THE REMOVAL OF OTHER REMAINING OBJECTIONS.
THE removal of some usual sophisms and captious arguments of the Arminians, of late made common and vulgar, shall be the close of our treatise, and wind up the whole controversy, which hath drawn us with violence thus far. And in this performance I shall labor to be as brief as possible; partly because these things have been handled at large by others; partly because all color of opposition to the truth by us maintained from the Scriptures being removed, all other objections will indeed naturally sink of themselves. Yet, because great boastings and swelling words of vanity have been used concerning some that follow, it is necessary that something be said to show the emptiness of such flourishes, that the weakest may not be entangled by them.
Objection 1. That which we shall begin withal is an argument of as great fame and as little merit as any that, in this cause, or indeed in any other controversy, hath been used of late days; and it is this: That which every one is bound to believe is true; but every one is bound to believe that Jesus Christ died for him: therefore it is true, namely, that Jesus Christ died for every one.
This is an argument which, to discover their conviction of the weakness of the rest of their arguments, the Arminians and their friends never use, but withal they add some notable encomium of it, with some terms of affront and threatening to their adversaries; insomuch as, by consent on both sides, it hath obtained the name of the Remonstrants Achilles. Now, truly, for my part, as I shall not transcribe any thing hither out of the many full answers given to it by our divines, by which this Achilles, or rather Goliath, hath been often cast to the ground, so I heartily wish that the many operose, prolix answers which the boasting of our adversaries hath drawn forth had not got, [for] this poor nothing, more repute a thousand times than its own strength, or any addition of force from the managers of it could have procured unto it. Supposing then, first, That the term believe, be used in the same sense in both propositions (for if otherwise the syllogism is false in the form of it); secondly, That by believing is understood a saving application of Christ to the soul, as held out in the promise, for to believe that Christ died for me in particular, as is asserted to be the duty of every one, can be nothing else but such a saving application; thirdly, That believing that Christ died for any, according to the business in question, must be with reference to the purpose of the Father and intention of Jesus Christ himself, for that is it which, with regard to any universality, is by us opposed; fourthly, For the term every one, it must relate unto all men as considered in an alike condition, for several respects and conditions of the same persons may cause them to come under several obligations unto duties: now, there is no one condition common unto all but only the state of wrath and death, Ephesians 2:3, and therefore every man must be considered as in that condition; so that, in sum, the sense of the minor proposition is, All men in the world, as considered in a state of wrath and unregeneracy, are bound to believe, as before described, that it was the intention of God that Christ should die for every one of them in particular.
Now, not to say any thing to the major proposition, which yet is false, that which men are bound to believe in this sense being, as hath been observed by many, neither true nor false, but good, the assumption is absolutely false, and hath not the least color of reason or Scripture to support it; and (taking every one for every individual in the world) when our adversaries prove it, I engage myself to be their proselyte: for, First, Then must some be bound to believe that which is false; which cannot be, every obligation to believe being from the God of truth. Now, it is false that Christ died for all and every individual of human kind, as hath been before proved at large. Secondly, Then should men be bound immediately to believe that which is not revealed, though divine revelation be the object of all faith; for the Scriptures do not hold out anywhere that Christ died for this or that particular man as such, but only for sinners indefinitely, specified oft-times antecedently by Gods purpose, and consequently by their own purchased obedience. Thirdly, Neither, indeed, is the intention and purpose of God, concerning which we now inquire, proposed as the object of the faith of any; but only his commands, promises, and threatenings, the other being left to be collected and assured to the soul by an experience and sense of some sweet infallible issue and effect thereof in the heart actually enjoyed. Nor, fourthly, can any command in the Scripture to believe be interpreted by the purpose and intention of God, as though the meaning of it should be, God intended that Christ should die for thee in particular; nor doth any promise contain that sense. Besides, fifthly, which of itself is enough to break the neck of this argument, all have not any such object of faith as Christs death at all proposed to them. How can they believe unless they hear? Can they be bound to believe that of which they never heard the least rumor? How many millions of infants and others, in barbarous nations, go to their own place without hearing the least report of Jesus Christ., or his sufferings for them or others, even in these days of the gospel! how much more, then, before the coming of Christ in the flesh, when the means of grace were restrained to one small nation, with some few proselytes! Were all these, are they that remain, all and every one, bound to believe that Christ died for them, all and every one in particular? Those that think so are, doubtless, bound to go tell all of them so; I mean those that are yet in the land of the living. Is not unbelief the great damning sin, where faith is required John 3:36? and yet doth not Paul prove that many shall be condemned for sinning against the light of nature, Romans 2:12? an evident demonstration that faith is not required of all, all are not bound to believe.
But perhaps our adversaries will except, as they must except if they intend to have any color or show of strength left unto this argument, that they mean it only in respect of them who are called by the word, and so it is of force; to which end let it be thus proposed: That which every one called by the word, to whom the gospel is preached, is bound to believe, is true; but that Christ died for him in particular, every one so called is bound to believe: ergo, etc.
