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Chapter III. The immutability of the purposes of God.
The immutability of the purposes of God proposed for a second demonstration of the truth in hand — Somewhat of the nature and properties of the purposes of God: the object of them — Purposes, how acts of God’s understanding and will — The only foundation of the futurition of all things — The purposes of God absolute — Continuance of divine love towards believers purposed — Purposes of God farther considered and their nature explained — Their independence and absoluteness evinced — Proved from Isa. xlvi. 9–11; Ps. xxxiii. 9–11; Heb. vi. 17, 18, etc. — These places explained — The same truth by sundry reasons and arguments farther confirmed — Purpose in God of the continuance of his love and favour to believers manifested by an induction of instances out of Scripture; the first from Rom. viii. 28 proposed, and farther cleared and improved — Mr G.’s dealing with our argument from hence and our exposition of this place considered — His exposition of that place proposed and discussed — The design of the apostle commented on — The fountain of the accomplishment of the good things mentioned omitted by Mr G. — In what sense God intends to make all things work together for good to them that love him — Of God’s foreknowledge — Of the sense and use of the word προγινώσκω, also of scisco, and γινώσκω, in classical authors — Πρόγνωσις, in Scripture everywhere taken for foreknowledge or predetermination, nowhere for pre-approbation — Of pre-approving or pre-approbation here insisted on by Mr G. — Its inconsistency with the sense of the apostle’s discourse manifested — The progress of Mr G.’s exposition of this place considered — Whether men love God antecedently to his predestination and their effectual calling — To pre-ordain and pre-ordinate different — No assurance granted of the consolation professed to be intended — The great uncertainty of the dependence of the acts of God’s grace mentioned on one another — The efficacy of every one of them resolved finally into the wills of men — Whether calling according to God’s purpose supposeth a saving answer given to that call — The affirmative proved, and exceptions given thereto removed — What obstructions persons called may lay in their own way to justification — The iniquity of imposing conditions and supposals on the purposes of God not in the least intimated by himself — The whole acknowledged design of the apostle everted by the interposition of cases and conditions by Mr G. — Mr G.’s first attempt to prove the decrees of God to be conditional considered — 1 Sam. ii. 30 to that end produced — 1 Sam. ii. 30 farther considered, and its unsuitableness to illustrate Rom. viii. 28–31 proved — Interpretation of Scripture by comparing of places agreeing neither in design, word, nor matter, rejected — The places insisted on proved not to be parallel by sundry particular instances — Some observations from the words rejected — What act of God intended in these words to Eli, “I said indeed” — No purpose or decree of God in them declared — Any such purpose as to the house of Eli by sundry arguments disproved — No purpose of God in the words insisted on farther manifested — They are expressive of the promise or law concerning the priesthood, Numb. xxv. 11–13, more especially relating unto Exod. xxviii. 43, xxix. 9 — The import of that promise, law, or statute, cleared — The example of Jonah’s preaching, and God’s commands to Abraham and Pharaoh — The universal disproportion between the texts compared by Mr G., both as to matter and expression, farther manifested — Instances or cases of Saul and Paul to prove conditional purposes in God considered — Conditional purposes 141argued from conditional threatenings — The weakness of that argument — The nature of divine threatenings — What will of God, or what of the will of God, is declared by them — No proportion between eternal purposes and temporal threatenings — The issue of the vindication of our argument from the foregoing exceptions — Mr G.’s endeavour to maintain his exposition of the place under consideration — The text perverted — Several evasions of Mr G. from the force of this argument considered — His arguments to prove no certain or infallible connection between calling, justification, and glorification, weighed and answered — His first, from the scope of the chapter and the use of exhortations — The question begged — His second, from examples of persons called and not justified — The question argued begged — No proof insisted on but the interposition of his own hypothesis — How we are called irresistibly, and in what sense — Whether bars of wickedness and unbelief may be laid in the way of God’s effectual call — Mr G.’s demur to another consideration of the text removed — The argument in hand freed from other objections and concluded — Jer. xxxi. 3 explained and improved, for the confirmation of the truth under demonstration — 2 Tim. ii. 19 opened, and the truth from thence confirmed — The foregoing exposition and argument vindicated and confirmed — The same matter at large pursued — John vi. 37–40 explained, and the argument in hand from thence confirmed — Mr G.’s exceptions to our arguing from this place removed — The same matter farther pursued — The exposition and argument insisted on fully vindicated and established — Matt. xxiv. 24 opened and improved — The severals of that text more particularly handled — Farther observations, for the clearing the mind of the Holy Ghost in this place — The same farther insisted on and vindicated Mr G.’s exceptions at large discussed and removed — Eph. i. 3–5, 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14, opened — The close of the second argument, from the immutability of the purposes of God.
Having cleared the truth in hand, from the immutability of the nature of God, which himself holds out as engaged for us to rest upon, as to the unchangeable continuance of his love unto us, proceed we now to consider the steadfastness and immutability of his purposes, which he frequently asserts as another ground of assurance to the saints of his safeguarding their glory of free acceptation to the end.
I shall not enter upon the consideration of the nature and absoluteness of the purposes of God as to an express handling of them, but only a little unfold that property and concernment of them whereon the strength of the inference we aim at doth in the same measure depend. Many needless and curious questions have been, by the serpentine wits of men, moved and agitated concerning them; wherein, perhaps, our author hath not been outgone by many; as will be judged by those who have weighed his discourses concerning them, with his distinctions of “desires, intentions, purposes, and decrees,” in God. But this is not the business we have in hand; for what concerneth that, that which ensueth may suffice. God himself being an infinite pure act, those acts of his will and wisdom which are eternal and immanent are not distinguished from his nature and being but only in respect of the reference and habitude which they 142bear unto some things to be produced outwardly from him. The objects of them all are such things as might not be. God’s purposes are not concerning any thing that is in itself absolutely necessary. He doth not purpose that he will be wise, holy, infinitely good, just: all these things, that are of absolute necessity, come not within the compass of his purposes. Of things that might not be are his decrees and intentions; they are of all the products of his power, — all that outwardly he hath done, doth, or will do, to eternity. All these things, to the falling of a hair or the withering of a [blade of] grass, hath he determined from of old. Now, this divine fore-appointment of all things the Scripture assigns sometimes to the knowledge and understanding, sometimes to the will of God: “Known unto him are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts xv. 18. It is that knowledge which hath an influence into that most infinitely wise disposal of them which is there intimated. And the determination of things to be done is referred to the “counsel” of God Acts. iv. 28; which denotes an act of his wisdom and understanding, and yet withal it is the “counsel of his own will,” Eph. i. 11.8787 Matt. vi. 28–30; Luke xii. 6, 7; John iv. 4–8.
I know that all things originally owe their futurition to a free act of the will of God; he doth whatever he will and pleaseth. Their relation thereunto translates them out of that state of possibility, and [from] being objects of God’s absolute omnipotency and infinite simple intelligence or understanding, whereby he intuitively beholdeth all things that might be produced by the exerting of his infinite almighty power, into a state of futurition, making them objects of God’s foreknowledge, or science of vision, as it is called.8888 Isa. xiv. 24, xix. 12, xxiii. 9; Jer. li. 29; Rom. viii. 28, ix. 11, 19; Ps. cxxxix. 11, 12; Isa. xl. 28; Heb. iv. 13. But yet the Scripture expresseth (as before) that act of God whereby he determines the beings, issues, and orders of things, [so as] to manifest the concurrence of his infinite wisdom and understanding in all his purposes. Farther; as to the way of expressing these things to our manner of apprehension, there are held out intentions and purposes of God distinctly suited to all beings, operations, and events; yet in God himself they are not multiplied. As all things are present to him in one most simple and single act of his understanding, so with one individual act of his will he determines concerning all. But yet, in reference to the things that are disposed of, we may call them the purposes of God. And these are the eternal springs of God’s actual providence; which being (“ratio ordinis ad finem”) the disposing of all things to their ends in an appointed manner and order, in exact correspondence unto them, these purposes themselves must be the infinitely wise, eternal, immanent acts of his will, appointing and determining all things, beings, and operations, kinds of beings, manners 143of operation, free, necessary, contingent, as to their existence and event, into an immediate tendency unto the exaltation of his glow; or, as the apostle calls them, the “counsel of his own will,” according whereunto he effectually worketh all things, Eph. i. 11.
Our consideration of these purposes of God being only in reference to the business which we have in hand, I shall do these two things:— First, Manifest that they are all of them absolute and immutable; wherein I shall be brief, not going out to the compass of the controversy thereabout, as I intimated before; my intendment lies another way. Secondly, Show that God hath purposed the continuance of his love to his saints, to bring them infallibly to himself, and that this purpose of God, in particular, is unchangeable; which is the second part of the foundation of our abiding with God in the grace of acceptation.
I. By the purposes of God I mean, as I said before, the eternal acts of his will concerning all things that outwardly are of him; which are the rules, if I may so speak, of all his following operations, — all external, temporary products of his power universally answering those internal acts of his will. The judgment of those who make these decrees or purposes of God (for I shall constantly use these words promiscuously, as being purely of the same import, as relating unto God) to be in themselves essential to him and his very nature, or understanding and will, may be safely closed withal. They are in God, as was said, but one; there is not a real multiplication of any thing but subsistence in the Deity. To us these lie under a double consideration:— First, Simply as they are in God; and so it is impossible they should be differenced from his infinite wisdom and will, whereby he determineth of any thing. Secondly, In respect of the habitude and relation which they bear to the things determined, which the wisdom and will of God might not have had. In the first sense, as was said, they can be nothing but the very nature of God, the τὸ velle of God, his internal willing of any thing that is either created or uncreated; for these terms distribute the whole nature of being. Created they are not, for they are eternal (that no new immanent act can possibly be ascribed to God hath full well of late been demonstrated). Farther; if they are created, then God willed that they should be created, for he created only what he willed. If so, was he willing they should be created, or no? If he were, then a progress will be given infinitely, for the question will arise up to eternity. If uncreated, then doubtless they are God himself, for he only is so; it is impossible that a creature should be uncreated. Again; God’s very willing of things is the cause of all things, and therefore must needs be omnipotent and God himself. That “voluntas Dei” is “causa rerum” is taken for granted, and may be proved from Ps. cxv. 3, which the apostle ascribes omnipotency unto, 144Rom. ix. 19, “Who hath resisted his will?” Doubtless it is the property of God alone to be the cause of all things, and to be almighty in his so being. But hereof at present no more. On this supposal, the immutability of the decrees of God would plainly be coincident with the immutability of his nature, before handled.
It is, then, of the decrees and purposes of God, with respect to the matters about which they are, whereof I speak: in which regard, also, they are absolute and immutable; — not that they work any essential change in the things themselves concerning which they are, making that to be immutable from thence which in its own nature is mutable; but only that themselves, as acts of the infinite wisdom and will of God, are not liable to nor suspended on any condition whatever foreign to themselves, nor subject to change or alteration (whence floweth an infallible certainty of actual accomplishment in reference to the things decreed or purposed, be their own nature what it will, or their next causes in themselves never so undetermined to their production), whereof I treat. That the determining purposes or decrees of God’s will concerning any thing or things by him to be done or effected do not depend, as to their accomplishment, on any conditions that may be supposed in or about the things themselves whereof they are, and therefore are unchangeable, and shall certainly be brought forth unto the appointed issue, is that which we are to prove Knowing for whose sakes8989 Matt. xi. 25; 1 Cor. i. 26–28; James ii. 5; 2 Tim. ii. 10. and for what end this labour was undertaken, I shall choose to lay the whole proof of this assertion upon plain texts of Scripture, rather than mix my discourse with any such philosophical reasonings as are of little use to the most of them whose benefit is hereby intended.
Isa. xlvi. 9–11, The Holy Ghost speaks expressly to our purpose: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Verse 9, the Lord asserts his own deity and eternal being, in opposition to all false gods and idols, whom he threatens to destroy, verse 1. Of this he gives them a threefold demonstration:—
First, From his prescience or foreknowledge: “There is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done;” — “In this am I infinitely discriminated from all the pretended deities of the nations. All things from the beginning to the end are naked before me, and I have declared them by my prophets, even things that are future and contingent in 145themselves. So are the things that I now speak of. The destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians is a thing to be carried on through innumerable contingencies; and yet as I have seen it so have I told it, and my counsel concerning it shall certainly be executed.”
Secondly, By his power, in using what instruments he pleaseth for the executing of his purposes and bringing about his own designs: “Calling a ravenous bird from the east;” — one that at first, when he went against Babylon, thought of nothing less than executing the counsel of God, but was wholly bent upon satisfying his own rapine and ambition, not knowing then in the least by whom he was anointed and sanctified for the accomplishment of his will. All the thoughts of his heart, all his consultations and actions, all his progresses and diversions, his success in his great and dreadful undertaking, to break in pieces that “hammer of the whole earth,” with all the free deliberations and contingencies wherewith his long war was attended, which were as many, strong, and various, as the nature of things is capable to receive, were not only in every individual act, with its minutest circumstances, by him foreseen, and much also foretold, but also managed in the hand of his power in a regular subservience to that call which he so gave that “ravenous bird” for the accomplishment of his purpose and pleasure.9090 Jer. l., li.; Isa. xliv. 25–28.
Thirdly, By the immutability of his purposes, which can never be frustrated nor altered: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; — I have purposed it, and I will also do it.” The standing, or fixedness and unchangeableness, of his counsel, he manifests by the accomplishment of the things which therein he had determined; neither is there any salve for his immutability in his counsel, should it otherwise fall out. And if we may take his own testimony of himself, what he purposeth, that he doth; and in the actual fulfilling and the bringing about of things themselves purposed, and as purposed, without any possibility of diversion from the real end intended, is their stability and unchangeableness in them manifested. An imaginary immutability in God’s purposes, which may consist and be preserved under their utter frustration as to the fulfilling of the things themselves under which they are, the Scripture knows not, neither can reason conceive. Now, this unchangeableness of his purposes the Lord brings as one demonstration of his deity; and those who make them liable to alteration, upon any account or supposition whatsoever, do depress him, what in them lies, into the number of such dung-hill gods as he threatens to famish and destroy.
Ps. xxxiii. 9–11, “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all 146generations.” The production and establishment of all things in that order wherein they are, are by the psalmist ascribed to the will and power of God. By his word and command they not only are, but stand fast; being fixed in that order by him appointed. Both the making, fixing, and sustaining of all things, is by “the word of his power.” As the first relates to their being, which they have from creation, so the other to the order in subsistence and operation, which relates to his actual providence. Herein they stand fast. Themselves, with their several and respective relations, dependencies, influences, circumstances, suited to that nature and being which was bestowed on them by his word in their creation, are settled in an exact correspondency to his purposes (of which afterward), not to be shaken or removed. Heb. i. 3; Rev. iv. 11; Acts xvii. 28, ii. 23, iv. 28; Gen. l. 20; Eccles. iii. 11. Men have their devices and counsels also, they are free agents, and work by counsel and advice; and therefore God hath not set all things so fast as to overturn and overbear them in their imaginations and undertakings. Saith the psalmist, “They imagine and devise indeed, but their counsel is of nought, and their devices are of none effect; but the counsel of the Lord,” etc. The counsel and purposes of the Lord are set in opposition to the counsel and purposes of men, as to alteration, change, and frustration, in respect of the actual accomplishment of the things about which they are. “Their counsels are so and so; but the counsel of the Lord shall stand.” He that shall cast verse 11 into verse 10, and say, “The counsel of the Lord, that comes to nought, and the thoughts of his heart are of none effect,” let him make what pretences he will or flourishes that he can, or display what supposals and conditions he pleaseth, he will scarcely be able to keep the field against him who will contend with him about His prerogative and glory. And this antithesis between the counsels of men and the purposes of God upon the account of unchangeableness is again confirmed, Prov. xix. 21, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Herein is the difference between the devices of men and the counsel of God: Men have many devices to try what they can do. If one way take not, they will attempt another (“hac non successit, alia aggrediemur via”), and are always disappointed, but only in that wherein they fall in with the will of God. The shallowness of their understanding, the shortness of their foresight, the weakness of their power, the changeableness of their minds, the uncertainty of all the means they use, puts them upon many devices, and often to no purpose.9191 Isa. viii. 9, 10; Job viii. 9, xi. 12; Eccles. viii. 7, ix. 12. But for Him who is infinite in wisdom and power, to whom all things are present, and to whom nothing can fall out unexpected, yea, what he hath not himself determined, unto whom all emergencies are but the issue of his 147own good pleasure, who proportions out what efficacy he pleaseth unto the means he useth, — his counsels, his purposes, his decrees shall stand, being, as Job9292 Zechariah? Zech. vi. 1. — Ed. tells us, “as mountains of brass.” By this he differenceth himself from all others, idols and men; as also by his certain foreknowledge of what shall come to pass and be accomplished upon those purposes of his.9393 Isa. xliv. 7, xlvi. 10. Hence the apostle, Heb. vi. 17, 18, acquaints us that his promise and his oath, those “two immutable things,” do but declare ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς, “the unchangeableness of his counsel;” which God is abundantly willing to manifest, though men are abundantly unwilling to receive it. Job determines this business in Job xxiii. 13, 14, “He is of one mind, and who can turn him? what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me.” Desires are the least and faintest kind of purposes, in Mr Goodwin’s distinctions; yet the certain accomplishment of them, as they are ascribed unto God, is here asserted by the Holy Ghost.
Were the confirmation of the matter of our present discourse my only design in hand, I could farther confirm it by enlarging these ensuing reasons:—
First, From the immutability of God, the least questioning whereof falls foul on all the perfections of the divine nature, which require a correspondent affection of all the internal and eternal acts of his mind and will.
Secondly, From his sovereignty, in making and executing all his purposes, which will not admit of any such mixture of consults or co-operations of others as should render his thoughts liable to alteration, Rom. xi. 33–36. The Lord in his purposes is considered as the great former of all things, who, having his clay in the hand of his almighty power, ordains every parcel to what kind of vessel and to what use he pleaseth. Hence the apostle concludes the consideration of them, and the distinguishing grace flowing from them, with that admiration, Ὦ Βάθος! — “O the depth!” etc.
