, if exten∣ded to the heathens also, all Christians being not with them in the number of the Elect; so on the other side, I should think it strange, that in our present notion of Evangelical grace, for a strength from God to receive and obey the Gospel preached, it should, by the Remonstrants, or any other, be af∣firmed from Scripture, that it is given, or offered to those to whom the Gospel hath not been revea∣led: S. Paul stiles the Gospel, the power of God un∣to salvation, and the preaching of it the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉administration of the spirit, and indeed the spirit is in Scripture promised onely to them who believe in Christ, and therefore speaking of what may be maintained by Scripture, and confi∣ning the speech to evangelical Grace, the Univer∣sality of it can no farther be by that maintained to extend, then to those to whom the Gospel is prea∣ched, for if Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word, i. e. preaching the Gospel, it must follow, they cannot believe, and so have not Evan∣gelical Grace, or strength to believe, without a Preacher.
§. 42. And therefore I remember the Learned Bishop of Sarisbury, Doctor Davenant in his Lent Sermon (I think the last he preached before the King) declared his opinion to be (as for Ʋni∣versal Redemption, so) for Ʋniversal Grace with∣in the Church; and as for this he was, I think, by none accounted an Arminian, so I never heard any that was of the Remonstrant perswasions, unsatis∣fied Page 28 with the scantness of that declaration, but thought it as much, as, speaking of Grace in the Scripture notion of it, evangelical Grace, could with any reason be required of him.
§. 43. As for the state and condition of hea∣thens, to whom the Gospel is not revealed, and yet it is no fault of theirs that it is not, as all those that lived before Christ and many since, as it is evident the Scripture was not delivered to them, nor consequently gave to us Christians rules for the judging of them, so it is most reasonable which you add in your second Corollary, which is this,
§. 44. That into the consideration of Gods Decrees*such nations or persons are not at all to be taken, as never heard of the Gospel, but they are to be left wholly to the judgement of God, since he hath not thought fit to reveal to us any certainty concerning their condition, but reserved it to himself, amongst his other secret counsels, the reasons of his wonderful and unsearchable dispensations in that kind.] To which I most willingly subscribe in every tittle, and challenge it as the just debt to the force of that rea∣son, that shines in it, that no man pass fatall de∣cretory sentences on so great a part of mankind, by force of those rules, which they never heard of, nor without hearing could possibly know that they were to be sentenced by them. And this the rather * upon four considerations which Scripture assures us of. First, that as all men were dead in Adam, so Christ died for all, that were thus dead, for every man, even for those that deny him, and finally perish: which as it must needs extend and be intended by him, that thus tasted death for them, to the bene∣fit of those that knew him not (for if he died forPage 29them that deny him, why not for them that are less guilty, as having never heard of him, especially when 'tis not the Revelation of Christ, to which the Redem∣ption is affixt, but his Death) so the certain truth of this is most expresly revealed and frequently in∣culcated in the Scripture (though nothing be there found of Gods decrees concerning them) upon this ground especially, that no person of what nation soever should have any prejudice to Christian Re∣ligion, when it should be first revealed to him, when he finds his interest so expresly provided for by so gracious a Redeemer, who if he had not dy∣ed for every man, 'twere impossible for any Prea∣cher to assure an Infidel, that he dyed for him, or propose any constringent reason to him, why he should believe on him for salvation. To this it is consequent, that whatsoever Gods unrevealed wayes are, to deal with any heathen, what degree of repentance from Dead works, obedience, or per∣formance soever he accept from them, this must needs be founded in the Covenant made with man∣kind in Christ, which you most truly have esta∣blished, there being no other name under heaven, no salvation possible to lapsed man by any other Covenant; Which, being set in opposition to the first Covenant of perfect unsinning obedience, and therefore called a second and Evangelical Cove∣nant, on condition onely of sincere obedience, of doing what by Gods gift, purchased by Christ, men are enabled to do, it follows still, that what∣soever acceptation or mercy they, who never heard of Christ, can be imagined to have afforded them by God, must be conformable to the tenure of the Evangelicall Covenant, and so to the praise of the Glory of that Grace, whereby whosoever is ac∣cepted Page 30 by God, is accepted in the beloved.
§. 45. The second Consideration is the analogy, * which, in one respect, is observable between those to whom the Gospel is not revealed, and all chil∣dren and Idiots within the pale of the Church, for although believing in Christ were supposed equally by the law of Scripture to be exacted of all, and so of both those sorts (nay by the intervention of the vow of Baptism to be more expresly the obli∣gation of those that are baptized, then those that are not) yet there is no reason producible to free the Christian children and idiots from the blame of not believing, which will not with equall force be producible for those heathens, to whom the Go∣spel was never revealed, it being as impossible to see without the presence of the object, as without the faculty of sight, without the Sun, as without eyes, without the revelation of Christ, as without the intellective faculty; which if it be not part of the importance of that decree of heaven, Go and preach, and then he that believeth not shall be damned, yet it is fully accordant to it, and shews that that Text was not designed to give suffrage to the dam∣nation of all but Christians, which is all that your Corollary, or my observations have aspired unto; to which it is yet farther necessarily consequent, that these Scripture Decrees which you speak of (and whosoever speaks of any other must be re∣solved to speak from some other dictate, then that of Scripture) comprize not all men, no nor all ba∣ptized Christians under them, being terminated onely in those to whom the Gospel is revealed, and those certainly are not all that are brought into the world, or even to Baptismal new birth.
§. 46. The third consideration is, that seeing *Page 31 the Scripture assures us, that they which have re∣ceived more, of them more shall be required, and that he that knoweth and doeth not, shall be beaten with many stripes, this must needs advertise us, that whatever priviledges Christians may have be∣yond heathens, this is not one, that a smaller de∣gree of obedience and performances shall be acce∣pted of them, then of heathens would be, but the contrary, that to whom less is given, less will be required, according to that of S. Augustine, Ex*eo quod non accepit, nullus reus est, No man is guil∣ty from that which he hath not received.
§. 47. The fourth Consideration is, that God rewards those that have made use of the single ta∣lent, * that lowest proportion of Grace, which he is pleased to give; and the method of his reward∣ing is by giving them more grace, which as it is in some degree applicable to heathens, who have certainly the talent of naturall knowledge, and are strictly responsible for it, so if they use not that, but retain the truth in unrighteousness, Rom. 1. 18. that makes their condition but the same with ours, (who are finally lost also, and at the present have our talent taken away from us) if we make not the due use of it.
§. 48. This, 'tis visible, hath befaln those Na∣tions who once had the Gospel preacht to them, and after the knowledge of the truth, return'd to their heathen sins, and so had their candlestick ta∣ken from them (to which and not to Gods prima∣ry denying them Evangelical Grace, their present Barbarity is to be imputed) And the onely conclu∣sion which we can hence duely make, is the acknow∣ledgement of Gods just judgements on them, and reasonable fear lest he deal in like manner with us, Page 32 if we transcribe their copy, imitate them in their demerits. Should God most justly thus punish this nation at this time, could it either now or in fu∣ture ages be reasonable hence to argue against the Doctrine of Ʋniversal Grace, in case there were a concurrence of all other evidences for the truth of the Doctrine? Certainly it could not. In like manner then it cannot be reasonable to argue thus from the like fate, and effects on other Na∣tions.
§. 49. To which I may add, that Christ being, we know, in Gods decree and promise, the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, if this argu∣ment be now of force against the heathens, it must equally hold against all that understood no more of the Predictions of Christ, then the Pagans do now of the History.
§. 50. And then it must, should it have force, follow, not onely that the Sacrifice of Christ was intended to be of avail to none but the Jews, to whom onely the Oracles of God were committed, (which yet you acknowledge was intended to all) but also that as far as we have wayes of judg∣ing, a very small part of those Jews received the salvifick Grace of Christ, if it were confined and annext to the revelation and belief of him; For if we may judge of other ages by that wherein Christ appeared, the Prophecies of the Crucified Messias were very little understood by that peo∣ple. All this makes it more prudent, and ratio∣nall, and pious to search our own wayes, then to pass sentence on other men, which is the one∣ly thing I have aimed at in these four Conside∣rations.
