The Five Points of Grace & of Predestination
|Author: Twisse, William
THE FIVE POINTS
Defined and Defended Against an Arminian Remonstrant
Pastor of Newbury, England
Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly
Consideration: When the Apostle saith that election is not of works, and proveth it by this: that before Esau and Jacob were born, &c., it was said of them the elder shall serve the younger; Let every sober Reader judge, whether it be not more agreeable to the Apostle, to profess, that election proceeds rather without any regard to man's faith and obedience, than with any respect thereunto: as also whether by the same reason, which the Apostle useth, it be not apparent, that as election is not of good works, so likewise reprobation is not of evil works. Yet that God did decree to damn no man, but for sin, is the unanimous confession of all our divines: Neither is there any of them that I know, who denies that God did ordain to bestow salvation on none of ripe years, but, by way of reward of their obedience. And accordingly, Tilenus himself, when he was on our side, took exception against Arminius his stating the decree of predestination and reprobation, according to our opinion, to proceed citra omnem considerationem respiscentite & fidei in illis, aut impenitentia & infidelitatis in hisce. For mark, I pray, how he excepts against it, At postrema haec particula perperam & prater mentere nostrum huie sentetia adjicitur; And he gives his reason on both parts: on the part of reprobation thus: Quandoquidem quoscunq; damnat Deus, non aliam ob causam, quam propter impenitentiam & infidelitate atque adeopropter peccatum damnat, ac proinde neq; damnare decrevit sene hujus rei intuita. On the part of election thus: Sienti neminem in tempore servat nisi resipiscentem & credentam (which is yet untrue, unless understood only of men of ripe years); Ita nemine ab aeterno servart decrevit nisirespiscentem & credentem. In like sort, Piscator denies not, but that there is such a will of God revealed in the Gospel, as namely to save such as persevere in faith, & damn them that persevere in infidelity and impenitency; only he denies this to be the whole will of God revealed in the Gospel, as touching the salvation of some and damnation of others. And accordingly in the conference at the Hague, when the first Article of the Remonstrants came to be discussed, which was: "Deum ab aeterne decrevisse fideles perseverantes salvos facere," their adversaries denied not this, nay, they professed that no Christian denies this, Prefat. ad Synod. Dordrac. fol. 10. p. 1. And therefore they urged them to declare whether this Article of theirs contained the whole decree of predestination: which when they affirmed, herein their adversaries thought good to oppose them, and to encounter them upon that point. But let us distinguish that which such as this author is, affect to confound. The absoluteness of God's decree may be considered two ways, either on the part of the act itself of God's decree, or upon the part of the things decreed. According to this distinction: Aquinas professeth, that no caused can be assigned of the will of God, quoad res volitas; His words are these: Dictum est supra quod non est assignare causum divinae voluntatis ex parte actus volendi, sed potest assignari ratio ex parte volitorum. And applying this doctrine to predestination in special addeth, saying: Nullus suit ita insana mentis qui diceret merita esse causam divina praedestinationis ex parte actus praedetinantis. Sed hocsub questione vertitur utrum ex parte effectus praedestinatio habeat aliquam causam. And whereas the distinction of voluntas absoluta and voluntas absoluta & conditionalis, is interpreted by Vossius, as all one with voluntas antecedens & consequens; both Vossius himself interpreteth voluntas conditionalis, as making the cause thereof to be only quoadres volitas. For he defines a conditional will in this manner: Aliqua vult cum conditione que ideirce in effetium non predeunt, nisi conditione impleta. Queniodo omnes homines salvari vult, sea per, & proper Christum fide apprehensem. And Dr. Jackson, in his last book of providence, acknowledgeth that the distinction of voluntas antecedens and consequens is to be understood quoad res volitas; Now the consequent will is such a will as derives the cause thereof from man. But this, saith he, is to be understood as touching the things willed: which we willingly grant, and accordingly acknowledge that some things willed by God have the cause of their being from man. As namely, faith, we say, is the disposing cause of salvation; final infidelity or impenitency are the meritorious causes of damnation. Yet some thing there is willed by God which hath no cause from men, but the cause thereof is from the mere pleasure of God, and that is the giving or denying of grace, according to that of the Apostle: He hath mercy on whom He will and whom He will He hardeneth. Rom. 9:18. As for the decree of God considered as touching the act of God willing, it can have no cause from man, I prove, both as touching the decree of salvation, and touching the decree of damnation. And I willingly challenge all the nation of Arminians to answer it, And the argument is this; If faith be the cause why God ordains a man to salvation; then either by necessity