Thirdly, From their eternity, which exempts them from all shadow of change, and lifts them up above all those spheres that either from within and in their own nature, or from without by the impression of others, are exposed to turning. That which is eternal is also immutable, Acts xv. 18; 1 Cor. ii. 7–11.
Fourthly, From the absoluteness and independency of his will, whereof they are the acts and emanations, Rom. ix. 15–21. Whatever hath any influence upon that, so as to move it, cause it, change it, must be before it, above it, better than it, as every cause is than its effect as such. This will of his, as was said, is the fountain of all being; to which free and independent act all creatures owe their being and subsistence, their operations and manner thereof, their whole difference 148from those worlds of beings which his power can produce, but which yet shall lie bound up to eternity in their nothingness and possibility, upon the account of his good pleasure. Into this doth our Saviour resolve the disposal of himself, Matt. xxvi. 42, and of all others, chap. xi. 25, 26. Certainly men in their wrangling disputes and contests about it have scarce seriously considered with whom they have to do. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?’
Fifthly, From the engagement of his omnipotency for the accomplishment of all his purposes and designs, as is emphatically expressed, Isa. xiv. 24–27, “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: that I will break the Assyrian in my land. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” The Lord doth not only assert the certain accomplishment of all his purposes, but also, to prevent and obviate the unbelief of them who were concerned in their fulfilling, he manifests upon what account it is that they shall certainly be brought to pass; and that is, by the stretching out of his hand, or exalting of his mighty power, for the doing of it; so that if there be a failing therein, it must be through the shortness of that hand of his so stretched out, in that it could not reach the end aimed at. A worm will put forth its strength for the fulfilling of that whereunto it is inclined; and the sons of men will draw out all their power for the compassing of their designs. If there be wisdom in the laying of them, and foresight of emergencies, they alter not, nor turn aside to the right hand or to the left, in the pursuit of them. And shall the infinitely wise, holy, and righteous thoughts and designs of God not have his power engaged for their accomplishment His infinite wisdom and understanding are at the foundation of them; they are the counsels of his will: Rom. xi. 34, “Who hath known his mind” in them? saith the apostle, “or who hath been his counsellor?” Though no creature can see the paths wherein he walks, nor apprehend the reason of the ways he is delighted in, yet this he lets us know, for the satisfying of our hearts and teaching of our inquiries, that his own infinite wisdom is in them all. I cannot but fear that sometimes men have” darkened counsel by words without knowledge,” in curious contests about the decrees and purposes of God, as though they were to be measured by our rule and line, and as though “by searching we could find out the Almighty unto perfection.” But he is wise in heart; he that contendeth with him, let him instruct him. Add, that this wisdom in his counsel is attended with infallible prescience of all that will fall in by the way, or in the course of the accomplishment 149of his purposes, and you will quickly see that there can be no possible intervenience, upon the account whereof the Lord should not engage his almighty power for their accomplishment. “He is of one mind, and who can turn him? He will work, and who shall let it?”
Sixthly, By demonstrating the unreasonableness, folly, and impossibility, of suspending the acts and purposes of the will of God upon any actings of the creatures soever; seeing it cannot be done without subjecting eternity to time, the First Cause to the second, the Creator to the creature, the Lord to the servant, disturbing the whole order of beings and operations in the world.
Seventhly, By the removal of all possible or imaginary causes of alteration and change, which will all be resolved into impotency in one kind or other; every alteration being confessedly an imperfection, it cannot follow but from want and weakness. Upon the issue of which discourse, if it might be pursued, these corollaries would ensue:—
First, Conditional promises and threatenings are not declarative of God’s purposes concerning persons, but of his moral approbation or rejection of things.
Secondly, There is a wide difference between the change of what is conditionally pronounced as to the things themselves and the change of what is determinately willed, the certainty of whose event is proportioned to the immutable acts of the will of God itself.
Thirdly, That no purpose of God is conditional, though the things themselves, concerning which his purposes are, are oftentimes conditionals one of another.
Fourthly, That conditional purposes concerning perseverance are either impossible, implying contradictions, or ludicrous, even to an unfitness for a stage. But of these and such like, as they occasionally fall in, in the ensuing discourse.
II. This foundation being laid, I come to what was secondly proposed, — namely, to manifest, by an induction of particular instances, the engagement of these absolute and immutable purposes of God as to the preservation of the saints in his favour to the end; and whatsoever is by Mr Goodwin excepted as to the former doctrine of the decrees and purposes of God, in that part of his treatise which falls under our consideration, shall, in the vindication of the respective places of Scripture to be insisted on, be discussed.
The first particular instance that I shall propose is that eminent place of the apostle, Rom. viii. 28, where you have the truth in hand meted out unto us, full measure, shaken together, and running over. It doth not hang by the side of his discourse, nor is left to be gathered and concluded from other principles and assertions couched therein, but is the main of the apostolical drift and design, it being 150proposed by him to make good, upon unquestionable grounds, the assurance he gives believers that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose;” the reason whereof he farther adds in the following words: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” What the good aimed at is, for which all things shall work together, and wherein it doth consist, he manifests in the conclusion of the argument produced to prove his first assertion: Verses 35–39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation,” etc. The good of believers:, of them that love God, consists in the enjoyment of Christ and his love. Saith, then, the apostle, “God will so certainly order all things that they shall be preserved in that enjoyment of it whereunto in this life they are already admitted, and borne out through all oppositions to that perfect fruition thereof which they aim at; and this is so unquestionable, that the very things which seem to lie in the way of such an attainment and event shall work together, through the wisdom and love of God, to that end.” To make good this consolation, the apostle lays down two grounds or principles from whence the truth of it doth undeniably follow, the one taken from the description of the persons concerning whom he makes it, and the other from the acts of God’s grace, and their respective concatenation in reference to those persons.
The persons, he tells you, are those who are “called according to God’s purpose.” That their calling here mentioned is the effectual call of God, which is answered by faith and obedience, because it consists in the bestowing of them on the persons so called, taking away the heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh, is not only manifest from that place which afterward [it] receives in the golden chain of divine graces, between predestination and justification, whereby the one hath infallible influences into the other, but also from that previous description which is given of the same persons, namely, that they love God, which certainly is an issue and fruit of effectual calling, as shall afterward be farther argued; for to that issue are things driven in this controversy, that proofs thereof are become needful.
The “purpose” according to which these persons are called is none other than that which the apostle, chap. ix. 11, terms the “purpose of God according to election;” the “election of grace,” chap. xi. 5; as also the knowledge and “foundation of God,” 2 Tim. ii. 19; as will in the progress of our discourse be made farther appear, although I know not that this is as yet questioned. The immutability of this purpose of God, chap. ix. 11, 12, the apostle demonstrates from its 151independency on any thing in them or in respect of them concerning whom it is, it being eternal, and expressly safeguarded against apprehensions that might arise of any causal or occasional influence from any thing in them given thereunto, they lying under this condition alone unto God, as persons that had done neither good nor evil. And this, also, the apostle farther pursues from the sovereignty, absoluteness, and unchangeableness of the will of God. But these things are of another consideration.
Now, this unchangeable purpose and election being the fountain from whence the effectual calling of believers doth flow, the preservation of them to the end designed, the glory whereunto they are chosen, by those acts of grace and love whereby they are prepared thereunto, hath coincidence of infallibility as to the end aimed at with the purpose itself, nor is it liable to the least exception but what may be raised from the mutability and changeableness of God in his purposes and decrees. Hence, in the following verse, upon the account of the stability and immutability of this purpose of God, the utmost and most remote end in reference to the good thereby designed unto believers, though having its present subsistence only in that purpose of God and infallible concatenation of means thereunto conducing, is mentioned as a thing actually accomplished, Rom. viii. 30.
Herein, also, lies the apostle’s second eviction of consolation formerly laid down, even in the indissoluble concatenation of those acts of grace, love, and favour, whereby the persons of God’s purpose, or the “remnant according to the election of grace,” shall be infallibly carried on in their present enjoyment and unto the full fruition of the love of Christ. If we may take him upon his word (and he speaks in the name and authority of God), those whom he doth foreknow, or fixes his thoughts peculiarly upon from eternity (for the term these is evidently discriminated, and the act must needs be eternal which in order of nature is previous unto predestination, or the appointment to the end by means designed), those, I say, he doth predestinate and appoint, in the immutable purpose of his will, to be conformed unto the image of his Son, as in afflictions, so in grace and glory.
To fancy a suspension of these acts of grace (some whereof are eternal) upon conditionals, and they not intimated in the least in the text, nor consistent with the nature of the things themselves or the end intended, casting the accomplishment and bringing about of the designs of God, proposed as his for our consolation, upon the certain lubricity of the wills of men, and thereupon to propose an intercision of them as to their concatenation and dependence, that they should not have a certain influence on the one hand descending, nor an unchangeable dependence on the other ascending, may easily be made to appear to be so plain an opposition to the aim and 152design of the apostle as it is possibly capable of. But because these things are really insisted on by Mr Goodwin, I shall choose rather to remove them, — as with much rhetoric, and not without some sophistry, they are by him pressed, — than farther anticipate them, by arguments from the text itself, of their invalidity and nullity.
The discussion of our argument from this place of Scripture he enters upon, chap. x. sect. 42, p. 207, and pursues it, being much entangled with what himself is pleased to draw forth as the strength of it, unto sect. 52, p. 219.
Now, though Mr Goodwin hath not at all mentioned any analysis of the place insisted on, for the making out of the truth we believe, to be intended in it, nor ever once showed his reader the face of our argument from hence, but only drawn something of it forth in such divided parcels as he apprehended himself able to blur and obscure, yet to make it evident that he hath not prevailed to foil that part of the strength of truth (his adversary) which he voluntarily chose to grapple withal, I shall consider that whole discourse, and manifest the nullity of his exceptions unto this testimony given in by the apostle to the truth we have in hand.
To obtain his end, Mr Goodwin undertaketh these two things:— first, To give in an exposition of the place of Scripture insisted on, “whence no such conclusion as that which he opposeth,” saith he, “can be drawn;” secondly, To give in exceptions to our interpretation of it, and the inferences thereupon by us deduced. The first [is] in these, words:—
“For the scope of the apostle, in the sequel of this passage, is clearly this, as the particle ‘for’ in the beginning of verse 29 plainly showeth, to prove and make good that assertion of his, verse 28, that ‘all things work together for good to those that love God.’ To prove this he showeth by what method and degrees of dispensations God will bring it to pass. ‘Whom he foreknows,’ saith he, that is, pre-approves (the word ‘knowledge’ frequently in Scripture importing approbation), as he must needs do those that love him, ‘these he predestinates to be conformed to the image of his Son;’ and therefore as all things, even his deepest sufferings, wrought together for good unto him, so must they needs do unto those who are predestinated or pre-ordinated by God to a conformity with him. ‘To give you yet,’ saith our apostle, ‘a farther and more particular account how God, in the secret of his counsels, hath laid things in order to the bringing of them unto an actual conformity with the image of his Son, to wit, in glory, whom he predestinated thereunto (who are such as love him, and thereupon are approved by him), you are to understand that whom he hath so predestinated he hath also called, — that is, hath purposed or decreed to call to the knowledge of his Son or of his gospel, — that is, to afford a more plain and effectual discovery 153of him unto them than unto others whom he hath not so predestinated.’ By the way, this call doth not necessarily suppose a saving answer given unto it by the called, no whit more than the calling mentioned, Matt. xx. 16, xxii. 14. It only supposeth a real purpose on God’s part to make it very sufficient to procure such an answer to it from those that are called. The apostle advanceth towards his proposed end, and addeth, ‘Those whom he called, them he also justified;’ that is, according to our last exposition of the word ‘called,’ he hath purposed or decreed to justify, — to wit, in case the called obstruct him not in his way, or by their unbelief render not themselves incapable of justification. The clause following is likewise to be understood with the like proviso as this: ‘Whom he hath justified, them he also glorified;’ that is, hath purposed or decreed to save, in case they retain the grace of justification, confirmed upon them to the end.”
Ans. First, let it be granted that the design of the apostle is to make good that assertion, “All things work together for good to them that love God,” and the consolation for believers which thence he holds forth unto them; yet he doth not only show by what method, degrees, or steps, God will bring it to pass, but also, as the fountain of all that ensues, lays down the unalterable purpose of God concerning that end, which is intended in and accomplished by all those steps or degrees of his effectual grace after mentioned. This Mr Goodwin passeth over, as not to be wrested into any tolerable conformity with that sense (if there be any sense in the whole of what he insists upon for the sense of this place) which he intends to rack and press the words unto. To save stumbling at the threshold (which is malum omen), he leaps at once over the consideration of this purpose and design of God, as aiming at a certain end, without the least touch upon it. Farther, that God will bring it to pass that all things shall work together for good to them that love him, is not intended by Mr Goodwin as though it should infallibly be so indeed, but only that God will so way-lay them with some advantages that it may be so, as well as otherwise. What consolation believers may receive from this whole discourse of the apostle, intended properly to administer it unto them, as it lies under the gloss ensuing, shall be discovered in our following consideration of it. Thus, then, he makes it out:—
“Whom he foreknows, that is, pre-approves (the word ‘knowledge’ in Scripture frequently importing approbation), as he must needs do those that love him, them he predestinates.”
Ans. First, That to “know” is sometimes taken in Scripture for to approve may be granted; but that the word here used must therefore signify to pre-approve is an assertion which I dare not pretend to so much foreknowledge as to think that any one besides 154himself will approve. Mr Goodwin, I doubt not, knows full well that prepositions in Greek composition do often restrain simple verbs, formerly at liberty for other uses, to one precise signification. The word προγινώσκω, in its constant sense in other authors, is “præscio” or “prædecerno;” γινώσκω itself, “to determine or decree;” so is “scisco” among the Latins, the ancient word “to know.” So he in Plautus: “Rogitationes plurimas propter vos populus scivit, quas vos rogates rumpitis.”9494 Plaut. in Curcul. And nothing more frequent in Cicero. “Quæ scisceret plebs, aut quæ populus juberet,” etc.; and again, “Quod multa perniciose, multa pestifere sciscuntur in populus;” and, “Plancus primus legem scivit de publicanis.”9595 Cic. pro Flacco. et 2 de Legib. pro Plancio. In like manner is γινώσκω frequently used: Ἔγνωσαν τοῦτο μὴ ποιεῖν? — “They determined not to do that thing.”9696 Plutarchus in Alcibiad. Ἄδικα ἔγνωκε περὶ ἐμοῦ ὁ Ζεύς, says he in Lucian; — “He hath determined unrighteous things against me.”9797 Lucian. in Prometh. Hence, γνώμη is often taken for a decree, or an established purpose, as Budæus manifesteth out of Plutarch. In Scripture the word is sundry times used, and still in the sense before mentioned; sometimes for a simple foreknowledge. So Paul uses it of the Jews who knew him before his conversion: Acts xxvi. 5, Προγινώσκοντές. It relates not to what they foreknew, but what they knew before, or in former days. And as the simple verb, as was showed, is often taken for “decerno, statuo,” “to decree, order, or determine,” so with this composition it seems most to be restrained to that sense. 1 Pet. i. 20, it is said of Christ that he was προεγνωσμένος πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, — he was “foreknown,” or “fore-ordained, before the foundation of the world;’ which is opposed to that which follows, φανερωθεὶς δὲ ἐπ’ ἐσχάτων τῶν χρόνων δι’ ὑμᾶς, — “manifested in the last times for you,” — and relates to the decree or fore-purpose of God concerning the giving of his Son. Hence πρόγνωσις is joined with ὡρισμένῃ βουλῆ, God’s “determinate counsel,” as a word of the same importance: Acts ii. 23, Τοῦτον δὲ ὡρισμένῃ βουλῇ καὶ προγνώσει, etc.: if there be any difference, the first designing the wisdom, the latter the will, of God in this business. In Rom. xi. 2 it hath again the same signification: “God hath not cast off τὸν λαόν αὑτοῦ ὅν προέγνω,” or the remnant which among the obstinate and unbelieving Jews were under his everlasting purpose of grace; in which place, causelessly and without any attempt of proof, the Remonstrants wrest the word to signify pre-approbation, Dec. Sent., art. 1, the whole context and design of the apostle, the terms “remnant” and “election,” whereby the same thing is afterward expressed, undeniably forcing the proper acceptation of the word. Not only the original sense and composition of the word, but also the constant use of it in the Scripture, leads us away from the interpretation here pinned upon it.
155Farther; what is the meaning of pre-approving? God’s approving of any person as to their persons is his free and gracious acceptation of them in Christ. His pre-approving of them in answer hereunto must be his eternal gracious acceptation of them in Christ. But is this Mr Goodwin’s intendment? Doth God accept any in Christ antecedently to their predestination, calling, and justification (for they are all consequential to this act of pre-approbation)? This, then, is that which is affirmed: God approves and accepts of men in Christ; thereupon he predestinates, calls, and justifies them. But what need [for] all these if they be antecedently accepted? I should have expected that this foreknowledge should have been resolved rather into a middle or conditionate prescience than into this pre-approbation, but that our great masters were pleased (in the place newly cited), though without any attempt of proof, to carry it another way. That God should approve of, love, accept persons, antecedently to their predestination, vocation, and justification, is, doubtless, not suitable to Mr Goodwin’s principles; but that they should love God also before they fall under these acts of his grace is not only openly contradictions to the truth, but also to itself. The phrase here of “loving God” is confessedly a description of believers; now, to suppose men believers, that is, to answer the call of God, antecedently to his call, will scarce be salved from a flat contradiction with any reserved considerations that may be invented.