§. 51. Your second Proposition, which you Page 33 tender as a Conjecture, I cannot but own under an * higher style of an evident truth of Scripture, It is this, That there is to the outward tender of Grace in the ministry of the Gospel annexed an inward offer also of the same to the heart, by the spirit of God*going along with his word, which some of the School∣men call auxilium Gratiae generale, sufficient in it self to convert the soul of the hearer, if he do not resist the Holy Ghost, and reject the Grace offerr'd: which as it is grounded upon these words, Behold I stand at the door and knock, and upon very many o∣ther passages of Scripture beside, so it standeth with reason, that the offer, if it were accepted, should be sufficient ex parte sui to do the work, which if not accepted, is sufficient to leave the person, not ac∣cepting the same, unexcusable.] This I say I am obliged to assent to in the terms, and upon the double ground both of Scripture and reason, whereon you induce it. If there were but one text of Scripture so convincingly inferring it, that sure would advance it above a barely probable Con∣jecture. But I think the whole tenure of the new Testament inforceth the same, and though you name but one, you say there are many other pas∣sages of Scripture, on which 'tis founded. I shall mention but two, 1. that of the Apostle who cals preaching the word, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉the ad∣ministration of the Spirit, which the Father ex∣presses by verbum vehiculum Spiritus, the word is the chariot in which the Spirit descends to us, 2. that description of resisting the holy spirit, which S. Ste∣phen gives us, Act. vii. 51. by their being like the Jews, which persecuted the Prophets which spake unto them, which concludes the holy spirit to be given with the preaching of the Gospel, else how Page 34 could the rejecting and persecuting the one be the resisting of the other? So likewise though you men∣tion but one reason, yet that is as constringent as many, nothing but sufficiency of supernaturall Grace being competent to render him, that is ac∣knowledged naturally impotent, unexcusable. And therefore deeming that abundantly confirmed to advance it above a disputable probleme, I proceed to the next Proposition, the third, which you rank under the style of Conjectures, It is this,
§ 52. That because the sufficiency of this General*Grace notwithstanding, through the strength of na∣turall corruption it might happen to prove uneffectuall to all persons, God vouchsafed out of the superefflu∣ence of his goodness, yet ex mero beneplacito, with∣out any thing on their part to deserve it, to confer up∣on such persons as it pleased him to fix upon, (with∣out inquiring into under what qualifications, prepa∣rations or dispositions considered,) a more speciall mea∣sure of Grace which should effectually work in them faith and perseverance unto salvation] This (you say) you take to be the election especially spoken of in the Scriptures, and if so, then the Decree of Re∣probation must be nothing els but the dereliction or preterition of the rest, as to that special favour of conferring upon them this higher degree of effectuall Grace. Against this, you say, you know enough may be objected, and much more then you esteem your self able to answer, yet to your apprehension some∣what less then may be objected against either of the extreme opinions.]
§. 53. Of this Proposition, as being the first by you produced, to which your caution seems to be * due, some things may in passing be fitly noted.
First, that for the stating of that community *Page 35 which is here set down as the object of Election and reprobation, and exprest by a generall style [all persons] this Caution is necessarily to be taken in, that the proposition is not to be interpreted in the utmost latitude, that the style [all persons] is capa∣ble of, but as analogy with your former doctrine strictly requires, for the generality of men preach'd to: and so neither belongs to heathens, nor to the Infants or Idiots, or uninstructed among Christians, but to those that having the Gospel revealed to them, and sufficient grace to enable them to receive it, are yet left in the hand of their own counsell, whether they will actually receive it, or no.
§. 54. Now of these (which is the second thing to be * observed in your proposition) it is manifest, that if (as you suppose both in the former, and in this Proposition,) they have grace truly sufficient af∣forded them, then they want nothing necessary to a faln weak sinful creature, to conversion, perseve∣rance and salvation, and if so, then by the strength of this Grace, without addition of any more, they may effectually convert, persevere and be sa∣ved; and then though what may be, may also not be, and so it be also possible that of all that are thus preach'd to, and made partakers of this Grace, no one shall make use of it to these effects, yet this is but barely possible, and not rendred so much as probable, either upon any grounds of Scripture or Reason. In the Scripture there is no word revealed to that sense, or, that I ever heard of, produced or applyed to it, but on the contrary, in the Parable of the Talents (which seems to respect this matter particularly) they that received the Talents to ne∣gotiate with, did all of them, except one, make profit of them, and bring in that account to their Page 36 Master, which received a reward, which is utterly unreconcileable with the hypothesis of Gods fore∣seeing that the talent of sufficient Grace would be made use of by none that received no more then so. As for that one that made not use of it, all that is intimated concerning him, is, that if his share comparatively was mean, yet by the Lord he is charged as guilty for not putting it into the bank, that at his coming he might receive his own with u∣sury, which certainly evinces, that that lazy ser∣vant is there considered as one that might have managed his stock as well as the rest, and that that stock was improvable no less then the other, accor∣ding to their severall proportions, and so herein there is no difference taken notice of in favour to your Conjecture.
And in Reason it hath no sound of probability, that of so great a number of Christians, sufficient∣ly * furnished by God, no one should make use of it to their souls health; 'tis evident in the Apostles preaching at Jerusalem and elswhere, that at the first proposal of the truth of Christ to them, and the Doctrine of Repentance, whole multitudes re∣ceived the Faith, and came in, and no doubt ma∣ny of them proved true, and constant Christians, and it is not amiss to observe of the heads of Do∣ctrine, which the Apostles agreed to publish in all their peregrinations, that they are of such force (and were on that account pitcht on by them) as might reasonably and probably, with the supposed concurrence of Gods Grace, beget repentance, and new life in all, to whom they were preach'd over the whole world, (and then what the Apostles deemed a rationall and probable means to that end, there is no reason or probability to think should Page 37 never in any produce this effect) according to that of Athanasius, that the Faith confest by the Fa∣thers*of Nice, according to holy Writ, is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, sufficient for the averting of all impiety, and the establishment of all piety in Christ. To which may be applyed that of S. Augustine of the Creed, Quae pauca verba fidelibus nota sunt,*ut credendo subjugentur Deo, ut subjugati recte vi∣vant, recte vivendo, cor mundent, corde mundo, quod credant, intelligant. These few words are known to believers, that by believing, they may be subjugated to God, that by being subjugated, they way live well, that by living well they may cleanse their hearts, that by cleansing their hearts they may understand what they believe. And herein the all∣wise providence and infinite mercy of God seems to be engaged, who in the Parable of his dealing with his Vineyard, Isa. v. not onely expostulates, What could I have done more to my vineyard which I have not done] but also affirmeth that he looked it should bring forth grapes, and as a farther evidence of that, built a wine-press, in expectation of its bearing fruit by strength of what he had done to it, which could not well be affirmed by, or of God, if it were not probable and rational, that in some it should have the desired effect.
§. 55. And if what, on account both of Scri∣pture * and reason (the onely wayes left us to judge by in this matter) is thus far removed from impro∣bable, may be supposed to have any truth in it, i. e. if the sufficient Grace annexed to the authorized sufficient means, have without farther addition, ever converted any, it then follows necessarily in the third place, that the Election and Dereliction Page 38 now proposed by you must have for its object not indefinitely (as before you set it) man preach'd un∣to, or all that part of mankind to whom the Go∣spel is offered, and that Grace annexed thereto, but onely that portion of such, as are not wrought upon, or who God in his infinite prescience discerns would not be wrought upon effectually, and con∣verted by that measure of sufficient Grace, which he hath annext to the word preach'd. For with∣out enquiring what proportion of the number of men preach'd unto may probably be placed in that rank (or without assuming any more, then that it is neither impossible nor improbable that there should be such a rank) of men converted, and persevering by the strength of that foresaid suffici∣ent Grace, annexed to the word, the inference is undeniable, that all, whether few or many, that are of this rank (it being no way probable there should be none) shall certainly be saved by force of the second Covenant, which decreed eternall life to all that should believe on him and receive him, as the Gospel tenders him, as their Lord and Savi∣our, and so cannot be comprised in the number of them to whom this supereffluence of goodness is sup∣posed to be vouchsafed, in the granting of which ex mero beneplacito your conjecture makes the Scri∣pture-Election to consist, and in the Dereliction and Preterition of the rest (in respect of that speciall favour) the Decree of Reprobation.
§. 56. The plain issue whereof is but this, that if this conjecture, thus explicated, be adhered to, then many not onely of Children, Idiots, heathen (formerly reserved to Gods secret judgements) but of adult baptized Christians also, either are or may be saved, who are not of the number of the Page 39 Scripture-Elect. Which whether it be reconcile able with the purport of those places, which in Scripture seem to you to respect Election, or to favour this opinion, I must leave to farther consi∣deration, being as yet incompetent to interpose a∣ny judgement of it, because I know not what those places are which most seem to favour it.