of nature it is the cause hereof, or by the mere constitution of God. Not by necessity of nature, as appears manifestly, (and I have found by experience that Arminians themselves have confessed as much) therefore if any way be admitted to be the cause hereof, this must be only by the constitution of God. Now mark the absurdity hereof; for hence it followeth that God did constitute, that is, ordain, that, upon foresight of faith, he would ordain men unto salvation; where the very eternal act of God's ordination is made the object of God's ordination, a thing utterly impossible; and every man knows that the objects of God's ordination are temporal only, and by no means, things eternal. In like sort, if sin be the cause why God ordains men unto damnation; then either by necessity of nature, or by divine constitution; not by necessity of nature, for surely God is not necessitated to damn any man for sin. If therefore by constitution divine, mark the absurdity unavoidably following hereupon, namely, that God did ordain that upon foresight of sin He would ordain men unto condemnation; where again God's eternal ordination is made the object of His ordination.. Yet do not I affirm, that in any moment of nature doth the decree of salvation go before the consideration of men's faith and obedience; or the decree of damnation before the consideration of final incredulity or impenitency. For as much, as the decrees of giving faith and crowning it with salvation, and, in like sort, the decrees of permitting final incredulity and impenitency I make to be, not subordinate one to another, but, simultaneous and coordinate one with another. I proceed to the second.
2. The holy scripture, in designing unto us those for whom Christ died, useth different forms, Matt. 10.28, it is said that the son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many, and 26.28. This is my blood in the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins. This is a very indefinite notion, yet nothing so prone to signify a comprehension of all, as an opposition to such a universality. But in other places these Many are defined, and therewith all the benefit of Christ's death confined to some, as namely the people of Christ, Mat. 1.21. to the Church, Acts 20.28., Eph. 5.25. Christ's sheep, Joh. 10.15. the Children of God, Joh. 11.51. Christ's friends, Joh. 15.8. to Israel, Acts 13.23. to the body of Christ, Eph. 5.25. And accordingly our Saviour prayed for only those that His Father had given Him, Joh. 17.9. and for those whom hereafter He should give unto Him, v. 20. and that with exclusion, from the world, v.9. and for their sakes He sanctified Himself, v. 19. which, in like manner, is to be understood with exclusion from the world. Now, by sanctifying Himself, is understood the offering up of Himself upon the Cross, by the unanimous consent of all the Fathers, whom Maldorate had read, as himself professeth in his Commentaries on that passage in John. Yet we are willing to take notice of those places also, which extend the benefit of Christ's death unto all, as Rom. 5.18. As by the offense of one, the fault came upon all unto condemnation; so by the justifying of one, the benefits abounded toward all men, to justification of life; But for the clearing of this, observe but the limitation going immediately before, v. 17. If by the offense of one, death reigned through one; much more shall they, who receive the abundance of grace of the gift of righteousness reign in life through one, Jesus Christ. It is further said that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, 1 Cor. 5.19. That He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, Joh. 1.29. That He gave His life for the life of the world, Joh. 6:51. That He is the Saviour of the world, Joh. 4.42 and 1 Joh. 4.14. Yet this admits a fair exposition, without all contradiction to the former limitation, namely, of men in the world, which being an indefinite term, is to be expounded by other places, where it is defined who they are, as Joh. 13.1. He loved His own that were in the world, to the end He loved them; Now who are Christ's own but those of whom He speaketh, Joh. 17.9. For they are Thine, 10,11. and all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and Thou art glorified in them. Now, these are proposed with an exclusion of the world in that very 9. verse: I pray for them, I pray not for the World, for they are Thine.
It is further said, that Christ is the reconciliation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world; which may fairly admit this construction, for the sins of men dispersed throughout the all the world, which is most true of God's Elect, like as Joh. 11.50. They are called the children of God which were scattered; and Matt, 24.31. God shall send His Angels with a great sound of Trumpet, who shall gather together His Elect from the Four Winds and from one end of the Heavens to the other. But suppose it be understood of all and every one, yet that place Joh. 3.19. gives a fair exposition of this also whence it is said: So God loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish; And we willingly confess, that Christ died to obtain salvation for all and every one that believe in Him.
And indeed our Adversaries do usually please themselves in the confounding of things that differ.