Ans. 1. Only the last exception foregoing is taken off by this reformed argument; all the rest stand in their full force, which are sufficient to evert it.
2. Who seeth not that this very reforming of the argument hath made it altogether useless to the cause in whose defense it was produced? for if any one, much more the greatest part of men, be excepted, which are now excluded from the verge of this argument, the general ransom falls to the ground. From the innumerable multitudes of all, we are come to the many that are called, and doubt not but that we shall instantly descend to the few that are chosen. Unto the exception, that that which is true in respect of them to whom it is proposed would also be true in respect of all if it should be proposed to them, I answer, by the way, First, That the argument is to be taken from the scriptural obligation to believe, and can be extended no farther than it is actually extended. Secondly, That it is no safe disputing of what would be or should be, if things were not as God hath appointed and ordained them. We see the will of God for the present; neither are we to suppose so as to make our supposal a bottom for any argument that they could have been otherwise disposed. Thirdly, That if the gospel should be preached to all the world, or all in the world, this is all the mind and will of God that would or can in general be signified to them by it, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; or, that God hath concatenated and knit these two things together, faith and salvation, so that whosoever will enjoy the latter must perform the former. If the gospel should now be preached to the Turks and the Indians, and they should reject it, certainly they should be damned for not believing that which they were, upon the preaching of it, bound to believe. Now, what is this? that Christ died for every one of them in particular? No, doubtless; but this, There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, but only by the name of Christ, made known to us in the gospel, Acts 4:12. [They would be damned] for rejecting the counsel and wisdom of God to save sinners by the blood of Jesus; for not believing the necessity of a Redeemer, and that Jesus of Nazareth was that Redeemer, according to his own word to the Jews, If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins; as, indeed, the peculiar infidelity of that people was their not believing him to be their Messiah, whom they saw to be declared to be the Son of God with power. The not believing these things would be the soul-damning infidelity of such obstinate refusers to come in upon the call of the gospel, and not a refusing to believe that Christ died for every one of them in particular; which could not, by the rule of the gospel, be proposed unto them, and which they never come so far as to question or esteem.
Still, then, we deny the minor proposition of the reduced syllogism; and that partly for the reasons before produced, partly for these subjoined:
1. They to whom the gospel is preached are bound to believe with that faith which is required to justification only. Now, this is not a full persuasion that Christ died for any one in particular, in the intention and purpose of God, which revealeth not the object of justification, nor the way whereby a sinner may be justified.
2. Because there is an order, natural in itself, and established by Gods appointment, in the things that are to be believed; so that until some of them are believed the rest are not required (a man is not commanded, nor can he reasonably, to get to the top of a ladder by skipping all the lower rounds), namely,
(1.) Repent, and believe the gospel to be the word of God, to contain his will, and that Jesus Christ, therein revealed, is the wisdom and power of God unto salvation.
(2.) That there is an inseparable connection, by Gods appointment, between faith and salvation, gospel faith carrying a sinner quite out of himself and from off his own righteousness
(3.) That there be a particular conviction, by the Spirit, of the necessity of a Redeemer to their souls in particular; whereby they become weary, heavy laden, and burdened.
(4.) A serious full recumbency and rolling of the soul upon Christ in the promise of the gospel, as an all-sufficient Savior, able to deliver and save to the utmost them that come to God by him; ready, able, and willing, through the preciousness of his blood and sufficiency of his ransom, to save every soul that shall freely give up themselves unto him for that end, amongst whom he is resolved to be. And in doing of all this, there is none called on by the gospel once to inquire after the purpose and intention of God concerning the particular object of the death of Christ, every one being fully assured that his death shall be profitable to them that believe in him and obey him.
Now, fourthly, after all this, and not before, it lies upon a believer to assure his soul, according as he finds the fruit of the death of Christ in him and towards him, of the goodwill and eternal love of God to him in sending his Son to die for him in particular. What a preposterous course, and how opposite to the rule of the gospel, were it, to call upon a man to believe that it was the intention and purpose of God that Christ should die for him in particular, and desire him to assure his soul thereof, before he be convinced either,
1. Of the truth of the gospel in general; or,
2. That faith is the only way of salvation; or,
3. That himself standeth in need of a Savior; or,
4. That there is enough in Christ to save and recover him if he give up himself unto him in his own way! Now, it is most apparent that it is only such as these that are bound to believe that whereof we discourse. The argument, then; must be once again reformed, and thus proposed: That which every one, convinced of the necessity of a Savior, and of the right way of salvation, hungering, thirsting, and panting after Jesus Christ, as able alone to give him refreshment, is bound to believe, is true; but every such a one is bound to believe that Christ died for him in particular: ergo, it is true. And some grant the whole without any prejudice to the cause we have undertaken to defend. It is most apparent, then,
1. That all that are called by the word are not, in what state or condition soever they continue, bound to believe that Christ died for them; but only such as are so qualified as before described.
