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*I have purposed, I will “It is ridiculous to imagine also do it;' Isa. xlvi. 11. that God doth not seriously
will any thing but what tak
eth effect;' Episcopius. * As I have purposed, so it • It may be objected that shall stand;' chap. xiv. 24. God faileth of his end : this
we readily grant;' Remonstr. Synod.
How the whole doctrine of predestination is corrupted by the Arminians. The cause of all these quarrels, wherewith the Arminians and their abettors have troubled the church of Christ, comes next unto our consideration. The eternal predestination of Almighty God, that fountain of all spiritual blessings, of all the effects of God's love derived unto us through Christ, the demolishing of this rock of our salvation, hath been the chief endeavour of all the patrons of human self-sufficiency; so to vindicate unto themselves a power, and independent ability of doing good, of making themselves to differ from others, of attaining everlasting happiness, without going one step from without themselves : and this is their first attempt, to attain their second proposed end, of building a tower, from the top whereof they may mount into heaven, whose foundation is nothing but the sand of their own free-will and endeavours : quite on a sudden (what they have done in effect) to have taken away this divine predestination, name and thing, had been an attempt as noted as notorious, and not likely to attain the least success, amongst men professing to believe the gospel of Christ; wherefore, suffering the name to remain, they have abolished the thing itself, and substituted another so unlike it, in the room thereof, that any one may see they have gotten a blear-eyed Leah instead of Rachel, and hug a cloud instead of a Deity. The true doctrine itself, hath been so excellently delivered by divers learned divines, so freed from all objections, that I shall
only briefly and plainly lay it down, and that with special reference to the seventeenth article of our church, where it is clearly avowed; shewing withal, which is my chief intention, how it is thwarted, opposed, and overthrown by the Arminians. Predestination, in the usual sense it is taken, is a part of God's providence, concerning his creatures, distinguished from it by a double restriction.
First, In respect of their objects; for whereas the decree of providence, comprehendeth his intentions towards all the works of his hands, predestination respecteth only rational creatures.
Secondly, In regard of their ends ; for whereas his proridence directeth all creatures in general, to those several ends to which at length they are brought, whether they are proportioned unto their nature, or exceeding the sphere of their natural activity; predestination is exercised only in directing rational creatures to supernatural ends : so that in general it is the counsel, decree, or purpose of Almighty God, concerning the last and supernatural end of his rational creatures, to be accomplished for the praise of his glory. But this also must receive a double restriction, before we come precisely to what we in this place aim at: and these again in regard of the objects or the ends thereof.
The object of predestination is all rational creatures; now these are either angels or men; of angels I shall not treat. Secondly, the end by it provided for them, is either eternal happiness or eternal misery : I speak only of the former, the act of God's predestination, transmitting men to everlasting happiness : and in this restrained sense, it differs not at all from election, and we may use them as synonyma, terms of the same importance, though by some affirming that God predestinateth them to faith whom he hath chosen, they seem to be distinguished as the decrees of the end, and the means conducing thereunto; whereof the first is election, intending the end, and then takes place predestination providing the means; but this exact distinction appeareth not directly in the Scripture.
This election the word of God proposeth unto us, as the gracious immutable decree of Almighty God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, out of his own good pleasure, he chose certain men, determining to free them from
sin and misery, to bestow upon them grace and faith, to give them unto Christ, to bring them to everlasting blessedness, for the praise of his glorious grace: or as it is expressed in our church articles, ‘Predestination to life, is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ unto everlasting salvation, as vessels made unto honour : wherefore they who are endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose,' &c.
Now to avoid prolixity I will annex only such annotations, as may clear the sense, and confirm the truth of the article by the Scriptures; and shew briefly how it is overthrown by the Arminians, in every particular thereof.
First, The article, consonantly to the Scripture, affirmeth, that it is an eternal decree, made before the foundations of the world were laid, so that by it we must needs be chosen before we were born, before we have done either good or evil : the words of the article are clear, and so also is the Scripture, 'He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world :' Eph. i. 4. •The children being not yet born, before. they had done either good or evil, it was said,' &c. Rom. ix. 11. “We are called with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Jesus Christ before the world began;' 2 Tim. i. 9. Now from hence it would undoubtedly follow, that no good thing in us can be the cause of our election, for every cause must in order precede its effect; but all things whereof we by any means are partakers, inasmuch as they are ours, are temporary, and so cannot be the cause of that which is eternal: things with that qualification, must have reference to the sole will and good pleasure of God, which inference would break the neek of the Arminian election. Wherefore, to prevent such a fatal ruin, they deny the principle, to wit, that election is eternal :so the remonstrants in their apology;• Complete election regardeth none but him that is dying,
• Electio non est ab æterno. Rem. apol.
