Truth Defended, Being an Answer to an Anonymous Pamphlet Entitled: Some Doctrines in the Supralapsarian Scheme impartially examined by the Word of God.
Lately to my hands an anonymous pamphlet, entitled, Some Doctrines in the Supralapsarian Scheme impartially examined by the Word of God. The author of it is right, in making the word of God the rule and standard by which doctrines and schemes are to be tried and examined. To the law and to the testimony; if men speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:20) He sets out with large declarations of his regard to the sacred writings, which to swell the performance are too often repeated, even ad nauseam; and yet, in his very first paragraph, drops a sentence not very agreeable to them, if any sense can be made of it: "All opinions and maxims, he says; that correspond not with this divine rule, we should either entirely reject, or at least refuse to admit as articles of our faith." But why not entirely reject them, without any hesitation? why this disjunctive proposition? why this softening clause added? If it can be thought to be so, or to convey a different idea from the former, as it is designed it should; though I should think, to refuse to admit doctrines and maxims as articles of faith, that do not correspond with the divine rule, is the same thing as to reject them as articles of faith. The man seems to write in the midst of hurry and surprise. Since he has met with schemes and opinions so exceedingly shocking and stunning, it would have been advisable for him to have sat down and waited until he was better come to, and more composed, before he put pen to paper, and committed his frightful apprehensions to writing. And indeed one would have thought he has had time enough to have recovered himself from the surprise he has met with, seeing it is near four years ago, since the more modern pieces he has taken notice of were published to the world.
I. The examination begins with the foundation principle of the Supralapsarians, as he calls it, that "God chose his people without considering them as fallen creatures." He does well to begin with their foundation-doctrine; for if he can demolish the foundation, the superstructure must fall; if he can pluck up what he supposes to be the root of many false opinions, the branches which grow from it will die in course. But though this received opinion of theirs, as our author styles it, is a denomination one, or that from which they are called Supralapsarians, yet it is far from being a foundation principle, or a fundamental article of faith with them; nor do they consider this point, in which they differ from others, as the principal one in the doctrine of election: They and the Supralapsarians are agreed in the main points respecting that doctrine; as, that it is an eternal act of God; that it is of certain particular persons; that it is unconditional, irrespective of faith, holiness, and good works, as causes and conditions of it; and that it entirely springs from the good-will and pleasure of God. The Contra-Remonstrants were not all of a mind concerning the object of predestination, but did not think it worth their while to divide upon that account. Nay, some of them were of opinion that it was not necessary to be determined, whether God, in choosing men, considered them as fallen, or as not yet fallen provided it was but allowed that God in choosing considered men in an equal state, so as that he that is chosen was not considered by God either of himself, or by his own merit, or by any gracious estimation, more worthy than he who is not chosen. That famous Supralapsarian, Dr. Twiss, declares that "as for the ordering of God's decrees, upon which only arise the different opinions touching the object of predestination, it is merely apex logicus, a point of logic." The decrees of God may be distinguished into the decree of the end, and the decree of the means, that they may the better be conceived of by our finite understandings; which are not able to consider all things at once, and together, as they lie in the divine mind, but of one thing after another; and that without dividing and separating of God's decrees, or supposing any priority or posteriority in him. Now the decree of the end must be considered before the decree of the means; and that what is first in intention, is last in execution, and so vice versa. Let then eternal life and glory, or a state of everlasting communion with God, be the end of election, as it is with respect to man, then the creation, permission of Adam's fall, and the recovery out of it, are the means in order to that end. It follows, that in the decree of the end, man could not he considered as a fallen creature, but as yet not created; because the creation and the permission of the fall belong to the decree of the means, which is an order of nature after the decree of the end. For if God first decreed to create man, and to permit him to fall, and then decreed to bring him to a state of eternal life and happiness; according to this known rule, that what is first in intention is last in execution, this strange absurdity will follow, that man will be first brought into a state of eternal life and happiness, and then created and permitted to fall. Let the end be the manifestation of God's glory, which certainly is the supreme end of election, then the means are creation, permission of sin, redemption, sanctification, and in a word, complete salvation; which though they are materially many, yet make up but one formal decree, called the decree of the means. Now according to the former rule, the intention of the end must be first, and then the intention of the means; and, consequently, man cannot be considered in the decree of the end, the manifestation of God's glory, as yet created and fallen; because the creation and permission of sin belong to the decree of the means, which in order of nature is after the decree of the end. But if, on the contrary, God first decreed to create man and permit him to fall, and then decreed to manifest the glory of his grace and mercy, in his eternal salvation; according to the above rule, that what is first in intention is last in execution, and so vice versa, it will follow, that the glory of God's grace and mercy are first manifested in the eternal salvation of man, and then he is created and suffered to fall. Likewise it is to be observed, that the several things mentioned in the decree of the means, creation, permission of sin, and salvation, are not to be considered as subordinate, but as co-ordinate means, or as making up an entire, complete medium. We are not to suppose that God decreed to create man that he might permit him to fall, or that he decreed to permit him to fall, that he might save him: but that he decreed to create him, permit him to fall, and to save him notwithstanding his fall, that he might glorify his grace and mercy. Nor are we to conceive of them after this manner, that God first decreed to create man, and then decreed to permit him to fall; for it would follow that man, in the execution of these decrees, is first permitted to fall, and then he is created: Nor thus, that God first decreed to create man, and permit him to fall, and then decreed to save him; for, according to the former rule, man would first be saved, and then created and permitted to fall. These are some of the reasonings of the Supralapsarians; particularly of Dr. Twiss, as may be seen in his Vindiciae, and in his Riches of God's love, against Hord. This poor man, that takes upon him to write against the Supralapsarians, would do well to try his skill in unraveling and destroying this kind of reasoning: But alas his capacity will never reach it. I am afraid the very mention of these things will increase his surprise and fright. However, since he has taken upon him to object to this opinion of the Supralapsarians, it will be proper to hear what he has to say. And,
1. He proposes to shew, that this doctrine is destitute of support from the scripture, and tells us, he has often wondered what part of sacred writ can be produced to support it; and that he has been searching and trying to know the language of the divine word concerning election; and shall therefore mention, and in a few words, comment upon those scriptures which, says he, I judge, are only necessary to be considered in this dispute; and these are, 1 Peter 1:2, Ephesians 1:3, 4 and Romans 8:29. If the man is really ignorant, as I am inclined to think he is, and does not know what parts of sacred writ the Supralapsarians have produced to support their doctrine, he has acted a weak part in meddling with the controversy; if he does know, he has acted a worse in concealing of them. He promises to mention and comment on those scriptures, which he judges are only necessary to be considered in this dispute; but he ought to have mentioned the scriptures, which the men he opposes judge necessary to be considered in this dispute; and to have shewn the misapplication of them, and that they are not pertinent to their purpose; is this impartially to try and examine, by the word of God, the Supralapsarian scheme, as his title promises? every one knows, that knows any thing of this controversy, that the scriptural part of it is about the sense of the ninth chapter of the epistle to the Romans; and the question is, whether the Sublapsarian, or the Supralapsarian scheme, concerning the objects of election and reprobation, is most agreeable to the sense of the apostle in that chapter; particularly, whether the Supralapsarian scheme, of God's choosing some, and leaving others, considered as unfallen, as having done neither good nor evil, does not best agree with the account the apostle gives in verses 11-13 of the election of Jacob, and rejection of Esau; and more especially whether it does not best agree with the same apostle's account in verse 21, of the potter's making of the same lump one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? This author should have mentioned these scriptures, and commented upon them, and answered the arguments of the Supralapsarians from them; in particular, those of that eminent Supralapsarian, Theodore Beza, in his notes upon the last of these texts, which I shall transcribe for this man's sake; and he may try whether he is capable of answering of them. "Those who, by the mass, or lump, says this great man, understand mankind corrupted, do not satisfy me in the explanation of this place: for first, it seems to me, that the phrase of informed matter, neither sufficiently agrees with mankind, either made or corrupted. Moreover, if the apostle had considered mankind as corrupted, he would not have said, that some vessels were made to honour, and some to dishonour but rather, that seeing all the vessels would be fit for dishonour, some were left in that dishonour, and others translated from that dishonour to honour. Lastly, if Paul had not rose to the highest degree, he had not satisfied the question objected; for it would always have been queried, whether that corruption came by chance, or whether, indeed, according to the purpose of God, and therefore the same difficulty would recur. I say, therefore, Paul using this most elegant simile, alludes to the creation of Adam, and rises up to the eternal purpose of God, who, before he created mankind, decreed of his own mere will and pleasure, to manifest his glory, both in saving of some whom he knew, in a way of mercy, and in destroying others, whom he also knew, in righteous judgment. And verily, unless we judge this to be the case, God will be greatly injured; because he will not be sufficiently wise, who first creates men, and looks upon them corrupt, and then appoints to what purpose he has created them: nor sufficiently powerful, if when he has taken up a purpose concerning them, he is hindered by another, so that he obtains not what he willed; nor sufficiently constant, if, willingly and freely he takes up a new purpose, after his workmanship is corrupted."
As for the scriptures mentioned by our author, as opposing the Supralapsarian scheme, I shall not trouble the reader, by observing the mangled work he makes with them, and the low and mean comments he makes upon them; I shall only say, that it will he readily owned, that sanctification, obedience, and conformity to the image of God and Christ, are things included in the decree of election: but do these things necessarily suppose, that the persons whom they concern, were in that decree considered as impure, unholy, disobedient, and in a want of conformity to the image of God and Christ? were not the elect angels chosen to sanctification, obedience, and conformity to the image of God? will any one say, that these things supposed them to be, or that in the decree of election, they were considered as impure, unholy, disobedient, and in a want of conformity to the image of God? But, admitting that these things, with respect to men, suppose them in such a case; it should be observed that they belong to the decree of the means, and therefore fall short of proving that God, in the decree of the end, or in decreeing men to eternal life and happiness, for the glorifying of himself, considered them in such a state; since the decree of the end, in order of nature, is before the decree of the means; unless we can suppose the all-wise being to act in such manner as no wise man would, namely, first fix upon the means, and then appoint the end. Now if God first decreed to create man, permit his fail, and then sanctify and conform him to the image of his Son, before he decreed to glorify himself in his salvation, the consequence will be, that God is first glorified in the salvation of man; and after that, man is created, suffered to fall, is sanctified, and conformed to the image of Christ; because what is first in intention, is last in execution. There is one thing more I would observe, and that is, that this author delivers it as the settled opinion of the Supralapsarians, "that we were not elected as holy and obedient beings, but to the end we might be such:" And I am much mistaken if this is not the settled opinion of all Sublapsarians, except such as are in the Arminian scheme. But what is this mentioned for? why, to shew that the Supralapsarians are inconsistent with themselves, and guilty of so flagrant a contradiction, as is not to be reconciled by any. But where does it lie? "why, whereas they affirm, that we were not the Almighty's choice, because we were holy; but that he did choose us to be made holy, and yet in that choice, beheld us free front all defilements and deformity." But this author must be told, if he does not know it, that the Supralapsarians, in considering men not yet created, and so not fallen, as the objects of election, suppose them neither good nor had, righteous or wicked, holy or unholy, but in the pure, that is in the mere mass of creature-ship, not yet made, much less corrupted, and as having done neither good nor evil; now is this such a flagrant contradiction, never to be reconciled, that men considered neither as holy or unholy, as obedient or disobedient, should be chosen to holiness and obedience?
