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“ The regenerate cannot fall from grace, and their interest in God's favour?" Which is a plain non sequitur,
- It does not follow." For of whom speaketh the Apostle that? Doth he not speak it of the Israelites ? And yet he tells you, but ten verses before, “ that they were broken off for their unbelief."All that can be concluded from those words will amount but to this, that God is so faithful and tenacious of his promise, (wherewith he had gratified their fathers,) that, (as it is in verse 23,) “ if they abide not still in unbelief,” he is no less willing and ready than "able to graft them into the covenant again.” And upon this occasion, my brethren, give me leave to acquaint you with a few more of my doubts and scruples, in order to my better satisfaction and settlement in these points. For I hope you will not mistake me, as if I were peremptory in my assertions; for I speak only tentative, to try whether I can draw out of you any better arguments or answers to objections, than I haye hitherto met with in those that have handled these controversies. I tell you then, that the text last quoted, with some other passages in the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Chapters of that Epistle to the Romans, have begotten a great doubt in me, Whether the Apostle in his discourse (chap. ix,) treateth at all of that absolute and peremptory decree of reprobation, whereby men are irrevocably excluded from salvation and all the necessary means that lead to it. Let me give you the reasons of my doubting.
PRETERITION.-I am afraid we shall not have time now to examine them; yet, seeing you are so desirous, let us have them briefly, that we may be the better prepared to deliver our opinion about thein at our next meeting.
Dr. Dubius.—Then take them thus. I suppose it will be granted, that the Apostle in those chapters applies his discourse more especially to the case of the Jews, yet haply so as to conclude all others in their example. If so, then, that he speaks not of their absolute and peremptory reprobation, is very probable, not only from his way of arguing, but also from his passionate sorrow, hearty prayer, and earnest exhortations to them. 1. Let us
reflect upon the Apostle's sorrow, and his option upon “ I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my
heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”(ix, 2, 3.)—What is the ground of this heaviness and his vote upon it? If it were, " that God, by an absolute decree of reprobation and out of his
sole beneplaciture, had excluded them from the grace aud power of believing unto righteousness and salvation,” (as some interpret it,) then, where was the piety of the great Apostle exprest in this sorrow? Where was his prudence in this option? For if such were the decree of God, and the Apostle knew it, and was about to demonstrate it to be such, he must grant it to be most wise and most just, and much conducing to the illustration of God's glory; and then it were impiety in any man to repine and grieve at it,-much more in him, who was therefore called “ a vessel of election,” because he was designed and called so eminently to be instrumental to the glory of the Divine dispensations. And if he knew such a Divine decree, to be immutably fixed to all eternity, it was against prudence to interpose such a wish for the avoidance of it. If the common opinion be true, “ that, in respect of the manifestation of the Divine glory, it is better and more eligible to be miserable than not to be at all;" and if it be “out of an erroneous and inordinate judgment, that the very damned in hell-torments judge otherwise," as some great school-men maintain, then certainly we must set an ill character upon the Apostle's sorrow and option, if we make that [to be] the cause and ground of it (which is] alleged in this supposition. And it will not excuse, to say,
« This vote past the Apostle in the hurry of his passions," or, “that it was but a sudden sally of his affections, in their eager pursuit after the salvation of his nation :" For all the circumstances of the discourse, and that solemn preface wherewith it is ushered in, do manifestly argue that it was uttered considerately and with great deliberation. “ I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” (ix, 1.) And it is a sufficient indication of his calm and composed mind, that he did commit this option to writing and transmit it in an Epistle to the Churches.
2. To this let us add his prayer, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” (x, 1.) What Israel he means, is expressed in the third verse: “They who being ignorant of God's righteousness, went about to establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God.” How can this prayer or option of the Apostle consist with his knowledge or belief of their absolute and peremptory reprobation? For his prayer, according to that opinion, must be after this manner: “Lord, I know by Divine revelation,
(and am now declaring it in an epistle to the Romans, and so “ to all the world,) that it is thine absolute will and good plea“sure, utterly and irrevocably to abandon this people under an “ immutable decree of reprobation: yet I do most heartily desire “ and beseech thee, to grant that they may be saved.” prayer had been directly against his faith, and therefore Chad been] sin, (Rom. xiv, 23.) and against the very rule* of prayer, and obedience in that kind, and so sin too. Sure the Apostle, after his conversion, was not wont thus to break his faith, and cross the counsel of his Maker.
3. To this we may add all other his endeavours and stratagems, to gain them to the faith of Christ, and consequently to salvation, of which we read in Rom. xi, 14, and elsewhere. All which had been as ridiculous as the encounters of the Knight-errant in Don Quixote, if the Apostle had believed these men to be absolutely excluded from all possibility of salvation, by such a decree as some fancy to be treated of in that Ninth Chapter.