This solid foundation being laid, he proceeds: “Those who thus love him, and he approves of them, he predestinates to be conformed to the image of his Son.” It is true, the apostle speaks of them and to them that “love God,” but doth not, in the least, suppose them as such to be the objects of the acts of his sovereign grace after mentioned. If God call none but those that love him antecedently to his call, that grace of his must eternally rest in his own bosom, without the least exercise of it towards any of the sons of men. It is those persons, indeed, who, in the process of the work of God’s grace towards them, are brought to love him, that are thus predestinated and called; but they are so dealt withal, not upon the account or consideration of their love of God (which is not only in order consequential to some of them, but the proper effect and product of them), but upon the account of the unchangeable purpose of God appointing them to salvation; — which I doubt not but Mr Goodwin studiously and purposely omitted to insist upon, knowing its absolute inconsistency with the conclusion (and yet not able to waive it, had it been once brought under consideration) which from the words he aimeth to extract. As, then, to make men’s loving of God to be antecedent to the grace of vocation is an express contradiction in itself; so to make it, or the consideration of it, to be previous unto predestination is an insinuation of a gross Pelagian figment, giving rise and 156spring to God’s eternal predestination, not in his own sovereign will, but the self-differencing wills of men. “Latet anguis” also in the adding “grass” of that exegetical term “pre-ordinated,” — predestinated, that is, pre-ordinated. Though the word, being considered in the language whereof it is, seems not to give occasion to any suspicion, yet the change of it from pre-ordained into pre-ordinated is not to be supposed to be for nothing in him who is expert at these weapons To ordain is either “ordinare ut aliquid fiat,” or “ordinem in factis statuere,” or, according to some, “subjectum disponere ad finem.” To pre-ordain is of necessity precisely tied up to the first sense; — to pre-ordinate, I fear, in Mr Goodwin’s sense, is but to predispose men by some good inclinations in themselves, and men pre-ordinated are but men so predisposed; which is the usual gloss that men of this persuasion put upon Acts xiii. 48.
Thus far, then, we have carried on the sense affixed to these words, if it may so be called, which is evidently contradictious in itself, and in no one particular suited to the mind of the Holy Ghost.
He proceeds: “ ‘To give you yet,’ saith our apostle, ‘a farther and more particular account how God, in the secret of his counsel, hath belaid things in order,’ ” etc.
This expression, “God hath belaid things in order to the salvation of them that love him,” is the whole of the assurance here given by the apostle to the assertion formerly laid down for the consolation of believers; and this, according to the analogy and proportion of our author’s faith, amounts only thus far: “You that love God, if you continue so to do, you will fall under his predestination; and if you abide under that, he will call you, so as that you may farther obey him, or you may not. If you do obey him, and believe upon his call (having loved him before), he will justify you; not with that justification which is final, of which you may come short, but with initial justification; which if you continue in and walk up unto, solvite curas when you are dead in your graves.” This is called God’s belaying of things in his secret counsel; whereby the total accomplishment of the first engagement is cut off from the root of God’s purposes, and from the branches of his effectual grace in the pursuit thereof, and grafted upon the wild olive of the will of man, that never did, nor ever will, bear any wholesome fruit of itself to eternity. What is afterward added of the qualification of those whom God predestinates, being an intrusion of another false hypothesis, for the confirmation of an assertion of the same alloy, is not of my present consideration. But he adds, “Ye are to understand that whom he hath predestinated he hath also called, hath purposed or decreed to call, to the knowledge of his Son, or his gospel,” as before, etc.
Ans. How he hath predestinated them is not expressed, but being so predestinated, God purposes to call them; — that is, them and only 157them; for it is a uniform proceeding of God towards all whom he attempts to bring to himself which is here described. That is, when men love him and are approved of him, and are thereupon pre-ordinated to conformity with Christ, then he decrees to call them, or, as the calling here mentioned is described (that ye may not mistake, as though any internal effectual work of grace were hereby intended, but only an outward moral persuasion, by a revelation of the object they should embrace), “he gives a more plain and effectual discovery of Christ to them than to any others.” Doubtless it is evident to every one that (besides the great confusion whereinto the proceedings of God in bringing sinners to himself, or belaying their coming with some kind entertainments, are cast) the whole work of salvation is resolved into the wills of men; and instead of an effectual, operative, unchangeable purpose of God, nothing is left on his part but a moral approbation of what is well done, and a proposing of other desirable things unto men upon the account of former worthy carriage. And this is no small part of the intendment of our author in this undertaking.
That God decrees to call them, and only them, who love him, and upon that account are approved of him, when all faith and love are the fruits of that calling of his, is such a figment as I shall not need to cast away words in the confutation of it.9898 Deut. vii. 7; Ezek. xvi. 6; Matt. xi. 26; Eph. ii. 1–7.
Yet, lest any should have too high thoughts of this grace of vocation, he tells them by the way “that it doth not necessarily suppose a saving answer given to it by the called, no whit more than the calling mentioned, Matt. xx. 16, xxii. 14.”
First, By Mr Goodwin’s confession there is as yet no great advance made towards the proof of the assertion laid down in the entrance, and for the confirmation whereof this series and concatenation of divine graces is insisted on. Though men love God, are predestinated and accepted, yet when it comes to calling they may stop there and perish everlastingly; for “many are called, but few chosen.” They are indeed belaid by a calling, but they may miss the place of its residence, or refuse to accept of its entertainment, and pass on to ruin. But, —
Secondly, They are so called as upon the account thereof to be justified; for “whom he calls, them he also justifies.” “Yea, in case they obey.” But this is the interpretation of the new apostle, not the old; neither hath the text any such supposition, nor will the context bear it, nor can the design of the apostle consist with it, nor any more consolation be squeezed from this place upon the account of it than of milk from a flint in the rock of stone. Neither, —
Thirdly, Doth the calling here mentioned hold any analogy with that of the many that are called but not chosen, pointed at in the 158second place instanced in, being indeed the effectual calling of the few who are chosen: for as our Saviour, in those places of Matthew, mentioned two sorts of persons, some that have a general call, but are not chosen, and others that, being chosen, are therefore distinguished from the former as to their vocation; so Paul here tells you that the calling he insists on is the peculiar call of God “according to his purpose” (the same purpose intimated by our Saviour); which, being suited of God to the carrying on and accomplishing of that purpose of his, must be effectual, unless he through mutability and impotency come short of accomplishing the design of his will and wisdom.
Neither is this salved by what follows, “that it is the intention of God to make this call sufficient for the end purposed;” yea, this part of the wallet is most filled with folly and falsehood: for as general purposes of giving means for an end, with an intention to bring that end about, that may or may not attain it, are most remote from God, and, being supposed, are destructive to all his holy and blessed attributes and perfections, as hath been shown; so the thing itself, of sufficient grace of vocation, which is not effectual, is a gross figment, not, whilst this world continues, by Mr Goodwin to be made good, the most of his arguments being importunate suggestions of his own hypothesis and conceptions. But he goes on, —
“The apostle advanceth towards his proposed end, and adds, ‘Those whom he called, them he also justified,’ or decreed to justify, in case the called obstruct him not in his way, or by their unbelief render not themselves incapable of justification.”
Ans. That exception, “In case they obstruct him not,” is a clue to lead us into all the corners of this labyrinth, and a key to the whole design in hand. Such a supposal it is as not only enervates the whole discourse of the apostle and frustrates his design, but also opens a door for the questioning of the accomplishment of any purpose or promise of God whatever, and, in one word, rejects the whole efficacy of the grace of the gospel, as a thing of naught. What strength is there in the discourse and arguing of the apostle, from the purpose and ensuing series of God’s grace, to prove that “all things shall work together for good to them that love God,” if the whole issue and event of things mentioned to that end depend not on the efficacy or effectual influences of those acts of God, one upon another, and all upon the end, they being all and every one of them, jointly and severally, suspended upon the wills of the persons themselves concerning whom they are (which yet here is concealed, and [not] intimated in the least)? How doth it prove at all that they shall never be separated from the love of Christ, that they shall be made conformable to him in glory, notwithstanding all opposition, upon the account of the dispensation of God’s eternal and 159actual love towards them, when the whole of their usefulness to the end proposed is resolved ultimately into themselves and their endeavours, and not into any purpose or set of God? Such as is the foundation, such is the strength of the whole building. Inferences can have no more strength than the principle from whence they are deduced. If a man should tell another that if he will go a journey of a hundred miles, at each twenty miles’ end he shall meet with such and such refreshments, all the consolation he can receive upon the account of refreshments provided for him is proportioned only to the thoughts he hath of his own strength for the performance of that journey.
Farther; if in such expressions of the purposed works of God, we may put cases and trust in what supposals we think good, where there is not the least jot, tittle, or syllable of them in the text, nor any room for them, without destroying not only the design and meaning of the place, but the very sense of it, why may not we do so in other undertakings of God, the certainty of whose event depends upon his purpose and promise only? For instance, the resurrection of the dead: may we not say, God will raise up the dead in Christ, in case there be any necessity that their bodies should be glorified? What is it, also, that remains of praise to the glorious grace of God? This is all he effects by it: In case men obstruct him not in his way, it doth good. God calls men to faith and obedience; in case they obstruct not his way, it shall do them good. But how do they obstruct his way? By unbelief and disobedience: take them away, and God’s calling shall be effectual to them. That is, in case they believe and obey, God’s calling shall be effectual to cause them to believe and obey!
The cases then foisted into the apostle’s discourse, in the close of this interpretation of the place (if I may so call it), — namely, that God will justify the called in case they obstruct not his way, and will glorify them whom he hath justified in ease they continue and abide in the state of justification, — are, first, thrust in without ground, warrant, or colour of advantage, or occasion given by any thing in the text or context; — and, secondly, are destructive to the whole design of the Holy Ghost in the place whereinto they are intruded; injurious to the truth of the assertion intended to be made good, that “all things shall work together for good,” proposed upon the account of the unchangeable purpose of God, and infallible connection of the acts of his love and grace in the pursuit thereof; and resolve the promised work and designed event wholly into the uncertain, lubricous wills of men, making the assurance given not only to be liable to just exceptions, but evidently to fail and be falsified in respect of thousands; — and, thirdly, render the whole dispensation of the grace of God to lackey after the wills of men, and wholly to 160depend upon them, giving in thereby, as was said, innumerable presumptions that the word, for whose confirmation all these acts of God’s grace are mentioned and insisted on, shall never be made good or established.
Take, then, in a few words, the sense and scope of this place, as it is held out in the exposition given of it by Mr Goodwin, and we will then proceed to consider his confirmations of the said exposition: “O ye that love God, many afflictions, temptations, and oppositions, ye shall meet withal; but be of good comfort, all shall work together for your good, for God hath appointed you to be like his Son, and ye may triumph in every condition on this account. For if ye, before any act of his special grace towards you, love him, he approves you, and then he predestinates you” (what that is I know not). “Then it is in your power to continue to love him, or to do otherwise. If ye abide not, then ye perish: if ye abide, he will call you. And when he doth so, either ye may obey him or ye may not, If ye do not, all things shall work together for your hurt, and ye will be like the devil; — if ye do, then he will justify you; and then, if ye abide with him, as perhaps ye may, perhaps ye may not, he will finally justify you, and then all shall be well.” This being the substance of the interpretation of this place here given, let us now consider how it is confirmed.
That which, in his own terms, he undertaketh to “demonstrate,” and to “vindicate from all objections,” in his ensuing discourse, he thus expresseth, page 209, sect. 43: “These decrees, or purposed acts of God, here specified, are to be understood in their successive dependencies, with such a condition or proviso respectively as those mentioned, and not absolutely, peremptorily, or without condition.”
Ans. The imposing of conditions and provisos upon the decrees and purposes of God, of which himself gives not the least intimation, and the suspending them, as to their execution, on those conditions so invented and imposed, at the first view reflects so evidently on the will, wisdom, power, prescience, and unchangeableness of God, who hath said, “his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure,” especially when the interruption of them doth frustrate the whole design and aim of God in the mentioning of those decrees and purposes of his, that there will be need of demonstrations written with the beams of the sun to enforce men tender and regardful of the honour and glory of God to close with any in such an undertaking. Let us, then, consider what is produced to this end, and try if it will hold weight in the balance of the sanctuary. “This,” saith he, “appears, —
“First, By the like phrase or manner of expression, frequent in the Scripture elsewhere. I mean, when such purposes or decrees of God, the respective execution whereof is suspended upon such and 161such conditions, are, notwithstanding, simply and positively, without any mention of condition, expressed and asserted: ‘Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that try house, and the house of thy father, shall walk before me’ (meaning in the office and dignity of the priesthood) ‘for ever: but now saith the Lord, Be it far from me.’ ‘I said indeed;’ that is, ‘I verily purposed or decreed,’ or ‘I promised:’ it comes much to one. When God made the promise, and so declared his promise accordingly, that Eli and his father’s house should walk before him for ever, he expressed no condition as required to the execution or performance of it, yet here it plainly appears that there was a condition understood. In the same kind of dialect Samuel speaks to Saul: ‘Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God: for now the Lord had established try kingdom upon Israel for ever; but now try kingdom shall not continue.’ ‘The Lord had established;’ that is, he verily purposed or decreed to establish it for ever, — to wit, in case his posterity had walked obediently with him.”
Here we have the strength (as will be manifest in the progress of our discourse) of what Mr Goodwin hath to make good his former strange assertion. Whether it will amount to a necessary proof or no may appear upon these ensuing considerations:—
First, The reason intimated being taken neither from the text under debate, nor the context, nor any other place where any concernment of the doctrine therein contained is touched or pointed at, there being also no coincidence of phrase or expression in the one place and the other here compared, I cannot but admire by what rules of interpretation Mr Goodwin doth proceed to make one of these places exegetical of the other. Though this way of arguing hath been mainly and almost solely insisted on of late by the Socinians, — namely, “Such a word is in another place used to another purpose, or in another sense, therefore this cannot be the necessary sense of it in this,” — yet it is not only confuted over and over as irrational and unconcluding, but generally exploded as an invention suited only to shake all certainty whatever in matters of faith and revelation. Mr Goodwin in his instance goes not so far (or rather he goes farther, because his instance goes not so far), there being no likeness, much less sameness of expression, in those texts which he produces to weaken the obvious and literally-exposed sense of the other insisted on therewith.
To waive the force of the inference from the words of the Holy Ghost (seeing nothing in the least intimated in the place will give in any assistance thereunto), first, this thesis is introduced: “The purposes and decrees of God (confessedly engaged in the place in hand) are, as to their respective executions, suspended on conditions in men;” — an assertion destructive to the power, goodness, grace, righteousness, 162faithfulness, wisdom, unchangeableness, providence, and sovereignty, of God, as might be demonstrated did it now lie in our way. To prove that this must needs be so, and that that rule must take place in the mention that is made of the purposes and decrees of God, Rom. viii. 28–30, 1 Sam. ii. 30 is produced, being a denunciation of God’s judgments upon the house of Eli for their unworthy walking in the honour of the priesthood, whereunto they were by him advanced and called, and which they were intrusted withal, expressly upon condition of their obedience.
Let us, then, a little consider the correspondency that is between the places compared for their mutual illustration:—
First, In the one there is express mention of the purpose of God, and that his eternal purpose; in the other, only a promise, expressly conditional in the giving of it, amounting to no more than a law, without the least intimation of any purpose or decree.
Secondly, The one encompasseth the whole design of the grace of the gospel; the other mentions not any special grace at all.
Thirdly, The one is wholly expressive of the acts of God, and his design therein; the other declarative of the duty of man, with the issue, thereupon depending.
This, then, is the strength of this argument: “God, approving the obedience of a man, tells him that upon the continuance of that obedience in him and his, he will continue them an office in his service (a temporal mercy, which might be enjoyed without the least saving grace); and which upon his disobedience he threateneth to take from him (both promise and threatening being declarative of his approbation of obedience, and his annexing the priesthood thereunto in that family): therefore God, intending the consolation of elect believers, affirms that all things shall work together for their good, upon this account, that he hath eternally purposed to preserve them in his love, and to bring them to himself by such effectual acts of his grace as whose immutable dependence one upon the other, and all upon his own purpose, cannot be interrupted, and therefore such as shall infallibly produce and work in them all the obedience which for the end proposed he requires; — his purpose, I say, thus mentioned, must be of the same import with the declaration of his will in the other place spoken of.” If such a confounding of the decrees and denunciations, absolute purposes and conditional promises, spiritual things with temporal, and the general administration of the covenant of grace in Christ with special providential dispensations, may be allowed, there is no man needs to despair of proving any thing he hath a mind to assert.
Secondly, There are two things that Mr Goodwin insists upon, to make good his arguing from this place:— First, That these words, “I said indeed,” hold out the real purpose and decree of God. 163Secondly, That in the promise mentioned there was no condition expressed or required to the execution or performance of it.
By the first he intends that God did really purpose and decree from eternity that Eli and his house should hold the priesthood for ever; by the second, that no condition was expressed, either in terms, or necessarily implied in the thing itself, which is of the same import.
If neither of these, now, should prove true, what little advance Mr Goodwin hath made for the weakening of the plain intendment of the words in the place under consideration, or for the confirmation of his own gloss and interposed conditionals, either by this or the following instances, that are of the same kind, will plainly appear. Now, that these words, “I said indeed,” are not declarative of an eternal decree and purpose of God concerning the futurition and event of what is asserted to be the object of that decree, the continuance of the priesthood in the house of Eli, may be evidenced, as from the general nature of the things themselves, so from the particular explanation of the act of God whereunto this expression, “I said indeed,” doth relate.
First, From the general nature of the thing itself this may be manifested. To what hath been formerly spoken I shall add only some few considerations, being not willing to insist long on that which is but collateral to my present design.
First, then, When God decreed and purposed this (if so be he purposed it, as it is said he did), he either foresaw what would be the issue of it, or he did not. If he did not, where is his infinite wisdom and understanding? — if we may not be allowed to say his foreknowledge. How are “all his works known to him from the beginning of the world?”9999 Acts xv. 18; Isa. xlvi. 10. How doth he “declare the end from the beginning, and the things that are yet to come?” distinguishing himself from all false gods on this account, If he did foresee the event, that it would not be so, why did he decree and purpose it should be so? Doth this become the infinite wisdom of God, to purpose and decree from all eternity that that shall come to pass which he knows will never come to pass? Can any such resolution fall upon the sons of men, to whom God is pleased to continue the use of that little spark of reason wherewith they are endued? If you say, “God purposed it should continue in case their disobedience hindered it not,” I ask again, Did God foresee the disobedience that would so hinder it, or did he not? If he did not, the same difficulties will arise which formerly I mentioned. If he did, then God decreed and purposed that the priesthood should continue in the house of Eli, if they kept themselves from that disobedience which he saw and knew full well they would run into! Cui fini?