2. This author proceeds to shew, that "the doctrine of the Supralapsarians is repugnant to their own opinion of God's eternal foreknowledge, according to which he was pleased to make his choice." To which I reply; that the Supralapsarians will readily own, that the omniscient Jehovah did, at one view, see, and perfectly behold, whatsoever would come to pass, throughout all ages of time; and that he has an universal prescience of all creatures and things, in their different states and circumstances; but then they will deny that election proceeds upon, or that God has been pleased to make his choice according to this his general and eternal prescience. It is true, that those who are elected, are elected according to the foreknowledge of God the Father; (1 Peter 1:2; Rom. 8:29) and whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. But these passages are not to be understood of the universal prescience and foreknowledge of God; for then all men would be elected and predestinated, for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate; but all men are neither conformed to the image of Christ, nor predestinated to be so; it remains, that the foreknowledge, according to which election and predestination proceed, is God's special foreknowledge of his own people, and which is no other than his everlasting love to them, which is the source and spring of his choice of them; and the meaning is, that whom he foreknew, that is, in his eternal mind knew, owned, approved of, loved with an everlasting love; he chose them to salvation, and predestinated them to be conformed to the image of his Son.
3. This writer goes on to observe, that "this doctrine of God's choosing his people without considering them as fallen creatures, tends to lessen the infinite grace and mercy of God in their election." I reply; that though it has been a matter of controversy between the Supralapsarians, and others, whether election is an act of mercy, yet not whether it is an act of grace; they, with the scriptures, (Rom. 11:5, 6) affirm, that election is of grace, springs from the sovereign grace and good pleasure of God, and is not influenced by, or to be ascribed to the works of men; but then they cannot observe, that it is ever said to be of mercy. Regeneration is ascribed to the mercy of God, 1 Peter 1:3, so is forgiveness of sins, Luke 1:77, yea, our whole salvation, Titus 3:5, but never election, nor that, but salvation is said to he of God, that sheweth, mercy, Rom. 9:15. Their reasons, among many others, too many to mention, why it cannot be an act of mercy, are, because the angels are elected, but not of mercy; the human nature of Christ is elected, but not of mercy. They argue, that supposing it should be admitted, that election is an act of mercy, it must either be actus elicitus, an actual will of being merciful, or actus imperatus, the act of shewing mercy itself; not the latter, because that supposes persons not merely foreknown as miserable, but in actual being, and in real misery, and is a transient act upon them; whereas election puts nothing in the persons chosen: if it is an act of mercy, it must be the former, God's actual will of being merciful; but this does not necessarily presuppose misery, or miserable objects, it being internal, and immanent in God, and the same with his mercy itself; and would have been the same, nor would God have been the less merciful, if the world had not been, and there had never been a miserable object on whom to display it. The act of election does not presuppose men sinners and in miserable, nor indeed can it; for should it presuppose sin, it would presuppose the decree of the permission of sin; and the permission of sin would be first in God's intention, than man's salvation of God's mercy, and consequently would he last in execution; than which nothing can be thought of more absurd. Besides though election is not an act of mercy, yet it is far from having any tendency to lessen the mercy of God, and does, even according to the Supralapsarian scheme, abundantly provide for the glorifying of it; since, according to that, the decree of the end is, the glorifying of the grace and mercy of God, tempered with justice; The decree of the means provides for the bringing about of this end, which includes creation, the permission of sin, the mission of Christ, sanctification, and complete salvation; so that the elect of God may well be called vessels of mercy; since through such means, they are brought to eternal life and glory; though, in the decree of the end, they are considered as not yet created and fallen, than which nothing can more tend to advance the free grace and mercy of God.
4. This author urges, that "this way of stating election strikes severely against the justice of God, in passing by the rest of mankind, not included in this decree; for hereby they are rejected as creatures only, and not as sinful creatures." It is very strange, that election should severely strike against the justice of God, when, according to this way of stating it, it is a choice of persons to eternal life and happiness for the glorifying of the grace and mercy of God, mixed with his justice; and so as much provides in end and means, for the honour of divine justice, as for the glory of grace and mercy: and it is stranger still, that election should be a passing by the rest of mankind, not included in this decree: I suppose he means reprobation; for he has an extraordinary hand at putting one thing for another. Now let it be observed, that though the Supralapsarians do not consider reprobation as an act of justice, but of sovereignty, yet not of injustice; nor does their way of stating it at all strike at the justice of God. They suppose, that God, in the act of preterition, considered the objects of it as not yet created and fallen; and determined, when created, to leave them to their own will, and deny them that grace which he is not obliged to give: and where is the justice of all this? But then, though they do not premise sin to the consideration of the act or preterition, yet they always premise it to the decree of damnation; which this author, as is generally done, confounds together. They say, that as God damns no man, but for sin, so he decreed to damn no man but for sin: and surely this cannot be thought to strike severely against the justice of God. It is true, they do not look upon sin to be the cause of the decree of reprobation, quoad actum volentis, which can only be the will of God; but quoad res volitas, the cause of the thing willed, damnation. Besides, this way of stating the decrees of election and reprobation, respecting men, can no more strike at the justice of God, than the way of stating these decrees, respecting angels, does: which can not be done in another way: for the elect angels could never he considered as fallen; and therefore the other angels, who were passed by, and rejected at the same time, must be rejected as creatures only, and not as sinful creatures; unless it can be thought that the angels were not chosen and passed by at the same time, nor then considered in a like state; and that God chose some of them upon their foreseen holiness and obedience, and rejected the rest upon their foreseen rebellion and disobedience: and if so, why may not the election and rejection of men be thought to proceed upon the same foot? which none, that I know of, will come in to, but such that are in the Arminian scheme. This theme our author says he has been at ways cautious of meddling with, lest he should darken counsel for want of knowledge; and it is pity he meddled with it now, since he discovers so much ignorance of it: who can forbear thinking of the common proverb? Thus having considered what he calls the foundation doctrine of the Supralapsarians, he proceeds,
II. To examine some of the doctrines which grow from this root, as the natural offspring of it, and appear with the same complection; and begins,
1. With their doctrine of eternal justification. What this author says, I am persuaded, will never meet with general credit, "that eternal justification is the natural offspring of the Supralapsarian doctrine, respecting the objects of election, not considered as fallen creatures." He goes all along, I observe, upon a false notion, that whatever is thought, or said to be done in eternity is a Supralapsarian doctrine: whereas the Sublapsarians themselves allow election to be from eternity, before the foundation of the world, and so believe the fall of Adam, though not without the consideration of it; and in this they differ from the Supralapsarians. I know a reverend Divine, now living in this city of London, who, if I mistake nor, reckons himself among the Supralapsarians, and says, that they dig deepest into the gospel; and yet is a strenuous opposer of justification from eternity; and even before faith: on the other hand, there have been some who have thought, that the object of election is man fallen, and yet have been for justification before faith. For my own part, I must confess, I never, considered justification from eternity, any other than a Sublapsarian doctrine, proceeding upon the surety-ship engagements of Christ, and his future satisfaction and righteousness; upon which foot the Old-Testament saints were openly justified, and went to heaven long before the satisfaction was really made, or the justifying righteousness brought in; and, indeed, if the objects of justification are the ungodly, as the scripture represents them to be, they must be considered as fallen creatures; However, if the doctrine of eternal justification is the natural offspring of the former, and appears with the same complection, and is to be maintained with equal force of argument, we have no reason to be ashamed of it: and I am sure we have no reason to be in any pain on the account of the opposition this doughty writer makes unto it: he says, we have exceeded all the bounds of revelation in our inquiries after it, and then barely mentions three or four places of scriptures, which speak of justification by faith; and concludes, that therefore there is no justification before it; an extraordinary way of arguing indeed! When justification by faith no ways contradicts justification before it; nay, justification perceived, known, enjoyed by faith, supposes justification before it; for how should any have that sense, perception, and comfort of their justification by it, if there was no justification before it? He proceeds to observe the order or chain of salvation, in Romans 8:30, where calling is represented as prior to justification; an objection I have formerly answered in my Doctrine of Justification, to which I refer the reader, and take the opportunity of observing, that neither this author, nor any other, have attempted to answer the arguments there made use of in favour of justification before faith: I will not say they are unanswerable; but I may say, that as yet they are unanswered: this author, if he pleases, may try what he can do with them, and it might have been expected in this his performance; but instead of this, he sets himself, with all his might, against some other doctrines, which he represents as Supralapsarian, as calculated to favour the scheme of eternal justification, and as branches of it; as,
1. "That God was eternally reconciled to the elect; and that no scripture can be produced to prove that the Lord Jesus did come to procure reconciliation for them; and that wherever Christ is said to make peace by his blood, It is to be understood only of his reconciling the sinner to God." Whether he refers to anything that has been published, or dropped in private conversation, or who the persons are, that affirm this, I know not: I greatly fear he has both misrepresented their words and meaning. I must own, I never heard of any such thing as an eternal reconciliation of God to the elect. Reconciliation supposes former friendship, a breach of it, and a conciliation of it again; which is inconsistent with the everlasting, invariable, and unchangeable love of God to them. God was indeed from everlasting reconciling, not himself to the world, but the world of his elect to himself; (2 Cor. 5:19) that is drawing the scheme and model of their reconciliation by Christ, or settling the way and manner in which reconciliation, atonement, and satisfaction for their sins, should be made; and accordingly made a covenant of peace with his Son, appointed him to be their peace, and in the fulness of time sent him to make peace by the blood of his cross, and laid upon him the chastisement of their peace; and who has actually made reconciliation for their sins; and so they, even when enemies, were actually reconciled; that is, their sins were actually expiated and atoned for to God, by the death of his Son. This is the doctrine of reconciliation the scriptures speak of, and which I never knew before was ever reckoned a Supralapsarian doctrine: for surely reconciliation, atonement, or satisfaction for sin, which are synonymous terms, expressive of the same thing, must suppose persons sinners herein concerned. Let it be farther observed, that God from all eternity loved his elect with an invariable love; that he never entertained any hatred of them, or was at enmity with them; that there is no such thing as a change in God from hatred to love, any more than from love to hatred; that our Lord Jesus Christ did not by his atoning sacrifice procure his Father's love to the elect, seeing his being a propitiation for sin was a fruit, effect, and evidence of that love Agreeably, the scriptures never speak of God's being reconciled to his elect either in eternity or in time, but of their being reconciled to him and not so much of the reconciliation of their persons, as of a reconciliation for their sins; whereby their persons are reconciled, not to the love and affections of God, which they always shared in, but to the justice of God, which insisted upon a satisfaction to a broken law; which being given, both love and justice are reconciled together, righteousness and peace kiss each other, in the affair of their salvation. Now, there is nothing in this doctrine of reconciliation that is opposite,
(1.) To the sin-offerings and peace-offerings under the law, since these were made to the God of Israel for the people of Israel, whom God loved above all people that were upon the face of the earth, and were typical of that atoning sacrifice, in which indeed were discovered the severest resentment of justice against sin, and yet the clearest evidence of strong love and affections to persons then enemies, and destitute of love to God: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10) In this both type and antitype agree, that the reconciliation is not of God to men, but for men to God; though this author says, "it is past all dispute, that the party to be reconciled is God;" when it is the very thing in dispute between us. It is no where said of the sacrifices of the law, that God was reconciled by them to the people of Israel; and it is no where said of the sacrifice of Christ, the antitype of them, that God is by it reconciled to his elect; though I am content that God should be said to be reconciled to his elect by the death of Christ, provided no more is meant by it than satisfying of his justice, not a conciliating or procuring his love and favour. The author's reasoning on the denial of this, that the reconciliation must be made to the house of Israel, or for the God of Israel, or with the sinner or the sin, is so stupid and senseless, that it deserves no consideration
(2.) Nor does this doctrine, which denies that Christ came to reconcile God to sinners, oppose, as is suggested, what is prophesied of him in the Old Testament, or what is affirmed of his performance in the New; since, though it was prophesied of him, that God should make his soul an offering for sin; (Isa. 53:10) and it is affirmed of him, that he gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God; (Eph. 5:2) yet it is neither said that he should, or that he did do this for the elect, to remove any enmity in the heart of God against them, or to turn any hatred of his into love towards them, or to purchase and procure the love and affections of God for them: so far from this, that because they had a peculiar share in the love and affections both of the Father and the Son, the Father made the soul of his Son an offering for them, and the Son gave himself an offering unto God on their account. The Old Testament says, that the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable; (Isa. 42:21) and the New Testament says, that Christ has so loved his, that he has given himself for them, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour; (Eph. 5:2) a but neither the one nor the other say, that either God was to be, or that he is, hereby reconciled to his elect, or they hereby ingratiated into his affections. What is written in Colossians 1:20, Corinthians 15:3, Hebrews 2:17, Colossians 2:14, Ephesians 1:7, perfectly agree with the doctrine of reconciliation I am now contending for; nor does this oppose that plain scripture, Romans 5:1, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus. We have no need to remove the stop in the text; though how this author dare venture to alter the reading of it, and render the words peace in God, or what is his reason for it, I know not. The peace the text speaks of, does not design the peace, reconciliation, and atonement made by the blood of Christ, but the effect of it; even an inward conscience peace, which believers hare with God, or God-ward, through Christ the donor of it, springing and arising from faith's apprehending an interest in the justifying righteousness of the Son of God.