§. 57. As for the Doctrine it self, of superefflu∣ence of Grace to some, (abstracted from making * it any account of Gods Decrees of Election and Reprobation) It is such as I can no way question, for certainly God being granted to give sufficient Grace to all, there is no objection imaginable a∣gainst this superabounding to some ex mero benepla∣cito; Nothing more agreeable to an infinite abyss and unexhaustible fountain of goodness, then such supereffluence, and he that hath not his part in it, yet having his portion, and that supposed sufficient, ought not to have an evil eye, to complain and mur∣mure at this partiality, and inequality of distribu∣tion of Gods goodness, or if he do, the words of the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard must here have place, Friend, I do thee no wrong, did not I agree with thee for a penny, take that is thine, and go thy way, is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Mat. xx. 13, 14, 15. And it is there observable, that all the occasion of murmuring a∣rose from the order there observed in accounting with, and paying the Labourers, beginning with them that came last into the vineyard, for by that means they being allowed a dayes wages for an hours labour, the others expectation was raised to an higher pitch, then probably it would, if they had been paid, and discharged first, for then not seeing the liberality that others tasted of, they Page 40 would in all probability have expected no more, then the hire for which they agreed; And then why should so casual a circumstance, as the being paid last or first, have any influence on their minds, or tempt them to murmure at Gods goodness, who from the nature of the thing had no least temptati∣on to it?
§. 58. Onely by the way it must be yielded to * the force of that parable, that that supereffluence of which some are there supposed to tast, was no part of the Covenant of Grace, (his agreement with them being but in these words, Go into the vineyard, and what is right you shall receive, v. 7.) but, above what his bargain or covenant obligeth, of his good pleasure, though, on the other side, it be observable, 1. That an allowable account is there given by those men of their not coming sooner into the Vineyard, and consequently of their not bearing the heat of the day, in which all the disproportion between them and others, all the seeming supereffluence is founded, viz. they were no sooner called, or hired by any man, and 2. that by the application of the parable to the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to those that came first, and those that came later into the Apostleship, to Peter, and Paul, there might still be place for more abundant labour∣ing in those that came last, and so for reward, in proportion (though through mercy) to that more abundant labouring, according to the way of set∣ting down the same parable among the Jews, in *Gemara Hierosol where the Kings answer to the murmurers is, He in those two hours hath laboured as much as you have done all the day.
§. 59. But without examining the Acts of Gods munificence, according to any rules but those of Page 41munificence, and again without insisting on the method which God himself seems to direct us to in this matter, in the parable of the Talents, where the Rule is generall, that to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance, i. e. that the supereffluence of Grace is ordinarily proportioned to the faithful discharge of former trusts, making use of the foregoing sufficient Grace, there will be lit∣tle reason to doubt, but that God out of his meer good pleasure, without any desert on our part, doth thus dispense his favours to one, more then to an∣other, to one servant five talents, to another ten, but to all some, onely the difficulties will be, 1. whe∣ther * it be not as possible, though not as probable, that the supereffluence of Grace may be resisted, as the lower, but sufficient degree, and then, whe∣ther the condemnation be not the greater, there will be no doubt; Paul that is the most pregnant example of the supereffluence, is still, under a woe, obliged to preach the Gospel, and whilest he preach∣eth*to others, supposes it possible, that himself, if he do not bring his body in subjection, may become a castaway, and till he hath fought his good fight, and finish'd his course, and constantly kept the faith, we never find him confident of receiving his crown, which then he challenges from Gods righteousness, or fidelity; 2. whether the extraordinary favour * of God, which some men receive, and by vertue of which, over and above the sufficient Grace, they may be thought to be wrought on effectually, may not rather be imputed to Gods special provi∣dence, then his special Grace? so in Bishop Overals way it seems affirmable, for in his Scheme the effe∣ctualness seems to be attributed to the giving what is given, tempore congruo, at a time when (whether Page 42 by sickness, or by any other circumstance of their state) they are foreseen by God to be so qualifi∣ed and disposed, that they shall infallibly accept Christ offered, on his own conditions, and so con∣vert, and receive the seed into good ground, and so persevere and be saved, when the same man, out of those circumstances, would not have been wrought on by the same means. And if this be it which you mean (as I doubt not but it is, and that here∣in you perfectly agree with Bishop Overall) then I say the question is, whether the seasonable appli∣cation or timeing be not rather to be imputed to speciall Providence, the mercy of Gods wise and gracious disposal to those men that are thus favour∣ed, then to special Grace, as that signifies an high∣er degree of Gods grace, then is that sufficient mea∣sure, which is afforded to others; it being pos∣sible that an equall, nay a lower degree of Grace, being congruously timed and tendred, may prove effectual, when the like, nay an higher, at ano∣ther time, proves uneffectual. And though all acts of Gods good providence may in some sense be sty∣led acts of his Grace, and so extraordinary pro∣vidences may be styled special Graces, in which sense, the striking Paul in his journey to Damascus, and calling to him out of heaven with grace pro∣portionable to that call, may fitly be called a work of Gods special Grace; and so is every sick∣ness or other judgement, that is sent to melt any, supposeable to have a proportionable, and that is an extraordinary and special Grace annext to it; and the providence, and so the grace is the grea∣ter, if it be applyed tempore congruo, when there is no potent obstacle or principle for resistance; yet still the question is seasonable, whether this Page 43 be all that is meant by this speciall measure of Grace, which shall work effectually, or if more be meant, what ground there is for it in the Scripture.
§. 60. To this second question your advertise∣ment by letter hath given the satisfaction I ex∣pected, that you were not curious to consider the di∣stinction between the Grace and the Providence of God, there being no necessity for so doing, as to your purpose, which was onely to express your sense, that it must be the work of God (whether of Grace or Providence it matters not) that must do the deed, and make the sufficient Grace effectuall. This an∣swer I accept, and make no farther return to it, onely from the uncertainty of the former, as to a∣ny establishment from Scripture-grounds, and so likewise of this latter, till it shall appear by any sure word of promise to have any reall influence on the mattèr in hand, there is way made for a third question,
§. 61. Whether granting the truth of all that is pretended for the supereffluence of Gods good∣ness * to some, this can fitly de defined the thing, whereto Election is determined, and whether all that have not their part in this, are in Scri∣pture-style said to be Reprobated. This I say, not to propose any new matter of dispute, or to require answer to all that may be objected against this notion of Decrees, which you (and other very Learned and sober men) have proposed by way of conjecture onely, but rather to demonstrate my concurrence with you, that this can amount no higher at most, then to a matter of conjecture.
§. 62. And having said this, I shall propose it * to your impartial consideration, I. Whether the Scripture ought not to be our guide in all even o∣pining Page 44 and conjecturing in such matters, which are so much above our reason? II. Whether the Scripture do not furnish us with these express grounds, 1. that there are some sort of auditors that come to Christ, become his Proselytes, em∣brace the Gospel, when 'tis preach'd unto them, that are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, fit, or pre∣pared, or disposed for the kingdome of God, obe∣dience * to the Gospel, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, disposed for eternall life, on file for it (in opposition to others * who are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 v. 46. not worthy of, meet, or qualified for the Evangelical state) 2. that pro∣bity of mind is specified to be this temper, a wil∣lingness*to do Gods will, that (in the parable) of the good ground, and the honest heart meant by it. 3. that the Evangelical dispensations are go∣verned * by the maxime of habenti dabitur, to*the humble he gives more grace, the poor are Evan∣gelized, the children, and poor in spirit, of such,* and of them is the kingdome of heaven; and lastly, * that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, the weak, the degenerous, the vilified, those that are not, in opposition to the mighty, powerful, no∣ble and wise. III. Whether on these and many o∣ther the like fundamentall Truths of the Gospel, it be not more reasonable to fetch the ground of the effectualness of that sufficient Grace to one, which is not effectuall to another, from the tem∣per and disposition of the heart, to which the Go∣spel is preached, then from any other circumstance (especially when this doth not deny, or exclude the proper efficacy of those circumstances, what∣soever they or it shall any way appear to be) God having made the Baptist the forerunner to Christ, repentance to Faith, the *breaking up our fallowPage 45grounds, to his not sowing among thorns, and the very nature of the Gospel being such, that all that are truly sensible of their sins, the odiousness and danger of them, and heartily desirous to get out of that state, the weary and heavy laden, the humble, docile, tractable, honest heart, willing to take Christs yoke upon them, are constantly wrought on, and converted, when the promulgate mer∣cies, or promises of the Gospel, and the Grace annext to it, are addrest to them, whereas the very same, nay perhaps a greater degree of light and Grace, meeting with a proud, refractary, plea∣surable, or any way hypocritical, and deceitful heart, either is not at all heeded and received, or takes no firm root in it.