Secondly, If God did thus purpose and decree, he was able to bring it about, and accomplish his design by ways agreeable to his goodness, 164wisdom, and righteousness, or he was not. If he was not, where is his omnipotency, who is not able to fulfil his righteous designs and purposes in ways corresponding to that state of agents and things which he hath allotted them? How can it be said of him, “He will work, and none shall let him?” That God engageth his power for the accomplishment of his purposes was showed before. If he were able to accomplish it, why did he not do it, but suffer himself to he frustrated of his end? Is it suitable to the sovereign will and wisdom of God eternally to purpose and decree that which, by means agreeable to his holiness and goodness, he is able to bring to pass, and yet not to do it, but to fail and come short of his holy and gracious intendment?
Thirdly, The obedience of the house of Eli, on which the accomplishment of the pretended decree is suspended, was such as either they were able of themselves to perform, or they were not. To say they were, is to exclude the necessary assistance of the grace of God, which Mr Goodwin hath not in terms declared himself to do, nor are we as yet arrived at that height, though a considerable progress hath been made. If they were not able to do it without the assistance of the Spirit and concurrence of the grace of God, did the Lord purpose to give them that assistance, working in them both to will and to do of his own good pleasure, or did he not? If he did so purpose, why did he not do it? If he did not purpose to do it, to what end did he decree that that should come to pass which he knew could not come to pass without his doing that which he was resolved newer to do? It is all one as if a man knew that another were shut up in a prison, from whence it was impossible that any body but himself should deliver him, and should resolve and purpose to give the poor prisoner a hundred pounds, so that he would come out of prison to him, and resolve withal never to bring him out.
Fourthly, God from eternity foresaw that the priesthood should not be continued to the house of Eli; therefore he did not from eternity purpose and decree that it should. To know that a thing shall not be, and to determine that it shall be, is a σχέσις rather beseeming a half frantic creature than the infinitely wise Creator. Again; upon what account did God foresee that it should not be so? Can the futurition of contingent events be resolved in the issue into any thing but God’s sovereign determination? God, therefore, did not determine and purpose that it should be so, because he determined and purposed that it should not be so. Whatsoever he doth in time, that he purposed to do from eternity. Now, in time he removed the priesthood from the house of Eli; therefore he eternally purposed and determined so to do: which surely leaves no place for a contrary purpose and decree (not so much as conditional) that it should so continue for ever. The truth is, the mystery of this abomination 165lies in those things which lie not in my way now to handle. A disjunctive decree, a middle science, creature-dependency, are father, mother, and nurse, of the assertion we oppose, whose monstrous deformity and desperate rebellion against the properties of God I may, the Lord assisting, hereafter more fully demonstrate.
But you will say, “Doth not the Lord plainly hold out a purpose and decree in these words, ‘I said indeed?’ Did he say it? Will you assign hypocrisy to him, and doubling with the sons of men?”
I say, then, secondly, that the expression here used holds out no intention or purpose of God as to the futurition and event of the thing itself, that the priesthood should continue in the house of Eli, but only his purpose and intention that obedience and the priesthood should go together. There is a connection of things, not an intendment or purpose of events, in the words intimated. The latter cannot be ascribed to God without the charge of as formal mutability as the poorest creature is liable to. Mr Goodwin, indeed, tells you, sect. 43, p. 209, “That the purpose of God itself, considered as an act or conception of the mind of God, dependeth not on any condition whatever; and all God’s purposes and decrees, without exception, are in such respect absolute and independent.” How weak and unable this is to free the Lord from a charge of changeableness upon his supposal needs little pains to demonstrate. The conceptions of the minds of the sons of men, and their purposes as such, are as absolutely free and unconditional as the nature of a creature will admit; only the execution of our purposes and resolves is suspended upon the intervention of other things, which render them all conditional. And this, it seems, is the state with God himself, although in the Scripture he most frequently distinguisheth himself from the sons of men on this account, that they purpose at the greatest rate of uncertainty imaginable, as to the accomplishment of their thoughts, and therefore are frequently disappointed, but his purposes and his counsels stand for ever: so Ps. xxxiii. 10, 11. The expression then here, “I said,” relates plainly to the investiture of Aaron and his seed in the priesthood. There was a twofold engagement made to the house of Aaron about that office, — one in general to him and his sons, the other in particular to Phinehas and his posterity. The latter to Phinehas is far more expressive and significant than the other. You have it Numb. xxv. 11–13, “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” Here is a promise indeed, 166and no condition in terms expressed; — but yet being made and granted upon the condition of obedience, which is clearly expressed once and again, that the continuance of it was also suspended on that condition, as to the glory and beauty of that office, the thing principally intended, cannot be doubted; yea, it is sufficiently pressed in the occasion of the promise and fountain thereof. But this was not that promise wherein Eli’s was particularly concerned. Indeed, his posterity was rejected in order to the accomplishment of this promise, the seed of Phinehas returning to their dignity, from whence they fell by the interposition of the house of Ithamar.
That which this expression here peculiarly relates unto is the declaration of the mind of God concerning the priesthood of Aaron and his posterity, which you have Exod. xxviii. 43, xxix. 9, where the confirming them in their office is called “a perpetual statute,” or “a law for ever.” The signification of the term “for ever,” the Hebrew especially, relating to legal institution, is known. Their “eternity” is long since expired. That, then, which God here emphatically expresses as an act of grace and favour to the house of Aaron, which Eli and his had an interest in, was that statute or law of the priesthood, and his purpose and intention (not concerning the event of things, not that it should continue in any one branch of that family, but) of connecting it with their obedience and faithfulness in that office. It is very frequent with God to express his approbation of our duty under terms holding out the event that would be the issue of the duty, though it never come to pass; and his approbation or rejection of the sons of men under terms that hold out the end of their disobedience, though it be prevented or removed. In this latter case he commands Jonah to cry, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown;” not that he purposed the destruction of Nineveh at that time, but only effectually to hold out the end their sin, that it might be a means to turn them from it, and to prevent that end, which it would otherwise procure. His purpose was to prevent, at least prorogue, the ruin of Nineveh; and therefore [he] made use of threatening them with ruin, that they might not be ruined. To say that God purposed not the execution of his purpose but in such and such cases, is a plain contradiction. The purpose is of execution, and to say he purposed not the execution of his purpose, is to say plainly he purposed and purposed not, or he purposed not what he purposed. The examples of Pharaoh and Abraham, in the precepts given to them, are proofs of the former. But I must not insist upon particulars.
This, then, is all that here is intended: God making a law, a statute, about the continuance of the priesthood in the family of Aaron, affirms that then he said “his house should walk before him for ever;” that is, with approbation and acceptation, for as to the 167right of the priesthood, that still continued in the house of Aaron, whilst it continued, notwithstanding the ejection of Eli and his. Now, whether there were any conditions in the promise made, which is Mr Goodwin’s second improvement of this instance, may appear from the consideration of what hath been spoken concerning it. It is called “a law and statute,” “the act.” On that account, whatever it were that God here points unto is but a moral legislative act, and not a physical determining act of the will of God, and, being a law of privilege in its own nature, it involves a condition; which the acts of God’s will, vital and eternal, wherewith this law is compared, do openly disavow.
Let us now see the parallel between the two places insisted on for the explanation of the former of them; which, as it will appear by the sequel, is the only buckler wherewith Mr Goodwin defends his hypothesis from the irresistible force of the argument wherewith he hath to do:— First, The one speaks of things spiritual, the other of things temporal; secondly, The one of what God will do, and the other of what he approves to be done, being done; thirdly, The one holds out God’s decree and purpose concerning events, the other his law and statute concerning duties; fourthly, The one not capable of interposing conditionals without perverting the whole design of God revealed in that place, the other directly including conditions; fifthly, The one speaking of things themselves, the other only of the manner of a thing; sixthly, In the one God holds out what he will do for the good of his, upon the account of the efficacy of his grace; in the other, what men are to do if they will be approved of him. And how one of these places can be imagined to be suited for the illustration and interpretation of the other, which agree neither in name nor thing, word nor deed, purpose nor design, must be left to the judgment of those who desire to ponder these things, and to weigh them in the balance of the sanctuary.
The other instances, in the case of Saul and Paul, being more heterogeneous to the business in hand than that of Eli, which went before, require not any particular help for the removal of them out of the way. Though they are dead as to the end for which they are produced, I presume no true Israelite in the pursuit of that Sheba in the church, the apostasy of saints, will be retarded in his way by their being cast before him. In brief, neither the connection of obedience and suitable rewards, as in the case of Saul, nor the necessity of means subservient to the accomplishment of purposes (themselves also falling under that purpose of Him who intends the end and the fulfilling of it), as in the case of Paul, is of the least force to persuade us that the eternal, immanent acts of God’s will, which he pursues by the effectual, irresistible acts of his grace, so as to compass the end which he hath from everlasting determinately resolved 168to bring about, are suspended upon imaginary conditions, created in the brains of men, and, notwithstanding their evident inconsistency with the scope of the Scripture and design of God therein, intruded into such texts of Scripture as on all hands (which will be evident in the sequel of this discourse) are fortified against them.
Besides, in the case of Paul, though the infallibility of the prediction did not in the least prejudice the liberty of the agents who were to be employed for its accomplishment, but left room for the exhortation of Paul and the endeavours of the soldiers, yet it cuts off all possibility of a contrary event, and all supposal of a distinctive purpose in God, upon the account whereof he cannot predict the issue or event of any thing whatsoever. But of this more largely afterward.
But this is farther argued by Mr Goodwin, from the purposes of God in his threatenings, in these words: “Most frequently the purpose and decree of God concerning the punishment of wicked and ungodly men is expressed by the Holy Ghost absolutely and certainly, without the least mention of any condition, or relaxation, or reversion; yet., from other passages of Scripture, it is fully evident that this decree of his is conditional in such a sense which imports a non-execution of the punishment therein declared upon the repentance of the persons against whom the decree is. In like manner, though the purpose and decree of God for the justification of those who are called (and so for the glorifying of those that shall be justified) be, in the scripture in hand, delivered in an absolute and unconditional form of words, yet it is no way necessary to suppose (the most familiar, frequent, and accustomed expressions in Scripture in such cases, exempting us from any such necessity) that therefore these decrees must needs bring forth against all possible interveninces whatever: so that, for example, he that is called by the word and Spirit must needs be justified, whether he truly believe or no; and he that is justified must needs be glorified, whether he persevere or no.”
Ans. First, That the threatenings of God are moral acts, not declarative, as to particular persons, of God’s eternal purposes, but subservient to other ends, together with the law itself, whereof they are a portion (as the avoiding of that for which men are threatened), is known. They are appendices of the law, and in their relation thereunto declare the connection that is between sin and punishment, such sins and such punishments.
Secondly, That the eternal purposes of God concerning the works of his grace are to be measured by the rule and analogy of his temporal threatenings, is an assertion striking at the very root of the covenant of grace, and efficacy of the mediation of the Lord Jesus, yea, at the very being of divine perfections of the nature of God himself. This there is, indeed, in all threatenings, declared of the absolute purpose 169and unchangeable decree of God, that all impenitent sinners shall be punished according to what in his wisdom and righteousness he hath apportioned out unto such deservings, and threateneth accordingly. In this regard there is no condition that doth or can, in the least, import a non-execution of the punishment decreed, neither do any of the texts cited in the margin of our author prove any such thing. They all, indeed, positively affirm [that] faithless, impenitent unbelievers shall be destroyed; which no supposal whatsoever that takes not away the subject of the question, and so alters the whole thing in debate, can in the least infringe. Such assertions, I say, are parts of the law of God revealing his will in general to punish impenitent unbelievers; concerning which his purpose is absolute, unalterable, and steadfast.
The conclusion, then, which Mr Goodwin makes is apparently racked from the words by stretching them upon the unproportioned bed of other phrases and expressions, wholly heterogeneous to the design in this place intended. Added here are supposed conditions in general, not once explained, to keep them from being exposed to that shame that is due unto them when their intrusion, without all order or warrant from heaven, shall be manifested, only wrapped up in the clouds of possible interveniences; when the acts of God’s grace, whereby his purposes and decrees are accomplished, do consist in the effectual removal of the interveniences pretended, that so the end aimed at in the unchangeable counsel of God may, suitably to the determination of his sovereign, omnipotent, infinite, wise will, be accomplished. Neither doth it in the least appear that any such calling by the word and Spirit as may leave the persons so called in their unbelief, — they being so called in the pursuit of this purpose of God to give them faith and make them conformable to Christ, — may be allowed place or room in the haven of this text. The like may be said of justification wherein men do not persevere. Yea, these two supposals are not only an open begging of the thing in contest, but a fiat defying of the apostle as to the validity of his demonstration, that “all things work together,” etc.
Notwithstanding, then, any thing that hath been objected to the contrary, the foundation of God mentioned in this place of Scripture stands firm, and his eternal purpose of safeguarding the saints in the love of Christ, until he bring them to the enjoyment of himself in glory, stands, clear from the least shadow of change or suspension upon any certain conditionals, which are confidently, but not so much as speciously, obtruded upon it.
The next thing undertaken by Mr Goodwin is, to vindicate the forementioned glosses from such oppositions as arise against them from the context and words themselves, with the design of the Holy Ghost therein. These things doth he find his exposition obnoxious 170unto, — the exposition which he pretends to give no strength unto but what is foreign, on all considerations whatsoever of words and things, to the place itself. This, it seems, is to “prophesy according to the analogy of faith,” Rom. xii. 6.
First, then, sect. 44, to the objection, that those who are called are also justified, and shall be glorified, according to the tenor of the series of the acts of the grace of God here laid down, he answereth “That where either the one or the other of these assertions be so no, it must be judged of by other scriptures. Certain it is, by what hath been argued concerning the frequent usage of the Scripture point of expression, that it cannot be concluded or determined the scripture in hand.” The sum of this answer amounts to thus much: “Although the sense opposed be clear in the letter and expression of this place of Scripture, in the grammatical sense and use of the words; though it flows from the whole context, and answers alone the design and scope of the place, which gives not the least countenance to the interposing of any such conditionals as are framed to force it to speak contrary to what, γυμνῇ τῇ κεφαλῇ, it holds forth; — yet the mind of God in the words is not from these things to be concluded on; but other significations and senses, not of any word here used, not from the laying down of the same doctrine in other places, with the analogy of the faith thereof, not from the proposing of any design suitable to this here expressed, but places of Scripture agreeing with this neither in name nor thing, expression nor design, word nor matter, must be found out in the sense and meaning of this place, and from them concluded, and our interpretation of this place accordingly regulated.” “Nobis non licet,” etc. Neither hath Mr Goodwin produced any place of Scripture, nor can he, parallel to this, so much as in expression, though treating of any other subject or matter, that will endure to have any such sense tied to it as that which he violently imposeth on this place of the apostle. And if the sense and mind of God in this place may not safely be received and closed withal from the proper and ordinary signification of the words (which is always attended unto without the least dispute, unless the subject-matter of any place, with the context, enforces to the sense less usual and natural), with the clear design and scope of the context in all the parts of it, universally correspondent unto itself, I know not how, or when, or by what rules, we may have the least certainty that we have attained the knowledge of the mind of God in any one place of Scripture whatever.
What he next objects to himself, namely, “That though there be no condition expressed in the instances by him produced, yet there are in parallel places, by which they are to be expounded” (but such conditions as these are not expressed in any place that answers to that, which we have in hand), it being by himself, as I conceive, invented 171to turn us aside from the consideration of the irresistible efficacy of the argument from this place (which use he makes of it in his first answer given to it), I own not; and that because I am fully assured, that in any promise whatsoever that is indeed conditional, there is no need to inquire out other scriptures of the like import to evince it so to be, — all and every one of them that are such, either in express terms, or in the matter whereof they are, or in the legal manner wherein they are given and enacted, do plainly and undeniably hold out the conditions inquired after. His threefold answer to this objection needs not to detain us. Passing on, I hope, to what is more material and weighty, he tells us, first, sect. 44, that if this be so, “then it must be tried out by other scriptures, and not by this;” which evasion I can allow our author to insist on, as tending to shift his hands of this place, which, I am persuaded, in the consideration of it grew heavy on them. But I cannot allow it to be a plea in this contest, as not owning the objection which it pretends to answer. The two following answers being not an actual doing of any thing, but only fair and large promises of what Mr Goodwin will do about answering other scriptures, and evincing the conditionals intimated from such others as he shall produce (some, doubtless, will think these promises no payment, especially such as having weighed money formerly tendered for real payment have found it too light), I shall let them lie in expectation of their accomplishment. “Rusticus expectat, dum defluat amnis,” etc.
In the meantime, till answers come to hand, Mr Goodwin proffers to prove by two arguments (one clear answer had been more fair), that these acts of God, calling, justification, and so the rest, have no such connection between them, but that the one of them may be taken and be put in execution, and yet not the other, in respect of the same persons.
His first reason is this: “If the apostle should frame this series or chain of divine acts with an intent to show or teach the uninterruptibleness of it, in what case or cases soever, he should fight against his general and main scope or design in that part of the chapter which lieth from verse 17, which clearly is this, to encourage them to constancy and perseverance in suffering afflictions: for to suggest any such thing as that, being called and justified, nothing could hinder them from being glorified, were to furnish them with a ground on which to neglect his exhortation; for who will be persuaded to suffer tribulation for the obtaining of that which they have sufficient assurance given that they shall obtain whether they suffer such things or no? Therefore, certainly, the apostle did not intend here to teach the certainty of perseverance in those that are justified.”
Ans. That this argument is of such a composition as not to operate much in the case in hand will easily appear; for, —
172First, These expressions, “In what case or cases soever,” are foisted into the sense and sentence of them whom he opposes, who affirm the acts of God’s grace here mentioned to be effectually and virtually preventive of those eases, and of [that] which might possibly give any interruption to the series of them.
Secondly, Whatsoever is here pretended of the main scope of the chapter, the scope of the place we have under consideration was granted before to be the making good of that assertion, premised in the head thereof, that all things should work together for good to believers, and that so to make it good, that upon the demonstration of it they might triumph with joy and exultation; which it cannot be denied but that this uninterruptible series of divine acts, not framed by the apostle, but revealed by the Holy Ghost, is fitted and suited to do.