(3). Nor does this doctrine lessen, or tend to frustrate the great and important ends of our Saviour's sufferings and death, as this author attempts to prove. The ends of his sufferings and death were to bring the elect to God to make reconciliation for their sins, to reconcile them to God; and accordingly they were even when enemies, reconciled to God by the death of his Son. (1 Peter 3:18; Dan. 9:24; Heb. 2:17; Rom. 5:10) Where does the scripture ever represent the end of Christ's sufferings and death to be, to reconcile God to his elect; that is, to remove any enmity in his heart against them, or to procure for them his love and favour? but on the contrary, it represents the sufferings and death of Christ as fruits and evidences oh his matchless and surprising love to them. God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) The doctrines of reconciliation and justification, thus viewed in the light of scripture can never clash with the satisfaction of Christ, nor tend to lessen and frustrate it; since reconciliation is no other than satisfaction and atonement to the justice of God, and justification proceeds upon the foot of satisfaction, and everlasting righteousness. Nor is there room or reason for that stupid inference and conclusion, that because Christ came to reconcile sinners to God, therefore be became an offering to the sinner, and not to God. There is a twofold reconciliation the scriptures speak of; the one is obtained by the price of Christ's blood, the other by the power of his grace: you have them both in one text, Romans 5:10, For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. The meaning of which is; that if, when the elect of God were in a state of nature, and so of enmity to God, atonement was made for their sins by the sacrifice and death of Christ, which is strongly expressive of the amazing love of God to them; then much more being by the Spirit and grace of God reconciled to this way of peace, pardon, atonement, life and salvation, they shall be saved, through the interceding life of their Redeemer.
(4). This doctrine, as it has been stated, does not render the offices of Christ, as mediator, intercessor and high priest, needless, yea, of none effect; unless this author can imagine, according to his own scheme, that it is the sole work of the mediator, intercessor and high priest, to reconcile God to the elect. This we indeed say is no part of his work, in such sense, as to conciliate the love and favour of God to them; but does it follow, from hence, that his office is needless, and of none effect? Is it not needful, to reconcile the elect to God, to make reconciliation for their sins? Is he not useful, as mediator, to be their advocate and intercessor, their way of access to God, and acceptance with him, and of conveyance of all he blessings of the covenant of grace to them, whence he is called the in mediator of it? I would also ask this author, if he thinks when God is reconciled to the elect by the death of his Son, or rather when they believe; for it seems there is no reconciliation before faith in Christ, the blood, sacrifice and death of Christ will not effect it, according to these men, till faith has given the finishing stroke: I say, I ask this author, whether he thinks that the office of Christ, as mediator, ceases? for, according to his way of reasoning, it should cease, when reconciliation is really made. Whereas Christ, after believing as well as before, is the mediator between God and man, and ever lives to make intercession for us. (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:25) We are able to prove that Christ was set up as mediator from everlasting that his mediation was always necessary, and ever will be; that, as he is the medium of all grace now to us, he will be the medium of all glory to all eternity. To conclude this head; our author seems to be convinced that John 3:16, expresses the love of God to his elect, antecedent to his giving and sending of his Son to be the propitiatory sacrifice; since he docs not attempt to offer any thing against the exposition, or to give another sense of it.
2. "Another branch of their (Supralapsarians) eternal justification, is said g to he their refusing to pray for the pardon of sin, any otherwise than the manifestation of it to their consciences." Strange! that pardon of sin should be a branch of eternal justification, when it is a distant blessing from it; as, I think, I have sufficiently made to appear in my treatise concerning it: stranger still! that refusing to pray for it should be deemed a branch of it: and what is of all most wonderful, is, flint this should he reckoned a Supralapsarian point, when pardon of sin supposes sin, and sin supposes the fall; anti whether it is to be conceived of as in the divine mind, from eternity, or as passing into successive acts in time, as men sin, or as manifested to their consciences, the objects of it cannot be considered otherwise than as sinners, fallen creatures; and therefore is a Sublapsarian, and not a Supralapsarian doctrine. Is this man qualified to examine the Supralapsarian scheme? He proceeds to try this practice of refusing to pray for the pardon of sin any otherwise than the manifestation of it to the conscience, by the example of the holy men of God, and by the advice and direction of our blessed Lord and Saviour. He might have spared the pains he has taken in collecting the instances of praying for the pardon of sin, since the question is not, whether the saints, in any sense, should pray for it; for we allow, that they have done it, that they are directed to it, and should do it; but the question is, in what sense they have done it, and should do it? Now we apprehend, that when believers pray for the pardon of sin, that their sense and meaning is not, nor should it be, as if the blood of Christ should be shed again for the remission of sin, or as if complete pardon was not procured by it, or as though this was to be obtained by their praying, tears, humiliation, and repentance, or that any new act of pardon I should arise in the mind of God, and be afresh passed; but when they pray in this manner, their meaning is, either that God would, in a providential way, deliver then out of present distress, or avert those troubles and sorrows they might justly fear; or, that they might have the sense and manifestation of pardon to their souls, fresh sprinklings of the blood of Jesus, and renewed applications of it to their consciences; and this, we believe, is both their duty and interest to do daily, since they are daily sinning against God, grieving his Spirit, and wounding their own consciences. The instance of the apostle's advising Simon Magus to pray, is not to pray particularly for the pardon of sin, or that the evil thought of his heart might be forgiven him, as this author suggests; but to repent and pray in general; and this is added by way of encouragement, If perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. However, I will not contend with him about it, since nothing in this controversy depends upon it. He goes on to observe, that,
3. "The third branch of their eternal justification is, that God loved and delighted in the elect as much while in their sinful state, and in the height of their rebellion against his laws, as when they are converted, and made obedient to his ways." That God loves his elect, and delights in them, as considered in Christ, and so as justified in him before the foundation of the world, I firmly believe; and which is far from being a licentious way of talking, or from being any contradiction to the holiness of God: but that his love to them, and delight in them as such, should be a branch of their eternal justification, is what I confess I never was acquainted with before; and what is more news still, is, that this spurious tenet, as this author in his great wisdom and modesty calls it, is built upon eternal union with Christ, which he represents as a false and sandy foundation: whereas the persons he opposes, consider the everlasting love of God to his elect as the foundation, yea, the bond of their eternal union. Of this one would think he could not be ignorant; but really every page, and almost every line, discover such stupidity and ignorance, that it is not at all to be marvelled at. He goes on, in his former way, to consider this tenet of God's loving and delighting in his elect, while in their unconverted state with the rest, as a Supralapsarian point; and which he calls a common maxim of the Supralapsarians. I entreat this author, that he would never more attempt to write about Supralapsarian principles, or to try and examine the Supralapsarian scheme, until some of his friends, patrons, or editors, have better informed him concerning them. What, is this a Supralapsarian tenet, that God loves and delights in his elect while in their sinful state, and in the height of their rebellion? Surely these persons must be considered as sinners, as fallen creatures; and therefore as this author has stated the point, it must be a Sublapsarian, and not a Supralapsarian one. Had he indeed represented it as our sense, that God loved and delighted in his elect, as in Christ from all eternity, above the fall, and without any consideration of it, he had done us more justice; and this would have bid fair to have been deemed a Supralapsarian point: but this would not have answered his wicked design; I can call it no other, which is to suggest to weak minds "that God loves and delights in the sins and rebellions of his elect, or loves and delights in them considered as sinners, and rebellious persons;" this we abhor, as much as he: for what else can reflect dishonour on the Christian religion, or strike at the doctrine of God's holiness, or stand diametrically opposite to all practical godliness, or oppose those scriptures which speak of God as hating sin, and abhorring the workers of iniquity? Not the doctrine of God's loving and delighting in his elect, as considered in Christ, in whom they cannot be considered otherwise than as holy and righteous. We know that men in an unconverted state cannot please God, that is, do those things which are well-pleasing to him; and yet their persons may be acceptable in his sight, not as considered in themselves; for so they cannot be, even after conversion, notwithstanding all their humiliations, repentance, tears, prayers, and services; but as considered in Christ, in whom, and in whom alone, they are the objects of God's love and delight. But it seems we are to hear of this again; and therefore at present I shall take my leave of it, till we know what he has farther to object.
4. He proceeds to prove "that these authors (the Supralapsarians) in order to support their doctrine of eternal justification, have very unjustly affirmed that our blessed Saviour was by imputation a sinner; yea, that he became very sin." I shall content myself in making some general observations upon his long harangue on this head, which will serve to discover his weakness and ignorance.
(1.) I observe, that as his title page promises an examination of some doctrines in the Supralapsarian scheme, and his assurance leads him on; so, according to his usual way, he affirms that the doctrine of Christ's being made sin, or a sinner by imputation, or of the imputation of sin to Christ, is a doctrine in the Supralapsarian scheme, or a Supralapsarian notion; whereas imputation of sin supposes sin, and that supposes the fall; wherefore the persons whose sins were imputed to Christ, and in whose room and stead he bore them, must he considered as sinners and fallen creatures. And hence it appears to be a Sublapsarian, and not a Supralapsarian doctrine.