§. 63. And if now (the onely objection I can foresee) it be demanded, whether this of probity,*humility, &c. the subactum solum, soyl mellow'd, and prepared for this effectuall work of Grace, be not some natural quality, of the man, for if so, then the efficacy of grace will be imputed to these natural, or moral preparations, which is grosly prejudicial to the grace of God, and to the owing of all our good to his supernatural operations, the answer is obvious and unquestionable, that this (I shall call it Evangelical) temper is far from being natural to any corrupt child of Adam, where ever 'tis met with, 'tis a special plant of Gods plant∣ing, a work of his preparing, softning, preventing Grace, and as much imputable to the operation of his holy Spirit, as any effect of his subsequent or cooperating Grace is, which I challenge to be the meaning of those words of Christ, Joh. vi. 37. All that my Father giveth me, shall come to me; where such as these, are first fitted by God, and then by Page 46 him are said to be given to Christ, works of his finger, his spirit, and then by the authour of them presented to Christ, as the persons rightly disposed for his discipleship, and his kingdome in mens hearts, and this work of Gods in fitting them, is there called his drawing of them to Christ, v. 44. and as there it is said that none but such can come to Christ, so vers. 37. all such shall come to him, which is an evidence that the coming, wherein the effectualness of the grace consists, is imputable to this temper wrought in them by God. And if still it be demanded why this is not wrought in all Christians hearts, I answer finally, that the onely reason the Scripture teaches us is, because some re∣sist that spirit, that is graciously given by God, and purposely designed to work it in them.
§. 64. And if it still be suggested, that some are naturally more proud and refractary, and vo∣luptuously * disposed then others, (an effect of their temper, owing oft to their immediate parents, who may transfuse their depravations and corruptions immediately to their children, as well as Adam hath done to us all mediately) and so a greater degree of grace will be necessary to the humbling and mollifying them, and a lower, which might be sufficient for meeker tempers, will be unsuffici∣ent for them, and so still these are as infallibly ex∣cluded, and barred out, as if it were by a fatal de∣cree passing them by in Massa, this will be also satisfied, by resolving, that God in his wise dispo∣sals and abundant mercies, proportioned accord∣ing to mens wants, gives a greater degree of pre∣venting Grace to such as he sees to be naturally in greatest need of it, or els applies it so advantage∣ously by congruous timing, as he knows is sufficient Page 47 even to them, to remove these naturall obstacles, but all this (to them, as to others) resistibly still, and so, as though it succeed sometimes, yet is frequently resisted.
§. 65. By this means he that is proud and ob∣stinate, and continues, and holds out such against all the softning preparations of heaven, (sufficient to have wrought a kindlier temper in him) being so ill qualified for the holy spirit of discipline, is not converted, but hardened by the same or equall means of the word and grace, by which the hum∣ble is converted, and then replenished with higher degrees; And when the Scripture is so favourable to this notion, saying expresly that God chooses one and not the other, gives more grace to one, and from the other takes away that which he hath, re∣sists the proud (when they refuse discipline) *speaks to them onely in parables, because seeing they see not, i. e. resist and frustrate Gods prevent∣ing graces, and infinite the like, why may not this rather be the Scripture-election, then that other which seems not to have any, at least not so visible grounds in it?
§. 66. Should this be but a Conjecture too, it is not the less fit for this place, where our dis∣course hath been of such, and the onely season∣able inquiry is, either 1. which is of probables the most, or of improbables the least such, (and that I suppose is competently shew'd already) or 2. which may be most safe, and least noxious, in case it should fail of exact truth.
§. 67. On which occasion I shall add but this, that the onely consequence naturally arising from * this Scheme is, that we make our elections after the pattern of God, choose humility and probity, and Page 48 avert pride and hypocrisie, that before all things in the world, every man think himself highly con∣cerned 1. not to resist or frustrate Gods prevent∣ing Graces, but chearfully to receive, cooperate, and improve them, to pray, and labour, and at∣tend and watch all opportunities of Grace and Providence, to work humility and probity in his heart, impatience of sin, and hungring and thirst∣ing after righteousness, as the onely soyle, where∣in the Gospel will ever thrive, to begin his disci∣pleship with repentance from dead works, and not with assurance of his election and salvation, to set out early, and resolutely, without procrastinating, or *looking back, Luk. ix. 62. and 2. if he hath overslipt such opportunities, to bewail and re∣trive them betimes, lest he be hardened by the de∣ceitfulness of sin. and 3. whatsoever good he shal ever advance to, by the strength of Gods sanctify∣ing and assisting grace, to remember with the ut∣most gratitude, how nothing hath been imputable to himself in the whole work, but from the be∣ginning to the end, all due to supernatural Grace, the foundation particularly (that which if it be the most imperfect, is yet the most necessary part of the building, and the sure laying of which tends extremely to the stability of the whole) laid in Gods preventions, cultivating our nature, and fitting us with capacities of his higher donatives; And what can less prejudice, nay more tend to the glory of his grace, then this?
§. 68. Whereas the other Scheme, as it takes * special care to attribute all the work of conversion to Grace, and withall not so to limit that com∣municative spring, as to leave any destitute of a sufficient portion of it (in which respect I have Page 49 nothing really to object against it, if it could but approve it self by Gods word to be the Truth) so when it bears not any such impress of Divine Character upon it, it may not be amiss to consi∣der, Whether he that is perswaded that the suffi∣cient Grace is such as may, and (as some set it) God sees will never do any man good, without the addition of his superesfluence, which he affords to few, (and that if that come, it will infallibly do the work, if it come not, he is so past by, as to be reprobated by God) may not have some temptations to despair on one side, and not do his utmost to cooperate with that sufficient Grace, which is allowed him, and so with the fool in Ec∣clesiastes*fold his hands together till he comes to eat his own flesh, or els to presume on the other side, and expect securely till the coming of the congruous good time of Gods choice, which shall give the effectualness to his Grace, and so be sloth∣full and perish by that presumption?
§. 69. Whether the Scheme, as it is set by lear∣ned men, (abstracting now from the truth of it) be in any considerable degree lyable to this danger, I leave those, that are favourable to it, to consider, presuming that if it be, it will not be thought fit to be pitcht upon, as the most commodious, with∣out either the authority of Scripture, or some o∣ther preponderating advantages tendred by it, which to me are yet invisible. And thus much may serve for the doctrine of Gods Decrees, which if I mistake not, leaves them in relation to man, in this posture, (as far as the Scripture-light leads us) *
§. 70. 1. That God decreed to create man af∣ter his own image, a free and rationall agent, to Page 50 give him a Law of perfect unsinning obedience, and conferr on him grace and faculties to perform it, and to reward that obedience with eternal bliss, and proportionably to punish disobedience.
2. That foreseeing the willfull fall of the first * Man, with whom, and with all mankind, in him, this Covenant was made, and consequent to that, the depravation of that image, and that Grace, (the image of Satan, corruption of the will, and all the faculties, taking the place of it) he decreed to give his Son to seek and to save that which was lost, making in him, and sealing in his blood a new Covenant, consisting of a promise of pardon and sufficient Grace, and requiring of all the condition of uniform sincere obedience.
3. That he decreed to commissionate messen∣gers to preach this Covenant to all mankind, pro∣mised to accompany the preaching of it to all hearts with his inward sufficient grace, enabling men to perform it in such a degree, as he in this second covenant had promised to accept of.
4. That the method which he hath decreed to use in dispensing this sufficient Grace, is, 1. to prevent and prepare mens hearts by giving them the grace of humility, repentance and probity of heart, i. e. by awaking and convincing men of sin, and giving them (in answer to their diligent pray∣ers) grace sufficient to produce this in their hearts, and then upon their making use of this Grace to the designed end to add more powerfull assistan∣ces and excitations, enabling them both to will and to do, and upon their constant right use of these, still to advance them to an higher degree of sancti∣fication, and perseverance, till at length he ac∣complish and reward them with a crown of Glory.
Page 51 §. 71. On the other side, to forsake them in justice, that obstinately resist and frustrate all these * wise and gracious methods of his, and having most affectionately set life and death before them, and conjured them to choose one, and avoid the other, still to leave unto them, as to free and rationall A∣gents, a liberty to refuse all his calls, to let his ta∣lents lye by them unprofitably; which if out of their own perverse choices they continue to do, he de∣crees to punish the contumacy finally, by assign∣ing them their own options, to take their talents from them, and cast them into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
§. 72. How clearly every part of this Scheme is agreeable to the several parables, whereby Christ * was pleased to adumbrate the kingdome of heaven, and innumerable other passages in the Gospel, and the whole purport of the new Covenant, I leave to every man to consider, and then to judge for him∣self, whether it be not safer and more Christian to content our selves with this portion, which Christ hath thought fit to reveal to us, then to permit our curiosities to deeper and more pragmatick sear∣ches, especially if those shall either directly, or but consequentially undo, or but darken what is thus explicitly settled.
§. 73. I proceed now to your second head of Discourse, (which also I suppose, is, by what hath * been already considered, competently established) concerning the efficacy of Grace, &c. where your Proposition is thus set down.
