Spirit of Truth. John, xvi. 8. And therefore, all mankind stands inexcusable before God: he is clear of the death of him that dieth, and the sinner only chargeable with being the author of his sin, and the procurer of his misery.

Such an absolute and unconditional election of some particular persons from all eternity, supposes the reprobation, preterition, or non-election of all others, from whom that favour is withheld, and consequently overthrows the main design of the gospel dispensation, which is to set forth the great love of God in Christ Jesus, to the whole race or lump of mankind, not excepting or excluding any of the sons and daughters of men, who do not by their own voluntary rejection of the love and grace offered, exclude themselves. For this doctrine narrows the love of God, and limits it as to the special manifestation of it, to a definite number of persons, whom he was pleased to comprehend within the compass of his elective decree; and as for those that he was pleased to leave out of that decree, it affords them not one dram of hope, or comfort from any thing that ever Christ did, or is at this day doing for the children of men; but binds them over by an irreversible sentence, before they were born, to everlasting perdition. All counsel and admonition, all preaching and exhortation, all promises and threatenings, are in vain to these non-elected persons; for being left out of the decree of election, they cannot repent, they cannot believe, they cannot do any thing acceptable in the sight of God; but are sent into the world, as it were, on purpose to sin against God, to rebel against his light and Spirit, and to work out their damnation by their iniquities, neither of

which, according to the tenour of the irrespective decree, are of themselves. Because, according to this decree, they are ordained from all eternity to destruction, and though means be offered them, yet they can be never the better for them, but must necessarily sin as long as they have a being here, by reason of that irrevocable decree that is past upon them. From whence it follows, that neither man's sin, nor destruction is of himself, but both spring from the absolute and irrespective decree of God, whereby he is made in effect the author of both; which dreadful consequences, being the natural result of such a decree, and so directly repugnant to the doctrine of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, (which is a proclamation of free and universal love to all mankind, that whosoever believes in Christ, the true light and Saviour of the world, and gives up in sincere obedience to him, should not perish, but have everlasting life,) I testify against, as anti-scriptural, and unworthy of entertainment, by any that profess the Christian faith and doctrine.

And as the word signifying election, simply denotes any kind of election or choice, and in the present consideration, the election of those persons in time, who obey the call of God, calling them to repent and believe in Christ Jesus, the true light and Saviour of the world; so the word signifying chosen, signifies properly any chosen, choice, or excellent thing or person. Thus, choice vows, or the choice of vows are called by the Septuagint, the elect of vows, Deut. xii. 11. The choice sheep, that were part for Nehemiah, are called elect sheep Neh. v. 18. Choice cedars, are termed, elect cedars, Jer. xxii. 7. And the choice and

best trees of Lebanon, are styled the elect of Lebanon, Ezek. xxxi. 16. And as for things, so also for persons, the words retain the same sense. Thus the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men, the Greek calls them seven hundred elect men. The chosen men of Israel, the elect men of Israel, Psal. lxxviii. 31. Chosen men out of all Israel, Judges, xx. 34, and 1 Sam. xxiv. 2, and chosen men of Israel, 1 Sam. xxvi. 2, are called elect men. In all these places, and many more, that might be instanced, also out of the New Testament: for instance, a chosen generation, 1 Pet. ii. 9. To the elect strangers, 1 Pet. i. 1, 2. The church that is at Babylon elected together with you, I Pet. v. 13. To the elect lady, 2 John, i. The children of thy elect sister, ver. 13. Called, and chosen, and faithful, Rev. xvii. 14. The word plainly denotes a certain choiceness, or excellency in the things or persons, whereunto it is applied; and in this sense the ancient Greek writers frequently used it.

So, the word reprobate, is not to be understood in that rigid sense wherein some have taken it, namely, to be passed by, or rejected of God, by an absolute decree from eternity. But it imports such a disapproving, disallowing, or rejecting of things or persons, as is done in time, when the things or persons are manifested to be disapprovable, disallowable, or rejectable. To give a few instances of persons, whereby the thing may appear beyond exception, that God's rejection of man, doth not precede, but follow his rejection of him: when Saul had been disobedient to the command of the Lord, in sparing Agag, and the best of the


sheep and the oxen, the prophet Samuel told him, that rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry; and added, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he also hath rejected thee from being king, I Sam. xv. 23, 26. When the children of Israel did not believe in the Lord their God, but rejected his statutes, and covenant, and testimonies, 2 Kings, xvii. 14, 15, the Lord also rejected them, ver. 20. The like is said of Jerusalem, that "the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath,” Jer. vii. 29, and the reason is given, chap. viii. 9, "Lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord." So the Lord first complains, "My people," saith he, "are destroyed for lack of knowledge ;" and then threatens them in these words, "because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee," Hos. iv. 6.

In all which places, the Hebrew word signifies to disallow or reject, in such a manner as is before observed: and the Septuagint, in Jer. vii. 29, and viii. 9, render by, disallow, or reject. And in the like sense the same Greek word often occurs in the New Testament, as Matt. xxi. 42; Mark, xii. 10; Luke, xx. 17; 1 Pet. ii. 7, with its passives, as Mark, viii. 31; Luke, ix. 22, and xvii. 25; Heb. xii. 17; 1 Pet. ii. 4.

The love of God in his Son Jesus Christ, is manifested unto all men, in order to their recovery out of sin and transgression; for he will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of his truth, 1 Tim. ii. 4, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Pet. iii. 9. These are texts which are liable to no exception, if

it were not for the wilful blindness and perversions of men. For a further confirmation, God hath ratified this with a most solemn asseveration, “ As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?" Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Upon which, saith Tertullian, "God would fain have us believe him ;" adding, Lib. de Pænit. c. 4, "Happy are we, for whose sake the Lord vouchsafeth to swear; but most unhappy, if we believe him not when he sweareth!" So that, the love of God is universal; he would have none to perish, by an absolute irrespective decree; but the cause is man's own voluntary rejecting the love and grace of God, which comes by Jesus Christ.


ABOUT the month called June, 1700, Richard Claridge removed from London to Barking in Essex, where he dwelt, and kept a boarding-school for some years.

Having observed, while he walked in communion with the Baptists, a sober and sensible remnant among that people, of whom he was persuaded that they feared the Lord, and were waiting for the consolation of Israel; he was now drawn forth in a spirit of love and compassion toward them, to write the following epistle; which for the sake of such serious enquirers, is here published.

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