And in the stating of this thesis we have a miserable confusion, as if these men delighted to fish in troubled waters. For when we say Christ died for us, our meaning is that Christ died for our good, and a benefit redounds unto us by the death of Christ, now it may be there are diverse benefits redounding unto us by the death of Christ, and they of so different nature, that, in respect of some, we spare not to profess that Christ died for all, and in respect of others, the Arminians themselves are so far from granting that He died to obtain any such benefit to all, as that they shall utterly deny them to be any benefits at all redounding to any by the death of Christ. Though we willingly acknowledge them to be benefits redounding to us by the death of Christ, albeit not redounding unto all, but only to God's elect. Now if this be true, is it not a proper course which this author takes in confounding things so extremely different? And that it is so as I have said, I now proceed to shew in this manner. We say, that pardon of sin and salvation of souls are benefits purchased by the death of Christ, to be enjoyed by men, but how? not absolutely, but conditionally, to wit, in case they believe and only in case they believe. For like as God doth not confer these on any of ripe years unless they believe, so Christ hath not merited that they should be conferred on any but such as believe. And accordingly profess that Christ died for all, that is, to obtain pardon of sin and salvation of soul for all, but how? not absolutely, whether they believe or no, but only conditionally, to wit, provided they do believe in Christ. So that we willingly profess that Christ had both a full intention of His own, and commandment of His Father to make a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, so far as thereby to procure both pardon of sin and salvation of soul to all who do believe and to none of ripe years, according to that of Rom. 3:14. we are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. v. 25. Whom God hath sent for the be a propitiation (or reconciliation) through faith in His blood, But we further say, that there are other benefits redounding to us by the death of Christ, to wit, the grace of faith and of repentance. For like as these are the gifts of God wrought in us by His Holy Spirit, so they are wrought in us for Christ's sake, according to that of the apostle, praying for the Hebrews, namely, that God will make them perfect to every good work working in them that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ. Now as touching these benefits, we willingly profess that Christ died not for all, that is, He died not to obtain the grace of faith and repentance for all, but only for God's elect; inasmuch as these graces are bestowed by God, not conditionally, lest so grace should be given according to man's works, but absolutely, And if Christ died to obtain these for all absolutely, it would follow herehence that all should believe & repent & consequently all should be saved. And do our adversaries blame us for denying that Christ died to procure faith and repentance unto all? Nothing less; nay it is apparent that the Remonstrants nowadays openly profess that Christ hath not merited faith and regeneration for any. For when this is laid to their charge as themselves profess in these words: At (inquit censor) si hoc tantum meritas est Christus, tum Christus censura nobis non est meritus fidem nec regenerationem, make their answer following, Sane ita est. Nihil ineptius, nihil vanius est quam hoc Christi merito tribuere. So that their plain meaning is that Jesus Christ died for none, so as to obtain the grace of faith and regeneration for them, no, not for God's elect, not having the least intention of His own, or commandment of His Father to purchase these gifts, these blessings, for any. Proceed we to the third.
3. Of freedom of will in the creature we may dispute, and divines do usually dispute different ways, and upon different considerations; as namely, in respect, either of the state of the creature from within, as under corruption, or free from it; or in respect of the divine decree from without. This author very judiciously, Arminian like, confounds these into one.
It is utterly untrue that any of our divines, of my knowledge, say that by the sin of Adam, his whole posterity hath lost their free will; In the time of my minority in the University, in divinity disputations we heard concerning free will such a distinction as this of common course. The actions of men are either natural or moral, or spiritual; the resolution of the truth, as touching free will, according to the foresaid distinction, was this: we have not lost our free will, in actions natural, nor in actions moral, but only in actions spiritual, so that the natural man perceiveth not the things of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2.14). And the affection of the flesh is enmity unto God, for it is not subject to the law of God nor can be (Rom. 8.7,8). So that they which are in the flesh cannot please God. Of heathen men the Apostle professeth that their minds are blinded, their hearts hardened, and they estrange themselves from the life of God Eph. 4.18. that they are in the snare of the devil, led captive by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2.26. That the Ephesians were dead in trespasses and sins before the time of their calling by the Gospel Eph. 2.1. and the like is affirmed of the Colossians Col. 2.11. Yet that which followeth in this Author is mere untrue imputing unto us as if we maintained that every man is subject by inevitable necessity to do or leave undone that which every man [difficult to read word - may be "acteth" or "doth"] or omitteth, being good or evil. This imputation I say, is as truly untrue; we say that every one doth freely whatsoever he doth, and omitteth freely whatsoever he leaveth undone. Only this is to be understood aright, to wit, in respect of means, ending unto ends, wherein alone and in the election thereof consisteth the liberty of man's will, and not in the appetition of the end; it being natural to a man to be carried to the liking of his end necessarily; according to that of Aristotle (Ethic. 