« PrécédentContinuer »
his children in their unrenewed state. This I do instrumentally, by opening up to sinners the sense and design of the moral law, which is to discover sin, and to damn the transgressors of it before God, to let sinners know how spotless that obedience and righteousness must be, which answers its own demand, in order to its justifying them at the bar of a holy God; as also how weak and unable it is to help a lapsed transgressor. It points out and requires duty, but can afford no ability or strength to do that duty; and all this, in order to bring dead sinners to a sight and sense of their need of a Redeemer. I labour to make them sensible, that out of Christ no life or salvation is ever to be expected; and that until Christ the Son of God be received by a true faith, they themselves, with all their threadbare polluted morality, and all those advantages wherein they bless and count themselves happy, are all under the curse of God; and living and dying so, they must, as certainly as God is just and his law holy, look to be eternally separated from God and Christ for ever and ever. No civility, no goodness of natural temper, no morality, no zeal for that which they take to be the best religion, no learning or shining parts, whether natural or acquired, no riches or greatness in this world, will ever avail to keep them back from being, by the law's powerful sentence, sent down to hell.
When I find and perceive that the Spirit of God hath, by the law set home on the conscience,
brought the sinner, with the prodigal, to a sense of his undone condition; when I hear him cry out, not in a rotary and formal customary way, which, God knows, is too much in use and fashion in this sleepy hypocritical age, in the bitterness of his soul,
Men and brethren, what shall I do to be saved?' I then open up, as God's messenger, the mystery of God's covenant of grace held forth in the gospel, wherein is discovered the incomprehensible all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ, to save and reconcile to God, the greatest and vilest of sinners. I presently fall on directing and sending the poor sin-sick wounded sinner to the Son of God, with his wounds and plague-sores, to be healed, pressing him to believe in the Son of God, out of whom no salvation is to be found. Hereto I add the peremptory command of God himself, that the poor despairing soul believe on the Son of God, 1 John iii. 23. Mark xvi. 16. By these methods and ways of God's own appointment, God is pleased to work saving conversion and effectual faith in the souls of elect sinners.
To what hath been offered out of God's own word, to prove the doctrine of particular election, before time, I here set down the judgment of the most orthodox protestant churches concerning the same: not that I think the word of God stands in any need of human testimony to help it out, but rather to shew forth the sweet harmony which is between the holy scriptures and the saints of God, in the holy and orthodox confessions of their
faith, concerning the present so much controverted and impugned doctrine of election and reprobation before time; as also to shame those nominal protestants, both non. and conformists, who have so apparently turned the back upon their own articles of faith, whereby both the one and the other party hath, not a little, strengthened the foundation of the Jesuits hope of bringing England's neck once more under the papal yoke; from which I heartily wish, and sincerely pray, that God will ever keep us.
I begin with the Church of England. . ' Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed, by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them, by Christ, to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called, according to God's purpose, by his Spirit, working in due season ; they (through grace) obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works;, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.' See The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, art. 17, Of Predestination and Election.
Secondly, The Confession of Faith agreed
upon by the Assembly of Divine's at West minster.
By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated to everlasting life, and others to everlasting death, i Tim. v. 21. Mat. xxv. 41. Rom. ix. 22.
“These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
* Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of the glory of his grace.
As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will,'fore-ordained all the means thereunto, 1 Pet. i. 2. Ephes. i. 4, 5. Ephes. ii. 10. 2 Thes. ii. 13. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith
unto salvation, 1 Thes. v. 9, 10. Tit. ii. 14. Rom. viii. 30. Ephes. i. 5. 1 Pet. i. 5.
• Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, ef fectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only, John xvii. 9. Rom. viii. 28. John x. 26.
* The rest of mankind God was pleased, 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 them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice,' Matt. xi. 25, 26. Rom. ii. 12. 2 Tim. ii. 19. 1 Pet. ii. 8.
See The Assembly's Confession of Faith, chap. 3. Of the eternal Decree of God.
To this the Church of Scotland hath fully agreed. With this also agrees the articles of faith of the Church of Ireland, in bishop Usher's time. See those articles, and Usher's Body of Divinity. 'Quest. What are the parts of predestination? Answ. Election and reprobation, 1 Thes. v. 9. Rom. ix. 13, 22, 23.
Quest. What is election? Answ. It is the everlasting predestination or fore-appointing of certain angels and men unto everlasting life and blessedness, for the praise of his grace and goodness, 1 Tim. v. 21. John xv. 16. Rom. ix. 22, 23. Ephes. i. 4, 5, 6, 9.
Quest. What is reprobation? Answ. It is the eternal predestination or fore-appointment of