2. That the precept of believing, with fiduciary confidence, that Christ died for any in particular is not proposed nor is obligatory to all that are called; nor is the non-performance of it any otherwise a sin, but as it is in the root and habit of unbelief, or not turning to God in Christ for mercy.
3. That no reprobate, for whom Christ died not, shall be condemned for not believing that Christ died for him in particular, which is not true; but for not believing those things whereunto he was called, before related, which are all most true, and that in reference to him.
4. That the command of believing in Christ, which is especially urged as given unto all, is not, in that particular contended about, obligatory unto any but upon fulfilling of the conditions thereto required.
5. To believe on the name of Jesus Christ, which is the command, 1 John 3:23, is not to believe that it was the intention of God that Christ should die for us in particular, but to rest upon him for salvation, as Isaiah 50:11. Neither,
6. Is the testimony of God, to which we ought to set our seal that it is true, any other but this,
He that hath the Son hath life, but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life, 1 John 5:12;
which reprobates disbelieving, do what in them lies to make God a liar, and are justly condemned for it. He that desireth to see more of this argument, let him consult, if he please, Piscator, Perkins, Twisse, Synod of Dort, Du Moulin, Baronius, Rutherford, Spanheim, Amesius, others, etc.
Obj. 2. That doctrine which fills the minds and souls of poor miserable sinners with doubts and scruples whether they ought to believe or no, when God calls them thereunto, cannot be agreeable to the gospel. But this doth the doctrine of the particularity of redemption. It fills the minds of sinners with scruples and fears whether they may believe or no, and that because they are uncertain whether it was the intention of God that Christ should die for them in particular or no, seeing it is supposed that he died not for all, but only for his elect; whereupon the soul, when it is called upon to believe, may justly fall a-questioning whether it will be available or no for him so to do, and whether it be his duty or no, seeing he knoweth not whether Christ died for him or no.
Ans. 1. That scruples, doubts, and fears, the proper issue of unconquered remaining unbelief, will often arise in the hearts of sinners, sometimes against, sometimes taking occasion from, the truth of the gospel, is too evident upon experience. All the question is, whether the doctrine itself scrupled or stumbled at do of itself, in its own nature, give cause thereto unto those who rightly perform their duty? or whether all those fears and scruples be the natural product and issue of corruption and unbelief, setting up themselves against the truth as it is in Jesus? The first we deny, concerning the doctrine of the particularity of effectual redemption; the latter God alone can remedy.
2. This objection supposeth that a man is bound to know and be persuaded (that is, to believe) that Jesus Christ died by the appointment of God for him in particular, before he believe in Jesus Christ. Nay, this they make the bottom of their argument, that men, according to our persuasion, may scruple whether they ought to believe or no, because they are not assured before that Christ died for them in particular, by the designation and appointment of God. Now, if this be not to involve themselves in a plain contradiction, I know not what is; for what, I pray, is it, according to Scripture, for a man to be assured that Christ died for him in particular? Is it not the very highest improvement of faith? doth it not include a sense of the spiritual love of God shed abroad in our hearts? Is it not the top of the apostles consolation, Romans 8:34, and the bottom of all his joyful assurance, Galatians 2:20? So that they evidently require that a man must believe before he do believe, that he cannot believe, and shall exceedingly fear whether he ought to do so or no, unless he believe before he believe! Methinks such removing of scruples were the ready way to entangle doubting consciences in farther inextricable perplexities.
3. We deny that a persuasion that it was the will of God that Christ should die for him in particular either is or can be any way necessary that a sinner be drawn to believe. For, considering sinners as such whose duty it is to believe the call of Christ, Matthew 11:28, Isaiah 4:1; that command of God, 1 John 3:23; that promise of life upon believing, John in. 36; that threat of unbelief, ibid; the all-sufficiency of the blood of Christ to save all believers, Acts 20:21, Ephesians 5:2; the assured salvation of all believers without exception, Mark 16:16, and the like, are enough to remove all doubts and fears, and are all that the Scripture holds out for that purpose.
4. That persuasion which
(1.) asserts the certainty of salvation by the death of Christ unto all believers whatsoever;
(2.) that affirms the command of God and the call of Christ to be infallibly declarative of that duty which is required of the person commanded and called, which, if it be performed, will be assuredly acceptable to God;
(3.) that holds out purchased free grace to all distressed, burdened, consciences in general;
(4.) that discovers a fountain of blood, all-sufficient to purge all the sin of every one in the world that will use the appointed means for coming unto it; that doctrine, I say, cannot possibly be the cause of any doubt or scruple in the minds of convinced, burdened sinners, whether they ought to believe or no. Now, all this is held forth by the doctrine of particular effectual redemption, in the dispensation of the gospel suitable thereto. I shall, then, let go this objection without farther pursuit, only attended with this query, What it is that, according to the authors of universal redemption, men are bound to believe, when they know beforehand that Christ died for them in particular? A persuasion of the love of God and good-will of Christ it cannot be; that they have beforehand, John 3:16; Romans 5:8: nor a coming to God by Christ for an enjoyment of the fruits of his death; for what is that, I pray? No fruits of the death of Christ, according to them, but what are common to all; which may be damnation as well as salvation, for more are damned than saved, infidelity as well as faith, for the most are unbelievers. The immediate fruits of the death of Christ can be nothing but that which is common to them with those that perish. Plainly, their faith in Christ will at length appear to be Socinian obedience.
