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, and positively, 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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

John Chrysostom (349-407) on Justification

“The patriarch Abraham himself before receiving circumcision had been declared righteous on the score of faith alone: before circumcision, the text says, 'Abraham believed God, and credit for it brought him to righteousness.'” 1

“For if even before this, the circumcision was made uncircumcision, much rather was it now, since it is cast out from both periods. But after saying that 'it was excluded,' he shows also, how. How then does he say it was excluded? 'By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.' See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the “'aw of faith?' It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” 2

“For a person who had no works, to be justified by faith, was nothing unlikely. But for a person richly adorned with good deeds, not to be made just from hence, but from faith, this is the thing to cause wonder, and to set the power of faith in a strong light.” 3

“And this he removes, with great skill and prudence, turning their argument against themselves, and showing that those who relinquish the Law are not only not cursed, but blessed; and they who keep it, not only not blessed but cursed. They said that he who kept not the Law was cursed, but he proves that he who kept it was cursed, and he who kept it not, blessed. Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed. And how does he prove all this? for it is no common thing which we have promised; wherefore it is necessary to give close attention to what follows.” 4

“For they said that the one who does not keep the law is cursed, while he shows that the one who strives to keep it is cursed and the one who does not strive to keep it is blessed. They said that he who kept not the Law was cursed, but he proves that he who kept it was cursed, and he who kept it not, blessed. Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed.” 5

“God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent.” 6

(1) Fathers of the Church, Vol. 82, Homilies on Genesis 18-45, 27.7 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 167.

(2) NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 7, vs. 27.

(3) NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 8

(4) NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Commentary on Galatians, 3:8.

(5) Homily on Galatians 3:9-10, Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 40. 3:8.

(6) Homily on Epesians 4:2, Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 134.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Jerome Zanchius on Double Predestination

Now, this twofold Predestination, of some to life, and of others to death, (if it may be called twofold, both being constituent parts of the same decree) cannot be denied, without likewise denying, 1. most express and frequent declarations of Scripture, and, 2. the very existence of God: for, since God is a Being perfectly simple, free from all accident and composition; and yet, a Will to save some and punish others is often predicated of Him in Scripture; and an immovable decree, to do this; in consequence of His will, is likewise ascribed to Him; and a perfect foreknowledge of the sure and certain accomplishment of what He has thus willed and decreed, is also attributed to Him; it follows, that whoever denies this will, decree, and foreknowledge of God, does, implicitly deny God Himself: since His will, decree, and foreknowledge are no other than God Himself willing and decreeing and foreknowing...

We assert, that, as all men, universally, are not elected to salvation; so neither are all men, universally, ordained to condemnation. This follows from what has been proved already: however, I shall subjoin some farther demonstration of these two positions.

(1) All men universally are not elected to salvation.

And first, this may be evinced a posteriori: 'tis undeniable, from Scripture that God will not, in the last day, save every individual of mankind – Dan. 12:2; Mat. 25:46; John 5:29. Therefore, say we, God never designed so save every individual: since, if He had, every individual would and must be saved, for, “His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His pleasure.” … Secondly, this may be evinced, also, from God's foreknowledge. The Deity, from all eternity, and consequently, at the very time He gives life and being to a reprobate, certainly foreknew, and knows in consequence of His own decree, that such an one would fall short of salvation: now, if God foreknew this, He must have predetermined it because His own will Is the foundation of His decrees, and His decrees and the foundation of His prescience: He therefore foreknowing futurities, because by His predestination, He hath rendered their futurition certain and inevitable. Neither is it possible, in the very nature of things, that they should be elected to salvation, or ever obtain it, whom God foreknew should perish: for then the Divine act of preterition would be changeable, wavering, and precarious; the Divine foreknowledge would be deceived and the Divine will impeded, all of which are utterly impossible. Lastly, that all men are not chosen to life, nor created to that end is evident in that there were some who were hated of God before they were born (Rom. 9:11-13), are fitted for destruction (vs. 22), and made for the day of evil (Prov. 16:1).


(2) All men universally are not ordained to condemnation.

There are some who are chosen (Mat. 20:16):An election, or elect number, who obtain grace and salvation, while the rest are blinded (Rom. 11:7), a little flock, to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom (Luke 12:32), a people whom the Lord hath reserved (Jer. 50:20), and formed for Himself (Isa. 43:21), a peculiarly favored race, to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven; while, to others, it is not given (Mat. 13:11), a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom. 11:5) whom God hath not appointed to wrath, but to salvation by Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9) – in a word, who are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should shew forth the praises of Him, who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9), and whose names, for that very end, are in the book of life (Phil. 4:3) and written in Heaven (Luke 10:20; Heb. 12:23). Luther observes, that, in the 9th, 10th, and 11th chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, the apostle particularly insists on the Doctrine of Predestination. “Because,” says he, “All things, whatever, arise from, and depend upon, the divine appointment; whereby it was pre-ordained, who should receive the word of life, and who should disbelieve it; who should be delivered from their sins, and who should be hardened in them; who should be justified,a d who condemned.” (Pref. to Rom.)

The decrees of election and reprobation are immutable and irreversible.