(2.) I take notice of the unfair and disingenuous dealing of this writer. He first proposes to prove, that it is unjustly affirmed that Christ was by imputation a sinner, and immediately alters the state of the question, and represents it as the notion of the Supralapsarians, that Christ was really the sinner, and made truly and properly sin, and made sin, or a sinner, in a proper sense; whereas though with Dr. Crisp, we affirm, that there was a real transaction, a real imputation of sin to Christ, and that the really bore the sins of his people in the Protestant sense, as opposed to that of the Papists, who sneeringly call every thing imputed, putative, fantastic and imaginary, with whom our author seems to join: but then we say that Christ is only the sinner by imputation, or was only made sin this way; not that sin was inherently in him, or that it was committed by him; in which sense only he can be truly, properly, and really the sinner. And this is what Dr Crisp himself says, and that in the very passage this man takes upon him to confute: "Christ, says he, stands a sinner in God's eyes; though not as the actor of transgressions, yet as he was the surety." This observation alone is sufficient to set aside all the trifling and impertinent reasonings of this writer on this head. We are not afraid, nor ashamed to say, that Christ was made original and actual sin in this sense; that is to say, that original sin, and the actual sins of God's people, were imputed to Christ, and he bore them and made satisfaction to justice for them: Nor can we observe any absurdity in descending to particulars, and saying that the swearing the lying, blasphemy, &c. of God's elect, were laid upon him, imputed to him, and he took them upon him, and bore them away: Nor does this reflect upon the holiness of God, as this man suggests, in making his Son by imputation the worst thing that ever was in the world; since there never was any one thing in the world which so much discovers the holiness of God, and strictness of his justice, than his giving his Son to be the propitiation for our sins; which could not be done without the imputation of them to him: Nor does this act of imputation make God the author of sin, any more than the imputation of the righteousness of Christ makes the Father the author of that righteousness; nor does this reflect dishonour, either on the divine or human nature of Christ, since neither of them can be defiled with sin but, on the other hand, serves much to express the wondrous love, grace, and condescension of Christ, that he who knew no sin, should be made sin for us.
(3.) I observe the rudeness of the man, in representing the doctrine of the imputation of sin to Christ, or his being made sin by imputation, "as vile and ridiculous, and equally as pernicious as Transubstantiation; a scheme not to be freed from inexplicable perplexities, and vile nonsense; calling it ridiculous doctrine, spurious stuff, yea, blasphemy;" when it is the doctrine of our reformers, of all sound Protestant divines, never denied by any but Socinians and Arminians, or such as he inclined to them: Wherefore had he thought fit to have rejected it, yet for the sake of so many valuable men who have espoused it, he ought to have treated it with decency. Nor can I pass by his rude treatment of Dr. Crisp and Mr. Hussey; the one he represents as guilty of blasphemy, or something like it, and an addle-headed man, that knew not what he wrote; and the other, as a ridiculous writer; when they were both, in their day and generation, men of great piety and learning, of long standing and much usefulness in the Church of Christ; whose name and memory will be dear and precious to the saints, when this writer and his pamphlet will be remembered no more.
(4.) I observe, this author treats the doctrine of Christ's being a sinner by imputation, as a novel doctrine, and embraced by men of a vehement thirst after novelty. I have already hinted, that this was the doctrine of the first reformers, and all sound Protestant divines, that our sins were in punted to Christ, and Christ's righteousness imputed to us. This was the faith of the ancient church, in the first ages of christianity, as appears from a passage of Justin Martyr, one of the most early christian writers extant; "What else," says he, speaking of Christ, "could cover our sins, but his righteousness? In whom could we, transgressors and ungodly, be justified, than in the only Son of God? Ohm O sweet. change! O unsearchable performance! O unexpected benefits! that the transgression of many should be hid in one righteous person: and the righteousness of one justify many transgressors." Yea, some of the ancient writers have expressed themselves in terms full as exceptionable as what Dr. Crisp has made use of: so Chrysostom; "For he hath made that righteous one a simmer, that he might make sinners righteous: indeed he does not only say so, but what was much more; for he does not express the habit, but the quality; he does not say, he made him a sinner, but sin itself; that we might be made, he does not say righteous, but righteousness, even the righteousness of God." So Oecumenius; "Christ," says he, "was the great sinner, seeing he took upon him the sins of the whole world, and made them his own:" So Austin; "He, that is, Christ, is sin, as we a are righteousness; not our own, but God's; not in ourselves but in him; even as he himself is sin; not his own, but ours: not in himself, but in us." Some of them have been very express, as to Christ's bearing the filth of sin; particularly Gregory of Nyssa; "For," says he; speaking of Christ, "having translated to himself the filth of my sins, he imparted to me his own purity, and made me a partaker of his beauty." And in another place, says he, "the pure and harmless one took upon him or received the filth of human nature; and passing through all our poverty, came to the trial of death itself." And elsewhere he says, "purity was in our filth; but the filth did not touch that purity;" meaning, that the holy nature of Christ was not defiled by it. I shall not now take notice of some later writers; perhaps I may hereafter: I hope this will be sufficient to clear the doctrine from the charge of novelty.
(5.) I cannot overlook the wretched vanity and ignorance of the man about tropes and figures. Though I cannot but think his learned friend, or friends, who had the supervisal of his performance, have been far from acting the kind, faithful, and friendly part, in suffering him to expose himself as he has done; he tells us that "it is very evident, that all the scriptures that they (Dr. Crisp, and others) depend upon as plain proofs that Christ was made very sin for us, are metonomies, which is a figure frequently to be met with in the Bible;" and then by an asterisk, we are directed to the margin, where, for the sake of the poor, illiterate Supralapsarians, a definition is given of a metonymy, which is this; "a metonomy is a changing, or putting one thing, or more, for another:" "and," says he, in the body of his work, "sometimes you have the cause for the effect, and sometimes the effect put for the cause;" and among the instances he produces, this is one, that unbelief is put for faith. Now, not to take notice that a metonymy is a trope, and not a figure, nor of his miscalling it metonomy, instead of metonymy, which might have been thought to have been an error of the press, but that it is so often repeated; I say, not to take notice of these things; he says, "a metonomy is a changing, or putting one thing, or more, for another;" but surely it is not a changing, or putting any one thing for another; it looks as if he thought so, seeing, among his examples, he makes unbelief to be put for faith. There is a metonymy of the cause and effect, subject and adjunct, but never of contraries; as grace and sin, vice and virtue, faith and unbelief are: this looks more like the figure antiphrasis, than the trope metonymy. Our author, by his new figure in rhetoric, will be able, in a very beautiful manner, to bring off the vilest of creatures, that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. (Isa. 5:20) Let me ask this author, since he has put this instance among his examples of a metonymy of the cause for the effect, and of the effect for the cause; let me, I say, ask him, whether he thinks unbelief is the cause faith, or faith the cause of unbelief; and seeing he has got such a good hand at metonymies, we will try what use he can make of them in explaining the scriptures in this controversy.
(6.) The scriptures made use of to prove the imputation of sin to Christ, or that Christ was made sin by imputation, are, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:6. Now our author "hopes to make it plain, that these scriptures are as truly figurative texts as those are that represent Christ to be a lion, a star, a door, a rock, a vine," &c. and observes that "all the scriptures depended on as plain proofs, that Christ was made very sin for us, are metonomies." But he should have observed, that the scriptures which speak of Christ as a lion, a star, a door, a rock, a vine, &c. are metaphors, and not metonymies; and could he produce any, where Christ is said to be made a lion, a star, a door a rock, a vine, &c. there would appear a greater likeness between them, and such a text which says, he was made sin for us: he fancies the doctrine of transubstantiation is as well supported by scripture as this doctrine; that the constructions we put upon the texts in dispute about it, are as gross as those the Papists put on such as they produce in favour of theirs; which is not very surprising, since he seems to have an opinion of popish doctrines, and to be verging that way; for in one part of this performance of his, he frankly acknowledges, that he has no high opinion of popish doctrines, which supposes that he has an opinion of them, and begins, at least, to think a little favourably of them, though not highly. But Jet us attend to time texts in dispute; the first is, 2 Corinthians 5:21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him who knew no sin; which, he says, has been notoriously wrested, and observes, that "this text in both parts of it, is metonomically spoken, and is the cause put for the effect; and the native language of it is, that God made his dear Son a sin-offering for us, that we might partake of the promised blessings, or the righteousness of God in him." Admitting the words are to be taken in a metonymical sense, yea, that the meaning is, that Christ was made an offering for sin; they are not a metonymy of the cause for the effect; for sin is not the cause, though the occasion of a sin-offering; there might have been sin and no offering for it: offering for sin is not an effect necessarily arising from it, but what purely depended on the will and pleasure of God; but taking the words in the sense of a sin-offering, it is, as Piscator observes Per metonymiam subjecti occupantis in veteri Testamento usitatam. Besides, this sense of the words is so far from destroying the doctrine of the imputation of sin to Christ, that it serves to confirm it: For as the typical sin-offerings under the law, had first the sins of the people put upon them by the priest, and typically imputed to them, and were bore by them, Leviticus 10:17, before they could be offered for them; so our Lord Jesus was first made sin, or had the sins of his people imputed to him, or he could never have been made an offering for them. I deny, that salva justitia Dei, consistent with the justice of God, Christ, an innocent person could ever bear even the punishment of our sins, or be made a sacrifice for them, or die for them, as he did, according to the scriptures, if they had not been imputed to him; punishment could never have been inflicted on him, if sin had not been reckoned to him. Though I see no reason winy sin, in one and the same sentence here, should have two different meanings, as it must have, according to this sense of them, he hath made him, to be sin for us, who knew no sin: the word sin, last mentioned, cannot be meant of an offering for sin: for it is not true, that Christ knew no sin-offering, when multitudes had been offered up under the law; but the meaning is, that he never was guilty of sin; and yet he who never was guilty of sin, was made so by imputation, that is, had the guilt of our sins imputed to him; which well agrees with, and may be confirmed by the latter part of the text, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Now in the same way that we are made the righteousness of God, was Christ made sin: we are made the righteousness of God by imputation, that is, the righteousness of Christ, who is both God and man, is imputed to us; so Christ was made sin by imputation, that is, our sins were imputed to him. What this author says concerning our being made the effects of God's righteousness or faithfulness, I own, I cannot, for my life form any idea of; and though he has attempted to explain it, he has left it inexplicable; I choose not to use his own phrase, inexplicable nonsense. Before I dismiss this text, I would take notice of one very extraordinary observation of this author's; which is, that this way of reasoning to prove Christ a sinner, will prove that all men, that have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, are their own saviours; his argument is this: "if by the imputation of our condemning sins to Christ he was made a sinner, then, by the imputation of his saving righteousness, we are made saviours." But, with his leave, this does not follow; but the truth and force of the reasoning stands thus: If by the imputation of our condemning sins to Christ he was made a sinner, and condemned as such, then, by the imputation of his righteousness, we are made righteous, and saved as such; for not sinner and saviour, but sinner and righteous, salvation and condemnation, are the antitheses. Give me leave to subjoin the sense of two or three of our principal reformers, and sound Protestant divines, of this passage of scripture, who wrote long before Dr. Crisp's time. Calvin upon the text says; "How are we righteous before God? namely, as Christ was a sinner; for, in some respects, he sustained our person, that he might become guilty in our name; and as a sinner, be condemned, not for his own, but the offences of others seeing he was pure, and free from all fault, and underwent punishment due, not to himself, but to us:" which agrees with what he says on Galatians 3:13. "Because he sustained our person, therefore he was a sinner, and deserving of the curse; not as in himself, but as in us." Beza on the place, has these words; that "the antithesis requires, that rather Christ should be said to be made sin for us, that is, a sinner, not in himself, but on the account of the guilt of all our sins, imputed to him; of which the two goats were a figure, mentioned Leviticus 16." Piscator, as well as Beza, having mentioned the other sense of Christ's being made a sin-offering, adds, "rather sin here, by a metonymy of the adjunct, signifies summum peccatorem," the chief sinner; "inasmuch as all the sins of all the elect were imputed to Christ; which exposition the following antithesis favours, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; that is, righteous before God; namely, by a righteousness obtained by the sacrifice of Christ; imputed to us by God." So that though the words may be taken in a metonymical sense; yet they are not a metonymy of the cause for the effect, but a metonymy of the adjunct: so scelus is put for scelestus, by Latin authors, as here sin for the sinner.
