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certain angels and men unto everlasting dishonour and destruction; God, of his own free-will, determining to pass them by, refuse or cast them off; and, for sin, to condemn and punish them with eternal death, Prov. xvi. 4. Exod. ix. 16. Rom. ix. 17, 22. 2 Tim. ii. 20. Mat. xxv. 41. See Usher's Body of Divinity, page 91, 92.
The Church of France, in the 12th article of the confession of her faith, hath these words, viz. . We believe that God, out of that corruption and general curse, into which all men were plunged, doth free those whom, in his eternal and immutable counsel, he elected of his mere goodness and mercy in our Lord Jesus Christ, without the consideration of works, leaving the rest in the same corruption and damnation; to shew forth in these his justice, and in them the riches of his mercy; for none of them are better than others, because God hath separated them,' &c.
The Synod of Dort, in the 7th canon, doth lay down this plain and clear definition of election, thus, viz. • Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, by which, before the foundation of the world, according to the free good pleasure of his will, of his mere grace, he hath chosen, out of all mankind to salvation in Christ, a certain and set number of men, neither better nor more worthy than others; but lying in the common misery with others, and fallen from original righteousness into sin and destruction, by their own fault,' &c.
And, in the 15th canon of reprobation, they
say thus, viz. “The holy scripture doth manifest and commend unto us this eternal and free grace;' especially when it doth farther witness, “That not all men are elected, but that some are not elected, or are passed by in the eternal election of God,' viz. those whom God, according to his free, just, unreprovable, and immutable good pleasure, decreed to leave in the common misery, into which they had cast themselves, by their own fault, and not to give them saving faith, and the grace of conversion.
It were almost endless to insert all the confessions and the judgments of the orthodox, in all ages, who have held, and, with an unshaken confidence, maintained to the death, the very same faith, concerning the doctrine of election and reprobation; on whom, with the penmen of holy writ, the frothy Arminians of the age we live in, who are more crafty than truly wise, do not spare to cast the basest reflections; as if they were no way worthy to compare with themselves for either learning, parts, or piety. But, whatever others think, for my part, I am neither afraid nor ashamed to tell them, that the advances they are daily making towards the scorners seat, in contemning and undervaluing the bright shining ones gone to glory, is to me an invincible argument, not only of their being destitute of true saving grace, but that this their priding it over the best of men is a sure prognostic of their own destruction, when the overflowing scourge, threatened in Isa. xxviii.
15, comes on England. The Arminian drugs of free-will in fallen man, general redemption, falling from grace, with temporary
conditional election, revived and sown in England by the Jesuits art, and propagated by too many preachers of the two parties above-mentioned, have proved the most successful expedients, to lay England open to utter ruin, that ever those incendiaries of the world could devise. And, indeed, the poisonous drugs now mentioned have so epidemically overspread the nation, that I cannot see how the land can be cured in an ordinary way, any other way than by the preachers of both parties, who have imbibed those poisonous principles, and, by preaching, conveyed them insensibly into the heads and affections of the people; vomiting up, by sound repentance, those cursed principles, as some have done their doctrine of passive obedience and nonresistance; the which had they not done, the land, before this time, would, in all probability, have been turned into an aceldama, or a papal slaughterhouse: vomiting up, I say, by sound repentance, the cursed principles above-mentioned, and labouring in preaching up the soul-saving doctrine held forth in the 39 articles of Queen Elizabeth, and the assembly's confession of faith, on which they have so shamefully and apostatically turned the back, to undeceive the people, who, by their means, have been so sadly corrupted in their principles, and, by reason of those principles, so wretchedly engulfed in the quagmire of debay, chery and open prophaneness.
It will prove their own, and the nation's great advantage, to endeavour, seasonably and cordially, to retrieve the ground they have lost, by their modish compliance with the corrupt and erring humour of the two last reigns; and that by sounding, in their respective pulpits, a timely retreat, and exhorting the people, with them, to a cordial reception of their abdicated articles of religion; from which the infernal craft of England's enemies, and their own supine incautiousness, have drawn them aside. It is infinitely better for such manifest corrupters of the true protestant doctrine, to own their errors, and repent of them here, while the gate of mercy is open; and all true protestants hearts and arms are open, ready to receive them, on their return from the communion of the worst and most pernicious of the church's and poor England's enemies, than to own and repent of their errors and prevarications in hell: of which place such men cannot but know it is said, “Ab infernis nulla redemptio:—there is no redemption or returning from hell.' This the inhabitants of that place know experimentally, to their endless and remediless sorrow and grief. From which place, should it please the holy Sovereign of the world, to send the most gigantic disputers against the doctrine of God's free election of particular persons before time, which are now tongue-tied in that place of torment, to London, to relate what they knows by sad experience, since death arrested them, they would be forced, I doubt, not, to declare, that no wit or parts, natural or acquired, no courage or magnanimity of mind, no morality or personal qualifications acquirable by any of Adam's children, is, or can be, armour proof against the vindictive proceedings of an angry and a sin-revenging God, against those Papists, Arminians, Socinians, Free-willers, &c. now in hell, who, when on earth, did bend all their wit and learning to run down and ridicule the doctrine I am now vindicating. It will be well for their successors, who are yet this side hell, if this plain dealing with them prove an occasion of awakening them, and putting them upon a serious consideration of the present state they are in, and the way they walk in, that being savingly convinced both of the wretchedness of the one, and the destructiveness of the other, they may be driven, by a holy despair of ever being saved in an unregenerate state, and walking in ways of their own devising, to shelter themselves under the shadow of that mediatorial spotless righteousness of the Son of God, by a sound faith, and an evangelical repentance, which the spirit and word of the ever blessed God assures me is the only way to escape hell and eternal ruin ; which is all the harm I dare to wish them, and the greatest enemies I have now living.