Monday, July 6, 2015

Part 2: A Study of The Covenant of Redemption, by Patrick Gillespie

By this time it may appear that there is no great cause to contend for the order and distinction of these eternal acts of the will of God, that concurred to the making up this eternal transaction betwixt Jehovah and the Mediator, since they are all co-ordinate acts of the counsel of his will, and means for the carrying on the glory of his mercy and justice in saving man. This much is manifest,
(1.) That the Covenant of Redemption made with Christ, doth suppose other eternal acts of the will of God, about the saving of man in the way of satisfaction to justice, etc., whereof I have spoken before, Chap.2.
(2.) That the designation, calling, and eternal mission of the Son of God to do this work, must in order be before the person designed and called, gave his actual consent, and closed the bargain from eternity. And if any will contend about the order of these eternal acts before-mentioned, I do not see why we may not fitly conceive of them in this order, designing, calling, fitting, investing, sending of Christ; these were the eternal acts of the will of God, which were entertained by the Son of God with consent and delectation.

The Properties3 of the Covenant of Redemption, are, Freedom, Graciousness, Eternity, Equality, Order, and Stability.

1.The Covenant that was transacted betwixt Jehovah and Christ, was a most free Covenant: it was an act of mere liberty and sovereign freedom. There was eminent freedom upon both sides, in both the parties Covenanting.
(1.) Upon the Father's side (abstracting from his own decrees and purposes), it was free to Jehovah to have followed a strict Law-course according to the rigour of the Covenant of works; or to follow a Gospel-way of mitigation and condescension as pleased him; it was free to him to send, or not to send a Saviour to suffer for man; to take a satisfaction by a Surety, or only in the Soul that sinned, as pleased him.
(2.) Upon Christ's part, it was as free to him to be a suffering Redeemer and Surety, or not, as pleased him; to undertake the work of our Redemption, or not to undertake it; to humble himself unto this service, or not; to go this errand, or not, as pleased him. Hence 'tis observed,4 that it was otherwise with the second Adam, than with the first; for it was not free to Adam to withdraw from, or to deny subjection to the first Covenant; neither could he withdraw himself from the Law of Nature, nor slight the promise thereof, without the violation of that Law: but the Son of God was free, and tied by no Law antecedent to his own consent.

This Property of the Covenant of Redemption, is established and confirmed,
1. From these Scriptures which attribute this transaction to the free pleasure and sovereign freedom of both parties, the Father and Christ; therefore the Scripture speaking of God's eternal transactions with Christ about our Redemption, doth so frequently call them, deeds and acts of will, and of the Father's pleasure; and that the whole procedure was according to his good pleasure, and the pleasure of his will, Eph. 1.5,9. And Col. 1.19, It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell. 2 Tim. 1.9, according to his purpose and grace, etc. And upon the other part, Christ's concessions in this matter, are attributed to his mere will and liberty, Phil. 2.6,7,8, Who being in the form of God, having the very same divine essence which the father hath, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; counted it no usurpation to carry himself as God, equal with the Father; made himself of no reputation; freely, and of his own accord, he humbled himself; not using nor manifesting the glory that was competent to him, and took upon him the form of a servant; he took upon him a real service in the assumption of the human nature, for the ends he assumed it, and was made in the likeness of men; and in this service he did behave himself, as other men, and suitably to that employment, and not as equal with God, which was his natural condition; and while he was in that habit and condition, he obeyed unto the death of the Cross. All this he acted with eminent freedom in time; and consented to with like freedom from eternity, where he freely took upon him whatsoever he acted within time.

2. If it was free with God, whether he would give to man a Being, and whether he would conclude this in the counsel of his will from eternity, or not, as pleased him; sure it was also free to God whether he would send a Saviour to him when he should be lost, or not, as pleased him: Now, 'tis manifest that it was free with God, whether he would so much as give to man a being; for he was under no necessity to create the World, or Men, or Angels, all which are for his pleasure; and therefore are whatsoever they are, by his pleasure, Rev. 4.11, Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

3. If it was free to God from eternity, whether he would choose objects in Mankind, to magnify his Grace and Mercy upon, when he had purposed to create Angels and men; or whether he would let them all perish, and not take any of their natures upon him; then the Covenant of Suretyship hath this property of freedom; but it is manifest that it was free with God from eternity, whether he would recover any of the race of fallen man, or not, as pleased him; since he was no more tied to Men than to Angels, to whom he sent no Saviour when they fell, nor hath designed any of the fallen Angels unto Redemption, 2Pet. 2.4, For if God spared not the Angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto the day of Judgment. Heb. 2.16, For verily he took not on him the nature of Angels; but he took upon him the seed of Abraham. It remains therefore, that the Covenant of Redemption is an act of sovereignty and freedom upon God's part who designed a Redeemer, and upon Christ's part who consented unto this designation.