I now proceed to what our author has to say to Isaiah 54:6. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. This text he says, Dr Crisp makes the foundation of his several sermons, to prove that our blessed Lord was made a sinner and says, that he very injudiciously affirms, that it is the very fault, or transgression itself, that the Lord laid upon Christ; but he purposes to make it plain, that he is mistaken in his opinion about this text, and that it was not the crime or fault, but the punishment due to us for our sins, that was laid upon Christ, which, he thinks, is evident from verses 3, 7. To which I reply; that the punishment due to us for sin, could not have been laid upon Christ, nor could he have been wounded for our transgressions, or bruised for our sins, or have been oppressed and afflicted, had he not had our sins laid upon him, that is, imputed to him: nor is it inconsistent with the holiness of God, to take either original sin, or our actual sins and transgressions, even particular sins, and lay them upon Christ; since this was done in order to shew his infinite holiness, his indignation against sin, and the strictness and severity of his justice in the punishment of it; nor is this inconsistent with the nature of sin, nor any rude and extravagant way of thinking of it, which surely may as truly and properly be put, or laid upon Christ, as the iniquities and transgressions of the children of Israel in all their sins, which mean their very crimes, were typically put and laid upon the scapegoat. This writer goes on to observe, that the prophecy in Isaiah 53:4, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, was fulfilled by our Lord's healing the diseases of the people, Matthew 8:16, 17, and argues, that if the text in Isaiah 53:4 is to be construed in the same method as the sixth and eleventh verses are, the consequence will be, that our Lord bore the palsy of the Centurion's servant, and the fever of Peter's wife's mother: this, he thinks, will greatly hamper our scheme, so that we shall not be able to produce any thing consistent with it, free from inexplicable perplexities and vile nonsense. But what reason can be given, why the expressions in the several places, should be interpreted in the same way? What though our Lord, in his state of incarnation, being a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, is said to bear the griefs, and carry the sorrows of men, because he had compassion on them, and sympathized with them in their sickness, which put him upon healing of them; and in such sense, bore them as a parent bears the sicknesses of a child, or a husband bears the infirmities of a wife; for we have not an high priest which cannot he touched with the feeling of our infirmities; does it therefore follow, that this must be the sense of Christ's bearing our sins when he suffered for them as our surety? Can it be thought that he sympathized with our sins, or with us on the account of them, which put him upon suffering for them, as he is said to bear or sympathize with men's sicknesses and diseases, or with them upon the account of them which put him upon healing of them?
(7.) The imputation of the filth of sin to Christ, and his beaming of it, would come next to be considered; but our author has not thought fit to make use of any arguments against it, and therefore I do not think myself obliged to enlarge upon it; only would observe, that filth and guilt are inseparable from sin; and therefore if sin is laid upon Christ, and imputed to him, guilt and filth must be likewise: nor can I see how we can expect to be cleared of the one and cleansed from the other, unless Christ bore them both, when his soul was made an offering for sin, and his blood was shed to cleanse from it. This writer would, indeed, be nibbling at it, but knows not how to go about it; and only cavils at, some expressions of Mr. Hussey's concerning it. Whether, in Psalm 110:7, there is any allusion to the brook Cedron, or Kidron, over which our Lord went in to the garden, I will not say; but I see not why that black and unclean brook, or common-sewer, may not be an emblem of the pollutions and defilements of sin; which being laid on Christ when he passed over that brook, made him so heavy and sore amazed in his human nature, as to desire the cup might pass from him. As to what Mr Hussey says of our iniquities being put into this bitter cup, and of his drinking of it, and of the torrent of our sins and blacknesses running into his soul with that wrath; this is not to be understood of sin being inherent in him, or of his being defiled with it, the contrary to which he solidly proves; but only of the imputation of them to him, and of his susception of them; for he says, "It was not pain or torture abstractly in the bitter draught, but pollution, the dregs of our sins, sin being the only impure thing in God's account, and so the spot of sin, the filth and pollutions of sin, were imputed to him by his Father and put upon Christ's account, and mingled with his wormwood cup, that it made his holy soul to tremble." Nor is the simile he makes use of a foolish one, of a drop of ink, or poison, falling upon a fiery globe of brass, without leaving any sullying mark upon it, or receiving any stain or pollution by it; nor does it tend to extenuate the flood of the filthiness of sin, that has been running ever since Adam; nor is it unsuitable to the imputation and susception of it; which is all he means by his drinking of it; but is designed to set forth the infiniteness of Christ, and of his power to resist the infection and stain of sin; as may he seen at large in this valuable writer; who himself frankly owns, "that the similitude is imperfect, to set out the matter in the deep mysteries of this gold tried in the fire, or the person of Christ in his sufferings; the greatest of which was, the Father's imputation of our sins to him." What our author further observes concerning some texts of scripture, engaged by the Supralapsarians, to speak for their opinions of eternal justification and adoption, being what is introduced by him, with reference to a living author, I leave it to him to answer for himself; who, I doubt not, will make a proper and suitable reply. I proceed,
Secondly, To defend the doctrine of eternal union, which this author calls a "branch which grows from the fruitful root of the Supralapsarian tree; which," says he, "they style eternal, actual, union." As this author particularly refers to myself, throughout his performance on the head of union, I take leave to ask him, Where has he found eternal union in any writings of mine, styled eternal, actual union? I have carefully avoided calling justification, or union from eternity, actual; though for no other reason than this, lest in any should imagine, that I considered them as transient acts of God upon the elect, which require their personal and actual existence; for otherwise, as I believe, that eternal election is actual, and eternal reprobation is actual, as they are immanent acts in God; so, I believe, eternal justification is actual, as it is an immanent act in God that justifies; and eternal union is actual, as it is arm act of God's everlasting love to his elect, whereby he has knit and united them to himself. I go on to ask, where have I said, or who has told this man, that a non-entity was united to an existence? The language with which this expression is cloathed, manifestly shews, it to be of his own shaping. The elect of God, though they have not an esse actu, an actual being from eternity; yet they have an esse representativum, a representative being in Christ from everlasting, which is more than other creatures have, whose future existence is certain; and therefore at least capable of a representative union from eternity, and which has been readily owned by some divines, who are not altogether in the same way of thinking with myself. However, it seems eternal union is a branch which grows from the fruitful root (not from the body) of the Supralapsarian tree. Poor creature! it is plain he knows nothing of the Supralapsarian tree, as he calls it, either root, body, or branch; for as he is pleased to explain the meaning of eternal, actual union, it is this, "that they," I suppose he means the elect, "had actual union with Christ, whilst they were in their sins;" and if so, they must be considered in their union with Christ, as fallen creatures; and then it will follow, that this is a branch which grows from the Sublapsarian, and not the Supralapsarian tree. But passing these things, I shall now attend to what he has to object to what I have written on the subject of union. And,
(1.) Whereas I have undertaken to prove that it is not the Spirit on Christ's part that is the bond of union to him, I endeavoured to do it by observing that the Spirit is sent down, and given to God's elect, in consequence of an antecedent union of them to Christ; and that he, in his personal inhabitation, operations and influences of grace in them, is the evidence, and not the efficient cause of their union. That an elect person is first united to Christ, and then receives the spirit in measure from him, and becomes one spirit with him, I though was pretty evident from 1 Corinthians 6:17. He that is joined unto the Lord, is one spirit. From whence I concluded, and still conclude, that a person becoming one spirit with Christ, or receiving the same spirit Christ has, though in measure, is in consequence of his being joined or united to him: and not that he first becomes one spirit, or receives the same spirit form Christ, and then is joined or united to him. The sense of the text is evident, and admits of no difficulty: But, says this writer, "it evidently proves that the Spirit of Christ dwells in all that are united to him." I grant it, that the Spirit of Christ dwells in all that are united to him, sooner or later , but the question is, whether the indwelling of the Spirit is antecedent to their union, or in consequence of it? If it is in consequence of it, then that is not the bond of union; If it is antecedent to it, it must be before faith; for, according to this man's scheme, union is by faith, and there is none before it: and so the absurdity he would fain leave with me, follows himself; "that the holy Spirit dwells with unbelievers." To illustrate this matter, of a person's receiving the Spirit from Christ, in consequence of union to him, I made use of a simile taken from the head and members of an human body, and the communication of the animal spirits from the one to the other, in consequence of the in union between them. This author, though in his great modesty he owns that he is poorly skilled in philosophy, a concession he needed not have given himself the trouble to make: yet thinks himself capable to make it appear, that I am not a little wanting in the application of my argument; I suppose he means simile; for I am often obliged to guess at his meaning. But what is it he fancies is wanting? In what is it inapplicable? Does it not exactly tally with what I am speaking of? But instead of shewing the want of application, or any disparity in the case, which he does not attempt, he puts me upon proving, "that there is any life in the head of a body natural, when the members are all dead; on that the life of a natural body is all extinct before the head dies, or that the head can subsist without any living members, or that the body natural is destitute of natural life, when united to a living head;" things I have no concern with, and which are no part of the simile I make use of; and which is made use of by me only to shew, that as the animal spirits from the head are communicated to the members of the body, not antecedent to union between them, or in order to effect it, but in consequence of it: so the Spirit of Christ is communicated from him, the head, to the members of his body, not antecedent to their union, or in order to effect it, but in consequence of it: whence it follows, that he cannot be the bond of this union; and by this I abide. For the proof of the Spirit's being the evidence of communion, and so of union, and therefore not the bond of it, I produced I John 3:24, and chapter 4:13. Only the first of these scriptures is taken notice of by this writer; who fancies that the former part of this text was disagreeable to me, and therefore left out by me. I declare I was far from thinking it to be so; and am well content it should be transcribed at large, it being a witness for, and not against my new notion, as he is pleased to call it: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him; and hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. The meaning of which is, that those persons, who under the influences of the Spirit of God are enabled to keep the commandments of God, dwell in him, and he in them; that is, they have communion with him, as the effect of union to him; for these acts of indwelling are not uniting acts, but acts of communion, in consequence of union; of which the Spirit being given them, is an evidence. Now could it be proved that Christ dwells in his people by his Spirit, though the scripture no where says so, but that he dwells in their hearts by faith; yet it does not follow that he is united to them by his Spirit, because this act of indwelling is an act of communion: not this, but his everlasting love, which is the foundation of his dwelling in them, is the bond of union. That the Spirit is the seal of covenant-love and of union with Christ, will not he denied: But then his being a seal, is no other than his being a certifying evidence and witness of these things. Now from the spirit's being a witness and seal of union, this man suggests that he must be the bond of it; because the party that seals, is the principle of the bond: where his poor wandering head is running upon a pecuniary bond: a bond in writing, by which a man is bound to another; and in which he most miserably blunders; seeing it is not the principal, or he to whom the bond is made, but the debtor, on he who obliges himself to the other, that signs and seals: Whereas the thing in dispute is, a bond of union between persons, by which they are united to each other. Nor will it he denied that the Spirit quickens and regenerates us, begets and maintains spiritual life in us; but then all this is in consequence of union to Christ: nor is it by this spiritual life which he begets and maintains, that we have union with our living head, but we have this spiritual life as the effect of that union, and thereby have communion with him: and though the elect of God, whilst dead in trespasses and sins, have no communion with Christ, yet there is a sense in which they are united to him then; which union is the ground and foundation of their being quickened.