Jerome Zanchius – Absolute Predestination

Monday, June 8, 2015

Nothing Happens Apart From God's Willing It

"We assert that God did from eternity decree to make man in His own image, and also decreed to suffer him to fall from that image in which he should be created, and thereby to forfeit the happiness with which he was invested, which decree and the consequences of it were not limited to Adam only, but included and extended to all his natural posterity.
Something of this was hinted already in the preceding chapter, and we shall now proceed to the proof of it.
(1) That God did make man in His own image is evident from Scripture (Gen. 1. 27).
(2) That He decreed from eternity so to make man is as evident, since for God to do anything without having decreed it, or fixed a previous plan in His own mind, would be a manifest imputation on His wisdom, and if He decreed that now, or at any time, which He did not always decree, He could not be unchangeable.
(3) That man actually did fall from the Divine image and his original happiness is the undoubted voice of Scripture (Gen. 3), and
(4) That he fell in consequence of the Divine decree we prove thus: God was either willing that Adam should fall, or unwilling, or indifferent about it. If God was unwilling that Adam should transgress, how came it to pass that he did? Is man stronger and is Satan wiser than He that made them? Surely no. Again, could not God, had it so pleased Him, have hindered the tempter's access to paradise? or have created man, as He did the elect angels, with a will invariably determined to good only and incapable of being biased to evil? or, at least have made the grace and strength, with which He endued Adam, actually effectual to the resisting of all solicitations to sin? None but atheists would answer these questions in the negative. Surely, if God had not willed the fall, He could, and no doubt would, have prevented it; but He did not prevent it: ergo, He willed it. And if He willed it, He certainly decreed it, for the decree of God is nothing else but the seal and ratification of His will. He does nothing but what He decreed, and He decreed nothing which He did not will, and both will and decree are absolutely eternal, though the execution of both be in time. The only way to evade the force of this reasoning is to say that 'God was indifferent and unconcerned whether man stood or fell.' But in what a shameful, unworthy light does this represent the Deity! Is it possible for us to imagine that God could be an idle, careless spectator of one of the most important events that ever came to pass? Are not 'the very hairs of our head all numbered'? or does 'a sparrow fall to the ground without our heavenly Father'? If, then, things the most trivial and worthless are subject to the appointment of His decree and the control of His providence, how much more is man, the masterpiece of this lower creation? and above all that man Adam, who when recent from his Maker's hands was the living image of God Himself, and very little inferior to the angels! and on whose perseverance was suspended the welfare not of himself only, but likewise that of the whole world. But, so far was God from being indifferent in this matter, that there is nothing whatever about which He is so, for He worketh all things, without exception, 'after the counsel of His own will' (Eph. 1. 11), consequently, if He positively wills whatever is done, He cannot be indifferent with regard to anything. On the whole, if God was not unwilling that Adam should fall, he must have been willing that he should, since between God's willing and nilling there is no medium. And is it not highly rational as well as Scriptural, nay, is it not absolutely necessary to suppose that the fall was not contrary to the will and determination of God? since, if it was, His will (which the apostle represents as being irresistible, Rom 9. 19) was apparently frustrated and His determination rendered of worse than none effect. And how dishonourable to, how inconsistent with, and how notoriously subversive of the dignity of God such a blasphemous supposition would be, and how irreconcileable with every one of His allowed attributes is very easy to observe." 
Jerome Zanchius, Absolute Predestination

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ezekiel Hopkins on Providence

“A sparrow, whose price is but mean, two of them valued at a farthing (which some make to be the 10th part of a Roman penny, and was certainly one of their least coins), and whose life, therefore, is but contemptible, and whose flight seems giddy and at random; yet it falls not to the ground, neither lights anywhere, without your Father. His all-wise Providence hath before appointed what bough it shall pitch on; what grains it shall pick up; where is shall lodge, and where it shall build; on what it shall live, and when it shall die. And, if your Father's Providence be so critical about the small concernments even of sparrows, 'fear not ye, for ye are of more value than many sparrows;' yea, of more value than many men. 

"Our Saviour adds, 'The very hairs of you head are all numbered.' God keeps an account, even of that stringy excrescence. He knows how many fall off, and the precise number of those that remain; and no wonder, since he knows the number of our sins, which are far more.

"Hence we learn, that God governs the meanest, the most inconsiderable and contemptible occurrences in the world, by an exact and particular Providence. Do you see a thousand little motes and atoms wandering up and down in a sunbeam? It is God that so peoples it; and He guides their innumerable and irregular strayings. Not a dust flies in a beaten road; but God raiseth it, conducts its uncertain motion, and, by his particular care, conveys it to the certain place He had before appointed for it; nor shall the most fierce and tempestuous wind hurry it any farther. Nothing comes to pass, but God hath His ends in it, and will certainly make His own ends out of it. Though the world seem to run at random, and affairs to be huddled together in blind confusion and rude disorder; ye, God sees and knows the concatenation of all causes and effects, and so governs them, that He makes a perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords. It is most necessary, that we should have our hearts established in the firm and unwavering belief of this truth; that whatsoever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the Hand and Disposal of All, to God. In respect of God, there is nothing casual, nor contingent in the world. If a master should send a servant to a certain place, and command him to stay there till such a time; and presently after, should send another servant to the same place; the meeting of these two is wholly casual in respect of themselves, but ordained and foreseen by the master who sent them. So it is in all fortuitous events here below. They fall out unexpectedly, as to us; but not so as to God. He foresees and appoints all the vicissitudes of things.”

Ezekiel Hopkins, Sermon Upon Providence: From Matthew 10:29, 30 (Works, Volume 4, page 233-234, 1809 

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