4. cap. 5.) Qualis quisque est finis apparet. And doth it become of these men to dictate unto us, not only a new divinity, but also a new Philosophy at pleasure? As for the reason here added, fetched from the eternal and efficacious decree of God, this is so far from confirming their premises as that it utterly overthrows them, and confirmeth ours. For we say, with Aquinas, that the efficacious will of God, is the cause why some things come to pass contingently and freely, as well as the cause why other things come to pass necessarily. Was the burning of the Prophets bones by Josiah performed any wit less freely by him, then any other action of his? Or the proclamation that Cyrus made for the return of the Jews out of captivity, was not this as freely done by him as ought else? Yet both were predetermined by God. Nay I say more; that every thing which cometh to pass, in the revolution of times, was decreed by God, I prove by such an argument, for answer whereunto, I challenge the whole nations both of Arminians and Jesuits. It cannot be denied but God foresaw from everlasting whatsoever in time should come to pass; therefore every thing was future, from everlasting, otherwise God could not see it as future. Now let us soberly inquire, how these things which we call future, came to be future, being in their own nature merely possible and indifferent, as well not at all future as to be future. Of this transmigration of things out of the condition of things merely possible (such as they were of themselves) into the condition of things future, there must needs be some outward cause. Now I demand, what was the cause of this transmigration? And seeing nothing, without the nature of God, could be the cause hereof; (for this transmigration was from everlasting, but nothing without God was everlasting,) therefore some thing within the nature of God must be found fit to be the cause hereof.
And what may that be? not the knowledge of God: for that rather presupposeth things future, and so knowable in the kind of things future, then makes them future. Therefore it remains, that the mere decree and will of God is that which makes them future. If, to shift off this, it be said, that the essence of God is the cause hereof, I further demand, whether the essence of God be the cause hereof, as working necessarily or as working freely. If a working necessarily, then the most contingent things become future by necessity of the divine nature, and consequently He produceth whatsoever He produceth by necessity of nature, which is Atheistical: Therefore it remains, that the essence of God hath made them future, by working freely, and consequently the mere will and decree of God, is the cause of the futurition of all things. And why should we doubt hereof, when the most foul sins that have been committed in the World, are in Scripture phrase professed to have been predetermined by God Himself (Acts.4.24.ff.)? Upon supposition of which will and decree divine, we confess it necessary, that things determined by Him should come to pass, but how? not necessarily, but, either necessarily, or contingently and freely; to wit, necessary things necessarily, contingent things, and free things, contingently and freely. So that contingent things, upon supposition of the divine will, have a necessity secundum quid, but simply a contingency; and that the same thing may come to pass, both necessarily secundum quid, and simply in a contingent manner, ought to be nothing strange to men of understanding, considering the very foreknowledge of God is sufficient to denominate the most contingent things, as coming to pass necessarily secundum quid.
I come to the consideration of the fourth.
4. As touching this article here objected unto us, we have no cause to decline the maintenance thereof, but cheerfully and resolutely to undergo the defense, as of the truth of God clearly set down unto us in the word of God. The illumination of the minds is compared to God's causing light to shine out of darkness in the creation, 1 Cor. 4.6. God that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, is He which hath shined in the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ: And for God to say unto Sion, thou art My people, is made equivalent to the planting of the Heavens, and laying the foundation of the Earth, Is. 51.16. I have put My words in thy mouth, and defended thee in the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the Heavens, and lay the foundation of the Earth, and say unto Sion: Thou art My people. Ps. 51.10. Create in me a clean heart, saith David, and renew a right spirit within me. Yet was David a regenerate child of God, but when he fell into foul sins, and sought unto God, to restore him, he acknowledgeth this his spiritual restitution, to be a creation; giving thereby to understand, that the very children of God have savage lusts, & wild affections in them, the curing & mastering whereof is no less work, than was the work of creation or the making of the world, 2 Cor. 5.17. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (kanh ktisiv); and Gal. 6:15. In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Now this new creature is all one with faith working by love, Gal. 5.6. For there the Apostle expresseth the comparison antithetical in this manner: In Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith working by love. And Eph. 2.10. We are said to be God's workmanship (ktiqentev) created in Christ Jesus (mark out a new creation) unto good works, which He hath ordained, that we should walk in them. God made the world with a word, but the new making of man cost our Saviour Christ hot water, the very blood of the Son of God, agonies in the garden, & agonies upon the Cross, and He must rise out of His grave, to work this. The Schoolmen do acknowledge this, namely, that grace is wrought in man, by way of creation; otherwise how could it be accounted supernatural. And, as for the power whereby God raiseth the dead; It is expressly said, Col. 2.12, that faith is thv energeiav tou qeou, who raised Christ from the dead; whereupon Cornelius de Lapide acknowledgeth, that faith is wrought by the same power, whereby God raised Christ from the dead. And Eph. 1.19. the Apostle tells us of the exceeding greatness of God's power towards us, which believe, adding this is according to His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, whom He raised from the dead. And therefore most congruously doth the Apostle take into consideration that work of God in raising Christ, when he prayeth for the Hebrews, that God would make them perfect to every good work, working in them that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, Heb. 13.20,21. The God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant: Make you perfect in all good works to do His will, &c. It is called the work of faith in power 2.Thes. 1.11.