(2.) I have also affirmed that faith is not the bond of union to Christ, and desired those who plead for union by faith, to tell us whether we are united to Christ by the habit or act of faith; and since there are different acts of it, whether our union is by the first, second, third, &c. acts of believing? To which our author has not thought fit to return any answer. I go on to argue, that if union is by faith as an habit, it is not by faith on our part, because faith, as such, is the gift of God; and if it be by faith as an act of ours, it is by a work; for faith, as such, is a work; and then not by grace, since works and grace cannot be blended. To which this author replies: "what if we have union with Christ in that part which lies on our side the question, by acts of ours, unto which we are enabled by the spirit of God, who works faith in us; does this tend to lessen the exceeding grace of God?" I answer, that what he says of the Spirit's working faith in us, is right, but that regards faith as an habit; though that there is a part lying on our side the question, to bring about our union to Christ by an act of ours, I utterly deny: Strange! that an uniting act or a bond of union, must be parted, that there should be a part belong to us, and another to the Spirit of God? But to his question I answer, that to ascribe our union to Christ in part to acts of ours, though enabled to them by the Spirit of God, does lessen the grace of God: and I argue thus, that if to ascribe election in part to works, to any acts of ours as to faith, though enabled to it by the spirit of God, would tend to lessen the glory of grace in it; so to ascribe our union to Christ to any acts of ours, to faith as such, though enabled to it by the Spirit of God, would tend to lessen the glory of that grace and love of Christ, which is the alone bond of it. This writer farther suggests, that I incline to admit the grace of love to be the union-bond; and argues, that that being an act of ours, it must consequently be esteemed a work, and so be liable to the same difficulty: whereas, though I observe, that had our divines fixed upon the grace of love as the bond of union, it would have been more plausible and feasible than their fixing upon faith; yet I am far from an inclination to admit of it, when I affirm, in so many words, that "it is not our love to Christ, but his love to us, which is alone the real bond of our union to him." I proceed to observe, that "faith is no uniting grace, nor are any of its acts of a cementing nature." This man fancies I am guilty of such a flagrant contradiction, as is not to be produced in any book besides; because I add, "faith indeed looks to Christ, lays hold on him, embraces him, and cleaves unto him; it expects and receives all from Christ, and gives him all the glory." These sentences, it seems, are closely united; and yet an agreement between them cannot be proved. I own I am not so quick-sighted as to see any contradiction, much less a flagrant one, in them. Was I sensible of it, I should be thankful for the discovery. I perceive that the acts of laying hold on, embracing and cleaving to, are thought to be uniting acts. I confess I never thought that whatever my hand lays hold on, is united to it, or one with it. I now lay hold on my pen, and hold it in my hand, make use of it, take it up, and lay it down at pleasure; I do not find they are one, but two distinct things; my pen is not one with my hand, nor my hand with my pen, nor do they both make one third thing. I never knew that one person's embracing another was an uniting their person's together, or that any union or relation between them commenced upon such an act. When the apostles exhorted such who were partakers of the grace of God, to cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart, it can never be thought that their exhortation was to unite themselves to the Lord with purpose of heart, since these were persons already united to him. All these acts of looking to Christ, laying hold upon him, embracing of him, and cleaving to him, are acts of faith performed under the influences of the Spirit, in consequence of union to Christ; and are such, mi which believers have communion with him. He seems displeased with what I say, that "a soul can no more be said to be united to Christ by these acts, than a beggar may be said to be united to a person, to whom he applies, of whom he expects alms, to whom he keeps close, from whom he receives, and to whom he is thankful." This, be says, deserves no answer. The reason I guess is, because he can give none. However, I will take his own instance, of a distressed beloved child's looking to, embracing of, cleaving to, and hanging about its tender father, with entreaties and expectations of supply; and deny that these are uniting acts, or such as unite the father to the child, or the child to the father; but are all in consequence of a relation, a relative union, that subsisted between them antecedent to these acts.
I farther observe, that union to Christ is the foundation of faith, and of all the acts of believing, or seeing, walking, receiving, &c. That faith is the fruit and effect of union, even of what is commonly called vital union: for as there must first be an union of the soul and body of man, before he can be said to live, and there must be life, before there can be reason; so there must be a union of the soul to Christ, before it can spiritually live: and there must be a principle of spiritual life, before there can be faith. This I thought also was fully and fitly exemplified in the simile of the vine and branches, which must first be in the vine before they bear fruit; and may be illustrated by the engrafture of the wild olive-tree into a good one; and concluded, that union to Christ is before faith, and therefore faith cannot be the bond of union. The substance of what is replied to this is, "that though we cannot produce good fruit until we are in union with Christ the living head, yet there is no absurdity in saying, that there is life produced in the soul, previous to our union with him;--and that a spiritual work (an awkward way of talking; why not the Spirit?) which begets a spiritual life in us, is necessary to meten (meeten) us for union to him the living head." And though he approves the argument, yet does not believe the application of it agreeable to truth; namely, that because there is an union of the soul and body of man before he can he said to live, that therefore the soul of man must be united to Christ before he has spiritual life. In a word, though he agrees that there must be a principle of life, before there is any exercise of faith, yet denies that there was union to Christ, before this principle was wrought. Now let it be observed, that the union I am here speaking of, is what is commonly called vital union; an union in time, at conversion, which is no other than Christ formed in us; upon which a principle of spiritual life is immediately produced; for he that hath the Son, hath life; and then follow faith, and the exercise of it. Therefore this union cannot be by faith, nor faith be the bond of it, since it follows upon it: for though, as upon the union of the soul and body, life is immediately produced; yet the union in order of nature, must be considered previous to life. So though, upon the formation of Christ in us, called the vital union, the principle of spiritual life is immediately produced; yet the formation of Christ, or the union of him to us, must be considered antecedent to this life. No, says this man; there is life produced in the soul, previous to our union with Christ, in order to it; yea, to meeten for it: whence it must unavoidably follow, that a man may have a principle of spiritual life, and yet be without Christ; be separate from him, and without union to him; contrary to the express words of the apostle, He that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:12) Besides, does this doctrine give honour to the glorious head of influence, Christ Jesus, which teaches that a man may have a principle of spiritual life, without union to him, the living head; and in order to meeten for it, and consequently elsewhere, from another quarter? What appears most plausible, at first view, in favour of this preposterous notion, is the instance of the scion, that must have life previous to its engrafture. But pray what kind of life is it that the scion of the wild olive-tree lives, before its engrafture into the good olive-tree? it is a life agreeable to its nature: it is the life of the wild olive-tree, not of the good olive-tree. So men before conversion, before Christ is formed in them, live, not a spiritual life, a life of grace, but a life of sin; there is no principle of spiritual life, before Christ is formed in the soul. The simile of the vine and branches, in John 15:4, 5, he thinks is of no service to me, but rather against me; since there would be no need of the exhortation, abide in me, if no act or acts of ours are concerned about maintaining union with Christ: and observes, that abiding in Christ is by faith, and the same with standing by faith, Romans 11:20, and argues, that if our standing and abiding in Christ are by faith, then do we hold union thereby; and whatsoever holds us to union, is the bond of it. To which I need only reply, that the phrases of abiding in Christ, and standing by faith, regard the perseverance of the saints, in consequence of their union to Christ. Now though perseverance is by faith, or faith is the means of perseverance, under the powerful influence of grace; yet it does not follow that it is the bond of union since both perseverance, and faith, by which we persevere, are the effects of it. I observed, from the above passage, that "Faith is a fruit of the Spirit, which grows upon the branches that are in Christ the vine; and that these branches must be first in the vine, before they bear this fruit." This author wonders who will attempt to deny it. Very well; if no body will attempt to deny it, the cause is given up, the point is gained: for if persons must be first in Christ the vine, that is, united to him, before they bear the fruit of faith, that is, believe in him; it follows, that union is before faith, and that faith is the fruit and effect, and not the bond of it. The simile of the wild and good olive-trees, he says, I have borrowed piece-meal, and have omitted to quote it (the text) in the margin. I own, I borrowed the simile from Romans 11:17, &c. as being an apposite one; but never thought, nor do I think now, that the passage has any reference to the engrafture of souls into Christ, but into a visible church-state: For if engrafture into Christ is intended, it will follow, that persons may be engrafted into him, that is united to him, and yet be broken off from him; which supposes their entire apostasy from him; which none will give into, unless they are far gone into Arminian principles. The plain meaning of the passage is, that the Jews, who rejected the Messiah, were broken off from their visible church-state, or from being the visible church of God; and the Gentiles, that believed, were taken into it: and that the Jews, when they believed, would be again grafted or taken into a visible church-state. Hence the whole of our author's reasoning, about the necessity of faith, and the removal of unbelief, antecedent to an engrafture into Christ, as founded upon this scripture, comes to nothing.
(3.) Having proved that neither the Spirit on Christ's part, nor faith on ours, is the bond of union, I proceeded to shew that the everlasting love of the Father, Son and Spirit, is the bond of the union of the elect unto them. To this, not one syllable is replied: But whereas I observe that there are several things which arise from, and are branches of this everlasting love-union, and which I apprehend make it appear that the elect are united to Christ before faith; this author has thought fit to make some remarks upon them.
I observe, from Ephesians 1:4, that there is an election-union in Christ from everlasting: my meaning is, that ejection is an act of God's everlasting love, in which the objects of it were considered in Christ; and how they could be considered in Christ, without union to him, is, what I say, is hard to conceive. So that I apprehend, that as eternal election is a display of God's everlasting love to his people, it is an instance also of their eternal union to Christ. No, says this man; election is a fore-appointing persons to an union as the choice of stones for a building, or of a branch for engrafture. Had the text in Ephesians 1:4, run thus, according as he hath chosen us to be in him, or that we might, or should be in him; this sense of election would have appeared plausible: but the words in connection with the preceding verse runs thus, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him; and therefore will not admit of such an interpretation as this, "that it was according to the eternal design of God, to bestow divine and special favours upon them, when in Christ; or that they were chosen to divine and special blessings, through Christ;" but that they were blessed with these divine and special blessings in Christ, according as they were chosen in him. I do not say that election is the uniting act, that is, the everlasting love of God; nor do I see any absurdity, in supposing union previous to this choice, though I think they go together; but this I say, that in election, men are considered in Christ, and so is a proof of eternal union to him; and by this I abide, until something else is offered to confront it.