There be two things that remain, about which there is no small contention, both things in themselves excelling and valuable, both laid claim to by the several persuasions concerning which we treat; but with such an unequal plea, that an easy judgment might serve to decide the controversy. Now, these are, first, the exaltation of Gods free grace, the merit of Christ, and the consolation of our souls. Let us consider them in order, and let each persuasion take its due.
Obj. 3. For the first, or the exaltation of Gods free grace. I know not how it comes to pass, but so it is, men have entertained a persuasion that the opinion of universal redemption serveth exceedingly to set forth the love and free grace of God, yea, they make free grace, that glorious expression, to be nothing but that which is held forth in this their opinion, namely, that God loveth all, and gave Christ to die for all, and is ready to save all, if they will come to him. Herein, say they, is free grace and love magnified indeed; this is the universality of free grace, and such other flourishing expressions; whereas the contrary opinion chains up the love and grace of God to a few. But stay a little. What, I pray, is this your grace, free grace, that is universal? Is it the grace of election? Truly no; God hath not chosen all to salvation, Romans 9:11,12; Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:28. Is it the grace of effectual vocation? No, neither. Doubtless that it cannot be; for whom God calls he also justifies, and glorifies, Romans 8:30, 11:25,26,29. Nay, all have not been, are not, outwardly called, chapter 10:14. Is it the grace of cleansing and sanctification? Why, are all purged? are all washed in the blood of Jesus? Or is it the church only, Ephesians 5:25-27. Some, sure, are also defiled still, Titus 1:15. Faith is the principle of the hearts purification, and all men have not faith. Is it the grace of justification, the free love and mercy of God in pardoning and accepting sinners? But, friends, is this universal? Are all pardoned? are all accepted? see Romans 1:17, 3:22, 5:1. Is it the grace of redemption in the blood of Christ? see, I pray, Revelation 5:9. What then, I pray, is this your universal free grace? Is it not universally a figment of your own brains? or is it not a new name for that old idol free-will? Is it not destructive to free grace in every branch of it? Doth it not tend to the eversion of the whole covenant of distinguishing grace, evidently denying that the conditions thereof are wrought in any of the federates by virtue of the promise of the covenant? Are not the two great aims of their free grace to mock God and exalt themselves? Do not they propose the Lord as making a pretense of love, good-will, free grace, and pardon unto all, yet never once acquainting incomparably the greatest number of them with any such love or good-will at all, although he know that without his effecting of it they can never come to any such knowledge? For those that are outwardly called to the knowledge of these things, do they not, by their universal grace, feign the Lord to pretend that he loves them all, has sent his Son to die for them all, and to desire that they all may be saved, yet upon such a condition as, without him, they can no more effect than to climb to heaven by a ladder, which yet he will not do? Do not they openly make God to say, Such is this my love, my universal grace, that by it I will freely love them, I dare joyfully embrace them, in all things but only that which will do them good? Would not they affirm him to be a grossly counterfeiting hypocrite that should go to a poor blind man, and tell him, Alas, poor man, I pity thy case, I see thy want, I love thee exceedingly; open thine eyes, and I will give thee a hundred pounds? And dare they assign such a deportment to the most holy God of truth? Is their universal grace any thing but a mock? Did that ever do good to any, as to salvation, which is common to all? Are they not the two properties of the grace of God in the Scripture, that it is discriminating and effectual? And is not their grace any thing else but these? Let it be granted that all is true which they say concerning the extent of grace; is it such grace as that ever any soul was saved by? Why, I pray, then, are not all? Why, they will say, because they do not believe. So, then, the bestowing of faith is no part of this free grace. See your second aim, even to exalt yourselves and your free-will into the room of grace; or, at least, leaving it room to come in, to have the best share in the work of salvation,namely, believing itself, that makes all the rest profitable. See, now, what your universality of free grace leads and tends to. Are not the very terms opposite to one another? In a word, to bring in reprobates to be objects of free grace, you deny the free grace of God to the elect; and to make it universal, you deny it to be effectual. That all may have a share of it, they deny any to be saved by it; for saving grace must be restrained.
On the other side; in what one tittle, I pray you, doth the doctrine of the effectual redemption of Gods elect only, in the blood of Jesus, impair the free grace of God? Is it in its freedom? Why, we say it is so free, that if it be not altogether free it is no grace at all. Is it in its efficacy? Why, we say that by grace we are saved, ascribing the whole work of our recovery and bringing to God, in solidum, thereto. Is it in its extent? We affirm it to be extended to every one that is, was, or ever shall be delivered from the pit. It is true, we do not call grace that goeth into hell free grace, in a gospel notion; for we deem the free grace of God so powerful, that wherever it hath designed and chosen out itself a subject, that it brings God, and Christ, and salvation with it, to eternity.