Thirdly, Suppose that be the scope of the foregoing verses, what is there in the thesis insisted on and the sense embraced by us opposite thereunto? “Why, to suggest any such thing to them as that, being called and justified, nothing could possibly interpose to hinder them from being glorified, — that is, that God by his grace will preserve them from departing willfully from him, and will in Jesus Christ establish his love to them for ever, — was to furnish them with a motive to neglect his exhortations.” Yea, but this kind of arguing we call here petitio principii, and it is accounted with us nothing valid; the thing in question is produced as the medium to argue by. We affirm there is no stronger motive possible to encourage them to perseverance than this proposed. “It is otherwise,” saith Mr Goodwin; and its being otherwise in his opinion is the medium whereby he disproves not only that, but another truth, which he also opposeth! But he adds this reason, “For who would be persuaded to suffer,” etc.; that is, it is impossible for any one industriously and carefully to use the means for the attainment of any end, if he hath assurance of the end by these means to be obtained. What need Hezekiah make use of food, or other means of sustaining his life, when he was assured that he should live fifteen years? The perseverance of the saints is not in the Scripture, nor by any of those whom Mr Goodwin hath chosen to oppose, held out on any such ridiculous terms as whether they use means or use them not, carry themselves well or wickedly miscarry themselves, but is asserted upon the account of God’s effectual grace preserving them in the use of the means, and from all such miscarriages as should make a total separation between God and their souls. So that this first reason is but a plain begging of those things which, to use his own language, he would not dig for.
But perhaps, although this first argument of Mr Goodwin be nothing but an importune suggestion of some hypotheses of his own, with an arguing from inferences not only questionable but unquestionably 173false, yet if his second demonstration will evince the matter under debate, he may be content to suffer loss in the hay and stubble of the first, so that the gold of the following argument do abide. Now, thus he proceedeth in these words: “And, lastly, this demonstrates the same thing yet farther. If God should justify all without exception whom he calleth, and that against all bars of wickedness and unbelief possible to be laid in their way by those who are called, then might ungodly and unbelieving persons inherit the kingdom of God. The reason of the connection is evident, it being a known truth that, the persons justified are in a condition or present capacity of inheriting the kingdom of God.”
Ans. But “carbones pro thesauro.” If it be possible, this, being of the same nature with that which went before, is more weak and infirm, as illogical and sophistical as it. The whole strength of it lies in a supposal that those who are so called as here is intimated in the text, — called according to the purpose of God, called to answer the desist of God to make them like to Jesus Christ, so called as to be hereupon justified, — may yet lay such bars of wickedness and unbelief in their own way, when they are so called, as not to be justified, when that calling of theirs consists in the effectual removal of all those bars of wickedness and unbelief which might hinder their free and gracious acceptation with God; that is, that they may be called effectually and not effectually. A supposal hereof is the strength of that consideration which yielded Mr Goodwin this demonstration. His eminent way of arguing herein will also be farther manifest, if you shall consider that the very thing which he pretends to prove is that which he here useth for the medium to prove it, not varied in the least! “Si Pergama dextra,”etc. But Mr Goodwin foresaw (as it was easy for him to do) what would be excepted to this last argument, — to wit, that the calling here mentioned effectually removes those bars of wickedness and unbelief, a supposal whereof is all the strength and vigour it hath; and in that supposal there is a plain assuming of the thing in question, and a bare contradiction to that which from the place we prove and confirm. Wherefore, he answereth sundry things:—
First, That “Judas, Demas, Simon Magus, were all called, and yet laid bars of wickedness and unbelief, whereby their justification was obstructed.” And to the reply, that they were not so called as those mentioned in the text, not called according to God’s purpose, with that calling which flows from their predestination to be conformed unto Christ, with that calling which is held out as an effectual mean to accomplish the end of God in causing all things to work together for their good, and therefore that the strength of this answer lies in the interposition of his own hypothesis once more, and his renewed request for a grant of the thing in question, — he proceeds to 174take away this exception by sundry cross assertions and interrogations. Sect. 45, “It hath not been proved,” saith he, “by any man, nor I believe ever will be” (sir, we live not by your faith), “that the calling here spoken of imports any such act or work of God whereby the called are irresistibly necessitated savingly to believe. If it import no such thing as this, what hinders but that the persons mentioned might have been called by that very kind of calling here spoken of?”
Ans. It is known what Mr Goodwin aims at in that expression, “Irresistibly necessitated savingly to believe;” we will not contend about words. Neither of the two first terms mentioned is either willingly used of us or can be properly used by any, in reference to the work of conversion or calling. What we own in them relates, as to the first term, “irresistibly,” to the grace of God calling or converting; and in the latter, “necessitated,” to the event of the call itself. If by “irresistibly” you intend the manner of operation of that effectual grace of God (not which conquers in a reaction, which properly may be termed so, but) which really, and therefore certainly (for “unumquodque, quod est, dum est, necessario est”), produces its effect, not by forcing the will, but, being as intimate to it as itself, making it willing, etc., we own it. And if by “necessitated” you understand only the event of things, — that is, it is of necessity as to the event that they shall savingly believe who are effectually called, without the least straitening or necessitating their wills in their conversion, which are still acted suitably to their native liberty, — we close with that term also, and affirm that the calling here mentioned imports such an act of God’s grace as whereby they who are called are effectually and infallibly brought savingly to believe, and so, consequentially, that the persons whose wickedness and unbelief abide upon them were never called with this calling here contended about. They who are not predestinated a parte ante, nor glorified a parte post, are not partakers of this calling. I must add, that as yet I have not met with any proof of Mr Goodwin’s interpretation, nor any exception against ours, that is not resolvable into the same principle of craving the thing in question, producing the thing to be proved as its own demonstration, and asserting the things proved against him not to be so because they are not so. From the design and scope of the place, the intendment of the Holy Ghost in it, the meaning of the words, the relation and respect wherein the acts of God mentioned stand one to another, the disappointment of God’s purpose and decree in case of any interruption of them or non-producing of the effects, which lead the subjects of whom they are spoken from one to another, we prove the infallible efficacy of every act of God’s grace here mentioned as to their tendency unto the end aimed at; and this he that is called to believe may infallibly do.
“But,” says Mr Goodwin, “this is otherwise.” Well, let that pass. 175He adds, secondly, “Suppose it be granted that the calling here spoken of is that kind of calling which is always accompanied with a saving answer of faith, yet neither doth this prove but that even such called ones may obstruct and prevent, by wickedness and unbelief, their final justification, and consequently their glorification. If so, then that chain of divine acts or decrees here framed by the apostle is not indissolvable in any such sense which imports an infallibility, and universal exertion or execution of the latter whensoever the former hath taken place.” In this answer Mr Goodwin denies our conclusion, to wit, that the chain of divine acts of grace in this place is in-dissolvable (which that it is we make out and prove from the words of the text, the context, and scope of the place), and adds his reason, “Because they who are justified may lay bars in their way from being finally so, or being glorified;” — that is, it is not so, because it is not so; for the efficacy of the grace asserted is for the removal of the bars intimated, or wherein may its efficacy be supposed to consist, especially in its relation to the end designed? And so this place is answered. Saith the Holy Ghost, “Those whom God justifieth he glorifies.” “Perhaps not,” saith Mr Goodwin; “some things may fall in or fall out to hinder this.” Eligite cui credatis.
Were I not resolved to abstain from the consideration of the judgments of men when they are authoritatively interposed in the things of God, I could easily manifest the fruitlessness of the following endeavour to prove the effectual calling of Judas by the testimony of Chrysostom and Peter Martyr; for neither hath the first, in the place alleged, any such thing (least of all is it included in Mr Goodwin’s marginal annotation, excluding compulsion, necessity, and violence, from vocation); and the latter, in the section pointed to and that following, lays down principles sufficiently destructive to the whole design whose management Mr Goodwin hath undertaken. Neither shall I contest about the imposing on us in this dispute the notion of final justification distinct from glorification, both name and thing being foreign to the Scripture, and secretly including (yea, delivering to the advantage of its author) the whole doctrine under consideration stated to his hand. If there be a gospel justification in sinners or believers in the blood of Christ not final or that may be cut off, he hath prevailed.
But Mr Goodwin proceeds to object against himself, sect. 46, “But some, it may be, will farther object against the interpretation given, and plead, — 1. That the contexture between these two links of this chain, predestination to a conformity with Christ and calling, is simply and absolutely indissolvable, so that whoever is so predestinated never fails of being called; 2. That it is altogether unlikely that, in one and the same series of divine actions, there should not be the same fixedness or certainty of coherence between all the parts.” 176The first of these being the bare thesis which he opposed, I know not how it came to be made an objection. I shall only add to the latter objection, which includes something of argument, that the efficacy of any one act of God’s grace here mentioned, as to the end proposed, depending wholly on the uninterruptible concatenation of them all, and the effectual prevalency and certainty (as to their respective operations) of every one of them being equal to the accomplishment of the purpose of God in and by them all, I willingly own it, especially finding how little is said, and yet how much labour taken, to dress up a pretended answer unto it. Of this there are two parts, whereof the first is this: “I answer,” saith he, —
“First, by a demur upon the former of these pleas;” which was, that the connection between the predestination of God mentioned and his calling is uninterruptible. “Somewhat doubtful to me it is whether a person who, by means of the love of God which is in him at present, falls under his decree of predestination, may not possibly, before the time appointed by God for his calling, be changed in that his affection, and consequently pass from under that decree of predestination, and fall under another decree of God opposite thereunto, and so never come to be called.”
Ans. I confess this demur outruns my understanding, equis albis,100100 See Hor. Sat. i. 7, 8. — Ed. neither can I by any means overtake it, to pin any tolerable sense upon it, though I would allow it to be suited only to Mr Goodwin’s principles, and calculated for the meridian of Arminianism. For who, I pray, are they in any sense (in Mr Goodwin’s) that do so love God as to fall under, as he speaks, that pendulous decree of predestination, and to whom this promise here is made? Are they not believers? Are any others predestinated, in our author’s judgment, but those who are actually so? Is not the decree of predestination God’s decree or purpose of saving believers by Jesus Christ? or can any love God to acceptation without believing? If, then, they are believers, can they alter that condition before they are called? We supposed that “faith had been by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. x. 17, and that it is of necessity, in order of nature, that calling should precede believing. What are men called to? Is it not to believe? Here, then, is a new sort of men discovered, that believe and fall from faith, love God and forsake him, all antecedently to their vocation or calling. I am confident that Mr Goodwin may be persuaded to withdraw this demurrer, or if not, that he will be overruled in it before the judgment-seat of all unprejudiced men. It will scarcely as yet pass currently that men are born believers, and after such and such a time of their continuance in that estate of belief, and being predestinated thereupon, God then calls them. Neither do I understand the meaning of that 177phrase, “Never come to be called,” used by him who maintains all to be called; but this is but a demurrer. The answer follows.
For the great regard I bear unto the author’s abilities, I shall not say that his ensuing discourse doth not deserve to be transcribed and punctually insisted on; but this I may say, I hope, without offence, that it is so long and tedious, so remote from what it pretends unto, to wit, an answer to the forementioned argument, that I dare not venture upon the patience of any reader so far as to enter into a particular consideration of it.
The sum of it is, “That there is no unlikelihood in this, that though one part of the chain of divine graces before mentioned cannot be dissolved or broken, yet another may (notwithstanding that a dissolution of any one of them renders the design of God in them all wholly frustrate and fruitless).” This he proves by proposing a new series of divine acts in actual dependence one upon another, some whereof may be uninterruptible, but the others not so. He that shall but slightly view the concatenation of divine acts here proposed by Mr Goodwin for the illustration of that dependence of them and their efficacy which we insist upon, will quickly find it liable to some such small exceptions as render it altogether useless as to the end proposed; as, —
First, That the case here proposed, and pretended to be parallel to that under our consideration, is a fictitious thing, a feigned concatenation of feigned decrees of God, being neither in any one place delivered in the Scripture, nor to be collected from any or all the texts in the Bible; which course of proceeding, if it may be argumentative in sacred truth, it will be an easy and facile task to overthrow the most eminent and dearly-delivered heads of doctrine in the whole book of God.
Secondly, That it is a case surmised by him, suitable to his own hypotheses, neither true in itself nor any way analogous to that wherewith it is yoked, being indeed a new way and tone of begging the thing in question. For instance, it supposeth, without the least attempt of proof,1. Conditional decrees, or a disjunctive intendment of events in God, — it shall come to pass, or otherwise; 2. A middle science conditional, as the foundation of those disjunctive decrees; with, 3. A futurition of things, antecedent to any determining act of the will of God; and, 4. A possibility of frustrating, as to event, the designs and purposes of God; and, 5. That all mediums of the accomplishment of any thing are conditions of God’s intentions as to the end he aims at; and, 6. That God appoints a series of mediums for the compassing of an end, and designs them thereunto, without any determinate resolution to bring about that end; and, 7. That the acts of God’s grace in their concatenation, mentioned in this place of Rom. viii., are severally conditional, because he hath 178invented or feigned some decrees of God which he says are so; — all which, with the inferences from them, Mr Goodwin knows will not advance his reasonings at all as to our understanding, we being fully persuaded that they are all abominations, of no less base alloy than the error itself in whose defence and patronage they are produced.
To our argument, then, before mentioned, proving an equal indissolvableness in all the links of the chain of divine graces, drawn forth and insisted on from the equal dependence of the design and purpose of God on the mutual dependence of each of them on the other, for the fulfilling of that purpose of his, and obtaining the end which he professes himself to intend, this is the sum of Mr Goodwin’s answer: “If I can invent a series of decrees and a concatenation of divine acts, though indeed there be no such thing, neither can I give any colour to it without laying down and taking for granted many false and absurd supposals; and though it be not of the same nature with that here proposed by the apostle, nor anywhere held out in the Scripture for any such end and purpose as this is; neither can I assign any absolute determinate end in this series of mine, whose accomplishment God engages himself to bring about (as the case stands in the place of Scripture under consideration), — then it is meet and equitable that, laying aside all enforcements from the text, context, nature of God, the thing treated on, all compelling us to close with another sense and interpretation, we regulate the mind of the Holy Ghost herein to the rule, proportion, and analogy, of the case as formerly proposed.” This being the sum of that which Mr Goodwin calls his answer, made naked, I presume, to its shame, “valeat quantum valere potest.”
I shall only add that, — 1. When Mr Goodwin shall make good that order and series of decrees here by him mentioned from the Scripture, or with solid reason from the nature of the things themselves, suitably to the properties of Him whose they are; — and, 2. Prove that any eternal decree of God, either as to its primitive enacting or temporal execution, is suspended on any thing not only really contingent in itself and its own nature, in respect of the immediate fountain from whence it flows and nature of its immediate cause, but also as to its event, in respect of any act of the will of God, that it may otherwise be, and so the accomplishment of that decree left thereupon uncertain, and God himself dubiously conjecturing at the event (for instance, whether Christ should die or no, or any one be saved by him); — and, 3. Clearly evince this notion of the decrees and purposes of God, that he intends to create man, and then to give him such advantages, which if he will it shall be so with him, if otherwise it shall be so; to send Christ if men do so, or not to send him if they do otherwise; and so of the residue of the decrees mentioned by him; — and, 4. That all events of things whatsoever, 179spiritual and temporal, have a conditional futurition, antecedent to any act of the will of God: when, I say, he shall have proved these, and some things like to these, we shall farther consider what is offered by him, yea, we will confess that “hostis habet muros,” etc.
Of the many other testimonies to the purpose in hand, bearing witness to the same truth, some few may yet be singled out, and, in the next place, that of Jer. xxxi. 3 presents itself unto trial and examination: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” It is the whole elect church of the seed of Jacob of whom he speaks, the foundation of whose blessedness is laid in the eternal love of God. Who the persons are thus beloved, and of whom we are to interpret these expressions of God’s good-will, the apostle manifests, Rom. xi. 7, as shall afterward be more fully discoursed and cleared. He tells you it is the “election” whom God intends; of whom he says that they obtained the righteousness that is by faith, according to the purport of God’s good-will towards them, though the rest were hardened, God (who adds daily to his church such as shall be saved, Acts ii. 47) drawing them thereunto upon the account of their being so elected. He calls them also the “remnant according to the election of grace,” and the “people which God foreknew,” verses 1, 2, 5, or from eternity designed to the participation of the grace there spoken of, as the use of the word hath been evinced to be. These are the “thee” here designed, the portion of Israel after the flesh which the Lord, in his free grace, hath eternally appointed to be his peculiar inheritance; which in their several generations he draws to himself with loving-kindness. And this everlasting love is not only the fountain whence actual loving-kindness, in drawing to God, or bestowing faith, doth flow (as they believe who are ordained to eternal life, Acts xiii. 48), but also the sole cause and reason upon the account whereof, in contradistinction to the consideration of any thing in themselves, God will exercise loving-kindness towards them for ever. That which is everlasting or eternal is also unchangeable; God’s everlasting love is no more liable to mutability than himself, and it is an always equal ground and motive for kindness. On what account should God alter in his actual kindness or favour towards any, if that on the account whereof he exercises it will not admit of the least alteration? He that shall give a condition on which this everlasting love of God should be suspended, and according to the influence whereof upon it it should go forth in kindness or be interrupted, may be allowed to boast of his discovery.