4. This Property of the Covenant of Redemption is further confirmed, by the negation and removal of all things contrary to sovereign freedom.
(1.) There was nothing from himself (abstracting from his own decrees, and love-designs) that could trench [encroach] upon the freedom of this eternal act of his will; for there was no necessity of nature upon Jehovah, nor upon the Son of God, that did determine God to enter in this Covenant (as is already cleared.)
(2.) There was nothing from without that could trench upon the freedom of this eternal act; as nothing could necessarily determine, so neither compel nor constrain God to lay such a service upon his own Son Christ, nor him to undertake it; For
    [1.] This transaction having been from eternity, it was a concluded bargain before the creatures had a being, Prov. 8.23, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
    [2.] Put the case they had then had a being; what could the being of Men and Angels, and all the works of his hands have trenched upon the sovereign freedom of their Maker's will and actings? for who hath resisted his will?—hath not the potter power over the clay? Rom. 9.19,21.
    [3.] The Father and the Son were not only free from all natural necessity and outward compulsion; but also from all hire, allurement or motive from any thing without their own will; there was nothing in man, no not foreseen, that could allure or move; far less hire the Father to give Christ, to engage him in this work, nor Christ to engage his name in our bond; since he well foresaw what it would cost him: It's true he values his seed as a satisfying return of his travail, Isa. 53.11, He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; but beside that, there is no proportion betwixt his work, and this poor wages: was man a price for the Lord of glory to work for? or was he a reward for him to wrestle for? could he be hired for so low a wager, if the sovereign freedom of his own will had not acted him? Consider, I say, who gave this price to the Lord: did man give himself to the Lord, or did the Lord give his elect people to Christ from eternity, and afterward he is the first giver also? Now there can be no hire given by man to the Lord, unless he were the first giver, Rom. 11.35. For who hath first given to him and it shall be recompensed to him again? 1 Chron. 29.14, Of thine own have we given thee. Jer. 30.21, And I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me; for who is he that engageth his heart to approach unto me, saith the Lord?

2. Another property of this Covenant is Graciousness; it is not only the Covenant transacted with us, the Gospel-Covenant, that is, pure Grace; but this also that was transacted betwixt Jehovah and Christ, even while it was yet in his purpose, and as it was the eternal act of his will, is frequently called caris & eudokia, Grace and his good pleasure, or gracious pleasure, Eph. 1.5,6,7; 2. Tim. 1.9. his purpose and grace. Now Graciousness is attributed to the Covenant of Redemption, in a far other sense than 'tis attributed to the Covenant of reconciliation: For,
(1.) Graciousness is attributed to the Covenant of Redemption, in regard of both Parties transacting; it was pure Grace that determined both the Parties, and engaged them both; the Father to send, and the Son to come; and this Grace was equally in both the Parties, and did shine equally and by way of efficiency in them both, Zech. 6.13, The counsel of peace was between them both. But graciousness is attributed to the Covenant of reconciliation; because of the shining glory and activity of the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is therein manifested; which Grace is in us subjectively; and though the acts thereof be ours in a vital formal manner; yet it is from God by way of efficiency, and it is his Grace, not ours, from which the Covenant hath its name of Grace, Titus 2.11; 1 Tim. 1.14;Eph. 1.6,7; And 2.5,7,8; 1 Cor. 15.10.
(2.) Graciousness is attributed to the Covenant of Reconciliation; not only in regard of God's making such a Covenant with us; but also in regard of the tenor of that Covenant, and whole dispensation; the promises, conditions, and reward therein is all pure Grace; as the same is opposed unto, and contra-distinguished from works, which signify nothing in that covenant, as it is a Court of Righteousness and Life, Eph. 2.8,9, For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. But of this Covenant of Redemption, Graciousness is a property thereof; mainly, because of the reasons following; but not because the whole tenor thereof, as well the conditions as promises were pure Grace considered as such, and contra-distinguished from works: For though pure Grace made this Covenant of Redemption; yet the condition thereof upon both sides were works.

3. See Mr. Rutherford Treatise of the Covenant. p.2. c.12.
4. Jo. Cocc. Summum Doct. de fœd. c.5. Sect. 90.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Part 1: A Study of The Covenant of Redemption, by Patrick Gillespie

This and the following 4 posts are taken from Chapter 3 of Patrick Gillespie's “Ark of the Covenant Opened” (London, 1677)

THE general Nature of this Covenant is common to it, with all other Covenants; whatsoever different peculiarity they have, this is essential and common to all Covenants; they are Agreements: and this is an eternal transaction and agreement betwixt Jehovah and the Mediator Christ, about the work of our Redemption.

The peculiar propriety of its nature, will appear by inquiring a little into, (1.) The various eternal acts of the will of God that concurred to make up this agreement. (2.) The distinction and order of these eternal acts of his will, and the right manner of our conceiving of them.