And as for perseverence with patience, the Apostle requires such a strength as is wrought by God's glorious power. Col. 1.11. & 2. Pet.1.3. we are said to be called dia doxhv kai arethv. Piscator, not knowing well what good sense to make of it as it lies, interprets it unto glory and virtue, as if it were in the original eis doxanki arethn. Daniel Heynsius in the preface to his Aristarchus Sacei on Nonnius upon John, makes bold to censure this interpretation; and shews whence it proceeds, to wit, hereupon, because he knew no other signification of areth then virtue, and that in the sense as we usually take it. But, saith he, in the Greek Etymologicum we find that areth in the notion thereof, is as much as potentia, and accordingly we are called as Saint Peter saith by glory and power, as much as to say by God's glorious power. And doth not the scripture clearly profess that God found us dead in sin, Eph. 2.1. & Col. 2.13? And is not the work it self called regeneration, Joh. 3. and 1 Pet. 1. and in other places? Is it not a new life wrought in us? we were before estranged from the life of God Eph. 4.18. now we are not. And is not this life the life of faith according to Gal. 2.20. The life that I now live in the flesh is by faith in Christ who loved me and gave Himself for me? Austin, in plain terms, professeth that God converteth men omnipotente facilitate; therefore He used His almighty power therein, though He did it with ease, likeas He both made the world and shall raise the dead with ease: for He spake the word and they were made, He commanded, and they were created; and, in like sort, the time shall come when they that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth, some to the resurrection of life, some to the resurrection of condemnation Joh. 5. And power less than the power of God is not able to regenerate man, or can a man regenerate himself, and make himself partaker thv Qeiav fusewv of the divine nature? Or breath the life of God, life of grace, or the Spirit of God into him? Consider but soberly the importance of faith that is so much slighted by this generation; consider it as touching the object thereof, and the things believed; consider it as touching the form of it; and the confidence of the creature in his creator; and judge indifferently, whether any created power can suffice to create faith in man. The things believed, are the mystery of the Trinity; the incarnation of the Son of God, God manifested in the flesh, and to what end? that His soul might be made an offering for sin, the just die for the unjust, that so God might justify the ungodly ton asebh Rom. 4. What wisdom is there in this, by the judgment of all flesh and blood? Are not these things of God foolishness to the natural man, 1 Cor. 2.14. then the resurrection of the dead, the eternal judgment, the powers of the world to come; what reason can draw a natural man to the embracing of these? Then as touching our confidence in God and dependence upon Him to the mysteries. Is it in the power of nature a man should be brought to repose the fortunes of his salvation upon a crucified God? which was a scandal to the Jews, foolishness to the Gentiles, but to us that are saved, it is the very power of God and wisdom of God. For a sinner to be assured that God is his Father in Christ, and receiveth us unto Him as sons and daughters, and if sons, than heirs also, even heirs of God, and heirs annexed with Jesus Christ. To say, with Job, Though He kill me, yet will I put my trust in Him, not only maugre [i.e., spite] His judgments, by which He fights against us, causing His arrows to stick fast in us, and the venom thereof to drink up our spirit; but also, in spite of our own sin, whereby the best provoke Him, too oft, even in the eyes of His glory.