§. 74. That in the conversion of a sinner, and the begetting of Faith in the heart of man, the Grace of God hath the main stroke, chiefest operation, yet so, that the free will of man doth in some sort cooperatePage 52therewith (for no man is converted or believeth without his own consent) all parties pretend to agree. The point of difference is, how to state the manner and degree of the cooperation, as well of the one, as of the other, so as neither the glory of Gods Grace be eclipsed, nor the freedome of mans will destroyed. In which difficult point, you say, you think it fitter to acquiesce in those aforesaid acknowledged truths, in which both sides agree, then to hold close to either opinion]
§. 75. In this proposition, it being by you in the Conclusion most undeniably and Christianly * resolved, that the one care ought to be, that nei∣ther the glory of Gods Grace be eclipsed, nor the free∣dome of man's will destroyed, It would not be a∣miss a little to reflect on the former part, and de∣mand whether your expression were not a little too cautious, in saying, the grace of God hath the main stroke and chiefest operation] did I not discern the ground of that caution, because you were to ex∣press that whereunto all parties must be supposed to consent. This being abundantly sufficient to ac∣count for your caution, I shall not doubt of your concurrence with me, that it may with truth be said, and I suppose also by the agreement, if not of all Christians, yet of both parties in this debate, par∣ticularly of the Remonstrants, that the Grace of God is in lapsed man the one sole principle of spi∣rituall life, Conversion, Regeneration, Repentance, Faith and all other Evangelical vertues, and that all that can justly be attributed to our will in any of these, is the obeying the motions, and making use of the powers, which are thus bestowed upon us, by that supernatural principle; To work and work out our own salvation, upon the strength of Page 53 Gods giving us to will and to do; by [giving us to will and to do] meaning his giving us power to each, as 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Luke 1. is giving us po∣wer to serve him in holiness and righteousness all the dayes of our lives, every initiall and more per∣fect act of holiness, especially persevering in it all our dayes, being wholly imputable to that power, which is given by Gods Spirit. For indeed when it is considered, what the state of our corrupt will is, being naturally averted from God, and strongly inclined to evil, it seems to me scarce proper to call this, in relation to supernatural ver∣tues, a free will, till God by his preventing Grace hath in some degree manumitted it, till Christ hath made it free; Being then what it is, i. e. in some degree emancipated by Gods Grace, and by Grace onely, (this act of Christs love, and Grace being reached out to enemies, to men in their corrupt state of aversion and opposition to God) the will is then enabled (still by the same principle of Grace) to choose life, when it is proposed, and * the wayes and means to it, and though it be left free to act or not to act, to choose or not to choose, yet when it doth act and choose life, it doth it no otherwise (to my understanding) then the body doth perform all the actions of life, meerly by the strength of the soul, and that continuall animati∣on it hath, it receives from it; which makes the parallel compleat, and gave ground to the expres∣sion and comparison betwixt giving of natural life, and regeneration.
§. 76. What freedome the will naturally (un∣der this corrupt state) hath to other things, of all sorts, I do not now consider any farther, then that it is fully furnished with ability to sin, and *Page 54 so to refuse and contemn, and to receive in vain the Grace of God, and Grace it self doth not deprive it of that part of its corrupt patrimo∣ny: As for an uniform constant choice of those things that belong to our peace and spiritual end, for the beginning of that, and every step of mo∣tion through, and perseverance in it, Its freedome, and strength, and every degree of life, or action, is wholly and entirely from Grace, and then he that without him can do nothing, can do all things through Christ that strengthens him. And so the onely remaining question is (which to me, I con∣fess, is a posing one) What exception can possibly be started against this stating, and consequently what farther doubt there can be in this matter.
§. 77. I have of my self by my natural Gene∣ration, (but this is also from God) power for na∣tural, * nay sinful actings, for this I need no farther principle, and the supervenience of a supernatural takes it not from me; Our experience assures us, what the Scripture so oft mentions, that we often resist the Holy Ghost, which we could not do, if at least it were not tendred to us: But for all degrees of good, from the first good motion toward con∣version, to the enstating us in glory, it is wholly received from the Spirit of God, and the glory of it cannot in any degree, without the utmost sa∣criledge, be arrogated or assumed to our selves, as the work of our free will; and seeing it is one act of superabundant grace to enable us to do any thing, and another to reward us for doing it in so imperfect a manner, (and with such mixtures of manifold pollutions) and a third to exercise us in, and reward us for those things, which are so a∣greeable and gratefull to our reasonable nature, Page 55Commandments far from grievous, a gracious yoke, as well as a light burthen, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy Name, give we the praise. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, praise his holy Name.
§. 78. What you add on this theme, is by way of reflexion, on the inconvenient opinions of the opposite parties in this matter.
1. That on the Calvinists part these two things, viz. the physical predetermination, and (which must*necessarily follow thereupon) the Irresistibility of the work of Grace, seem to you to be so inconsistent with the natural liberty of the will, and so impossible to be reconciled therewith, that you can not yet by any means fully assent thereto] The style wherein this concludes [cannot yet fully] signifies to me, that you have, with great impartiality (if not with fa∣vour and prepossession of kindness to the Antire∣monstrant side) endeavoured your utmost to re∣concile these two Doctrines of Predetermination and Irresistibility, with the common notions of Morali∣ty * and Christianity, and you cannot find any means to do it; and I fully consent to you in it, and can∣not but add, that the very being of all future judge∣ment, and so of heaven and hell, considered as rewards of what is here done in our bodies, whether good or bad, nay the whole oeconomy of the Go∣spel, of giving, and giving more, and withholding and withdrawing Grace, and the difference be∣twixt the Grace of Conversion and Perseverance, and the force of exhortations, promises, threats, commands (and what not?) depends immediate∣ly and unavoidably on the truth of the Catholick Doctrine of all ages, as in these points of Prede∣termination and Irresistibility, it stands in opposi∣tion Page 56 to the Calvinists. The shewing this diffusedly, according to the merit of the matter, through the severall steps, were the work of a volume, of which I shall hope there can be no need, after so many have been written on the subject.
§. 79. Your next reflexion is on the Arminians, of whom you say,
On the other side, me thinks, the Arminians a∣scribe less to the grace of God, and more to the free*will of man, then they ought, in this, That ac∣cording to their Doctrine, why of two persons (as Peter and Judas) supposed to have all outward means of conversion equally applyed, yet one should be effe∣ctually converted, the other not, the discriminating power is by them placed in the will of man, which (you say) you should rather ascribe to the work of Grace] If this be the right stating of the case be∣tween the Arminians and their opposites, I am then without consulting the Authors, assured by you that I am no Arminian, for I deem it impossi∣ble (I say not for any man, not knowing what mi∣racles the magick of some mens passions may en∣able them to work, but) for you that have writ∣ten what I have now set down from you, to ima∣gine you ascribe more to the Grace of God, and less to the will of man, then I have thought my self obliged to do, making it my challenge and in∣terest, and requiring it to be granted me (and not my concession onely) that all that any man is ena∣bled to do, is by Christs strengthening him,
§. 80. But not to question what others do, or to accuse or apologize for any, let us consider the case you set, and allow the truth to be judged of, in this whole question, by what this particular case shall exact.
Page 57 §. 81. But 1. in the setting of it, I cannot but * mark two things, 1. That the persons made use of to set the case in, are Judas and Peter. 2. That to the word [converted] is prefixed [effectually.] This would make it probable that you think a man may be converted, and yet not effectually conver∣ted, or however that Judas was not effectually converted. That Judas was converted, and, as far as concerned the present state, abstracted from perseverance, effectually converted, I offer but this one testimony, the words of Christ to his Father, *[Of those whom thou gavest me I have lost none, save onely the son of perdition] That whosoever is by the Father given to Christ, is converted, and that effectually, is concluded from Christs univer∣sal proposition, All that my Father giveth me, shall come to me, Joh. vi. 37. and here it is expresly said that Judas (though by his apostacy now be∣come the son of perdition) was by God given to Christ, and therefore he came to Christ, i. e. was converted, which also his being lost, his very Apo∣stacy testifies, for how could he Apostatize from Christ, that was never come to him? From hence it seems to me necessary either to interpret your speech of final perseverance, as if none were effe∣ctually converted, but such who persevere, (which as it belongs to another question, that of perseve∣rance, to which you after proceed, and not to this of reconciling irresistibility and free will, so it would seem to state it otherwise, then I perceive you afterwards do) or, to avoid that, to under∣stand no more by Judas and Peter then any other two names, suppose Robert and Richard, John at Noke and John at Stile, (as you since tell me your meaning was) the one converted effectually, i. e. Page 58 really, the other not, when both are supposed to have the same outward means of conversion equal∣ly applied to them.