1. Supposing, as we have said before, that God purposed in himself not to save man without a satisfaction to his Justice: These eternal acts of the will of God, or rather the things which we conceive under these various acts, and their denominations among men (for we need not multiply acts in this matter, but for the helping our own understanding) did concur and meet together in this agreement.
(1.) The designation of a Person to do this work; there must needs have been a Person set apart and designed from eternity unto the doing of the work of Redemption, and this Person was the Son only; not the Father, nor the Spirit, I Pet. 1.20, Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world; but was manifested in these last times for you. 
(2.) The preparation and fitting of the Person set apart to take our Law-place, and room, that Justice might smite him in our stead; which also was by an eternal act of the will of God decreed, that the Son of God should be Immanuel, God with us, or God made manifest in the flesh, Isa.7.14. I Tim.3.16, and unto this incarnation of the Son of God, his own words have reference, as unto the grand qualification whereby he was destinated before-hand, that he might be in a capacity to do this work, Heb.10.5. A body has thou prepared me. 
(3.) The calling of the Person designed: calling is an act different from designation, 'tis something further. Christ was by an eternal act of God's will called to this work, and that long before he came into the world, Psal.89.19, Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mightyI have exalted one chosen out of the people. And Isa. 42.6, I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a Covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. Heb.5.5, So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priestbut he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee. 
(4.) The investing of the Person designed, with offices, powers and authorities, for the doing of this work, such as his Mediatory-office, and the powers and authorities thereunto belonging, which was not suspended until the time of his actual discharge of the offices of King, Priest, and Prophet; but by an eternal act of the will of God, he was set up and vested with these offices and powers from everlasting, and had the glory of the designed, called, invested Mediator; as he plainly insinuates, Prov.8.23, I was set up from everlasting, saith Wisdom; several Expositors render it, I was called, or I was anointed. Joh.17.5, And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
(5.) The mission of the Son, Christ designed, fitted, called, invested for this work, was also by an eternal act in the counsel of God, sent to do this work; he had a solemn eternal authoritative mission, a command to go, and was bidden go; he had the will of God by an eternal act or commission given out to him concerning all this work, long before he was actually made under the Law; to which he hath respect, when he saith, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God, Heb.10.7. even that will of God that was in the book of his eternal decrees, Joh.6.39, And this is the Father's will which hath sent me. And 10.18, This Commandment have I received of my Father: But in all these, we do not so much multiply the distinction of acts, as we take notice of the distinction and difference of Phrase used by the Holy Ghost, speaking of this mystery in the Scriptures. Upon the other part, there concurred unto this agreement, an eternal personal consent and compliance upon Christ's part, unto all these eternal acts of the will of God; for Christ God, equal with the Father, does not begin to consent and agree unto any thing in time; nor can the eternal Son of God will any thing in time, which he did not will and consent unto from eternity.

But Christ was present with the Father, and did from eternity consent and agree to these eternal acts:
(1.) To the designation of himself to be the person that should satisfy the Justice of God, he heartily acquiesced and offered himself; he said, Lo, I come to do thy will, Heb.10.5,7. He poured out his Soul unto death, Isa.53.12.
(2.) He consented unto the putting himself in that low capacity that the working of this work required, Heb.2.7, Thou madest him a little lower than the Angels; to leave the throne of glory, and come down to his footstool, there to be in disgrace; the Lord of the Law, to be made under the Law, Gal.4.4. the holy one that knew no sin, to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, Rom.8.3. Phil.2.6,7,8, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. 
(3.) He consented and agreed unto the eternal act of his calling to this work; no sooner was it his Father's will that he should travel in the business, but it was his also. He was as a ready Servant, whose ear was bored in token of his love and willingness to serve his Master, when he might have been free, Psal.40.6, Mine ears hast thou opened or bored. Isa.50.5,6, The Lord hath opened mine ears, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
(4.) He consented to the taking on these offices and trusts that the work of our Redemption required; there was no force nor constraint upon, no necessity of nature that he should step in betwixt the disagreeing parties, that he should step into the fire that we had kindled, that he should make himself a Sacrifice for our sins, that he should receive a dispensatory Kingdom; but frankly and freely he consented to do all these things, John.10.18, No man taketh my life from me; but I lay it down of myself. John.17.2, As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. Prov.8.23, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 
(5.) He consented unto his mission, his Father's sending of him, and was well content to go that errand; yea, so hearty was his consent, that he took delight in it,Psal.40.8, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy Law is within my heart. Joh.4.34, Jesus saith unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. And to all these things he gives a personal consent from eternity, and with so much delight, that he solaced himself, and took pleasure in the future accomplishment of these eternal acts of the will of God concerning the Sons of men, Prov.8.23,30,31, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning or ever the earth was. Then I was by him as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him: Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the Sons of men. This is the nature of this eternal transaction, which will appear also more clearly afterward from the tenor of this Covenant, with the reciprocal engagements of the parties.