Yet these disputers would not have it thought that they denied faith to be the work of God, but they have come so far as to deny, in express terms, that Christ merited, either faith or regeneration for any. Censura Censurae p 59. A time may come for them to open their mouths, a little wider, & deal plainly & openly profess that faith is merely the work of man, and not the work of God. But as yet they think it not seasonable to divulge this mystery of State. They pretend acknowledgement, that it is the gift of God; only they will have it wrought in such a manner, that man may reject it; and they reproach us for saying that they, to whom God giveth His grace, are not able to reject it. Forsooth, they will have God to work faith in a man, no otherwise then by way of [per]suasion. For Arminius professeth (Exam. p. 150), that there are but two ways, whereby God works upon the will, the one, as he expresseth it, is per modum naturae, the other secundum modum voluntatis & libertatis ejus: the former he calleth a Physical impulsion, the latter he saith may fitly be called suasion. By the former operation, the effect comes to pass necessarily; and this they cannot brook. So that it remains, that God's operation, in bestowing faith, is only by way of suasion. Now, here they dash themselves upon a rock of manifest heterodoxy, even in Philosophy. For he that persuades works immediately upon the understanding, representing the object whereunto he persuades in the most alluring manner that he can; Suadens agit (saith Bellarmine) per modum proponentis objectum. And consequently leaves it to the object thus set forth, to work upon the will. Now, the object works only in genere causa finalis, not in genere causa efficientis. And the end is well known to move only motu metaphoride dicto not vero motu; & herehence it follows, that God while He persuades only, is no efficient cause at all of faith; which indeed is the most genuine doctrine of these divines, though they are loathe the world should know so much.
Secondly, let us hear their language more narrowly; here is mention of God's giving grace, yet so as they to whom He gives it, are able to reject it; and withall that this ability is very often exercised in such sort, that albeit God gives it, yet they, to whom He gives it, do reject it. Now this may be understood two ways, as namely, that after God hath given it, and they received it, they do reject it, or that they so reject it, as not at all receiving it. The first sense includes a sober notion though the truth of it may be questioned. But in that sense, it belongs to the next Article, but in the latter sense only it belongs to this present Article; Now, say I, in this sense there is no sobriety; For it maintains some thing to be given, which is not at all received; which is clearly nonsense, and no marvel, if in opposing God's grace, they carry themselves as destitute of common sense. A thing may be offered and rejected; but it cannot, with sobriety, be said to given, which is not received. Especially of gifts given to the soul: For a gift given to the soul, must either be a quality permanent, or an act immanent, both of which are inherent in the soul, and unless they be made inherent in it, and the latter also produced by it, it cannot be said to be given to the soul: As, for example, the present question is of producing faith in the soul of man; Now, this may be understood, either of the habit and quality of faith, or of the act of faith; but neither of these can be said to be given, unless the one be made the quality of the soul, and the other the act of the soul. Which supposed, they are not rejected, nor can be rejected in such sort, as not at all to be received. And this inconvenience the Author seems to have been sensible of, and accordingly desirous to avoid; and therefore observe in the third place, he doth not say, that they, to whom God giveth faith, are able to (and accordingly sometimes do) reject it, according to our opinion, which would imply that, in his opinion, though God gives faith to men, yet they. to whom He gives it, do sometimes reject it. But he makes our doctrine to be that to whom God gives His grace, they are able to (and accordingly sometimes do) reject, implying thereby, that grace, which God gives man, may be, and is sometimes rejected.
And indeed, this grace not being faith itself, but an operation tending thereunto, and that no other than suasion, this may in a good sense be said to be rejected, though it be both given by God and received by man, though the like cannot be said of faith, which is not received but by believing, and unless it be thus received by man, it cannot be said to be given by God. In like sort, if God exhort a man to faith, it cannot be said that man is not exhorted thereunto; and therefore, to whom God gives exhortation, it cannot be but that the exhortation given, received so far forth as the man is justly said to have been exhorted thereunto. But besides, the receiving of suasion and exhortation in this sense, which cannot possibly be denied wheresoever it is given; there is another sense hereof, namely, of receiving it so, as to obey it, and yield unto it.