§. 82. Now to the question thus set of any two, and supposing what hath been granted between you and me, that the outward means are accom∣panyed to both with a sufficient measure of inward Grace, My answer you discern already, that the * Discrimination comes immediately from one mans resisting sufficient Grace, which the other doth not resist, but makes use of: In this should I add no more, there could be no difficulty, because as it is from corruption, and liberty to do evil, (that meeting with the resistibility of this sufficient grace) that one resists it, so it is wholly from the work of Grace upon an obedient heart, that the other is converted; And so this stating ascribes all the good to the work of Grace, i. e. to that power, which by supernatural Grace is given him, and all * the ill to man and his liberty, or ability to resist.
§. 83. But from what hath been said, there is yet more to be added, viz. that the obedience of the one to the call of Grace, when the other, sup∣posed to have sufficient, if not an equal measure, obeyes not, may reasonably be imputed to the humble, malleable, melting temper, (which the * other wanted) and that again owing to the pre∣venting Graces of God, and not to the naturall probity, or free will of Man, whereas the other, having resisted those preparing Graces, or not made use of them, lyeth under some degree of ob∣duration, pride, sloth, voluptuousness, &c. and that makes the discrimination on his side, i. e. ren∣ders him unqualified and uncapable to be wrought on by sufficient Grace, and so still, if it be atten∣tively Page 59 weighed, this attributes nothing to free will, considered by it self, but the power of resist∣ing * and frustrating Gods methods (which I should think, they that are such assertors of the corrupti∣on of our nature, should make no difficulty to yield him, but that they also assert the irresistibi∣lity of Grace, and that is not reconcileable with it) yielding the glory of all the work of conversi∣on, and all the first preparations to it, to his sole Grace, by which the will is first set free, then fit∣ted * and cultivated, and then the seed of eternal life successfully sowed in it.
§. 84. If the Remonstrants yield not this, you see my profession of dissent from them, if they do, as for ought I ever heard or read (which indeed hath been but little in their works, that I might re∣serve my self to judge of these things, without pre∣possession) they doubt not to do, you see you have had them misrepresented to you. But this either way is extrinsecall and unconcernant to the merit of the cause, which is not to be defended or patro∣nized by names (but arguments) much less to be prejudged or blasted by them.
§. 85. You now add, as a reason to inforce your last proposition, That although the Grace of God*work not by any physical determination of the will, but by way of moral suasion onely, and therefore in what degree soever supposed, must needs be granted ex natura rei possible to be resisted, yet God by his infinite wisdome can so sweetly order and attemper the outward means in such a congruous manner, and make such gracious inward applications and insinu∣ations, by the secret imperceptible operation of his ho∣ly Spirit, into the hearts of his chosen, as that de sa∣cto the will shall not finally resist. That (you say) Page 60of the son of Syrach, Fortiter & Suaviter, is an excellent Motto, and fit to be affixed, as to all the wayes of Gods providence in generall, so to this of the effectuall working of his Grace in particular.]
§. 86. This for the substance falls in with the * last of those which you so cautiously set down for meer conjectures, seeming to you not improbable. And so here you continue to propose it, 1, as that, which God can do, (and thus no Christian can doubt of it) 2. by the one testimony which you tender for the proof of it, the words of Ec∣clesiasticus [strongly but sweetly;] which though * it be there most probably interpreted of the works of Gods providence, not particularly of his Grace, so if it were, most fully expresses their thoughts, who building on the promise of sufficient Grace, and the way of the working of that by moral sua∣sion, will apply the fortiter to the sufficiency, and the suaviter to the suasion, and yet resolve (what frequent experience tells us) that those that are thus wrought on, strongly and sweetly too, and as strongly and sweetly (if not sometimes more so) as they that are converted by it, are yet very (ve∣ry) many times, not converted.
§. 87. Here therefore the point lyes, not whe∣ther God can thus effectually work upon all that he tenders sufficient grace unto, nor again, whether sometimes (and whensoever he pleaseth) he doth thus work, (for as this is the most that you de∣mand, so this is most evident, and readily granted) but 1. whether all are effectually converted and per∣severe, and so are finally saved, on whom God * doth work thus sweetly and powerfully, attemper∣ing the outward and inward means, applications and insinuations, by the secret imperceptible ope∣rations Page 61 of his spirit, and that in a congruous man∣ner (I add time also) 2. Whether his doing thus is such an act of his Election, as that all to whom this is not done, shall be said in Scripture to be left, past by, and reprobated.
§. 88. If thus it is, (not onely can be) and if it may be convincingly testified by any text of Scri∣pture, that this really is the Scripture Election, it shall be most willingly and gladly yielded to: But till this be done, 1. that other Scheme, which I so lately set down, may be allowed to maintain it's competition against this, and 2. it is to be re∣membred from the premises, that the glory of Gods Grace in every one's conversion is abundant∣ly taken care of, and secured, without the assi∣stance of this: 3. that the ground of the Anti∣remonstrants exception to the Arminian occurrs in this way of stating too, for since 'tis here affirm∣ed, that Grace even thus applyed is possible to be resisted, why may not the accepting this higher degree be as imputable to mans wil, as of the other barely sufficient Grace the objecter supposes it to be?
§. 89. Lastly, the saying of our Saviour Mat. xi. 21. is of no small moment in the case, and * yields a substantial prejudice to this way. For 1. it is expresly affirmed vers. 20. of those Cities wherein were wrought〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉his most abundant powers or miracles, that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉they repented not; His miracles I suppose had his grace annexed to them, and it is hard to believe that where his most numerous miracles were afforded, they should all want the advan∣tage of the congruous timings to give them their due weight of efficacy: However there is no pretence Page 62 of believing it here, where it is said, Christ 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉began to reproach and upbraid them, that the miracles had been so successless among them, which he could with no propriety do, if any cir∣cumstance needfull to their efficacy had been want∣ing to them: and v. 22. the more intolerable mea∣sure of damnation, which is denounced against them, puts this beyond question, that these want∣ed not the more superabundant advantages of Grace. Secondly, it is also as explicitly pronoun∣ced by Christ, that those miracles and that Grace which were not effectuall to the conversion of those Jewish cities, Chorazin and Bethsaida, would have been successful to the conversion of others, and made them Proselytes and penitents of the severest kind, in sackcloth and ashes. Whereupon I demand, Had those means, those miracles (the instruments and vehicles of Grace, that were then used to Cho∣razin and Bethsaida) the timings and other advan∣tageous circumstances, which the opinion, now under consideration, pretends to be the infallible means of the salvation of the elect, or had they not? If they had, then it seems these may fail of converting, and so have not that speciall efficacy, which is pretended, it being expresly affirmed, that here they succeeded not to conversion. But if they had not the timings &c. then it remains as undeniable, as the affirmation of Christ can render it, that those means, that Grace, which hath not those advantageous circumstances, may be, nay, if granted to Tyre and Sidon, heathen cities, would actually have been successfull to them. And what can be more effectuall to the prejudice of a con∣jecture, then this double force of the words of Christ confronted expresly to both branches of it? Page 63 And then I hope I may with modesty conclude, that there remains no visible advantage of this way, to recommend it, in case the Scripture be not found to own, and more then favour it in some other passages.
§. 90. Your last Proposition on this Theme is, that Sith the Consistence of Grace and free will is a Mystery so transcending our weak understandings, that it hath for many years exercised and puzzled the wits of the acutest Schoolmen to find it out, in∣somuch as hundreds of volumes have been written and daily are de concursu Gratiae & liberi arbitrii, and yet no accord hath hitherto followed, you say, you have ever held, and still do hold it the more pious and safe way, to place the Grace of God in the throne, where we think it should stand, and so to leave the will of man to shift for the maintenance of its own freedome, as well as it can, then to establish the po∣wer and liberty of free will at the height, and then to be at a loss how to maintain the power and efficacy of Gods Grace,]
§. 91. But if what hath been clearly laid down, for the attributing all our spirituall good to the work of Grace, and assuming nothing of this kind to the innate power of free will, but a liberty to resist Grace, the rest being humbly acknowledg∣ed to be due to a supernaturally conferred free∣dome, or emancipation, whereby we are enabled to make use of Grace, and by the power thereof to cooperate with it; Then 1. the consistence of*grace and free will in this sense, is no such tran∣scending Mystery, and I think there is no text in Scripture that sounds any thing towards the making it so. 2. 'Tis evident, that the difficulties that have exercised the Schools in this matter arise from Page 64 their endeavouring to state it otherwise, some by maintaining Predetermination and irresistibility,* which all the powers of nature cannot reconcile with Man's free wil ad oppositum; And some few that go another milder way, are yet afraid of depart∣ing too far from the former, and instead of irre∣sistibility substitute efficacy, as that signifies infal∣libility of the event to the Elect, and so find diffi∣culty to extricate themselves; whereas Grace suf∣ficient, but resistible, given together with the word to all, to whom Christ is revealed, hath 1. it self * nothing of difficulty in the conception, and 2. be∣ing understood, utterly removes all farther diffi∣culty in this matter. For hereby we place the Grace of God in the throne, to rule and reign in the whole work of conversion, perseverance, and salvation, (and what can be more demanded, that we have not asserted? certainly nothing by you, who in setting down the consent of all parties, exprest it by no more then its having the main stroke and chiefest operation) and need not put the will of man to shift for the maintenance of its own freedome, as long as we can do it with much more safety and temper, then either by setting it at the height with the Pelagians, or endangering to con∣vert it into a meer trunk, or leaving men to the duct of their own humours, either to advance it a∣bove its due, and grow insolent, or depresse it be∣low what is meet, and so give up themselves to sloth, and indifferency.