That of the apostle, 2 Tim. ii. 19, is important to the business in hand, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” Some persons of eminency and note in the church, yea, stars, it seems, of a considerable magnitude in the visible firmament thereof, having fallen away from 180the truth and faith of the gospel, and drawn many after them into ways of destruction, a great offence and scandal among believers thereon (as in such cases it will fall out) ensued; and withal a temptation of a not-to-be-despised prevalency and sad consequence (which we formerly granted to attend such eminent apostasy) seems to have laid hold on many weak saints. They feared lest they also might be overthrown, and, after all their labouring and suffering in the work of faith and patience of the saints, come short of “the mark of the high calling” set before them. Considering their own weakness and instability, with that powerful opposition whereunto, in those days especially, they were exposed, upon the contemplation of such apostasies or defections, they were opportune and obnoxious sufficiently to this temptation. Yea, their thoughts upon the case under consideration might lead them to fear a more general defection: for seeing it is thus with some, why may not this be the condition of all believers? and so the whole church may cease and come to nothing, notwithstanding all the promises of building it on a rock, and of the presence of Christ with it to the end of the world; nay, may not his whole kingdom on earth on this account possibly fall to utter ruin, and himself be left a head without members, a king without subjects? This, by Mr Goodwin’s own confession, is the objection which the apostle answereth, and removes in and by the words under consideration: Chap. xiv. pp. 359, 360, “Seeing these fall away, are not we likewise in danger of falling away, and so of losing all that we have done and suffered in our Christian profession? To this objection or scruple the apostle answereth in the words in hand.” So he. Thus far, then, are we agreed. About the sense of the words themselves, and their accommodation to the removal of the objection or scruple mentioned, is our difference. I know not how Mr Goodwin comes to call it “an objection or scruple” (which is the expression of thoughts or words arising against that which is, in the truth of it), seeing it is their very state and condition indeed, and that which they fear is that which they are really exposed unto, and which they ought to believe that they are exposed to. In his apprehension, they who make the objection, or whose scruple it was, were in his judgment as liable unto, and in the same danger of failing away, or greater (their temptation being increased and heightened by the apostasy of others) than they that fell the day and hour before; neither could that falling away of any be said to raise a scruple in them that they might do so too, if this were one part of their creed, that all and every man in the world might so do.
The answer given by the apostle is no doubt suited to the objection, and fitted to the removal of the scruple mentioned; which was alone to be accomplished by an effectual removing away the solicitous fears and cares about the preservation of them in whose behalf 181this is produced. This, therefore, the apostle doth by an exception to the inference which they made, or through temptation might make, upon the former considerations. Μέν τοι are exceptive particles, and an induction into the exemption of some from the condition of being in danger of falling, wherein they were concluded in the objection proposed. The intendment, I say, of the apostle, in that exceptive plea he puts in, “Nevertheless,” is evidently to exempt some from the state of falling away, which might be argued against them from the defection of others. Neither doth he speak to the thing in hand, nor are the particulars mentioned exceptive to the former intimation, if his speech look any other way. Moreover, he gives yet farther the account of this exception he makes, including a radical discrimination of professors, or men esteemed to be believers, expressing also the principle and ground of that difference. The differing principle he mentioneth is, the foundation of God that stands sure, or the firm foundation of God that is established or stands firm; this is not worth contending about; — an expression parallel to that of the same apostle, Rom. ix. 11, “That the purpose of God according to election might stand.” Both this and that hold out some eternal act of God, differencing between persons as to their everlasting condition. As if the apostle had said, “Ye see, indeed, that Hymeneus and Philetus are fallen away, and that others with whom you sometimes walked in the communion and outward fellowship of the gospel, and took sweet counsel together in the house of God with them, are gone after them; yet be you, true believers, of good comfort: God hash laid a foundation” (which must be some eternal act of his concerning them of whom he is about to speak, or [else] the solemn assertion of the apostle, than which you shall not easily meet with one more weighty, is neither to the case nor matter in hand) “which is firm and abiding, being the good pleasure of his will, accompanied with an act of his wisdom and understanding, appointing some (as is the case of all true believers) to be his, who shall be exempted on that account from the apostasy and desertion that you fear. This,” saith the apostle, “is the fountain and spring of the difference which is among them that profess the gospel. Concerning some of them is the purpose of God for their preservation: ‘they are ordained to eternal life.’ ” And herein, as was said, lies the concernment of all that are true believers, who are all his, chosen of him, given to his Son, and called according to his purpose. With others it is not so; they are not built on that bottom, they have no such foundation of their profession, and it is not therefore marvellous if they fall.
The words, then, contain an exception of true believers from the danger of total apostasy, upon the account of the stable, fixed, eternal purpose of God concerning their salvation, answerable to that of 182Rom. viii. 28–30, the place Last considered. The “foundation” here mentioned is the good pleasure of the will of God, which he had purposed in himself, or determined to exert towards them, for the praise of the glory of his grace, Eph. i. 9; according to which purpose we are predestinated, verse 11. And he calls this purpose the “foundation of God,” as being a groundwork and bottom of the thing whereof the apostle is treating, — namely, the preservation and perseverance of true believers, those who are indeed planted into Christ, notwithstanding the apostasy of the most glorious professors, who, being not within the compass of that purpose, nor built on that foundation, never attain that peculiar grace which by Jesus Christ is to them administered who have that privilege. And this farther appears by the confirmation of the certainty of this foundation of God which he hath laid, manifested in the next words, “It hath this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” Whether ye will take this either for a demonstration of the former assertion, a posteriori, from the peculiar love, favour, tenderness, and care, which the Lord bears to them which are his, who are built on the foundation mentioned, whereby, in the pursuit of his eternal purpose, he will certainly preserve them from perishing, knowing, owning, and taking care of them in every condition; or for the prescience of God, accomplishing his eternal purpose, designing them of whom he speaks as his (for his they were, and he gave them unto Christ), — is to me indifferent. Evident it is that this confirmation of the purpose mentioned is added to assure us of the stability and accomplishment of it, in that none who are built thereon or concerned therein shall fall away. And herein doth the apostle fully answer and remove the forementioned objection. “Let men,” saith he, “appear never so eminent in profession, if once they prove apostates, they manifest themselves to have been but hypocrites; that is, such as never had any of the faith of God’s elect, which is their peculiar who are ordained to eternal life.”
This, then, beyond all colourable exception, is the intendment of the apostle in the words under consideration: “Though many professors fall away, yet you that are true believers be not shaken in your confidence; for God hath laid the foundation of your preservation in his eternal purpose, whereby you are designed to life and salvation, and by the fruits whereof you are discriminated from the best of them that fall away. Only continue in the use of means; let every one of you depart from iniquity, and keep up to that universal holiness whereunto also ye are appointed and chosen.” And this is the whole of what we desire demonstration of, neither will less in any measure answer the objection or remove the scruple at first proposed.
But, it seems, we are all this while beside the intendment of the apostle, whose resolution of the objection mentioned is quite of another 183nature than what we have hitherto insisted on, which Mr Goodwin thus represents, page 359, chap. xiv. sect. 14:—
“To this objection or scruple the apostle, in the words now in hand, answereth to this effect, that notwithstanding the falling away of men, whoever or how many soever they be, yet the glorious gospel and truth of God therein stands, and always hath stood, firm and steadfast: which gospel hath the matter and substance of this saying in it, as a seal for the establishment of those who are upright in the sight of God, namely, ‘The Lord knoweth,’ that is, takes special notice of, approveth, and delighteth in, ‘those that are his,’ — that is, who truly believe in him, love and serve him; yea, and farther hath this item, tending to the same end, ‘Let every one that calleth upon the name of Christ,’ that is, makes profession of his name, ‘depart from iniquity.’ So that in this answer to the scruple mentioned the apostle intimateth, by way of satisfaction, that the reason why men fall away from the faith is partly because they do not consider what worthy respects God beareth to those who cleave to him in faith and love, partly also because they degenerate into loose and sinful courses, contrary to the law imposed by the gospel; and consequently, that there is no such danger of their falling away who shall duly consider the one and observe the other. In asserting the stability of the truth of God in the gospel, by the way of antidote against the fears of those that might possibly suspect it, because of the defections of others from it, he doth but tread in his own footsteps elsewhere in this very chapter, ‘If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself.’ ”
Ans. If that necessity were not voluntarily chosen which enforceth men to wrest and pervert the word of God, not only to mistaken, but strange, uncouth, and inconsistent senses, their so doing might perhaps seem not to be altogether without colourer and pretext; but when they willingly embrace those paths which will undoubtedly lead them into the briers, and, contrary to abundance of light and evidence of truth, embrace those persuasions which necessitate them to such courses, I know not what cloak they have left for their deviations. An example of this we have before us in the words recited. A sense is violently pinned upon the apostle’s words, not only alien, foreign, to the scope of the place and genuine signification of the words themselves, but wholly unsuited for any serviceableness to the end for which the author of this gloss himself confesseth these expressions of the apostle to be produced and used.
The sum of Mr Goodwin’s exposition of this place is this: The “foundation of God” is the gospel or the doctrine of it; its “standing,” or “standing sure,” the certain truth of the gospel; the “seal” mentioned is the substance or matter of that saving, “God knows who are his,” contained in the gospel; and the answer to the objection 184or scruple lies in this, that the reason why men fall from the gospel (which neither is nor was the scruple, nor was it so proposed by Mr Goodwin) is because they consider not the love that God bears to believers, — that is, that he approves them whilst they are such, which is indeed one main part of the gospel; so that men fall from the gospel because they fall from the gospel, and this must satisfy the scruple proposed. It is an easy thing for men of ability and eloquence to gild over the most absurd and inconsistent interpretation of Scripture with some appearance of significancy; though I must needs say I know not rightly when nor by whom, pretending to any sobriety, it hath been more unhappily or unsuccessfully tempted than by Mr Goodwin in this place, as upon due consideration will be made farther appear. For, —
1. To grant that “the foundation of God” may be said so far to be the gospel, because his eternal purpose, so expressed, is therein revealed, which is the interpretation Mr Goodwin proposeth, I ask, — Whether the apostle applies himself to remove the scruple ingenerated in the minds of believers about their own falling away, upon consideration of the apostasy of others, and to answer the objection arising thereupon? This Mr Goodwin grants in the head, though in the branches of his discourse he casts in inquiries quite of another nature, — as, that a reason is inquired after why men fall from the gospel, and a suspicion is supposed to arise of the truth of the gospel because some fell from it; things that have not the least intimation in the words or context of the place, nor are of any such evidence for their interest in the business in hand that Mr Goodwin durst take them for ingredients in the case under consideration when he himself proposed it: so that he was enforced to foist in this counterfeit case to give some colour to the interpretation of the words introduced. But yet this must not be openly owned, but intermixed with other discourses, to lead aside the understanding of the reader from bearing in mind the true state of the case by the apostle proposed and by himself acknowledged. So that this discourse “desinit in piscem,” etc.
2. The case being supposed as above, I ask whether the apostle intended a removal of the scruple and answer to the objection, as far, at least, as the one was capable of being removed and the other of being answered? This, I suppose, will not be scrupled or objected against, being indeed fully granted in stating the occasion of the words; for we must at least allow the Holy Ghost to speak pertinently to what he doth propose. Then, —
3. I farther inquire, whether any thing whatever be in the least suited to the removal of the scruple and objection proposed, but only the giving of the scruplers and objectors the best assurance that upon solid grounds and foundations could be given, or they were in 185truth capable of, that what they feared should not come upon them, and that, notwithstanding the deviation of others, themselves should be preserved? And then, —
4. Seeing that the sum of the sense of the words given by Mr Goodwin amounts to these two assertions, — 1. “That the doctrine of the gospel is true and permanent;” 2. “That God approves for the present all who for the present believe;” supposing that there is nothing in the gospel teaching the perseverance of the saints, I ask yet whether there be any thing in this answer of the apostle, so interpreted, able to give the least satisfaction imaginable to the consciences and hearts of men making the objection mentioned? for is it not evident, notwithstanding any thing here expressed, that they and every believer in the world may apostatize and fall away into hell? Say the poor believers, “Such and such fell away from the faith; their eminent usefulness in their profession, beyond perhaps what we are able to demonstrate of ourselves, makes us fear that this abominable defection may go on and swallow us up, and grow upon the church to a farther desolation.” The answer is: “However, the gospel is true, and God bears gracious respects to them that cleave to him in love, whilst they do so.” “Quæstio est de alliis, responsio de cepis.” Methinks the apostle might have put them upon those considerations which Mr Goodwin proposes, as of excellent use and prevalency against falling away, that they put men out of danger of it (chap. ix.), rather than have given them an answer not in the least tending to their satisfaction, nor any way suited to their fears or inquiries, no, not [even] as backed with that explanation, that “they fall away because they degenerate into loose and sinful courses;” that is, because they fall away. A degeneracy into loose and sinful courses amounts surely to no less.
5. Again, I would know whether this “foundation of God” be an act of his will commanding or purposing, — declarative of our duty or his intention? If the first, then [I would know] what occasion is administered to make mention of it in this place? — whether it were called in question or no? and whether the assertion of it conduces to the solution of the objection proposed? Or is it in any parallel terms expressed in any other place? Besides, seeing this “foundation of God” is in nature antecedent to the “sealing” mentioned, or God’s “knowing them that are his,” and the object of the act of God’s will, be it what it will, being the persons concerning whom that sealing is, [I would know] whether it can be any thing but some distinguishing purpose of God concerning those persons in reference to the things spoken of? Evident, then, it is, from the words themselves, the occasion of them, the design and scope of the apostle in the place, that the “foundation of God” here mentioned is his discriminating purpose concerning some men’s certain preservation unto salvation; 186which is manifestly confirmed by that seal of his, that he “knoweth them” in a peculiar, distinguishing manner; — a manner of speech and expression suited directly to what the same apostle useth in the same case everywhere, as Rom. viii. 28–30, 9, xi. 1, 2; Eph. i. 4–6.
“But,” saith Mr Goodwin, “this is no more than what the apostle elsewhere speaks: Rom. iii. 3, ‘What if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect?’ — that is, ‘Shall the unbelief of men be interpreted as any tolerable argument or ground to prove that God is unfaithful, or that he hath no other faith in him than that which sometimes miscarrieth, and produceth not that for which it stands engaged?’ implying that such an interpretation as this is unreasonable in the highest.”
But truly, by the way, if it be so, I know not who in the lowest can quit Mr Goodwin from unreasonableness in the highest; for doth he not contend in this whole discourse, that the faith of God in his promises, for the producing of that for which it stands engaged (as when he saith to believers he will “never leave them nor forsake them”), doth so depend on the faith of men as to the event intended, that it is very frequently by their unbelief rendered of none effect? Is not this the spirit that animates the whole religion of the apostasy of saints? Is not the great contest between us, whether any unbelief of men may interpose to render the faith of God of none effect as to the producing of the thing he promiseth? “Tibi, quia intrîsti, exedendum est.”
But, 2. Let it be granted that these two places of the apostle are of a parallel signification, what will it advantage the interpretation imposed on us? What is the “faith of God” here intended? and what the “unbelief” mentioned? and whereunto tends the apostle’s vehement interrogation? The great contest in this epistle concerning the Jews (of whom he peculiarly speaks, verses 1, 2) was about the promise of God made to them, and his faithfulness therein. Evident it was that many of them did not believe the gospel; as evident that the promise of God was made peculiarly to them, to Abraham and his seed. Hence no small perplexity arose about the reconciliation of these things, many perplexed thoughts ensuing on this seeming contradiction. If the gospel be indeed the way of God, what is become of his faithfulness in his promises to Abraham and his seed, they rejecting it? If the promises be true and stable, what shall we say to the doctrine of the gospel, which they generally disbelieve and reject? In this place the apostle only rejects the inference that the faithfulness of God must fall and be of none effect because the Jews believed not; whereof he gives a full account afterward, when he expressly takes up the objection and handles it at large, chap. ix.–xi. The sum of the answer he there gives as a defensative of the faithfulness of God, with a non obstante to the infidelity of some of the 187Jews, amounts to no more or less than what is here argued and by us asserted, namely, that notwithstanding this (their incredulity and rejection of the gospel), “the foundation of God standeth sure, The Lord knoweth them that are his;” — that the promise, his faithfulness wherein came under debate, was not made to all the Jews, but to them that were chosen according to his purpose, as he expressly disputes it at large beyond all possibility of contradiction, chap. xi., as shall afterward be further argued, and hath in part been already discovered. I verily believe never did any man produce a testimony more to the disadvantage of his own cause, both in general and in particular, than this is to the cause Mr Goodwin hath in hand.
Neither doth he advance one step farther in the confirmation of the sense imposed on the apostle’s words, by comparing them with the words of the same apostle, verse 13 of the same chapter, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself;” wherein again, contrary to the whole drift of Mr Goodwin’s discourse, the faithfulness of God in the accomplishment of his promises is asserted to be wholly independent upon any qualification whatever in them to whom those promises are made: “Though we are under sufferings, temptations, and trials, very apt to be cast down from our hope of the great things that God hath prepared for us and promised to us, yet his purpose shall stand however, and our unbelief shall not in the least cause him to withdraw, or not to go through with his engagement to the utmost. The faithfulness of his own nature requireth it at his hand; ‘he cannot deny himself.’ ”
What remains, sect. 14, wherein he labours farther to give strength unto, or rather more largely to explicate, what he formerly asserted, is built upon a critical consideration of the word θεμέλιος, which, without any one example produced from any approved author, we must believe to signify a “bond,” or “instrument of security given between men by the way of contract.” And what, then, suppose it do? “Why, then, contrary to the whole scope of the place, and constant signification of the word in the Scripture, it must be interpreted according to the analogy of that sense.” Why so? doth it remove any difficulty on the other hand? doth it more suit the objection for its removal, whereunto it is given, that we should warp from the first, genuine, native, usual signification of the word, to that which is exotic and metaphorical? “Yea, but we are enforced to embrace this sense, because that ‘here is a seal set to this foundation, and men use not to set seals to the foundation of a house.’ ” And is it required that allusions should hold in all particulars and circumstances, even in such as wherein their teaching property doth not consist? The terms of “foundation” and “sealing” are both figurative; neither will either of them absolutely be squared to those things in nature wherein they have their foundation. The purpose of God 188is here called his “foundation,” because of its stability, abidingness, strength, and use in bearing up the whole fabric of the salvation of believers, not in respect of its lying in or under the ground, or being made of wood or stone. And in this sense, why may it not be said to be sealed? Spiritual sealing holds out two things, — confirmation, and conforming by impression; and in them consists the chief political use of the word and thing, not in being a label annexed to a writing. And why may not a purpose be confirmed, or be manifested to be firm, as well as a contract or instrument in law, having also its conforming virtue and efficacy (which is the natural effect of sealing, to implant the image in the seal on the things impressed with it), in rendering them, concerning whom the purpose of God is, answerable to the image of his Son, in whom the purpose is made, and that pattern which he hath chosen them to and appointed them for? What followeth to the end of this section is but a new expression of what Mr Goodwin pretends to be the sense of this place. The “foundation of God” is the gospel, or the promise of God to save believers; the “seal” is his taking notice of them to save them, and to condemn them that believe not; and therefore, questionless, believers need not fear that they shall fall away, though there be not the least intimation made of any thing that should give them the least comfortable or cheering security of preservation in believing. Only it is said, “He that believeth shall be saved” (which yet is not an absolute promise of salvation to believers), “and he that believeth not shall be damned;” which one disjunctive proposition, declarative of the connection that is between the means and the end, Mr Goodwin labours to make comprehensive of all the purposes of God concerning believers, it being such as wherein no one person in the world is more concerned than another. If the “foundation” here mentioned be only God’s purpose, or rather declaration of his will, for the saving of believers and the damning of unbelievers, what consolation could be from hence administered in particular unto persons labouring under the scruple mentioned formerly hath not as yet been declared. Let us, then, proceed to farther proof of the truth in hand, and the vindication of some other places of Scripture whereby it is confirmed.