And in this sense, we confess, that the grace of suasion and exhortation, though it be made by God, yet it may be rejected by man; for though it cannot be denied but he hath received it so far forth as whereby he hath heard it, which is sufficient to denominate a man exhorted unto faith; yet he hath not received it in such sort as to embrace it and obey it. And upon this ambiguity of sense and equivocation, do these impostors proceed first willingly cheating themselves, and their affections being possessed with a love of error, which will always touse [i.e., tear] the judgment from the truth, and afterwards labouring to cheat others, as many, as do not discern their juggling. Now we clearly profess, that the likeas, in case the Sun doth enlighten the world, it is not possible, but that the world should be enlightened: so if God enlighten men's minds, the mind cannot choose but to be enlightened. For the understanding is a power natural, not free. And consequently, if God make it appear to a Christian soul that God is his summum bonum, not only summum bonum, but his summum bonum; it is not possible but he should be enlightened with the light of His loving countenance, which is called in scripture the glory of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3.18, and it is signified to be the glory of His grace appearing in Christ, John 1.14. which we are said to behold in Christ with open face, 2 Cor. 3.18. Again, this glory of God's grace appearing unto us as our chiefest good, it is not possible but we should love it; (For we love Him because He loved us first. 1 Joh. 4.19.) & our wills should be fixed upon Him as on our supreme end. For the liberty of the will consists not in appetitione finis, but only in electione mediorum, which is a rule of Schools, acknowledged by Aristotle, and received generally without control, sealed unto us by the light of nature. And accordingly, we are said by the very beholding of the glory of the Lord, with open face, to be transformed into the same image; what is that but the image of Christ (as by the Lord there Christ is meant, in whom appears the glory of God's grace, and of His love to man) and that hath two parts, the one Christ crucified, the other Christ raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and there sitting at the right hand of God to make requests for us. And our transformation into this image, is our regeneration, consisting in mortification, which is conformity to Christ's death, and vivification, which is conformity to Christ's resurrection; thus we feel the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His passions, Phil. 3.10. And in this work of regeneration, consisting in the illumination of our mind, and renovation of our affections, we are merely passive, and so changed as to discern our chiefest good, and to have our heart set upon it, as upon our end, all of which is natural, not free; Freedom having place only in the election of means unto our end; wherein we fail often, partly through weakness of judgment, partly through perseverance of our affections. For we are regenerate but in part, & both darkness, in part, possesseth the understanding; & in our hearts and affections there is a principle of the flesh, which inclines inordinately to the creature, as well as a principle of the Spirit, which inclines to God our creator.
And whereas, in the last place, it is said, that the Reprobates cannot obtain this grace of God, although it be offered to them in the Gospel, this either hath no sobriety, or being brought to a sober sense, is utterly untrue. And nothing but the ambiguous notion of grace serves their turn, and gives them liberty to prate they know not what. For as for faith itself, that is not offered at all in the Gospel; men are called upon to believe, and promised, that upon their faith, they shall obtain the grace of remission of sins; & salvation; and these graces may be said to be offered unto all, upon condition of faith; but faith itself in no congruity, can be said to be offered; though by the preaching of the Gospel, the Lord works faith in the hearts of whom He will; as it is said, that He will have mercy on whom He will and whom He wills He hardeneth. But as for suasion & exhortation unto faith, this grace the reprobates in the Church of God are partakers of, as well as God's elect. I come to the fifth and last.
"5. That they, who have once received this grace by faith can never fall totally or finally, notwithstanding the most enormous sins that they can commit." [This is Twisse quoting his opponent's misrepresentation of the doctrine of Dort.] Here are three things to be considered. First his phrase of a certain grace received by faith, in reference to the premises, for he calls it this grace by faith; whereas in the premises there is no mention at all of any grace received by faith; much less any such grace particulated; but this is their juggling carriage throughout. First he spake of God's producing faith, then of God's giving His grace; now He supposeth he hath spoken of a certain grace received by faith, this is the cogging course; when no such grace, as received by faith, was at all mentioned before. We speak plainly in saying of faith not of a grace (I know not what) received by faith, that it cannot totally or finally perish. The Scripture plainly professeth, that it is not possible the elect should be deceived by false prophets (Matt. 24.24); now the practice of false prophets is to corrupt their faith; but it is not possible they should herein prevail over God's elect. Now by the elect are here to be understood the regenerate elect; for before regeneration, it is apparent, they are as obnoxious to errors of faith as any other; And the reason why they cannot be thus seduced, our Saviour signifies Joh. 10.29. to be this, that they are in the hands of God the Father. My Father which gave them me is greater than all; (now to be given to Christ by God the Father, is to be brought unto faith in Christ by God the Father, Joh. 6.37,44. compared with verse 35, and 47, and Joh. 17.9,20.) And none is able to take them out of my Father's hand. So that, when we say they cannot fall from grace, this is spoken, not in respect of any absolute impossibility, but merely upon supposition, to wit, mamitentia divinae, of God's upholding of them. And accordingly, they are said to be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. 