But you do not extend it unto all; you tie it up to a few. De te largitor, puer. Is the extending of the love and favor of God in our power? Hath he not mercy on whom he will have mercy, and doth he not harden whom he will? Yet, do not we affirm that it is extended to the universality of the saved ones? Should we throw the childrens bread to dogs? Friends, we believe that the grace of God in Christ worketh faith in every one to whom it is extended; that the conditions of that covenant which is ratified in his blood are all effectually wrought in the heart of every covenantee; that there is no love of God that is not effectual; that the blood of Christ was not shed in vain; that of ourselves we are dead in trespasses and sins, and can do nothing but what the free grace of God worketh in us: and, therefore, we cannot conceive that it can be extended to all. [As] for you, who affirm that millions of those that are taken into a new covenant of grace do perish eternally, that it is left to men to believe that the will of God may be frustrate and his love ineffectual, that we distinguish ourselves one from another, you may extend it whither you please, for it is indifferent to you whether the objects of it go to heaven or to hell. But in the meanwhile, I beseech you, friends, give me leave to question whether this you talk of be Gods free grace, or your fond figment? his love, or your wills? for truly, for the present, it seems to me the latter only. But yet our prayers shall be that God would give you infinitely more of his love than is contained in that ineffectual universal grace wherewith you so flourish. Only, we shall labor that poor souls be not seduced by you with the specious pretences of free grace to all, not knowing that this your free grace is a mere painted cloth, that will give them no assistance at all to deliver them from that condition wherein they are, but only give them leave to be saved if they can; whereas they are ready, by the name you have given to the brat of your own brain, to suppose you intend an effectual, almighty, saving grace, that will certainly bring all to God to whom it is extended, of which they have heard in the Scripture; whilst you laugh in your sleeves, to think how simply these poor souls are deluded with that empty show, the substance whereof is this, Go your ways; be saved if you can, in the way revealed; God will not hinder you.
Obj. 4. Each party contests about the exaltation of the merit of Christ; for so are their mutual pretences. Something hath been said to this before, so that now I shall be brief. Take, then, only a short view of the difference that is between them, where each pretends to exalt the merit of Christ in that which is by the other denied, and this plea will suddenly be at an end.
There is but one only thing that concerns the death of Christ in which the authors of the general ransom are upon the affirmative, and whereby they pretend to set forth the excellency of his death and oblation, namely, that the benefits thereof axe extended unto all and every one, whereas their adversaries straiten it unto a few, a very few, none but the elect; which, they say, is derogatory to the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is that wherein they pretend so exceedingly to advance his name and merit above the pitch that they aim at who assert the effectual redemption of the elect only. The truth is, the measure of the honor of Jesus Christ is not to be assigned by us, poor worms of the dust; that he takes to be honor which he gives and ascribes unto himself, and nothing else. He hath no need of our lie for his glory: so that if this did, in our eyes, seem for the exaltation of the glory of Christ, yet, arising from a lie of our own hearts, it would be an abomination unto him. Secondly, We deny that this doth any way serve to set out the nature and dignity of the death of Christ; because the extent of its efficacy to all (if any such thing should be) doth not arise from its own innate sufficiency, but from the free pleasure and determination of God: which how it is enervated by a pretended universality was before declared. Thirdly, The value of a thing ariseth from its own native sufficiency and worth unto any purpose whereunto it is to be employed; which the maintainers of effectual redemption do assert, in the death of Christ, to be much above what any of their adversaries ascribe unto it.
Should I now go about to declare in how many things the honor of Christ, and the excellency of his death and passion, with the fruits of it, is held forth in that doctrine which we have sought to open from the Scriptures, above all that can be assigned to it agreeable to their own principal maxims who maintain universal redemption (and that according to truth itself), I should be forced to repeat much that hath already been spoken, so that it shall suffice me to present the reader with this following antithesis: Universalists.
1. Christ died for all and every one, elect and reprobate.
2. Most of them for whom Christ died are damned.
3. Christ, by his death, purchased not any saving grace for them for whom he died.
4. Christ took no care for the greatest part of them for whom he died, that ever they should hear one word of his death.
5. Christ, in his death, did not ratify nor confirm a covenant of grace with any federates, but only procured by his death that God might, if he would, enter into a new covenant with whom he would, and upon what condition he pleased.