I have also said, that there is a legal union between Christ and the elect from everlasting, the bond of which is the surety-ship of Christ, and so he and they are one, in a law-sense, as surety and debtor are one: and likewise, that there is a federal union between them from everlasting; Christ being considered as head, and they as members with him in the covenant of grace. This writer is of opinion, that the legal and federal union is one and the same; I am content they should be thought so: my design hereby is not to multiply unions, or as though I thought there were so many distinct ones, believing that God's everlasting love is the grand original bond of union, and that these are so many displays of it, proving it; and particularly, that it is before faith, the main thing I had in view. The relations of surety and debtor, head and members, conveying different ideas, I thought it proper to consider them apart; however, I am willing they should go together, provided neither of them is lost: but I observe, the former of these is entirely sunk by this author, and no notice taken of it; for though they both relate to one and the same covenant, yet are to be distinctly considered; and if Christ is not to be considered as the surety of his people, as one with them, in a law-sense, as surety and debtor are one; what foundation is there for his satisfaction for them? nay, not only so, but even the relation of head and members is dropped by this author, under a pretence that it has been already proved, that there is no being in Christ before faith, as members of his body; and goes on to consider the relation of husband and wife, which is not at all mentioned by me; and calls upon the men of the Supralapsarian scheme, to produce any text of scripture that informs us that God, in either of the persons of the Godhead, calls any of the children of men his spouse, or wife, or bride, before they are made so by a mutual covenant. The reader will be apt to conclude, from a large citation out of Dr Goodwin, that it was made by me under the present head; whereas it stands in another part of my book, and made, together with some others, from Dr. Witsius, and Mr. Richard Taylor, with no other view than to observe to the Gentleman I wrote the Letter to, that there was no reason why the assertors of eternal union should be treated as ignorant and enthusiastic preachers, when men of such characters as above, had, in some sense, asserted it. Now, though I do not think myself obliged to take any further notice of this citation, not being made to vindicate my sense of union, yet I cannot but observe the rudeness and pertness of the man, in treating so great a man as Dr. Goodwin was, in the manner he does; and at once pronounce, that what is said by him, is not worthy to he esteemed either good divinity, or good argument. He next falls foul upon a passage of mine in another part of my book, and upon another subject, where I say that the gift of God himself to his people, in the everlasting covenant, is a gift and instance of his love to them before conversion. This he denies, and says, the scriptures which mention this gift, evidently prove the contrary; the scripture he produces, is Hebrews 8:10, from Jeremiah 31:33, and observes, that this covenant is a mutual agreement between God and converted people; for you read here, says he, that the laws of God were to be written upon their hearts, and in their minds, before God is their God, and they are his people. To which I reply, that there is not the least evidence from any of these passages, that this covenant is a mutual agreement between God and any people, converted or unconverted; nor is there any such thing as a mutual covenant between God and fallen creatures; the mutual covenant talked of at conversion, is all a dream and fancy. The covenant here spoken of, is wholly and entirely on the part of God, and seems rather to respect unconverted than converted persons; since one branch of it regards the writing and putting of the laws of God in their hearts and minds, which concerted ones have already; nor is this mentioned as the cause or condition of his being their God, but rather, his being their God in covenant, is the ground and foundation of this; since this is mentioned in Jeremiah 32:38, previous to his promise of giving one heart, and one way, and putting his fear into them; all which suppose them unconverted. In a word, our author thinks, that the covenant of grace is not an uniting covenant, no relation arising from it between God and his people, between Christ and his members; it is only a settling the conditions, and laying a sure foundation for a federal union with his people, that is, upon the conditions of faith and repentance so that the covenant of grace from eternity, is only a foundation for a covenant. I am content he should enjoy his own sentiments, without reproaching him with inexplicable nonsense. But since he has called upon the Supralapsarians to produce a text, wherein any of the children of men are called by God, in either of the persons of the Godhead, his spouse, wife or bride, before they are made so by a mutual covenant, I propose to his consideration, Isaiah 54:1, 5, 6, where Christ is called the husband of the Gentile church, and she his wife, long before it was in being; and even in the text he himself mentions, Ephesians 5:23. Christ is said to be the head of the church, even as the husband is the head of the wife; which includes the whole general assembly and church of the first-born, even all the elect, converted or unconverted.
The next union I mention, is the natural union that is between Christ and his people; in this, our author say's, is nothing but what agrees with the holy scriptures, and so it passes without a censure. The last I take notice of, is a representative one, both from everlasting and in time. This man imagines I have given away the cause, by acknowledging that the natural union was not in eternity, since hereby the notion of an eternal representative union is entirely destroyed; for, adds he, it is exceeding remote from all the rules of argument, to suppose that Jesus Christ represented the elect people as members in him, when he had no meaner nature than divine. This writer is, no doubt, acquainted with all the rules of argument: but what does the man mean, when he talks of Christ's having no meaner nature than divine? I hope the reader will excuse my warmth, when such a horrid reflection is made upon the divine nature of the Son of God; no meaner nature! This supposes, indeed, the human nature to be meaner, but implies the divine nature to he mean; or, where is the degree of comparison? he suggests, that Christ could not represent the elect in eternity in less he had human nature from eternity; and that there could not be a real union of the persons of the elect in eternity, without their real existence. I reply that it was not necessary, in order to Christ's being the Mediator, Head, and Representative of the elect in eternity, that he should be then actually man, only that he should certainly be so in time: besides, there was a federal union of the human nature to the Son of God from eternity, or the human nature had a covenant subsistence in he second person from everlasting. Nor was the real existence of the persons of the elect necessary to their real union to Christ, only that they should certainly exist: I call their union real, in opposition to that which is imaginary; for surely the love of Christ to the elect, from everlasting, was real, which is the bond of union, though their persons, soul and body, did not really, or actually exist. He proceeds to consider the import of some other texts of scripture, which, he says, we are subject to imagine favour our fond notion of eternal union; though he considers but one, and that is 2 Timothy 1:9. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began. This grace he sometimes takes for a promise of grace, sometimes for grace in the covenant itself; yea, he says, it evidently intends our calling; so that according to him, our calling must be before the world began. But be it what it will, whether a promise of grace, or a purpose of grace, or grace itself, it was given to us in Christ, before the world began, and no that our argument depends: if we were in Christ when this grace, or promise of grace, was given, we were united to him; for how we could be considered in him, without union to him, he would do well to acquaint us.
I must, in justice to this author, before I conclude this head, acquaint my reader, that he has quoted some, what he calls plain texts of scripture, to shew that the sacred book does most evidently set aside the opinion of eternal union, yea, or of union before faith: the scriptures are, Romans 8:9 and 16:7, 2 Corinthians 5:17, all which I have before taken notice of in the Letter he refers to; and all that he remarks is, that I will needs have it, that these scriptures intend only the evidence of union with Christ from everlasting; which sense he does not attempt to set aside; only that the phrase, If a man is in Christ, he is a new creature, he says, supposes that none but new-born souls are united to him; whereas the meaning is, that whoever professes himself to be in Christ, ought to appear to be so: and yet after all this, this man has the front to say, that man are not united to Christ until they believe, has been proved by almost innumerable scriptures and arguments; when he only produces three scriptures, and not one argument from them. This man is resolved to carry his point at any rate, right or wrong; he sticks at nothing.
Thirdly, We now come to a point this author discovers a great item, and eager desire to be at, namely, the doctrine of God's love and delight in his elect before conversion. He has been two or three tines nibbling at it before, and I have already exposed his folly in placing it in the Supralapsarian scheme, when it can no other than a Sublapsarian doctrine.
1. In my Letter above referred to, I write concerning the invariable, unchangeable, and everlasting love of God to his elect, and give instances of his love to them, not only in eternity, but in time, and that even while they are in an unconverted estate, from Romans 5:6, 8, 10, 1 John 4:10, Ephesians 2:4, 5, Titus 3:3-6, which this writer thinks fit to pass by in silence. I then mention three gifts of God, which are instances of his love to his people before conversion, not to be matched by any after it; namely, the gift of Himself, the gift of his Son, and the gilt of his Spirit. This man denies that either of these are given to the elect before conversion. As no the first, he says, "God never gives himself to any of the children of men until they believe;" and suggests, that the scripture I produce, I will be their God, and they shall be my people, proves it; being, as he thinks, a mutual covenant between God and converted people: but I have shewn already, that it is not a mutual covenant between God and others; and that the promises of it suppose the persons it concerns unconverted; and, indeed, God's being the God of his people, is the first ground and foundation-blessing of the covenant; and the reason why any covenant-blessing, and among the rest, conversion, is bestowed upon any of the sons of men, is, because he is their covenant-God and Father: so that, consequently, he must stand in this relation to them before conversion. Besides, if they are his people before conversion, though not openly to themselves and others, 1 Peter 2:10, yet secretly to him, Psalm 110:3, Matthew 1:21, he must be their God before conversion; for these two relate unto, and suppose each other. He does not deny that Christ was a gift of God's love before conversion; but fancies that I have receded from what I proposed; since, as it is expressed by me, he is only given for them. I answer; My proposition is, to shew that there are such gifts of God before conversion, as are instances of his love to his people then; and surely Christ being given for them, is an instance of God's love to them, John 3:16. He seems to triumph upon this, and says, "could he have proved his proposition, he had certainly laid a strong, if not an improvable (I suppose it should be immoveable) foundation for his doctrine." Well, if this will do, I am able to prove that Christ was given to his people in his incarnation, before he was given for them in his sufferings and death; To us a child is born, to us a son is given, Isaiah 9:6, and I hope it will be allowed, that the gift of Christ, in his incarnation, extended not only to the believers of that age in which he was born, but to all the elect, to all the children for whose sake he partook of flesh and blood. As to the third and last of these gifts, he judges, "that the Spirit is not given to any of the children of men till they are converted, or at that very instant;" and gives broad intimations, as if he thought the was not given at all, until he is given as a comforter. The text in John 16:8, which my expressions refer to, he seems to intimate, does not repaid the conviction and conversion of men, but the reproving of the world. I will not contend with him about the sense of the text; it is enough to my purpose, if it will be but allowed, that the Spirit, of God is the author of real conviction and conversion; who therefore must be considered as sent, and given, antecedent to conviction and conversion, in order to begin, carry on, and finish the work of grace, when he finds men dead in sin, devoid of all grace, in a state of nature; and therefore, surely, must be a gift and instance of God's love to them, whilst in that state.
2. In order to prove that the hove, of God to his elect, from everlasting, is a love of complacency and delight, I observe, that his love to his Son, as Mediator, is such a love; and that whereas God loves his people with the same kind of love he love his Son, which I prove from John 18:22, it must needs follow, that the love he bears to them, is a love of complacency and delight. This author thinks I have strained and forced the text I mention beyond its real meaning; and that my notion is unfairly inferred from it; he believes I know the word as is of the comparative degree, and rarely intends equality: if I do not know, I am sure he cannot tell me; it is only his ignorance of the comparative degree, that will excuse him from designed blasphemy against the Son of God. His learned reviser and editor should have informed him, that as, of itself, is of no degree, but is according to the word to which it is joined; it is used in forming comparisons, and is an adverb of likeness and equality. He seems to be conscious that it sometimes, though rarely, intends equality; and gives himself a needless trouble to collect together several texts, where it signifies likeness: I could easily produce others, where it is expressive of equality; see John 1:14 and 10:15, Philippians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 10:7. However, I am content it should signify likeness, and not equality, in the text mentioned; let it be a likeness of a very minute or small degree, I hope it will be allowed to be of the same knid; and if this is granted, my arguments stands good; "that if God has loved his Son with a love of complacency and delight from everlasting, and he has loved his elect with the same kind of love from everlasting, with a like love, though not to the same degree; then he must have loved them from everlasting, with a love of complacency and delight."