That which I shall next fix upon is that eminent place of John, chap. vi. 37–40: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day, And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Our Saviour acquaints us with the design wherewith he came from heaven: 189it was “not to do his own will,” — that is, to accomplish or bring about any private purposes of his own, distinct or different from them of his Father, as he was blasphemously charged by the Jews to do, — but he came to do the will of God, “the will of him that sent him.” The “will of God” which Christ came to fulfil is sometimes taken for the “commandment which he received from the Father” for the accomplishment of his will. So Heb. x. 9, “I come to do thy will, O God,” — that is, to fulfil thy command; as it is expressed, Ps. xl. 8, “Thy law is within my heart.” “Thy law, all that thou requirest at my hand as mediator, I am ready to perform.” On this account is Christ said to “take on him the form of a servant,” Phil. ii. 7, — that is, to become so indeed, in the assumption of human nature, that he might do the will of him that sent him. For which reason, also, his Father expressly calls him his servant: Isa. xlii. 1, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” He is the servant of the Father in the accomplishment of that work for which the Spirit was put upon him. And verse 19, “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant.” God gives him in command to fulfil his will, which accordingly he performs to the utmost. Again; the “will of God” is taken for his purpose, his design, decree, and good pleasure, for the fulfilling and accomplishment whereof the Lord Christ came into the world. And this appears to be the sense and importance of the words in this place, from the distinction which is put between the will of the Father and any such private will of Christ as the Jews thought he went about to establish, [namely, that] it was some design of his own. In opposition whereunto he tells them that he came to do the will, — that is, to fulfil the counsel, purpose, and design, — of the Father. However, should it principally be taken for the command of God, yet there is, and must needs be, a universal coincidence and oneness in the object of God’s purposing and commanding will in all commands given unto Christ; because all of them shall certainly and infallibly by him be fulfilled, and so the thing certainly accomplished which is commanded. What now is the will, purpose, aim, design, and command, of the Father, whose execution and accomplishment is committed to the Lord Christ, and which he faithfully undertakes to perform, as he was faithful in all things to Him that appointed him? For the clearing of this, let these two things be observed:— 1. Who the persons are concerning whom this will of God is. And those he describes by a double character:— (1.) From their election, the Father’s giving them to him: “All which he hath given me,” John vi. 39; that is, all his elect, as our Saviour expounds this very expression, chap. xvii. 6, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me;” — “Thine 190they were in eternal designation, thou having ‘chosen them before the foundation of the world,’ and thou gavest them to me for actual redemption, to deliver them from every thing that keeps them at a distance from thee.” (2.) From their faith or believing, which he calls “seeing the Son, and believing on him,” chap. vi. 40. The persons, then, here designed are elect believers, persons chosen and called of God. 2. What next, then, is the will of God concerning them? This also is set out both in general and in some particulars:— (1.) In general, That none of them be lost; that by no means whatsoever, by no temptations of Satan, deceits of sin, fury of oppressors, weakness or decay of faith, they perish and fall away from him, verse 39. This is the will, the design and purpose of God; this he gives to Jesus Christ in command for to accomplish. (2.) In particular, That they might have everlasting life, verse 40; that they be preserved to the enjoyment of that glory whereunto they are designed; that they may be raised up at the last day, and so never be lost, neither as to their being nor well-being. Of these two, verse 40, everlasting life is placed before the resurrection or raising of believers at the last day; plainly intimating that the spiritual life, whereof in this world we are partakers, is also, as to its certain, uninterruptible continuance, an everlasting life, that shall never be intercepted or cut off That, then, which from this portion of Scripture I argue is this: God having purposed to give eternal life to his elect believers, and that none of them should ever be lost, and having committed the accomplishing and performance of this his good-will and pleasure unto the Lord Jesus, who was faithful unto him in all things, and endued with power (all power from above) for that end, they shall certainly be preserved to the end designed. The favour and love of God in Christ shall never be turned away from them; for his “counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.”
Something is by Mr Goodwin offered to take off the strength of this testimony, but yet so little, that had I not resolved to hear him out to the utmost of what he can say in and unto the case in hand, it would scarce be thought needful to divert to the consideration of it. This place of Scripture he binds up in one bundle with nine or ten others, to the composure of one argument, which (almost uno halitu) he blows away, chap. xi. sect. 36, 37, etc., pp. 251, 252, etc. To the consideration of the argument itself there by him proposed I am not yet arrived. The influence of this text into it is from what is said of Christ’s preserving believers; my present consideration is chiefly of the will and intention of the Father’s giving them to him to be preserved; so that I shall observe only one or two things to his general answer, and then proceed to the vindication of this particular place we have in hand:—
First, He tells you, “That the conclusion of the former argument, 191that true believers shall never miscarry or fall away, opposeth not his sense in this controversy.” Whether it oppose his sense or no must be judged. This I know, that he hath to his utmost opposed it all this while, showing himself therein very uncourteous and unkind. But why so? on what account is it that this conclusion, which he hath so much opposed, is now conceited not to oppose him? “Those who thus fall away,” saith he, “are no true believers, but wicked apostates, at the time of their falling away.” That the conclusion mentioned opposeth his sense to me is evident; but that it is sense wherewith in this place he opposeth the conclusion is not so clear. The question is, Who fall away? “Not believers, but apostates,” saith Mr Goodwin. We say so too. In the natural first sense of these words, [they] who eventualiter are apostates were never antecedenter to their apostasy true believers. But this is not your sense, doubtless. That those who fall away, in their falling away (which is the sense of that clause, “At the time of falling away”), were apostates, — that is, were fallen away before they fell away, — is neither our sense nor yours, for it is none at all. Bertius hath an argument against the perseverance of the saints, from the impossibility of finding a subject to be affected with the notion of apostasy if true believers be exempted from it; “for hypocrites,” saith he, “cannot fall away.” “Nor can believers,” saith Mr Goodwin, “but they are apostates when they fall away!” — that is, it is a dead man that dies, or after he is dead he dies; after he is an apostate, he falls away. Perhaps it would be worth our serious inquiry to consider how believers can indeed possibly come to lose the Spirit of grace which dwells in them, with their habit of faith and holiness. For our part, we contend that they have an infused habit of grace, and that wrought with a mighty impression upon their minds and hearts; faith being of the operation of God, wrought by the exceeding greatness of his power, as he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. Whether such a habit can be removed but by that hand that bestowed it, and whether it may be made appear that God will on any occasion so take it away, or hath expressed himself that he will so deal with any of his children, is, I say, worthy our inquiry. But, —
Secondly, He denies the major proposition, and saith, “That those who are kept and preserved by Christ may possibly miscarry.” Boldly ventured! What want is there, then, or defect in the Keeper of Israel, that his flock should so miscarry under his hand? Is it of faithfulness? The Scripture tells us he is “a faithful high priest in things pertaining to God,” Heb. ii. 17; “faithful to him that appointed him,” chap. iii. 2; and that he did the whole will of God. Is it of tenderness, to take care of his poor wandering ones? He is otherwise represented unto us: Heb. ii. 18, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are 192tempted;” and chap. iv. 15, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Isa. xl. 11, it is said of him, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” And he quarrels with those shepherds who manifest not a care and tenderness like his towards his flock: Ezek. xxxiv. 4, “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost;” all which he takes upon himself to perform, verses 15, 16. Or is it want of power? “All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth,” Matt. xxviii. 18. “All things are delivered unto him of his Father,” Matt. xi. 27. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,” Heb. vii. 25. If he want neither care nor tenderness, wisdom nor watchfulness, love nor ability, will nor faithfulness, how comes it to pass that they miscarry and fall away into ruin whom he hath undertaken to keep? David durst fight with a lion and a bear in the defence of his lambs, and Jacob endured heat and cold upon the account of faithfulness; and shall we think that the Shepherd of Israel, from whose being so the psalmist concludes he shall want nothing, Ps. xxiii. 1, who did not only fight for his flock, but laid down his life for them, will be less careful of his Father’s sheep, his own sheep, which are required also at his hand, for his Father knows them and calls them all by name?
“Yea, but,” says Mr Goodwin, “it may be thus, in case themselves shall not comport with Christ in his act of preserving them, with their care and diligence in preserving themselves;” that is, Christ will surely keep them in case they keep themselves. Alas! poor sheep of God! If this were the case of the flocks of the sons of men, how quickly would they be utterly destroyed! Doth the veriest hireling in the world deal thus with his sheep, — keep them in case they keep themselves? Nay, to what end is his keeping if they keep themselves? Christ compares himself to be the good shepherd which seeketh out and fetcheth a wandering sheep from the wilderness, laying it on his shoulders, and bringing it home to his fold. How did that poor sheep keep itself, when it ran among the ravenous wolves in the wilderness? Yet by the good shepherd it was preserved. This is the spirit and comforting genius of this doctrine: “Christ keeps us provided we keep ourselves!” “We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel;” that he gave us his Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever, to seal us to the day of redemption; that knowing himself, and telling us, that without him we can do nothing, he would not suspend his doing upon our doing so great a thing as preserving 193ourselves. For let us see now what it is that is required in us if we shall be preserved by Christ: it is to comport with him in his act of preserving us, and to be diligent to keep ourselves.
What is this “comporting with him in his act of preserving us?” Our comporting with Christ in any thing is by our believing in him and on him; that is our radical comportment, whence all other closings of heart in obedience do flow. So, then, Christ will preserve us in believing, provided we continue to believe. But what need of his help to do so, if antecedently thereunto so we do? Is not this not only ἄγραφον but also ἄλογον, not only unscriptural, but also unreasonable, yea, absurd and ludicrous? This is the flinty fountain of all that abundance of consolation which Mr Goodwin’s doctrine doth afford. Doubtless, they must be wise and learned men (like himself) who can extract any such thing therefrom. Let him go with it to a poor, weak, tempted, fainting believer, and try what a comforter he will be thought, a physician of what value he will be esteemed. Let him tell him, “Thou art indeed weak in faith, ready to decay and perish, which thou mayst do every day, there being neither purpose nor promise of God to the contrary; great oppositions and great temptations hast thou to wrestle withal. But yet Christ is loving, tender, faithful, and in case thou continuest believing, he will take care thou shalt believe. That Christ will increase thy faith, and keep it alive by continual influences, as from a head into its members, preserving thee not only against outward enemies, but the treacheries, and deceits, and unbelief of thine own heart, of any such thing I can give thee no account.” Such consolation a poor man may have at home at any time.
Farther; what is that act of Christ in preserving them that is to be comported withal? wherein doth it consist? Is it not in his daily, continual communication to them of new supplies of that spiritual life whose springs are in him; the making out from his own fullness unto them; his performing the office of a head to its members, and filling those other relations wherein he stands, working in them both to will and to do of his own good pleasure?101101 John i. 16; 1 Cor. xii. 13; Eph. i. 23, ii. 20–22, iv. 15, 16; Gal. ii. 20; Col. i. 17–19, ii. 19. What is it, then, to comport with this act or these acts of Christ? Can any thing reasonable be invented wherein such comportment may be thought to consist, but either it will be found coincident with that whereof it is a condition, or appear to be such as will crush the whole undertaking of Christ for the preservation of believers into vanity and nothing? Again; hath Christ undertaken to preserve us against all our enemies, or some only?102102 Heb. vii. 25. If some only, give us an account both of them that he doth undertake against, that we may know for what to go to him and whereof to complain, and of them 194that he doth not so undertake to safeguard us against, that we may know wherein to trust to ourselves;103103 John xv. 5; Isa. xxx. 1. and let us see the places of Scripture wherein any enemies are excepted out of this undertaking of Christ for the safety of his. Paul goes far in an enumeration of particulars, Rom. viii. 35–39. If he hath undertaken against them all, then let us know whether it be an enemy that keeps us from this comportment with Christ, or a friend. If it be an enemy (as surely every thing in us that moves us to depart from the living God is), hath Christ undertaken against it, or no? If not, how hath he undertaken against them all? If he hath, how is it that it prevails? “Yea, but he undertakes this in case we comport with him;” that is, he undertakes to overcome such an enemy in case there be no such enemy. In case we be not turned aside from comporting with him, he will destroy that enemy that turns us aside from comporting with him. “Egregiam veró laudem et spolia ampla!” Or, on the other side, if our enemies prevail not against us, he hath faithfully undertaken that they shall not prevail against us.
“Yea, but,” saith Mr Goodwin, “no Scripture proves that those whom Christ preserves must, by any compulsory, necessitating power, use their diligence in preserving themselves.” And who, I pray, ever said they did? Compulsory actings of grace are your own figment; so are all such necessitating acts which proceed any farther than only as to the infallibility of the event aimed at. God doth not compel the wills of men when he works in them to will.104104 John viii. 32; Rom. vi. 18; Luke xvii. 5. Christ doth not compel men to care and diligence when he works in them holy care and diligence. When the disciples said unto the Lord, “Increase our faith,” they did not pray that they might be compelled to believe. God’s working in them that believe according to the exceeding greatness of his power, “strengthening them with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness,”105105 Col. i. 11, 12. is very far from any compulsion or necessitation inconsistent with the most absolute freedom that a creature is capable of. He that works faith in believers can continue it and increase it in them without compulsion.106106 Eph. ii. 8. And this is the sum of Mr Goodwin’s answer to an argument that, notwithstanding all which he hath spoken, hath yet strength enough left to cast his whole building down to the ground. What he farther speaks to the particular place which gave occasion to this discourse may briefly be considered:—
He speaks something to John vi. 37, which I insisted not on. As to the purpose in hand, he tells you that “Christ will in no wise cast out τὸν ἐρχόμενον, ‘him that is coming;’ but yet he that is coming, in his way may turn back and never come fully up to him.”
Ans. But if this be not huckstering of the word of God, I know 195not what is.107107 2 Cor. ii. 17. The words before in the same verse are, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” Saith Mr Goodwin, “They may come but half way, and so turn back again, not coming fully home to him.” Saith Christ, “They shall come to me.” Saith Mr Goodwin, “They may perhaps come but half way.” “Nunc satis est dixisse, ego mira pœmata pango.” But why so? Why, ἐρχόμενον is “coming,” — a coming, it seems, in fieri, but not in facto esse; that is, it denotes a tract of time whilst the man is travelling his journey, as though believing were a successive motion as to the act of laying hold on Christ. But is he that is on his way, that Christ receiveth, a believer or not? hath he faith or not? If he hath no faith, the faith whereof we speak, how can he be said to be “coming,” seeing the “wrath of God abideth on him?” John iii. 36. If he hath faith, how is it that he is not come to Christ? Hath any one true faith at a distance from him? God gives another testimony, John i. 11, 12. But saith he, “There is nothing in the words that they are under no possibility of falling away who come to Christ.” But, — 1. There is in those that follow, that, as to the event, they are under an impossibility of so doing, in respect of the will and purpose of God (which sufficeth me), as shall be made to appear. 2. That emphatical expression, Οὐ μὴ ἐκβάλω ἔξω, “I will in no wise cast them out,” expresses so much care and tenderness in Christ towards them, that we are very apt to hope and believe that he will not lose them any more, but that he will not only not cast them out, but also, according to his Father’s appointment, that he will keep them, and preserve them in safety, until he bring them to glory; as is fully asserted, John vi. 39, 40, as hath been declared.
Again, Mr Goodwin tells you, “It is not spoken of losing believers by defection of faith, but by death; and to assure believers of this, Christ tells them it is his Father’s will that he should raise them up at the last day. Besides, if any be lost by defection from faith, this cannot be imputed to Christ, who did his Father’s pleasure to the utmost for their preservation, but to themselves.”
Ans. For the perverting of verse 37, the beginning of it was left out; and for the accomplishing of the like design upon verse 39 (which farther clears the mind and intendment of Christ in the words), verse 40 is omitted, lie tells you that it is the wilt of the Father that every one that comes to him, that is, that believes on him, have everlasting life. What is everlasting life in the gospel is well known from John xvii. 3. And unto this bestowing on them everlasting life, his raising of them at the last day, as was mentioned, is a necessary consequent, — namely, that they may be brought to the full and complete fruition of that life which here in some measure they are made partakers of. Even in the words of verse 39, that passage, “I should 196lose nothing,” extends itself to the whole compass of our Saviour’s duty in reference to his Father’s will for the safeguarding of believers. And is it only death, and the state of dissolution of body and soul, that it is the will of God that he should deliver them from, and the power of that, that it should not have dominion over them in the morning? The apostle tells us that he came to do the will of God, whereby we are sanctified, Heb. x. 9, 10. It was the will of God that he should sanctify us; and he tells his Father that he had kept all his own in the world, John xvii. 12; which, doubtless, was not his raising them from the dead. If he be the Mediator of the covenant of grace, if the promises of God be yea and amen in him, if he be our Head, Husband, and elder Brother, our Advocate and Intercessor, our Shepherd and Saviour, his keeping us from being lost extends itself no less effectually to our preservation from utter ruin in this life than to our raising at the last day; yea, and that exceptive particle ἀλλά includes this preservation, as well as leads us to the addition of the other favour and privilege of being raised to glory at the last day. In a word, this whole discourse is added to make good that gracious promise of our Saviour, John vi. 35, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst;” which how it can be done by a naked engagement for the resurrection of them that come to him and abide with him, if many do, and most of all them that come to him may, depart from him and fall into everlasting ruin, needs Mr Goodwin’s farther labour and pains to unfold. What is lastly added concerning Christ’s doing the utmost of his Father’s pleasure for their custody, but the fault is their own who fall away, is the same inconsistent, ridiculous assertion with that erewhile considered; with this addition, that whereas it is his Father’s pleasure that they be saved, Christ doth his pleasure to the utmost, and yet saved they are not. And so much (if not too much) for the vindication of this testimony witnessing to the truth that we have in hand.