2. Concerning the distinction and order of these eternal acts of the will of God, and for preventing gross and unbecoming thoughts of them; I give these cautions.
(1.) All the acts of God's will, his decrees, and eternal transaction with Christ, are in regard of God, one most simple and pure act of His will; but in regard of our conceptions of them, who cannot take up many particulars together in one; they are distinguished and expressed so in the word, that we may take them up distinctly: The Lord in his way of expressing these great mysteries of the counsel of his will, accommodating himself to our way of conceiving things: we are therefore accordingly to take heed how we conceive of the distinction of acts in the eternal counsel of God's will. (
2.) When we speak of the order of these eternal acts, we mean only the order of Nature, and which of these acts are to be conceived by us antecedaneous to the rest in that respect; for there is no order of time, no priority nor posterity of that kind among the decrees of God, and acts of his will, which are all eternal.

3. We are to conceive of this order (which only agreeth to the decrees of God) according to these rules:1
1. According to the futurition of things; that is, these decrees and eternal acts of the will of God about things ad extra without, which do suppose the futurition of things about which these decrees are past; these decrees (I say) do necessarily suppose some other acts of the will of God antecedent to these in order of nature, whence the things supposed in that decree, had their futurition; for 'tis to me above question, that things which did not exist from eternity, had their futurition no where, but from the decrees of God's will, which made them future things before they existed; neither is it possible that God could foresee any thing as future, before his decree, and some act of his will gave it futurition; whatsoever the device of Scientia media [middle knowledge], tell us to the contrary. And according to this rule, we say, the decree of God's entering in Covenant with man, whether by Law or Grace, does suppose some antecedaneous act of the will of God (in order of nature) concerning the Creation of man, some decree whence man had a futurition, and existed in the prescience of God as a future thing.
2. We may conceive of the order of the decrees of God, according as he orders things in execution, by that rule so much made use of by the Learned Dr. TwisseQuod prius est in intentione posterius est in executione & contra: that which is first in the intention of God, is last in the execution;2 and that which is last in the intent, is first in the execution; Understand this rule, as that Author doth, without subordination of the co-ordinate means whereby God intended to make himself glorious in the way of mercy and justice; and according to this rule, we say that God first decreed the glorifying of his mercy and justice upon all mankind, before he decreed any thing concerning his creation, or his fall: for the creation and fall of man, were first in execution, before justice and mercy was glorified in him.
3. Another rule (which also is a qualification of the former) is, that these eternal acts of the will of God which respiciunt finem, relate to the end, are in this kind of order before; these acts of his will which respiciunt media relate unto the means which lead unto these ends, Et illud quod habet rationem finis est prius, quod vero habet rationem medii est posterius; And that which hath the place of the end, is the first; and that which hath the place of the mean, is last in order among the eternal acts of God's will. And this rule holds not only with respect to the supreme and chief end; to wit, God's glorifying of himself in the way of manifesting his mercy and justice, which is first in order among the eternal acts of the will of God, relating to man; and all the other acts of his will, concerning the creation, fall, sending of Christ, &c. (which are co-ordinate means in respect of this supreme end, to which they are subordinate): These I say, are posterior in this kind of order, among the decrees of God, and eternal acts of his will; but this rule holds also in respect of that subordination that may be conceived among these acts of the will of God, about the creation and fall of man, and the sending of Christ (which are co-ordinate means in respect of the supreme end before-mentioned); yet because one of these may have the place of an end, with respect to another of these same co-ordinate means, which may be also a means for carrying on some next immediate end, as well as the supreme ultimate end; as the Salvation of the elect is a mean subservient to the great end of glorifying Grace, and yet may be, and is also, an end of God's sending Christ; so that the sending of Christ, is both a mean subordinate to the glory of Grace, and the Salvation of God's elect people. Now, I say, which way soever we look upon the acts of God's will about the glorifying of his justice and mercy on Mankind, we are still to conceive of the eternal acts of his will, that respect the ends which he has proposed to himself, both supreme and subordinate, as first in order; and these acts of his will, that relate to the means, as last: for God first purposed the end, then the means that lead to it.

1. The reader will note that these rules provide for a thorough-going Supralapsarian doctrine of the decree in agreement with the Supralapsarianism of Samuel Rutherford and borrowing from the principles of William Twisse, another Supralapsarian and the Prolocutor of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster.
2. William Twisse. Vind. gratiæ & potest Divin.

Monday, June 29, 2015

David Dickson On God's Decrees

Question 1: "DID God from all eternity, by the most holy and wise counsel of his will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass?"

Yes; Eph. 1.11. Rom. 11.33. Heb. 4.17. Rom. 9.15,18.

Well then, do not the Socinians, Arminians, and Jesuits err, who maintain, The things which come to pass, in time, to fall out, and come to pass, without the decree of God? Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the knowledge of God, whereby, from all eternity, he hath known all things infallibly, which come to pass, or shall be in time, Acts 15.18. John 21.17. Heb. 4.13. But all things which come to pass in time, could not have been infallibly known from eternity, but in the decree of his divine will.