6. Christ might have died, and yet no one be saved.
7. Christ had no intention to redeem his church, any more than the wicked seed of the serpent.
8. Christ died not for the infidelity of any. Scriptural Redemption.
1. Christ died for the elect only.
2. All those for whom Christ died are certainly saved.
3. Christ by his death purchased all saving grace for them for whom he died.
4. Christ sends the means and reveals the way of life to all them for whom he died.
5. The new covenant of grace was confirmed to all the elect in the blood of Jesus.
6. Christ, by his death, purchased, upon covenant and compact, an assured peculiar people, the pleasure of the Lord prospering to the end in his hand.
7. Christ loved his church, and gave himself for it.
8. Christ died for the infidelity of the elect. Divers other instances of the like nature might be easily collected, upon the first view whereof the present difference in hand would quickly be determined. These few, I doubt not, are sufficient, in the eyes of all experienced Christians, to evince how little the general ransom conduceth to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ, or to the setting forth of the worth and dignity of his death and passion.
Obj. 5. The next and last thing which comes under debate in this contest is gospel consolation, which God in Christ is abundantly willing we should receive. A short disquisition whether of the two opinions treated on doth give the firmest basis and soundest foundation hereunto, will, by the Lords assistance, lead us to an end of this long debate. THE GOD OF TRUTH AND COMFORT GRANT THAT ALL OUR UNDERTAKINGS, OR RATHER HIS WORKINGS IN US, FOR TRUTH, MAY END IN PEACE AND CONSOLATION! To clear this, some things are to be premised; as,
1. All true evangelical consolation belongeth only to believers, Hebrews 6:17,18, Gods people, Isaiah 40:1,2; upon unbelievers the wrath of God abideth, John 3:36.
2. To make out consolation unto them to whom it is not due is no less a crime than to hide it from them to whom it doth belong, Isaiah 5:20; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 13:10.
3. T. M[ore]s attempt to set forth the death of Christ so that all might be comforted, meaning all and every one in the world, as appeareth, is a proud attempt to make that straight which God hath made crooked, and most opposite to the gospel.
4. That doctrine which holds out consolation from the death of Christ to unbelievers, cries, Peace, peace, when God says, There is no peace. These things being premised, I shall briefly demonstrate these four following positions:
1. That the extending of the death of Christ unto a universality, in respect of the object, cannot give the least ground of consolation to them whom God would have to be comforted by the gospel
2. That the denying of the efficacy of the death of Christ towards them for whom he died cuts the nerves and sinews of all strong consolation, even such as is proper to believers to receive, and peculiar to the gospel to give.
3. That there is nothing in the doctrine of redemption of the elect only that is yet in the least measure to debar them from consolation to whom comfort is due.
4. That the doctrine of the effectual redemption of the sheep of Christ, by the blood of the covenant, is the true solid foundation of all durable consolation.
1. Begin we with the first, that the extending of the death of Christ unto a universality, in respect of the object, hath nothing in it, as peculiar unto it, that can give the least ground of consolation unto them whom God would have to be comforted. That gospel consolation, properly so called, being a fruit of actual reconciliation with God, is proper and peculiar only to believers, I laid down before, and suppose it to be a truth out of all question and debate. Now, that no consolation can be made out to them as such, from any thing which is peculiar to the persuasion of a general ransom, is easily proved by these following reasons:
(1.) No consolation can arise unto believers from that which is nowhere in the Scripture proposed as a ground, cause, or matter of consolation, as the general ransom is not: for, first, That which hath no being can have no affection nor operation; secondly, All the foundations and materials of consolation are things particular, and peculiar only to some, as shall be declared.
(2.) No consolation can accrue unto believers from that which is common unto them with those whom, first, God would not have comforted; secondly, that shall assuredly perish to eternity; thirdly, that stand in open rebellion against Christ; fourthly, that never hear one word of gospel or consolation. Now, to all these, and such as these, doth the foundation of consolation, as proposed with and arising from the general ransom, equally appertain with the choicest of believers.
(3.) Let a man try in the time, not of disputation, but of desertion and temptation, what consolation or peace to his soul he can obtain from such a collection as this, Christ died for all men; I am a man: therefore, Christ died for me. Will not his own heart tell him, that notwithstanding all that he is assured of in that conclusion, the wrath of God may abide on him for evermore? Doth he not see that, notwithstanding this, the Lord showeth so little love unto millions of millions of the sons of men, of whom the former collection (according to the present opinion) is true as well as of himself, as that he doth not once reveal himself or his Son unto them? What good will it do me to know that Christ died for me, if notwithstanding that I may perish for ever? If you intend me any consolation from that which is common unto all, you must tell me what it is which all enjoy which will satisfy my desires, which are carried out after assurance of the love of God in Christ. If you give me no more to comfort me than what you give, or might have given, to Judas, can you expect I should receive settlement and consolation?