§. 92. On the third or last head concerning Grace and perseverance, your propositions are three, the two former I shall set down together, because the first is but a preparative to, or one way of proof of the second, which onely concerns our purpose.
Page 65 I. That Faith and all holy Graces inherent in us, Love, Patience, and Humility, &c. are the gifts*of God wrought in us by his Grace and holy Spirit, none will deny; But that they are wrought in us by infusion and in instanti (as Philosophers teach forms to be introduced into the matter by naturall generati∣on in instanti,) at least that they are alwayes or or∣dinarily so infused, you see no necessity of believing, or why it may not be said of these〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉(spiritu∣all Graces) notwithstanding they be acknowledged the gifts of God, as well as of those〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉(spirituall gifts, as we translate them) which are certainly the gifts of God as well as the other, and so acknowledged; that they are (after the manner of other habits) ordinarily acquirable by industry and frequented acts, and the blessing of God upon our prayers and endeavours. To what purpose els were it for Ministers in their Sermons usually to press motives to stir up men to labour to get Faith, Love, &c. and to propose means for their better direction, how to get them?
II. Whence (you say) it seemeth to you further pro∣bable, that Faith and all other inherent Graces, as they may be with Gods blessing attain'd, may be also lost again by sloth, negligence, and carnall security, and therefore you cannot but doubt of the truth of that assertion which the Contra-remonstrants do yet a∣verre with great confidence, That Faith once had, cannot be lost, and other the like. The distinction that they use, as a salvo in this Question, of a true and temporary Faith, signifieth (say you) little or no∣thing, for it at once both beggeth and yieldeth the whole Question: It 1. beggeth the question, when it denyeth that Faith that may be lost, to be true Faith, and withall 2. yieldeth the question, when it grantethPage 66a temporary Faith, which term is capable of no o∣ther construction, then of such a Faith, as being once had is afterwards lost. It is one of the Articles of our Church, that after we have received the holy*Ghost, we may depart from Grace given.]
§. 93. In these two there is nothing for me to question, and as little to add to them, unless I an∣nex, what I suppose you did not think needfull, the express consent of Scriptures and Fathers, whereon our Churches Article must be resolved to * have been founded. In the old Testament the ex∣amples of the Angels in Heaven, of Adam in Pa∣radise, and in a remarkable manner of two to whom God had given eminent testimony, 1. David, in the matter of Ʋriah, an odious murther added to adultery, and continued in impenitently, till after the birth of the child, the blemish whereof still sticks to him, and remains upon record, as an allay to all his excellencies, now that he is in heaven. 2, Solomon, whose heart was by his multitude of wives and concubines taken off from God, and de∣bauched to Idols, no way being left us to discern whether ever he returned or no, unless his Ecclesi∣astes be a declaration and fruit of his Repentance; And as these and many other examples, even of that whole Old-Testament-church, the Jews, make this evident, so the words of Ezekiel are express both for totall and finall falling away. If the righte∣ous turn from his righteousness, in his unrighteous∣ness*shall he die.
§. 94. The new also is parallel, in the example of Peter, thrice, with time of deliberation between, * and after express warning from Christ, and his re∣solute promise to the contrary, denying and ab∣juring of Christ, whose return from this fall with Page 67 bitter tears, is called by Christ Conversion, and the sin upbraided to him thrice after his resurrection, *Simon, son of Jonas lovest thou me more then these?* in reference to his confident undertaking, though all men should deny thee, or be offended, yet will not I.* And if the argument from Christs express words, formerly produced, be of force, then is Judas (one of those that was by God given to Christ, and came*unto, and believed on him) an example of the blackest sort, testifying to this sad truth, That a believer and Disciple of Christ may betray him to his Crucifixion, and die in desperation,
§. 95. To these two instances, the former great∣ly aggravated with circumstances, the latter finall, and of the highest degree imaginable, It is not need∣full to add more, els it is obvious to increase the catalogue with those that were polluted by the Gnosticks, by name, Hymenaeus and Alexander, who putting away a good conscience, concerning Faith*made shipwrack, and again Hymenaeus and Phile∣tus,* who fell off so far, as to the denyall of any fu∣ture Resurrection, of whom the Apostle there speak∣ing, saith, if God peradventure will give them re∣pentance, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil] looking on their estate as that of lapsed believers, and though not utterly hope∣less, yet extremely dangerous, And this exemplified in whole Churches, Apoc. ii. and iii. which are therefore threatned present destruction, if they do not speedily return.
§. 96. To which purpose the Texts in the sixth and tenth to the Hebrews are unanswerable, In the sixth, that it is impossible, i. e. extremely difficult, for those that were once enlightned, &c. if they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, adding Page 68 the similitude of the reprobate earth, whose end is to be burned. From which how distant is the Doctrine of those, that either imagine it impossible for such to fall away totally, or if they are fallen away, not to be renewed again to repentance? In the tenth also, twere vain to make so severe interminations against those who sin willfully after receiving the know∣ledge of the truth, (as we read v. 26.) if there were no possibility of so sinning, but especially the 38. verse is remarkable, The just shall live by faith,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, And if he (the just) shall draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him] expli∣cating v. 39. what drawing back he speaks of, even drawing back unto perdition, and that is finall, as well as totall, and both, it seems, very possible, as every where appears by the exhortations to him that thinketh he standeth, to take heed lest he fall, when if he do, It had been better never to have known*the way of righteousness, then after he hath known it, to turn from the holy Commandment, and this in such a degree, as is exprest by returning to the vo∣mit, and wallowing in the mire, the acts and habits of the foulest sins, in forsaking of which their con∣version consisted.
§. 97. The Testimonies of the Fathers are too long to be set down, and indeed unnecessary to the confirmation of that, to which the Scripture hath testified so plentifully, especially since it is not (it cannot be) denyed by the contrary-minded, that Saint Augustine, the onely fautor of their cause, in the point of decrees, and effectuall Grace, granteth * possibility of falling, both totally and finally, from a justified estate, and useth it as a means to prove his absolute Decrees.
I now proceed to your third and last proposition in these words,
Page 69 §. 98. Yet I believe wee may securely admit the*doctrine of perseverance of Gods elect, and the cer∣tainty thereof, so as it be understood. 1. Of their finall perseverance onely, leaving roome for great (perhaps totall) interruptions and intercisions in the meane time. 2. Of the certainty of the thing, (cer∣titudo objecti,) in regard of the knowledge, and pur∣pose of God, but, not of any undoubted assurance, that the elect themselves have thereof, (certitudo sub∣jecti, as wee use to distinguish them,) there being a great deale of difference between these two propositi∣ons, it is certain that the elect shall not fall away finally, and the elect are certain that they shall not fall away finally.]
§. 99. In this proposition I can fully yeild my concurrence, if by rendering my reasons for my consent, I may be allowed to expresse what I mean by it. This I shall do through the severall bran∣ches of it.
1. I believe not onely that securely we may, but that of necessity (and under the pain of contra∣diction in adjecto,) we must admit the doctrine of Perseverance of Gods Elect, and the certainty, (most unquestionable certainty) thereof, Gods Election of any person to the reward of the covenant, being undoubtedly founded in the perseverance of that person in the faith, this perseverance being the ex∣presse condition of the covenant, He that en∣dureth to the end, the same shall be saveá, he and * none but he, but if he draw back, Gods soule hath no pleasure in him.*
§. 100. Which that it is nothing available to∣ward concluding that they which can fall totally from their justified state, may not yet fall finally also, I infer to be your sence from your great Page 70 dislike to the Calvinists Salvo, taken from the distinction of a true and temporary faith, which * assures me, you take that faith for true, which yet is but temporary, then which nothing is more con∣trary to the establishing the perseverance of all the faithfull, unlesse there be some promise that all temporaries shall so recover again before their death, as finally to persevere, (which as I think, 'twill not be pretended, so if it be, they are no lon∣ger temporaries,) or unlesse it cease to be in their power to continue in their sins, into which they are fallen, which sure it cannot, unlesse the grace of perseverance be irresistible, which if it were, there is no reason, why that of conversion, to all that are converted, should not be irresistible also.