2d, From God's natural way of working in time, 1 Cor. 12.6 Rom. 11.36. Whence it is evident, that God worketh effectually, and immediately, in time all things which are done: But he worketh by his will those things which he will have to be in time, (after that manner, and in that time, how, and when they come to pass) Psalm 115.2. But that act of willing cannot happen to God in time, but hath been in him from all eternity, because God is unchangeable, James 1.17.

3d, By enumerating several instances, concerning which the Scripture affirms particularly, that they have been decreed by God, as the sufferings and death of Christ, Acts 2.23. The glory of those that are to be saved, Eph. 1.4,5. 1 Thes. 5.9. And the fore-ordaining the rest to damnation to be punished for their sin, Jude ver. 4,5. The like may be said of other things which come to pass in time; See Psalm 33.11. and 115.3. Isa. 46.10. Prov. 19.21. That the liberty and freedom of the will, and contingency of events, is consistent with the decree, is clear from Acts 2.23. and 3.17,18. and 4.27.28. Gen. 45.5.

Quest. II. "Is the decree of predestination (namely, the decree of election and reprobation) absolute from the mere good will, and pleasure of God?"


And is it particular concerning a certain number of persons?

Yes; 2 Tim. 2.19. John 13.18.

Well then, do not the Lutherans and Arminians err, who maintain, The decree of predestination to be general and conditional, depending upon persevering faith, (which they affirm depend upon the will of man) and foreseen infidelity, and want of faith?


Do not likewise the Papists and Socinians err, who maintain, The decree of predestination to be general, and to depend upon good and evil works, with perseverance in them?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the apostle Paul, who maketh the good-will and pleasure of God the only cause why this man is chosen, and another, as worthy, rejected, and casten off, Rom. 9.11-15. Where he moves an objection against the justice of God, and answers it.

2d, Because our blessed Saviour assigns it to the good will and pleasure of God, that to some, the mysteries of faith, for their conversion, are revealed, and that they are hid from many others, who are nothing worse, but in some respects better, Mat. 11.25,26.

3d, Because a man of himself hath no good thing in him, whereby he may be differenced from another, but what he hath freely gotten from God, 1 Cor. 4.7.

4th, Because the grace of regeneration, justifying faith, effectual calling, and perseverance to the end, are given to all the elect, and to them only, according to the eternal decree of God: and therefore are effects, not causes, or pre-required conditions of election, Rom. 8.39. Acts 13.48. Mat. 24.24. 2 Tim. 1.9. John 15.16. Eph. 1.3-5, Mat. 13.11. Rom. 9.6,7.

Quest. III. "Hath it pleased God, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain the rest of mankind to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice?"

Yes; Rom. 9.17,18,21,22. Jude ver. 4,5. Matt. 11.25,26, 2 Tim. 2. 19,20.

Well then, do not many of the Quakers, and others err, who maintain, That God never ordained any man to perish eternally?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because Christ thanked his Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because he had hid those things from the wise and prudent, and had revealed them unto babes, Mat. 11.25,26.

2d, Because the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What, if God willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, Rom. 9.17,18,21,22.

3d, Because in a great house, there are some vessels to honour, some to dishonour, 2 Tim. 2.19,20.

4th, Because the apostle Jude says, there are some who of old were ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men. Note, That the cause of this reprobation is not man's sin, but the absolute will and good pleasure of God. Man's sin indeed is the cause why God will punish, but no occasion why he did ordain to pass by, or to punish man. This decree is just, because God has power over man, as the potter hath power over the clay. Neither is the end of this decree the condemnation of the creature, but the manifestation of God's justice. 

Lastly, Sin is the effect of man's free-will, and condemnation is the effect of justice, but the decree of God is the cause of neither.

Quest. IV. "Are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only?"

No, John 17.9. Rom. 8.28. John 6. 64,65. John 10.26. John 8.47. 1 John 2.19.

Well then, do not the Papists, Quakers, Socinians, and Arminians err, who maintain, That all men, even reprobates, are redeemed by Christ, and that many reprobates are effectually called, justified, and adopted?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the golden chain which cannot be loosed, mentioned by the apostle Paul, Rom. 8.30. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

2d, Because those, and those only believe, whom God hath ordained to life eternal, Acts 13.48. Titus 1.1.

3d, Because Christ himself says so to the Jews, but ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, John 10.26-28. Ye are not of my sheep, that is, of the elect, which the Father hath given me.

4th, Because Christ would not pray for the world, but for the elect only, John 17.9.

5th, Because the election or elect, have obtained it, and the rest were blinded, namely, who are not elected and effectually called, Rom. 11.7.

6th, Because Christ says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. Such a love he never had to reprobates, whom he professes he never knew, John 15.13. with Mat. 7.23.