Truly, miserable comforters are ye all, physicians of no value, Jobs visitors, skillful only to add affliction unto the afflicted. But be of good comfort, will Arminians say; Christ is a propitiation for all sinners, and now thou knowest thyself so to be. Ans. True; but is Christ a propitiation for all the sins of those sinners? If so, how can any of them perish? If not, what good will this do me, whose sins perhaps (as unbelief) are such as for which Christ was not a propitiation? But exclude not thyself; God excludeth none; the love which caused him to send his Son was general towards all. Tell not me of Gods excluding; I have sufficiently excluded myself. Will he powerfully take me in? Hath Christ not only purchased that I shall be admitted, but procured me ability to enter into his Fathers arms? Why, he hath opened a door of salvation to all. Alas! is it not a vain endeavor, to open a grave for a dead man to come out? Who lights a candle for a blind man to see by? To open a door for him to come out of prison who is blind, and lame, and bound, yea dead, is rather to deride his misery than to procure him liberty. Never tell me that will yield me strong consolation, under the enjoyment whereof the greatest portion of men perish everlastingly.
2. The opinion concerning a general ransom is so far from yielding firm consolation unto believers from the death of Christ, that it quite overthrows all the choice ingredients of strong consolation which flow there hence; and that, first, By strange divisions and divulsions of one thing from another, which ought to be conjoined to make up one certain foundation of confidence; secondly, By denying the efficacy of his death towards them for whom he died: both which are necessary attendants of that persuasion.
First, They so divide the impetration of redemption and the application thereof, the first being in their judgments the only proper immediate fruit and effect of the death of Christ, that the one may belong to millions who have no share in the other; yea, that redemption may be obtained for all, and yet no one have it so applied unto them as to be saved thereby. Now, the first of these, such as it is, is an ineffectual possible redemption, notwithstanding which all the sons of men might perish everlastingly, being the whole object of the death of Christ (as is asserted), separated and divided from all such application of redemption unto any as might make it profitable and useful in the least measure (for they deny this application to be a fruit of the death of Christ; if it were, why is it not common to all for whom he died?) What comfort this can in the least degree afford to any poor soul will not dive into my apprehension. What shall I do? saith the sinner; the iniquity of my heels compasseth me about. I have no rest in my bones by reason of my sin: and now, whither shall I cause my sorrow to go? Be of good cheer; Christ died for sinners. Yea, but shall the fruits of his death be certainly applied unto all them for whom he died? If not, I may perish for ever. Here let them that can, answer him, according to the principles of Universalists, without sending him to his own strength in believing, or that which, in the close, will be resolved into it, et erit mihi magnus Apollo: and if they send him thither, they acknowledge the consolation concerning which they boast properly to proceed from ourselves, and not from the death of Christ.
Secondly, Their separating between the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ makes little for the consolation of believers, yea, indeed, quite everts it. There are, amongst others, two eminent places of Scripture wherein the Holy Ghost holdeth forth consolation to believers, against these two general causes of all their troubles and sorrows, namely, their afflictions and their sins. The first is Romans 8:32-34, the other 1 John 2:1,2; in both which places the apostles make the bottom of the consolation which they hold out to believers in their afflictions and failings to be that strait bond and inseparable connection that is between these two, with the identity of their objects, namely, the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ. Let the reader consult both the texts, and he shall find that on this lies the stress, and herein consists the strength, of the several proposals for the consolation of believers; which, in both places, is principally intended. A more direct undertaking for this end and purpose cannot be produced. Now, the authors of universal redemption do all of them divide and separate these two; they allow of no connection between them, nor dependence of one upon another, farther than is effected by the will of man. His oblation they stretch to all; his intercession to a few only. Now, the death of Christ, separated from his resurrection and intercession, being nowhere proposed as a ground of consolation, yea, positively declared to be unsuitable to any such purpose, 1 Corinthians 15:14, certainly they who hold it out as so done are no friends to Christian consolation. Thirdly, Their denial of the procurement of faith, grace, holiness, the whole intendment of the new covenant, and perseverance therein, by the death and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ, unto all them, or any of them, for whom he died, doth not appear to be so suitable an assertion for to raise consolation from his cross as is vainly pretended. I pray, what solid consolation can be drawn from such dry breasts as from whence none of these things do flow? That they have not immediate dependence on the death of Christ, according to the persuasion of the assertors of universal grace, hath been before declared, and is by themselves not only confessed, but undertaken to be proved. Now, where should a soul look for these things, but in the purchase of Christ? Whence should they flow, but from his side? Or is there any consolation to be had without them? Is not the strongest plea for these things, at the throne of grace, the procurement of the Lord Jesus? What promise is there of any thing without him? Are not all the promises of God yea and amen in him? Is there any attainment of these things in our own strength? Is this the consolation you afford us, to send us from free grace to free will? Whither, I pray, according to this persuasion, should a poor soul go that finds himself in want of these things? To God, who gives all freely. But doth God bless us with any spiritual blessings but only in Jesus Christ? Doth he bless us with any thing in him but what he hath procured for us? Is not all grace as well procured by as dispensed in a Mediator? Is this a way to comfort a soul, and that from the death of Christ, to let him know that Christ did not procure those things for him without which he cannot be comforted? Credat Apella.