§. 101. 2. For their great, (perhaps totall) interruptions and intercisions in the meane time, * I can no way doubt, but those are subject to them, who yet upon Gods foresight of their returne, and persevering constancy at length, are elected to sal∣vation. It is certain, which the Article of our Church saith, that as they which have received the holy Ghost may depart from grace given and fall a∣way, so by the same grace of God they may returne again, and then returning they may no doubt per∣severe, and then 'tis certain they are elected to sal∣vation, the mercy and pardon in Christ extending not onely to the sins of an unregenerate state, and the infirmities and frailties of the regenerate; but also to all the willfull sins and falls of those that do timely returne again by repentance, as David and Peter did (but Judas certainly, Solomon possibly did not,) and then continue stedfast unto the end. And so 'tis onely the finall perseverance Page 71 that is required indispensably of the elect, which is reconcileable with their great, perhaps totall in∣tercisions.
§. 102. But 'tis not amiss here to advert, that this doth no more suppose or include the recon∣ciliation * or favour of God, to those that have been once regenerate, when they are fallen into grosse sins, then to the unregenerate remaining in the same or greater sinns, it being as possible in respect of us, (perhaps more probable in respect of God,) that the unregenerate may convert and persevere, (and then they are approved to be the elect,) as that they that were once regenerate, but now fallen, may return again. It is as certain from before Paul's birth, and from all eternity, that he was elected, as that David or Peter was, and then either his blasphemous persecuting the name of Christ must have been at the time when he was guilty of that, reconcileable with Gods favour, viz. before his conversion, (and then for the gaining of Gods savour what needed his conversion?) or else Pe∣ter's denying and abjuring of Christ, Davids adul∣tery and murther must not be reconcileable, not∣withstanding their supposed Election. For as to the sonship of their former life, that will no more excuse their contrary wasting sins, then the future * sonship of the other, nay it will set the advantage on the other side, the unconverted Saul obtaines*mercy, because he did it ignorantly, in unbelief, Whilst their sins have the aggravation of being sins against grace, and forsaking, and departing from God, which respect makes the state of Apo∣states as the most unexcusable, so the most desperate∣ly dangerous state.
Page 72 §. 103. 3. That there is a Certitudo Objecti to * all the Elect, cannot be doubted, for if they be elected to salvation, they will finally persevere, if they persevere not, they were not elected. Again this certainty of the object, is a certainty in regard of the knowledge and purpose of God, 1. Of his knowledge that either they will not fall, or if they do, that they will rise again, and then finally persevere. 2. Of his purpose or decree of electi∣on, that every such, finally persevering, though formerly lapsed Christian, shall be saved.
§. 104. 4. For the Certitudo subjecti; as I con∣sent * to you fully in disclaiming any necessity of that, so I suppose it is wholly extrinsecall to this subject, devolving to this other question, not whe∣ther every one that is elect, be sure he shall not fall away, but whether every believer be or ought to be sure of his election? Of which if he were sure, I could not resist his being obliged to believe him∣self certain of his finall Perseverance; Election and finall failing being incompetible.
§. 105. Having given you this interpretation of my sence, and so consent to each branch of your proposition, I have no more to add, but that if you mean it in a farther sence, proportionable to your former conjecture on the head of decrees, of Bishop Overall's opinion, I shall no otherwise debate or question it, then I did that, and so the fate of this and that, are folded up the one in the other, and if the Scripture shall be found favourable to the one, it shall be yeilded, and then there will be no con∣troversy of the other.
§. 106. Onely I desire to add, that it will deserve * our speciall care and warinesse, so to deliver our thoughts in this matter, that we leave no man any Page 73 ground of hope, that in case he depart from his duty, and so fall from Grace, or into any willful act or habit of sin, he shall yet be so preserved, whe∣ther by Gods Grace, or by his power, and provi∣dence, that he shall not finally dye without repen∣tance: for as there is no promise of God to found that hope, so in time of temptation to any pleasu∣rable, transporting sin, &c. it will be in danger to betray and ruine him, that hath a good opinion of himself, especially if he hath been taught, that faith is a full assurance of his Election.
§. 107. The same I say of Grace, as it signifies * the paternall favour of God to his Elect children, which is thought by some to be onely clouded, and, as to their sense and present experience and com∣fort, darkned by their most willfull sins, so as God may be highly displeased with them, as David with his son Absolom, and yet continue his pater∣nall Love and favour to them, as David did his to that ungracious son, in the height of his Rebellion.
§. 108. 'Tis possible this Example of David may have some Rhetoricall Energy in it, to perswade and deceive some. If it have, then 1. I may not unfitly ask this question, whether they think God had then that kindness to Absolom that David had? If he had not, how can it be drawn into example to God? If he had, how then can it agree with it, to cut him off in the midst of his Rebellion, which 'tis manifest David would not have done. But omit∣ting that, I answer 2. that 'tis visible, that this in David was passionate indulgence, such as men (as Joab tells him) disliked, and to this kind of hu∣mane passionate, I oppose that other kind of Di∣vine dispassionate love, producing in God bowels of pity, frequent admonitions and warnings, pow∣erfull Page 74 Messages, strong and earnest calls, and pro∣position of all rationall motives to repentance. But if those prevail not, the just still continuing to draw back, Gods soul hath no pleasure in him, and the greater obligations of Love and Grace they are, against which he hath sinn'd, the greater the provo∣cations are in the sight of God, and nothing con∣sequently but the greater degree of punishment to be expected. How God is affected toward rebel∣lious sons is set down Is. 1. 2, 10, 11, 12, &c.
§. 109. And then to put any man in hope, that what is not ordinarily revealed in the Gospel, may yet be laid up for him in the cabinet of Gods secret counsels with this seal upon it, The Lord knoweth those that are his, as if they might be his still in * Gods acceptation, which walk most contrarily to him, this may prove a most dangerous snare of souls, and it is strange it should seek shelter in that Text 2. Tim. 2. 19. which was most expresly de∣signed to the contrary, as is evident both by the no∣tation of the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the beginning of the verse, which in all probability signifies the Cove∣nant of God, the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉stability whereof, there prest, must assure us that there is no salvati∣on to be expected, but according to the contents of that great indenture, once for all sealed in the blood of Christ, of which as that indeed is one part, which is inscribed on one side of the seal [The Lord knoweth those that are his] i. e. he will never fail to own those that continue faithfull to him; so the other, on the other side, is most emphatical, [Let every man that nameth the name of Christ, de∣part from iniquity] which if he do not, he hath forfeited all the Priviledges of his Christianity.
§. 110. The Gnostick heresie, one branch of it Page 75 especially, noted in Marcus's Scholars, in Irenae∣us, is a seasonable warning to all sober Christians * in this matter, He told them of an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a redemption, or kind of Baptism, which rendered them 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, naturally and immutably spirituall, no more to be polluted by sin, then gold by lying in the mire, or the Sun beams by lighting on a dunghill, and that whatever they did, they should (as with the helmet of the mother of the Gods) be rendred 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, invisible to the Judge, The effects whereof, as to all carnality, &c. were so detestable, that it becomes every man most sollicitously to guard and secure his Schemes of Election and Doctrine of Perseverance of the Elect, from all probability, if not possibility, of mini∣string to the like, and that cannot well be by any other method of resolution, but this, that those that persevere unto the end shall be saved, and none els; our tenure in all the Priviledges of Election, 1. Gods favour, 2. the continuall assistance of his Grace, and 3. the inheritance of sons, being inse∣parably relative and annext to the constant filiall o∣bedience, which he indispensably requires of us, under the Gospel of conditionall promises.
§. 111. Thus have I past through all your Letter and given my self the liberty of these strictures, * by way of reflexion on all and every passage there∣in, which belonged to this subject of God's Decrees and his Grace; And without the addition of any unnecessary recapitulation of the severalls, it is al∣ready evident, how perfect the agreement is be∣tween us in all that you in any degree positively as∣sert, or own as your opinion: And if in one parti∣cular which you are so carefull to propose, as a bare conjecture, and not allow it your favour in any other Page 76 quality, it should happen that we finally dissent (though in propriety of speech conjectures are not sentiments) yet it were strange the dispute betwixt us should be of any length. And so you discern the utmost of uneasiness, which is likely to be gi∣ven you by this address of
Your most affectionate brother and servant H. HAMMOND.