7th, Because, according to the Scripture, Christ died only for his own sheep, viz. intentionally, and efficaciously, John 10.15.

8th, Because the Scripture often says that Christ died for many, Mat. 24.28. Mat. 20.28.

9th, Because there are many who lived under the gospel, as well as those who lived under the law, who have not been so much as outwardly called, being nothing worse than others who are called.

10th, Because to all, and every one, the grace of regeneration, which is simply necessary to salvation, is not offered; neither do all, and every one, get remission and pardon of their sins, Eph. 1.7. Col. 1.14. Deut. 29.3. Mat. 11.25,28. with Mat. 11.13.

11th, Because the grace of regeneration is invincible, and of its own nature, always efficacious and powerful, Ezek. 11.19,20. Eph. 2.1,5. Eph. 1.19

12th, Because the grace of regeneration can never be lost, or fall totally or finally, 1 Pet. 1.5. 1 John 3.9. Whosoever are called and justified are also glorified, Rom. 8.30.

From: Truth's Victory Over Error, Chapter 3, Edinburgh, 1684

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hugh Binning on Predestination

ROM. ix. 22. - "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." EPH. i. 11. - "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."

We are now upon a high subject; high indeed for an eminent apostle, much more above our reach. The very consideration of God's infinite wisdom might alone suffice to restrain our limited thoughts, and serve to sober our minds with the challenge of our own ignorance and darkness; yet the vain and wicked mind of man will needs quarrel with God, and enter the lists of disputation with him, about his righteousness and wisdom in the counsel of election and reprobation: 'But, O man, who art thou that repliest against God,' or disputest? ver. 20. This is a thing not to be disputed, but believed; and if ye will believe no more than ye can comprehend by sense or reason, then ye give his majesty no more credit than to weak mortal man. Whatever secret thoughts do rise up in thy heart when thou hearest of God's foreordaining men to eternal life, without previous foresight or consideration of their doings, and preparing men to eternal wrath, for the praise of his justice, without previous consideration of their deservings, and passing a definitive sentence upon the end of all men, before they do either good or evil; whenever any secret surmises rise in thy heart against this, learn to answer thus; enter not the lists of disputation with corrupt reason, but put in this bridle of the fear of God's greatness, and the consciousness of thy own baseness, and labour to restrain thy undaunted and wild mind by it. Ponder that well, who thou art who disputest; who God is, against whom thou disputest - and if thou have spoken once, thou wilt speak no more - what thou art, who is as clay formed out of nothing; what he is, who is the former; and hath not the potter power over the clay? Consider but how great wickedness it is so much as to question him, or ask an account of his matters. After you have found his will to be the cause of all things, then to inquire farther into a cause of his will, which is alone the self-rule of righteousness, is to seek something above his will, and to reduce his majesty into the order of creatures. It is most abominable usurpation and sacrilege, for it both robs him of his royal prerogative, and instates the base footstool into his throne; but know, that certainly God will overcome when he is judged, Psal. l. 6. If thou judge him, he will condemn thee; if thou oppugn his absolute and holy decrees, he will hold thee fast bound by them to thy condemnation; he needs no other defence but to call out thy own conscience against thee, and bind thee over to destruction. Therefore, as one saith well, "Let the rashness of men be restrained from seeking that which is not, lest peradventure they find that which is." Seek not a reason of his purposes, lest peradventure thou find thy own death and damnation infolded in them.

Paul mentions two objections of carnal and fleshly wisdom against this doctrine of election and reprobation, which indeed contain the sum of all that is vented and invented even to this day, to defile the spotless truth of God. All the whisperings of men tend to one of these two, - either to justify themselves, or to accuse God of unrighteousness; and shall any do it and be guiltless? I confess, some oppose this doctrine, not so much out of an intention of accusing God, as out of a preposterous and ignorant zeal for God; even as Job's friends did speak much for God. Nay, but it was not well spoken, they did but speak wickedly for him. Some speak much to the defence of his righteousness and holiness, and, under pretence of that plea, make it inconsistent with these to fore-ordain to life or death without the foresight of their carriage; but shall they speak wickedly for God, or will he accept their person? He who looks into the secrets of the heart, knows the rise and bottom of such defences and apologies for his holiness to be partly self-love, partly narrow and limited thoughts of him, drawing him down to the determinations of his own greatest enemy, carnal reason. Since men will ascribe to him no righteousness, but such an one of their own shaping, and conformed to their own model, do they not indeed rob him of his holiness and righteousness?