1 Pet. 1. Now this impossibility of falling away from grace, in Scholastical account is but an impossibility secundum quid; like as we say, tis impossible that Antichrist [i.e., the Papacy] should fall, or the Jews be called, til the time which God hath appointed, is come, for bringing forth these great and wonderful works of His; but the contrary is simply possible on either part. As for the last clause; not withstanding the most enormous sins which they can commit, this is most calumniously annexed; as if we maintained, that the children of God cannot fall from grace, albeit they should let the reigns loose to their lusts to commit sin, & that with greediness; whereas, to the contrary, we teach that God keepeth them from falling away by putting His fear into their hearts according to that Jerem. 32.40. I will put My fear in their hearts that they shall never depart away from me; so that the right state of our Tenet is not, that God will keep them from falling away in spite of their presumptuous courses, but that He will keep them by Him, through an holy fear, which is as much as to say He will hold them fast by Him by keeping them from presumptuous courses; and accordingly David after he had prayed that God would cleanse him from his secret faults, he entreats God as touching presumptuous sins, he would keep him from them, that so he might be innocent from the great offense [Ps. 19]. And as this was David's prayer, so answerable hereunto was Paul's faith: He will deliver me from every evil work, (to wit, either by obedience or by repentance, or else from every presumptuous course) and preserve me to His heavenly Kingdom; And accordingly the Saints of God, as they are styled His called ones, His faithful ones, His sanctified ones, so likewise are they denominated his reserved ones in the Epistle of Jude; For His course is to make them meet partakers of the inheritance of Saints in light; not to save them in spite of their unfitness for it, but to make them first fit for it by holiness, and then to make them partakers of it.
Never any of our divines maintained any such presumption in God's children as to say with them, Deut. 29.19. I shall have peace though I walk according to the stubborn mind of mine own heart, thus adding drunkenness unto thirst; but rather their faith is like unto that of Paul's formerly mentioned. The Lord will deliver me from every evil work & preserve me to His heavenly kingdom. It is true, David once committed adultery and that drew after it a greater sin, a practice to take away Uriah, that so he might cover the shame and scandal of the first, but we know the first occasion of it was by the improvidence happening to spy Bathsheba from the battlements of his house, going to wash herself; but he never committed the like afterwards.
And as for the sins of his, Bertius, the chiefest maintainer of the Apostasy of Saints, professeth, he will not say that David by these sins did expel the Spirit of God, and for weighty reasons.
Peter likewise sinned foully in the progress of the temptation, denying his Master thrice, and that in a strange manner; but if we look into the original of it, we shall find how, through improvidence, he cast himself into the devil's mouth, ere he was aware, but our Saviour had prayed for him, that his faith should not fail, and remembering His promise, (though Peter remembered not as yet the fair warning our Saviour gave him of Satan's desire, to winnow him as wheat) looked back upon Him; and he went forth, and wept bitterly; And immediately, upon His resurrection, word was sent hereof to the Apostles, and by name, to Peter, that he should not think the worse of the love of God and of Christ towards him for this. Thus, He that is born of God sinneth not (to wit the sin unto death or the sin of final apostasy) for His seed remaineth in him, neither can he sin (that sin) because he is born of God. But yet as I said this impossibility is not absolute or simply to be called, but only secundum quid, and, upon supposition, to wit, of maintainency divine.
And, as for the true state of our Tenets, and the truth of our Doctrine, I may be bold to say, that it is sufficiently cleared to the world, and that with better authority then any they have brought to the contrary. And that as many writings of ours remain at, this day, unanswered by them, as of theirs, are unanswered by us.
Howsoever, if that were sufficient for this Author, why doth he take pen in hand to write at all? I come to answer what he brings in this, and not to be put off to the writings of others: I may deal with them, upon their own ground, one after another, as God shall give opportunity; and hitherto, God knows, I have entertained no thought or purpose, to decline any of their writings, not their Anti. Synod. Dordrae, not Vossius his history of the Pelagian Heresies; but I have made choice to begin with their Goliath first against Perkins, then in his conference with Junius, and after that, to set myself against Corvinus, the chiefest of his Lieutenants, and therein to meet with Arminius, his twenty reasons delivered in the declaration of his opinion before the States, and that in a particular digression at large. Neither do I desire, in any greater respect, to live and breath on earth, then to deal with every one of them, as I can. For I conceive them to be no less mountbanks in Logic, in Philosophy, in divinity, full of ostentation, I confess, but void of all true learning throughout; and it grieves me to see the Christian world nowadays, to be in danger to be cheated of their Christian faith, as Celestinus sometimes was of his Popedom. But it is just with God thus to give us over; For, superstition increaseth with an high hand, and profaneness hath gotten a whore's forehead: and holiness and sincerity are set up as marks to shoot at; and as signs to be spoken against.