Matt. xxiv. 24 comes in the next place to be considered (an unquestionable evidence to the truth), and that voluntarily, of its own accord, speaking so plain to the matter in hand, that it were a sin against clear light to refuse to attend unto it; so far is it from being “compelled to bear the cross of this service,” as Mr Goodwin phrases the matter, chap. x. sect 9, pp. 181–183. “ ‘They shall seduce, if it were possible, the very elect.’ Hence,” saith he, “it is inferred that the deceiving or seducing of them that believe is a thing impossible; which is the drawing of darkness out of light.” Strange! to me it seems so far from a forced inference, or a strained drawing of a conclusion, that it is but the conversion of the terms of the same identical supposition. He that says they shall deceive the very elect, if it were possible, so mighty shall be their prevalency in seducing, 197seems to me (and would, I doubt not, do so to others, did not their prejudices and engagements force them to stop their ears and shut their eyes) to say that it is impossible the elect should be seduced.
But let the place, as it deserves, be more distinctly considered; it is among them which I refer to the head of the purposes of God, and a purpose of God there is (though not expressed, yet) included in the words. The impossibility of the seduction of some persons from the faith is here asserted. Whence doth this impossibility arise? Not from any thing in themselves, — not from their own careful consideration of all the concernments of their condition; the only preservative in such a season, if some, who pretend themselves skilful and experienced, yea almost the only physicians of souls, may be believed. They can never stand upon such sands against that opposition they shall be sure to meet withal. Our Saviour therefore intimates whence the impossibility expressed doth flow, in a description of the persons of whom it is affirmed, in reference to the purpose of God concerning them. They are the “elect,” those whom God hath “chosen before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love.” His “purpose according to election” must stand firm, and therefore “the election” itself shall obtain.108108 Eph. i. 4; Rom. ix. 11, 12, xi. 7. This, then, is that which is here affirmed: God having chosen some, or elected them to life, according to the “purpose which he purposed in himself,” and faith being bestowed on them, they believing on the account of their being “ordained to eternal life,” it is impossible they should be seduced so as to be thrown down from that state and condition of acceptance with God (for the substance of it) wherein they stand.109109 Eph. i. 9; Phil. i. 29; Acts xiii. 48.
Some few observations will farther clear the mind of the Holy Ghost, and obviate the exceptions that are put in against our receiving the words in their plain, proper, obvious signification. Observe, then, —
1. Upon the intimation of the great power and prevalency of seducers, our Saviour adds this, as a matter of great consolation to true and sound believers, that notwithstanding all this, all their attempts, however advantaged by force or subtlety, yet they shall be preserved. This the whole context enforceth us to receive, and our adversaries to confess that at least a great difficulty of their seduction is intimated. And it arises with no less evidence that this difficulty is distinguishing in respect of the persons exposed to seduction;— that some are elect, who should be seduced if it were possible; others not, that may and shall be prevailed against.
2. The bottom of the consolation, in the freedom of the persons here spoken of from falling under the prevailing power of seducers, consists in this, that they are the elect of God, such as on a personal 198consideration are chosen of God from all eternity, to be kept and preserved by his power to salvation, notwithstanding any interveniencies or oppositions which he will suffer to lie in their way. “But,” saith Mr Goodwin, “these men, at least before their calling, are as liable to be deceived or seduced as other men. This is their own confession; and Paul says that they were sometimes deceived, Titus iii. 3.”
Ans. An exception, doubtless, unworthy him that makes it; who, had he not resolved to say all that ever had been said by any to the business in hand, would scarcely, I presume, have made use thereof. The, seduction of persons is not opposed to their election, but to their believing. Mention is made of their election, to distinguish them from those other professors which should be seduced, and to discover the foundation of their stability under their trials; but it is of them as believers (in which consideration the attempts of seducers are advanced against them) that he speaks. It is not the seducing of the elect as elect, but of believers who are elect, and because they are elected, that is denied.
3. That it is a seduction unto a total and final departure from Christ and Faith in him whose impossibility in respect of the election is here asserted. “But,” saith Mr Goodwin, chap. x. sect. 10, p. 181, “this is to presume, not to argue or believe; for there is not the least ground in the word whereon to build such an interpretation.” But the truth is, without any presumption or much labour for proof, the falsity of this exception will quickly appear to any one that shall but view the context. It is evidently such a seduction as they are exposed unto and fall under who endure not unto the end, that they may be saved, Matt. xxiv. 13; and they who are excepted upon the account mentioned are opposed to them who, being seduced, and their love being made cold, and their iniquities abounding, perish everlastingly, verses 11, 12.
4. It is, then, a denial of their being cast out by the power of seducers from their state and condition of believing and acceptation with God wherein they stand, that our Saviour here asserts, and gives out to their consolation, — they shall not be seduced, that is, drawn off from that state wherein they are to a state of unregeneracy, infidelity, and enmity to God so that, as Mr Goodwin observes in the next place, we deny them, from hence, not only to be subject to a final but also to a total seduction.
5. We grant that notwithstanding the security given, which respects the state and condition of the persons spoken of, yet they may be, and often are, seduced and drawn aside into ways that are not right, into errors and false doctrines, through the “cunning sleight of men who lie in wait to deceive,” but never into such (as to any abode in them) which are inconsistent with the union with their Head and his life in them.
199The errors and ways whereinto they are, or may be, seduced are either such as, though dangerous, yea, in their consequences pernicious, yet have not such an aspect upon the faith of believers as to deny a possibility of union and holding the Head upon other accounts. I doubt not but that men for a season may not know, may disbelieve and deny, some fundamental articles of Christian religion, and yet not be absolutely concluded not to hold the Head by any sinew or ligament, to have no influence of life by any other means. Was it not so with the apostles when they questioned the resurrection of Christ, and with the Corinthians who denied the resurrection of the saints? — an abode, I confess, in either of which errors would, when the consequences of them are manifested, prove pernicious to the souls of men; but that they have in themselves such an absolute repugnancy unto and inconsistency with the life of Christ, however considered, as that their entertainment for a season should be immediately exclusive thereof, I suppose Mr Goodwin himself will not say. In this sense, then, we grant that true, saving, justifying faith may consist with the denial of some fundamental articles of Christian religion for a season; but that any true believer can persist in such a heresy we deny, he having the promise of the Spirit to lead him into all necessary truth.
There are such ways and things as in their own nature have an inconsistency with the life of Christ, as the abnegation of Christ himself. But this also we affirm to be twofold, or to receive a twofold consideration:— 1. It may be resolved, upon consideration, with the deliberate consent of the whole soul; which we utterly deny that believers can or shall be left unto for a moment, or that ever any true believer was so. 2. Such as may be squeezed out of the mouths of men by the surprisal of some great, dreadful, and horrible temptation, without any habitual or cordial assent to any such abomination, or disaffection to Christ, or resolute rebellion against him. Thus Peter fell into the abnegation of Christ, whose faith yet under it did not perish, if our Saviour was heard in his prayer for him, having an eye to that very temptation of his wherein he was to be tried, and his fall under it. In the first sense are those words of our Saviour, Matt. x. 33, to be understood, and not in the latter. Christ was so far from denying Peter before his Father under his abnegation of him, that he never manifested more care and tenderness towards any believer than towards him in that condition. And this wholly removes Mr Goodwin’s 10th section out of our way, without troubling of ourselves to hold up that distinction of a final denial of Christ, and that not final, seeing in all probability he set it up himself that he might have the honour to cast it down.
What follows in Mr Goodwin from the beginning of sect. 11, chap. x., to the end of sect. 17, is little more than a translation of the 200Remonstrants’ sophistry in vexing this text in their Synodalia; which he knows full well where to find discussed and removed. For the sake of our English readers, I shall not avoid the consideration of it. I affirm, then, that the phrase εἰ δυνατόν here denotes the impossibility of the event denied, the manner of speech, circumstances of the place, with the aim of our Saviour in speaking, exacting this sense of the words. The words are, Ὥστε πλανῆσαι, εἰ δυνατὸν, καὶ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς. It is the constant import of the word ὥστε to design the event of the thing which, by what attends it, is asserted or denied (so Gal. ii. 13; Matt. viii. 28, xv. 31; 1 Thess. i. 8), neither is it ever used for ἵνα. In the place by some instanced for it, Rom. vii. 6, it points clearly at the event. Ἵνα is sometimes put for it, but not on the contrary. And the words εἰ δυνταόν, though not so used always (although sometimes they are, as Gal. iv. 15), do signify at least a moral impossibility, when they refer to the endeavours of men; but relating to the prediction of an event by God himself, they are equivalent to an absolute negation of it. That of Acts xx. 16 is urged to the contrary. Paul hoped εἰ δυνατόν, to be at Jerusalem at Pentecost. “ ‘If it be possible’ here cannot imply an impossibility as to the event,” says Mr Goodwin. But are these places parallel? Are, all places where the same phrase is used always to be expounded in the same sense? The terms here, “If it be possible,” respect not the futurition of the thing, but the uncertainty to Paul of its possibility or impossibility; the uncertainty, I say, of Paul in his conjecture whether he should get to Jerusalem by such a time or no, of which he was ignorant. Did our Saviour here conjecture about a thing whereof he was ignorant whether it would come to pass or no? We say not, then, that in this place, where εἰ δυνατόν is expressive of the uncertainty of him that attempts any thing of its event, that it affirms an impossibility of it, and so to insinuate that Paul made all haste to do that which he knew was impossible for him to do; but that the words are used in these two places in distinct senses, according to the enclosure that is made of them by others. “But,” saith Mr Goodwin, “to say that Paul might be ignorant whether his being at Jerusalem by Pentecost might be possible or no, and that he only resolved to make trial of the truth herein to the utmost, is to asperse this great apostle with a ridiculous imputation of ignorance.” And why so, I pray you? It is true he was a great apostle indeed; but it was no part of his apostolical furnishment to know in what space of time he might make a sea-voyage. Had Mr Goodwin ever been at sea, he would not have thought it ridiculous ignorance for a man to be uncertain in what space of time he might sail from Miletus to Ptolemais. Paul had a short time to finish this voyage in. He was at Philippi at the days of unleavened bread, and afterward, verse 6; thence he was five days sailing to Troas, 201verse 6; and there he abode seven days more. It may well be supposed that it cost him not less than seven days more to come to Miletus, verses 13–15. How long he tarried there is uncertain. Evident, however, it is, that there was a very small space of time left to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost. Paul was one that had met not only with calms and contrary winds, but shipwreck also, 2 Cor. xi. 25; so that he might well doubt whether it were possible for him to make his voyage in that space of time he had designed to do it in, and this surely without the least disparagement to his apostolical knowledge and wisdom. In brief, when this phrase relates to the cares and desires of men, and unto any thing of their ignorance of the issue, it may design the uncertainty of the event, as in this place and that of Rom. xii. 18; but when it points at the event itself, it peremptorily designs its accomplishment or not, according to the tendency of the expression, which affirms or denies. Notwithstanding, then, all evasions, the simple, direct, and proper sense of our Saviour’s words, — who is setting forth and aggravating the prevalency of seducers in evil times, by him then foretold, — is, that it shall be such and so great as that, if it were not impossible upon the account of their election, they should prevail against the very elect themselves. But, —
6. Suppose it be granted that the words refer to the endeavours of the seducers in this place, yet they must needs deny their prevalency as to the end aimed at. It is asserted either to be possible that the elect should be so seduced, or not. If not, we have what we aim at. If it be possible, and so here asserted, the total of this expression of our Saviour will be resolved into a conclusion certainly most remote from his intendment: “If it be possible that the elect may be seduced, then shall they be seduced; but it is possible (say our adversaries), therefore they shall be seduced.” Neither doth that which Mr Goodwin urgeth, sect. 12, out of the Synodalia before mentioned, pp. 314, 315, at all prove that the words denote only a difficulty of the thing aimed at, with relation to the earnest endeavours of seducers. Πρὸς τό doth indeed intimate their endeavours, but withal their fruitlessness as to the event. Εἰ δυνατόν is not referred (as in the example of Paul,) to the thoughts of their minds, but to the success foretold by Christ. That emphatical and diacritical expression in the description of them against whom their attempts are, “Even the very elect,” argues their exemption. “And if by ‘elect’ are meant simply and only believers as such, how comes this emphatical expression and description of them to be used, when they alone and no others can be seduced? for those who seem to believe only cannot be said to fall from the faith,” say our adversaries. It is true, the professors of Christianity adhered of old under many trials, for the greater part, with eminent constancy to their 202profession; yet is not any thing eminently herein held out in that saying which Mr Goodwin calls proverbial in Galen, he speaking of the followers of Moses the same as of the followers of Christ. What else follows in Mr Goodwin from the same author is nothing but the pressing of, I think, one of the most absurd arguments that ever learned men made use of in any controversy; and yet, such as it is, we shall meet with it over and over (as we have done often already), before we arrive at the end of this discourse; and, therefore, to avoid tediousness, I shall not here insist upon it. With its mention it shall be passed by. It is concerning the uselessness of means, and exhortations unto the use of them, if the end to be attained by them be irrevocably determined, although those exhortations are part of the means appointed for the accomplishment of the end so designed. I shall not, as I said, in this place insist upon it; one thing only shall I observe. In sect. 17, he grants, “That God is able to determine the wills of the elect to the use of means proper and sufficient to prevent their being deceived.” By this “determining the wills of the elect to the use of proper means,” the efficacy of grace in and with believers, to a certain preservation of them to the end, is intended. It is the thing he opposeth, as we are informed in the next words: “He hath nowhere declared himself willing or resolved to do it.” That by this one assertion Mr Goodwin hath absolved our doctrine from all the absurd consequences and guilt of I know not what abominations, which in various criminations he hath charged upon it, is evident upon the first view and consideration. All that we affirm God to do, Mr Goodwin grants that he can do. Now, if God should do all he is able, there would no absurdity or evil that is truly so follow. What he can do, that he can decree to do; and this is the sum of our doctrine, which he hath chosen to oppose. God, we say, hath everlastingly purposed to give, and doth actually give, his Holy Spirit to believers, to put forth such an exceeding greatness of power as whereby, in the use of means, they shall certainly be preserved to salvation. “This God can do,” says our author. This concession being made by the Remonstrants in their Synodalia, Mr Goodwin, I presume, thought it but duty to be as free as his predecessors, and therefore consented unto it also, although it be an axe laid at the root of almost all the arguments he sets up against the truth, as shall hereafter be farther manifested.
I draw now to a close of those places which, among many others omitted, tender themselves unto the proof of the stable, unchangeable purpose of God, concerning the safeguarding and preservation of believers in his love and unto salvation. I shall mention one or two more, and close this second scriptural demonstration of the truth in hand. The first is that eminent place of Eph. i. 3–5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed 203us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Verse 3, the apostle summarily blesseth God for all the spiritual mercies which in Jesus Christ he blesseth his saints withal; of all which, verse 4, he discovereth the fountain and spring, which is his free choosing of them before the foundation of the world. That an eternal act of the will of God is hereby designed is beyond dispute; and it is that “foundation of God” on which the whole of the building mentioned and portrayed in the following verse is laid. All the grace and favour of God towards his saints, in their justification, adoption, and glow, all the fruits of the Spirit, which they enjoy in faith and sanctification, flow from this one fountain; and these the apostle describes at large in the verses following. The aim of God in this eternal and unchangeable act of his will, he tells us, is, that we should be “without blame before him in love.” Certainly cursed apostates, backsliders in heart, in whom his soul takes no pleasure, are very far from being without blame before God in love. Those that are within the compass of this purpose of God must be preserved unto that state and condition which God aims to bring them unto, by all the fruits and issues of that purpose of his, which was pointed at before.
A scripture of the like importance unto that before named is 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” First, The same fountain of all spiritual and eternal mercy with that mentioned in the other place is here also expressed; and that is, God’s choosing of us by an everlasting act, or designing us to the end intended by a free, eternal, unchangeable purpose of his will. Secondly, The end aimed at by the Lord in that purpose is here more clearly set down in a twofold expression:— 1. Salvation: Verse 13, “God hath chosen you to salvation.” That is the thing which he aimed to accomplish for them, and the end he intended to bring them to in his choosing of them. And, 2. Verse 14, “The glory of the Lord Jesus Christ,” or the obtaining a portion in that glory which Christ purchased and procured for them, with their being with him to behold his glory. And, thirdly, You have the means whereby God will certainly bring about and accomplish this his design and purpose, whereof there are three most eminent acts expressed:— 1. Vocation, or their calling by the gospel, verse 14; 2. Sanctification, “Through sanctification of the Spirit;” and, 3. Justification, which they receive by “belief of the truth,” verse 13. This much, then, is wrapped up in 204this text: God having, in his unchangeable purpose, fore-appointed his to salvation and glory, certainly to be obtained, through the effectual working of the Spirit and free justification in the blood of Christ, it cannot be but that they shall be preserved unto the enjoyment of what they are so designed unto.
To sum up what hath been spoken from these purposes of God to the establishment of the truth we have in hand: Those whom God hath purposed by effectual means to preserve to the enjoyment of eternal life and glory in his favour and acceptation, can never so fall from his love, or be so cast out of his grace, as to come short of the end designed, or ever be totally rejected of God. The truth of this proposition depends upon what hath been said, and may farther be insisted on, concerning the unchangeableness and absoluteness of the eternal purposes of God, the glory whereof men shall never be able sacrilegiously to rob him of. Thence the assumption is, concerning all true believers and truly sanctified persons, there are purposes of God that they shall be so preserved to such ends, etc., as hath been abundantly proved by an induction of particular instances; and therefore it is impossible they should ever be so cast out of the favour of God as not to be infallibly preserved to the end. Which is our second demonstration of the truth in hand.
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