It is, then, most apparent, that the general ransom (which is pretended) is so far from being the bottom of any solid consolation unto them whose due it is, that it is directly destructive of, and diametrically opposed unto, all those ways whereby the Lord hath declared himself willing that we should receive comfort from the death of his Son, drying up the breast from whence, and poisoning the streams whereby, it should be conveyed unto our souls.
3. The next thing we have to do is, to manifest that the doctrine of the effectual redemption of the elect only by the blood of Jesus is not liable to any just exception as to this particular, nor doth any way abridge believers of any part or portion of that consolation which God is willing they should receive. That alone which, by the opposers of it, with any color of reason, is objected (for as for the exclamation of shutting out innumerable souls from any share in the blood of Christ, seeing confessedly they are reprobate unbelievers and persons finally impenitent, we are not at all moved at it), comes to this head: That there is nothing in the Scripture whereby any man can assure himself that Christ died for him in particular, unless we grant that he died for all.
First, That this is notoriously false, the experience of all believers who, by the grace of God, have assured their hearts of their share and interest in Christ as held out unto them in the promise, without the least thought of universal redemption, is a sufficient testimony. Secondly, That the assurance arising from a practical syllogism, whereof one proposition is true in the word, and the second by the witness of the Spirit in the heart, is infallible, hath hitherto been acknowledged by all. Now, such assurance may all believers have that Christ died for them, with an intention and purpose to save their souls. For instance: all believers may draw out the truth of the word and the faith created in their hearts into this conclusion: [First,] Christ died for all believers, that is, all who choose him and rest upon him as an all-sufficient Savior; not that he died for them as such, but that all such are of those for whom he died. He died not for believers as believers, though he died for all believers; but for all the elect as elect, who, by the benefit of his death, do become believers, and so obtain assurance that he died for them. [As] for such of those that are elected who are not yet believers, though Christ died for them, yet we deny that they can have any assurance of it whilst they continue such. You suppose it a foul contradiction, if a man should be said to have assurance that Christ died for him in particular, and yet continue an unbeliever. This first proposition, as in the beginning laid down, is true in the word, in innumerable places. Secondly, The heart of a believer, in the witness of the Spirit, assumes, But I believe in Christ; that is, I choose him for my Savior, cast and roll myself on him alone for salvation, and give up myself unto him, to be disposed of unto mercy in his own way. Of the truth of this proposition in the heart of a believer, and the infallibility of it, there are also many testimonies in the word, as is known to all; from whence the conclusion is, Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ died for me in particular, with an intention and purpose to save me.
This is such a collection as all believers, and none but believers, can justly make, so that it is peculiar to them alone; and unto those only is this treasure of consolation to be imparted. The sufficiency of the death of Christ for the saving of every one, without exception, that comes unto him, is enough to fill all the invitations and entreaties of the gospel unto sinners, to induce them to believe; which when, by the grace of Christ, they do, closing with the promise, the fore-mentioned infallible assurance of the intention and purpose of Christ to redeem them by his death, Matthew 1:21, is made known unto them. Now, whether this be not a better bottom and foundation for a man to assure his soul unto rest and peace upon, than that reasoning which our opposers in this business must, suitably to their own principles, lay as a common stone, namely, Christ died for all men; I am a man: therefore Christ died for me, let any man judge; especially considering that indeed the first proposition is absolutely false, and the conclusion, if it could be true, yet, according to their persuasion, can be no more ground of consolation than Adams fall. All this is spoken not as though either one opinion or other were able of itself to give consolation, which God alone, in the sovereignty of his free grace, can and doth create; but only to show what principles are suitable to the means whereby he worketh on and towards his elect.
4. The drawing of gospel consolation from the death of Christ, as held out to be effectual towards the elect only, for whom alone he died, should close up our discourse; but considering, first, how abundantly this hath been done by divers eminent and faithful laborers in the vineyard of the Lord already; secondly, how it is the daily task of the preachers of the gospel to make it out to the people of God; thirdly, how it would carry me out, besides my purpose, to speak of things in a practical, so atheological way, having designed this discourse to be purely polemical; and, fourthly, that such things are no more expected nor welcome to wise and learned men, in controversies of this nature, than knotty, crabbed, scholastic objections in popular sermons and doctrinal discourses, intended merely for edification, I shall not proceed therein. Only, for a close, I desire the reader to peruse that one place, Romans 8:32-34; and I make no doubt but that he will, if not infected with the leaven of the error opposed, conclude with me, that if there be any comfort, any consolation, any assurance, any rest, any peace, any joy, any refreshment, any exultation of spirit, to be obtained here below, it is all to be had in the blood of Jesus long since shed, and his intercession still continued; as both are united and appropriated to the elect of God, by the precious effects and fruits of them both drawn to believe and preserved in believing, to the obtaining of an immortal crown of glory, that shall not fade away.
Mo>nw| sofw~| Qew|~, dia< Ihsou~ Cristou~ hJ do>xa eijv tou<v aijw~nav. JAmh>n.