Electio alia completa est, quæ neminem spectat nisi immocientem.-Electio peremptoria totum salutis complementum et consummationem decernit, ideoque in objecto requirit totam consummatam fidei obedientiam. Grevin, ad Ames. p. 136. passim. dis.
for this peremptory election decreeth the whole accomplishment and consummation of salvation, and therefore requireth in the object, the finished course of faith and obedience, saith Grevinchovius : which is to make God's election nothing but an act of his justice, approving our obedience, and such an act as is incident to any weak man, who knows not what will happen in the next hour, that is yet for to come. And is this post-destination, that which is proposed to us in the Scripture, as the unsearchable fountain of all God's love towards us in Christ? · Yea,' say they, 'we acknowledge no other predestination to be revealed in the gospel, besides that whereby God decreeth, to save them who should
in faith;' that is, God's determination concerning their salvation is pendulous, until he find by experience, that they will persevere in obedience. But I wonder why, seeing election is confessedly one of the greatest expressions of God's infinite goodness, love, and mercy towards us, if it follow our obedience, we have it not like all other blessings and mercies, promised unto us; is it because such propositions as these, believe, Peter, and continue in the faith unto the end, and I will choose thee before the foundation of the world, are fitter for the writings of the Arminians than the word of God ? Neither will we be their rivals in such an election, as rom whence no fruit,a no effect, no consolation, can be derived to any mortal man, whilst he lives in this world.
Secondly, The article affirmeth that it is constant, that is, one immutable decree, agreeably also to the Scriptures, teaching but one purpose, but one foreknowledge, one good pleasure, one decree of God, concerning the infallible ordination of his elect unto glory; although of this decree there may be said to be two acts, one concerning the means, the other concerning the end, but both knit up in the immutability of God's will;' Heb. vi. 17. The foundation of God standeth sure; having this seal, God knoweth who are his;' 2 Tim. ii. 19. His gifts and calling are without recalling, not to be repented of;' Rom. xi. 29. Now what say our Arminians to this? why a whole multitude of notions and terms have they invented to obscure the doctrine. Election, say
c Non agnoscimus aliam prædestinationem in evangelio patefactam, quam qua Deus decrevit credentes et qui in eadem fide perseverarent, salvos facere. Rem.coll. Hag. p. 34.
& Electionis fructum aut sensum in hac vita nullum agnosco. Grevin.
they, is either legal or evangelical, general or particular, complete-or incomplete, revocable or irrevocable, peremptory or not peremptory, with I know not how many more distinctions of one single eternal act of Almighty God, whereof there is neither vola nec vestigium, sign or token in the whole Bible, or any approved author. And to these quavering divisions they accommodate their doctrine, or rather they purposely invented them to make their errors unintelligible : yet something agreeably thus they dictate; 'there is a complete election belonging to none but those that are dying, and there is another incomplete, common to all that believe, as the good things of salvation are incomplete which are continued whilst faith is continued, and revoked when that is denied, so election is incomplete in this life and revocable :' again, there are, they say in their confession, 5-three orders of believers and repenters in the Scripture, whereofsome are beginners, others having continued for a time, and some perseverants, the two first orders are chosen, vere truly, but not absolute prorsus absolutely, but only for a time, so long as they will remain as they are, the third are chosen finally and peremptorily; for this act of God is either continued or interrupted according as we fulfil the condition:' but whence learned the Arminians this doctrine? Not one word of it from the word of truth, no mention there of any such desultory election, no speech of faith, but such as is consequent to the one eternal irrevocable decree of predestination, "They believed who were ordained to eternal life;' Acts xiii. 48. no distinction of men half and wholly elected, where it is affirmed that it is impossible the elect should be seduced ;' Matt. xxiv. 24. that none should snatch Christ's sheep out of his Father's hand; John xi. 28, 29. What would they have more? God's purpose of election is sealed up; 2 Tim. ii. 19. and therefore cannot be revoked, ' it must stand firm,' Rom. ix. 11. in spite of all opposition; neither will reason allow us to think any immanent act of God, to e Episcop. Thes. p. 35. Epist. ad Walach. p. 38. Grevinch. ad Ames. p. 133.
Electio alia completa est, quæ neminem spectat nisi morientem, alia incompleta, quæ omnibus fidelibus communis est, -ut salutis bona, sunt incompleta quæ continue antur, fide continuata, et abnegata revocantur, sic electio est incompleta in bac vita, non peremptoria, revocabilis. Grev. ad Ames.
8 Tres sunt ordines credentium et resipiscentium in Scripturis, novitii, credentes aliquandiu, perseverantes, duo priores ordines credentium eliguntur vere quidem, at non prorsus absolute, nec nisi ad tempus, puta quamdiu et quatenus tales sunt, &c. Rem. confess. cap. 18. sect. 6,7.