3. I go on to observe, that Jesus Christ loved the elect from everlasting with a love of complacency and delight, as they were presented to him in the glass of his Father's purposes and decrees; my meaning is, as they were presented to him in all that glory his Father designed to bring them to; which I prove from Proverbs 8:31, and see no reason why the Father's love should not be the same. This man thinks, that the text in Proverbs, refers to the delight Christ had in the fore-views of his people, having his own, and his Father's beautiful image impresses upon them; or rather, that it refers to a farther view which the Son of God took of the most perfect state of his members upon earth, in the kingdom-glory. And why may not the though be carried a little farther, that Christ was not only rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, in the fore-views of his people dwelling with him, and he with them, here on earth; but that his delights were with the sons of men, as fore-viewed by him all that ultimate glory they are to enjoy to all eternity; and then we are agreed? Now let it he observed, that this complacency and delight in them, was taken in from everlasting, as abundantly appears from the context; nor could any immediate state, as that of nature, make any alteration in this love of delight. Christ loved them before they were in a state of nature, and while they were in it, though not as considered as unregenerate and rebellious sinners, or because they were so; which is the vile insinuation all along made; but as the whole election of grace stood presented to him a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; just such as he will present them to himself another day.
4. I farther observe, that God's choosing his people in Christ before the foundation of the world, is an act of love springing from delight in them, even as his choice of the people of Israel (which was an emblem of the choice of the true and spiritual Israel) was owing to the delight he had in them; to prove which, I cite Deuteronomy 10:15 and add, that all the favours and blessings God bestows upon his people in time, such as bringing them out of a state of nature, or out of any distress or difficulty, in a word, their whole salvation, arise from his delight in them; for the proof of which, I mention Psalm 18:19 and 149:4, Jeremiah 32:41, Zephaniah 3:17. This writer is of opinion, that what I have asserted, that God's choice of his people in Christ, as an act of Love springing from delight, requires more proof than I have produced, or than any man is able to produce. I suppose, he will not deny that God's eternal choice of his people in Christ, is an act of love; if he does, let him consider 2 Thessalonians 2:13, though he may as well deny it to be an act of love, for the same reason that he denies it springs from delight, namely that God chose them to be holy, and without blame before him in love; and from thence conclude, that this early choice was not the effect of his love to them, any more than of his delight in them; but that they might be objects of his love, as of his delight, when united to his Son: But surely, if they were chosen in Christ, they must be considered in union with him, and must be the objects both of love and delight; since Christ is the beloved Son of God, in whom he always was, is, and ever will be well pleased, and with all those that are in him. To illustrate this matter, I mention the choice of the people of Israel, as a representation of the choice of the people of God, which is owned to be thus far right: but when I affirm that this was owing to previous delight in them; it is said, this requires more proof than Deuteronomy 10:15, for it is not said, that the Lord delighted in this people, and therefore he chose them; but that he delighted in their fathers to love them, and chose their seed after them. I answer; that the love with which the Lord loved the people of Israel, was the same love with which he loved their fathers; and therefore if he loved their fathers with a love of complacency, so he loved them the children; which is the ground and foundation of his choosing them; see Deuteronomy 7:6, 7. God's bringing his elect out of a state of nature, is owing to his great love, Ephesians 2:4, 5, which, surely, it would not be called, was it separate from delight; and as that, so all after-blessings and favours spring from the same kind of love, for which I produce the above scriptures. Though my design there is not to prove by them, that God loves his elect with a love of complacency and delight while no a state of nature; my readers will not be at a loss about my design in producing of them, nor think themselves remarkably trifled with; when they cannot but observe, that my view is apparently this, that as electing and regenerating grace springing from God's love of delight in his people, so all the after-blessings of grace and glory, in one continued chain, arise from the same: whence it will appear, that God's love of complacency in his people, is invariably the same, through every state of nature, grace, and glory.
5. I have observed, that the distinction of a love of pity and benevolence, and of complacency and delight, is made by some popish schoolmen, and is subversive of the mature and perfections of God; and represents him such an one as ourselves, subject to change; that his love, like ours, alters, and by degrees increases, and, from a love of pity and benevolence, passes into a love of complacency and delight. This author seems displeased that this distinction should be ascribed to popish schoolmen, since he is apt to believe, that there is (it should be are) very few of that pretended church (of Rome, I suppose he means) so remote from the grossest tenets of Arminianism, as to allow of it. I can tell there have been many in that church, more remote form Arminianism by far, than he himself is; and should I tell him, that some of them have been Supralapsarians, it would have equal credit with him: however, be it so, that this distinction came from them, though he has no high opinion of popish notions, which, as I observed before, supposes that he has a an opinion of them, yet he shall not very willingly part with it; much good may it do him, I do not envy his possession of it; let him make the best use of it he can. He fancies that what I have said concerning Christ being "the object of his Father's love and wrath, at one and the same time; that as he was the Son of God, he was always the object of his love and delight; but as he was the sinner's surety, and while bearing the sins of his people in his own body on the tree, he was the object of his displeasure and wrath," is as subversive of the nature and perfections of God, and represents him as liable to change as this distinction does; since here is a change from delight to the greatest displeasure, an from that to delight again. I answer, for the farther explanation of what I have said, let it be observed, that I conceive that Christ was in no other sense the object of divine wrath and displeasure, as the sinner's surety, than as he had the effects of wrath, that is, punishment due to sin, inflicted on him, which he sensibly felt; but then at the same instant, God took the utmost delight and pleasure in him, even as the sinner's surety, viewing him standing in the room and stead of his elect, with patience, courage, and greatness of soul, bearing all that was laid upon him, and giving full satisfaction to law and justice. It pleased the Lord to bruise him, Isaiah 53:10. Therefore doth my Father love me, says Christ, because I lay down my life, John 10;17. So that here was no change from delight to displeasure, even when and while he bore the effects of that wrath, or that itself, which was due to others.
6. I cite a passage from Aristotle, in which that philosopher affirms, that benevolence is properly neither friendship nor love; and that no man can be said to love, who is not first delighted with the form or idea of the object: and, for my own part, I add, I cannot see that that can be love, which is without any delight in the object said to be loved; an instance in some expressions of a man to his wife, and a parent to a child, declaring love without delight; which seem contradictory. This man at once falls foul upon the poor philosopher, as having asserted what is contrary to reason and experience; and then turning himself to me, says, "I would ask this gentleman if he never saw an object whose miserable estate engaged his compassion, and disposed him to shew friendship, by affording some relief to the miserable creature, though there was no delightful form in the object, nor any thing but misery to engage his kindness? What, is not that love, which disposes one man to relieve another in misery and necessity?" But it should be observed, that the philosopher is speaking of one thing, and this man of another. Aristotle is not speaking of benefaction, beneficence, or doing well, relieving a miserable creature; but of benevolence, wishing well to another: And I hope this will serve to cool his resentment against him. Let me, in my turn, ask this man, if, upon the sight of a miserable object, my pity is engaged so far as to wish him well, but give him nothing, whether this wishing well, this benevolence of mine is either love or friendship? Nay, supposing it is carried farther, and my benevolence passes into beneficence, I relieve the poor object; should not thus be considered rather as an act of humanity, than either properly of friendship or love? I confess I never thought, when I have given alms to a poor object, I did it to shew an affection of love, or as any act of friendship to him; I little thought that a relation of friendship between us arose from such an act, or that the poor creature and I commenced friends upon it. Upon the instances of love without delight, I ask what kind of love would this be thought to be? He answers, why, probably, a love of compassion and be benevolence: and, as things will be circumstanced, great love too; that is, when the wife is lewd, and the son rebellious. I reply, that it is very possible, and sometimes so it is, when either of these is the case, that delight in the object continues; so that love appears to be great indeed, real, and hearty: But when things are come to such a pass, that there is no delight in the object, I cannot but be of opinion, that real hearty love and affection is gone too. And what may be said or done that looks like love, arises from the relation which still subsists, and a sense of duty which that obliges to, and not from real love and affection. But what he thinks is the strongest evidence against the notion of love being attended with delight in the object loved, is the advice of Christ to his disciples, saying, Love your enemies; bless them that curse you: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44) And I do not know but it may, and yet fall short of proving what it is brought for. I apprehend, the love with which Christ exhorts in is people to love their enemies, is not to be understood quoad affectus, his respecting the internal affection of love: I cannot believe that Christ requires of me that I should love a persecutor as I do my wife, my children; my real friend, or brother in Christ; but quoad affectus, as to the effects; that is, I am required to do those things as they lie in my way, and according to my ability, as a man would do to his neighbour, whom he loves; that is, feed him when hungry, and give him drink when thirsty. And so are we taught to understand this advice of Christ by the apostle Paul, in Romans 12:19-21. But after all, supposing it could be proved that there is a foundation for such a distinction among men, as love of pity and benevolence, and a love of complacency and delight, I would not be over confident about these things. Though I must confess I cannot see how mere pity can be love, on barely benevolence, or wishing well, it love; yet I say, supposing this, it does not follow that there is such a distinction in the love of God, especially towards the same persons, as they pass into different estates; which is to make the love of God to change by degrees, as the love of mutable creatures; and from one kind of love to pass into another, and from a lower to an higher degree: A thought to be abhorred by all those who know and believe what he says to be true; I am the Lord, I change not. This author next reverts to the instance which I mention of a man's saying to his wife, "I love you well, though I can take no delight in your person, nor pleasure in your company;" as a contradiction to his expressions of love; and observes, that I have wounded my notion of God's delighting in his elect, whilst in a state of nature, unless I earn prove that he dwells with, and takes pleasure in the company of these his enemies. I reply, that I do not think that God loves or delights either in the persons, or in the company of his people, considered as sinners, as unconverted persons, as in a state of nature, as enemies to him; but as considered in Christ, and viewed in all that glory he designs to bring them to. And thus as the delights of the Son, so the delights of the Father, from everlasting, before the earth was, were not only in, but with them: They were not only rejoicing in them, but delighting themselves with them, in the fore-views of their dwelling with each other, and enjoying each other's company to all eternity.
And thus I have gone as far in my answer, as this author has in examining the Supralapsarian doctrines. It is much, when his hand was in, that he did not take under his examination some other doctrines handled in the letter he refers to; such as God's seeming no sin in his people, the non-necessity of good works to salvation, mortification, and the like; which he might as well have forced into the Supralapsarian scheme, as some others. He has indeed a fling or two at the doctrine of repentance, seems greatly concerned that legal repentance is not to be valued and regarded, and thinks that this reflects upon the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles; whereas it was an evangelical repentance, and fruits meet for the same, which were preached up by them. He concludes, that the repentance which I allow sinners may be exhorted to, stands more remote from the power of the creature than legal repentance; as though I thought sinners were to be exhorted to it, as within the compass of their own power: whereas my express words are, "To exhort even to evangelical repentance, as within the compass of the power of man's will, and as a condition of the covenant of grace, and a term of acceptance within God; and in order to make peace with God, and gain the divine favour, which is the rant of some men's ministry; I say, to exhort to repentance with such views, and on such considerations as these, is low mean stuff; too mean for, below and unworthy of a minister of the gospel." One vile reflection upon the doctrine of forgiveness of sins, through the blood of Christ, I cannot omit taking notice of, when he says, "I am ready to believe that God, in infinite wisdom, does require it (legal repentance) as necessary to forgiveness, in all capable beings." What! is not the blood of Christ which was shed for the remission of sin, sufficient to procure it, without legal repentance being necessary to it? I observe this author is very fond of this way of preaching, and is very desirous that others would engage in it. Was I thought worthy, or capable of giving advice, my advice to him would be not only to preach repentance towards God upon the gospel-scheme, but faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; only I should be afraid the man will put unbelief for faith. I should advise him to content himself in making use of what talents he has in preaching the word, and not scribble in the manner he does: But if he must needs be an author, let him write upon moral subjects, against the prevailing vices of the age, open profaneness, and impiety, things he may be better acquainted with, than evangelical truths, or Supralapsarian principles.