I find two or three objections which may be reduced to this head. First, it seems unrighteousness with God, to predestinate men to eternal death, without their own evil deserving, or any forethought of it, - that before any man had a being, God should have been in his counsel fitting so many to destruction. Is it not a strange mocking of the creatures, to punish them for that sin and corruption, unto which by his eternal counsel they were fore-ordained? This is even that which Paul objects to himself, 'Is there unrighteousness with God?' Is it not unrighteousness to hate Esau before he deserves it? Is he not unrighteous, to adjudge him to death before he do evil? ver. 14. Let Paul answer for us, 'God forbid!' Why, there needs no more answer, but all thoughts or words which may in the least reflect upon his holiness are abomination. Though we could not tell how it is righteous and holy with him to do it, yet this we must hold, that it is. It is his own property to comprehend the reason of his counsels; it is our duty to believe what he reveals of them, without farther inquiry. He tells us, that thus it is clearly in this chapter; this far then we must believe. He tells us not how it is; then farther we should not desire to learn. God, in keeping silence of that, may put us to silence, and make us conceive that there is a depth to be admired, not sounded. Yet he goeth a little farther, and indeed as high as can be, to God's will - 'He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth.' Now, further he cannot go, for there is nothing above this. We may descend from this, but we cannot ascend, or rise above it. But is this any answer to the argument? A sophister could press it further, and take advantage from that very ground - What! is not this to establish a mere tyranny in the Lord; that he doeth all things of mere will and pleasure, distributes rewards and punishments without previous consideration of men's carriage? But here we must stand, and go no farther than the scriptures walk with us. Whatever reasons or causes may be assigned, yet certainly we must at length come up hither. All things are, because he so willed; and why willed we should not ask a reason, because his will is supreme reason, and the very self-rule of all righteousness. Therefore if we once know his will, we should presently conclude that it is most righteous and holy. If that evasion of the foreknowledge of men's sins and impenitency had been found solid, certainly Paul would have answered so, and not have had his refuge to the absolute will and pleasure of God, which seem to perplex it more. But he knew well that there could nothing of that kind, whether good or evil, either actually be without his will or be to come without the determination of the same will, and so could not be foreseen without the counsel of his will upon it; and therefore it had been but a poor shift to have refuge to that starting-hole of foreknowledge, out of which he must presently flee to the will and pleasure of God, and so he betakes him straightway to that he must hold at, and opposes that will to man's doings. 'It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.' If he had meant only that Jacob and Esau had actually done neither good or evil, he needed not return to the sanctuary of God's will, for still it might be said, it is of him that runs and wills and not of God's will as the first original; because their good and evil foreseen did move him to such love and hatred. It is all alike of works of men, whether these works be present or to come: therefore I would advise every one of you, whatever ye conceive of his judgment or mercy, if he have showed mercy to you, O then rest not in thyself, but arise and ascend till thou come to the height of his eternal free purpose! And if thou conceive thy sin, and misery, and judgment, thou mayest go up also to his holy counsels, for the glory of his name, and silence thyself with them. But it shall be most expedient for thee in the thought of thy miseries, to return always within, and search the corruption of thy nature, which may alone make thee hateful enough to God. If thou search thy own conscience, it will stop thy mouth, and make thee guilty before God. Let not the thought of his eternal counsels diminish the conviction of thy guilt, or the hatred of thyself for sin and corruption; but dwell more constantly upon this, because thou art called and commanded so to do. One thing remains fixed, - though he hath fore-ordained man to death, yet none shall be damned till his conscience be forced to say, that he is worthy of it a thousand times.

There is another whispering and suggestion of the wicked hearts of men against the predestination of God, which insinuates that God is an accepter of persons, and so accuses him of partial and unrighteous dealing, because he deals not equally with all men. Do ye not say this within yourselves - If he find all guilty, why does he not punish all? Why does he spare some? And if ye look upon all men in his first and primitive thought of them, as neither doing good nor evil, why does he not have mercy on all? But is thine eye evil because he is good? May he not do with his own as he pleases? Because he is merciful to some souls, shall men be displeased, and do well to be angry? Or, because he, of his own free grace, extends it, shall he be bound by a rule to do so with all? Is not he both just and merciful, and is it not meet that both be showed forth? If he punish thee, thou canst not complain, for thou deservest it; if he show mercy, why should any quarrel, for it is free and undeserved grace. By saving some, he shows his grace; by destroying others, he shows what all deserve. God is so far from being an accepter of persons according to their qualifications and conditions, that he finds nothing in any creature to cast the balance of his choice. If he did choose men for their works' sake, or outward privileges, and refuse others for the want of these, then it might be charged on him; but he rather goes over all these, nay, he finds none of these. In his first view of men he beholds them all alike, and nothing to determine his mind to one more than another, so that his choice proceedeth wholly from within his own breast - 'I will have mercy on whom I will.'

But then, thirdly, Our hearts object against the righteousness of God; that this fatal chain of predestination overturns all exhortations and persuasions to godliness, all care and diligence in well-doing. For thus do many profane souls conceive - If he be in one mind, who can turn him? Then, what need I pray, since he has already determined what shall be, and what shall become of me? His purpose will take effect whether I pray or pray not; my prayer will not make him change his mind; and if it be in his mind he will do it; if he hath appointed to save us, saved we shall be, live as we list; if he hath appointed us to death, die we must, live as we can. Therefore men, in this desperate estate, throw themselves headlong into all manner of iniquity, and that with quietness and peace. Thus do many souls perish upon the stumbling-stone laid in Zion, and wrest the truths and counsels of God to their own destruction, even quite contrary to their true intent and meaning. Paul, (Eph. i. 4.) speaks another language - 'He hath chosen us in him, - that we should be holy and without blame.' His eternal counsel of life is so far from loosing the reins to men's lusts, that it is the only certain foundation of holiness; it is the very spring and fountain from whence our sanctification flows by an infallible course. This chain of God's counsels concerning us, hath also linked together the end and the means, - glory and grace, - happiness and holiness, - that there is no destroying of them. Without holiness it is impossible to see God; so that those who expect the one without any desire of, and endeavour after the other, they are upon a vain attempt to loose the links of this eternal chain. It is the only eternal choosing love of God, which separated so many souls from the common misery of men. It is that only which in time doth appear, and rise as it were from under ground, in the streams or fruits of sanctification. And if the ordinance of life stand, so shall the ordinance of fruits, John xv. 16. Eph. ii. 10. If he hath appointed thee to life, it is certain he has also ordained thee to fruits, and chosen thee to be holy; so that whatever soul casts by the study of this, there is too gross a brand of perdition upon its forehead. It is true, all is already determined with him, and he is incapable of any change, or 'shadow of turning.' Nothing then wants, but he is in one mind about it, and thy prayer cannot turn him. Yet a godly soul will pray with more confidence, because it knows that as he hath determined upon all its wants and receipts, so he hath appointed this to be the very way of obtaining what it wants. This is the way of familiarity and grace. He takes with his own to make them call; and he performs his purpose in answer to their cry. But suppose there were nothing to be expected by prayer, yet I say, that is not the thing thou shouldst look to, hut what is required of thee, as thy duty, to do that simply out of regard to his majesty, though thou shouldst never profit by it. This is true obedience, to serve him for his own pleasure, though we had no expectation of advantage by it. Certainly he doth not require thy supplications for this end, to move him, and incline his affections toward thee, but rather as a testimony of thy homage and subjection to him; therefore, though they cannot make him of another mind than he is, or hasten performance before his purposed time - so that in reality they have no influence upon him - yet in praying, and praying diligently, thou declarest thy obligation to him, and respect to his majesty, which is all thou hast to look to, committing the event solely to his good pleasure.

The second objection Paul mentions, tends to justify men. 'Why then doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?' Since by his will he hath chained us with an inevitable necessity to sin, what can we do? Men cannot wrestle with him; why then doth he condemn and accuse them? 'But who art thou, O man, who disputest against God?' As if Paul had said, thou art a man, and so I am, why then lookest thou for an answer from me? Let us rather both consider whom we speak of, whom thou accusest, and whom I defend. It is God; what art thou then to charge him, or what am I so to clear him? Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge, especially in those forbidden secrets in which it is more concerning to be ignorant with faith and admiration, than to know with presumption. Dispute thou, O man, I will wonder; reply thou, I will believe! Doth it become thee, the clay, to speak so to thy Former, 'Why hast thou made me thus?' Let the consideration of the absolute right and dominion of God over us, - more than any creature hath over another, yea, or over themselves, - let that restrain us, and keep us within bounds. He may do with us what he pleaseth, for his own honour and praise; but it is his will that we should leave all the blame to ourselves, and rather behold the evident cause of our destruction in our sin, which is nearer us, than to search into a secret and incomprehensible cause in God's counsel.
Complete Works of Hugh Binning,

Lecture 16, On Predestination

Monday, June 22, 2015

John Owen on 2 Peter 3:9

”’The will of God,’ say some, ‘for the salvation of all, is here set down both negatively, that he would not have any perish, andpositively, that he would have all come to repentance....’ Many words need not be spent in answer to this objection, wrested from the misunderstanding and palpable corrupting of the sense of the words of the apostle. That indefinite and general expressions are to be interpreted in an answerable proportion to the things whereof they are affirmed, is a rule in the opening of the Scripture.... Will not common sense teach us that us is to be repeated in both the following clauses, to make them up complete and full,-namely, ‘Not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance’? ... Now, truly, to argue that because God would have none of those to perish, but all of them to come to repentance, therefore he hath the same will and mind towards all and every one in the world (even those to whom he never makes known his will, nor ever calls to repentance, if they never once hear of his way of salvation), comes not much short of extreme madness and folly ... I shall not need add any thing concerning the contradictions and inextricable difficulties wherewith the opposite interpretation is accompanied.... The text is clear, that it is all and only the elect whom he would not have to perish.”
Works of John Owen, Volume 10, Banner of Truth Trust, 1967, p. 348-349

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