4. I conceive my doubt more reasonable, when I consider the Apostle's way of arguing, in Rom. xi, 1. For, to intimate (at least according to my apprehension) that the ground of his sorrow was not their absolute, irrespective and irrevocable reprobation, but the danger of their rejection from the covenant and divine grace, wherein they had hitherto stood, as God's peculiar adopted people, (1.) He makes their own wilful unbelief the cause and ground of this their rejection and misery: “ Because of unbelief they were broken off;” (Rom. xi, 20.) which cannot be said of the decree of Reprobation. For the maintainers of that decree do not make unbelief the cause of reprobation, but rather reprobation the cause of unbelief.—(2.) He saith, there is a possibility and hope of their restitution. This is intimated in Romans xi, 11 and 29, and expressed in verse 23: “ If they abide not still in unbelief, they shall be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again.” And this cannot be said with respect to the decree of Reprobation : For, “the decree of God is God himself,” as Maccovius and others do affirm; and so did Gomarus,* till, being impugned by Arminius, he changed his opinion in this particular. And “ God cannot deny himself.” (2.Tim. ii, 13.) Besides, the men of that opinion lay the FOUNDATION of all mercy and judgment to come, in those their absolute decrees of election and reprobation; and make Christ but a part of the superstruction cr the Executor of those decrees; whereas this Apostle saith, “ Other FOUNDATIon can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. iii, 11.) And we may observe, that, consonantly hereunto, he shutteth up that his discourse: “What shall we say then?" (Rom. ix, 30.) Or, What is the sum of all that hath been spoken? Namely this: “ That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore ?" Not because they were excluded by an absolute and irresistible decree, as the Apostle should have said if he had argued regularly according to that opinion ; but “because they sought it not by faith," as they were taught, enabled and obliged to do, “but, as it were, by the works of the law : for they," quitting the only foundation, “ stumbled at the stumbling-stone; as it is written, Behold I set up in Zion" the deliverer of Jacob, whom they shall take occasion to make "a stumbling-stone, and," through their wilful infidelity and perverseness, he shall become to them "a rock of offence: but whosoever buildeth upon him,” by a lively faith and a holy obedience, “ shall not be confounded.” (Verses 31, 32, 33.) For
* “Thy will be done.” of Vide Gomar. Tom. 3, Disp. 9, Thes. 28, &c.-See them in the Preface to this Examination of Tilenus, page 20.
as he hath tasted death for every man,” + according to the Scriptures, even for them that perish ; and bought, with the price of his heart's-blood, them that deny him, as St. Peter saith, so the Father «
would not that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and be saved.” (2 Pet. iii, 9. 1 Tim. ii, 4.) And to that end “ He now commandeth all men every where to repent,” (Acts xvii, 30.) and to “kiss the Son," (Psalm ii, 12.) and submit to his sceptre, who is "the propitiation for their sins, and for the sins of the whole world,” (1 John ii, 2.) having made our atonement and our peace, (Col. i, 20.) and "purchased grace and eternal redemption for us ;t sufficient abilities and glorious privileges, whereby we might be enabled and encouraged to serve him “ acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, who is the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.” (Heb. v, 9.) These are all express parts of the Divine Revelation, and therefore part of the object of our faith, and
+ Heb. ii, 9. I Cor. viii, 11. 2 Pet. ii, 1.
therefore infallible assertions of Sacred Truth. What slender distinctions are invented and what texts of Scripture wrested, to elude some of them, I shall take my opportunity to represent, when you will vouchsafe to give me a friendly meeting, to debate these and other emergent doubts touching these great points of controversy. In the mean time, I could wish you would not exclude, from the exercise of their ministry, men legally ordained thereunto, if they be otherwise well-qualified, though they differ somewhat from you in these matters. But I am single, and must subinit my vote to the suffrages of my brethren. CHAIRMAN.-Brother Doctor, we may think upon your
advice and doubts hereafter; but, for the present, we must agree as one man to carry on the great work of Reformation (which] we have in hand; and therefore, gentlemen, what say you to Mr. Tilenus ? Do you approve of him as a man well-gifted and fitly-qualified for the Ministry?
FATALITY. PRETERITION. INDEFECTIBLE. and the rest.
No! By no means ! We do not like
CALL HIM IN. CHAIRMAN.-Sir, The Commissioners are not satisfied in your Certificate. You may be a godly man,—we do not deny ; but we have not such assurance of it as we can build upon; and, therefore, we cannot approve of you for the Ministry. And, that you may be at no more expence of purse or time in your attendance, we wish you to return home, and think upon some other employment.
TILENUS.—Sir, I could wish I might be acquainted with the reason of this my reprobation, unless the Decree that governs your votes, or proceeds from them, be irrespective. I think I am not so ill-beloved amongst the most learned of the Godly Clergy, (though differing a little in judgment from me,) but I can procure a full Certificate from the chiefest and most moderate of them.
CHAIRMAN.—That is not all the matter we have against you. What have we to do with moderate men? We see your temper and want of modesty in that expression, and therefore you may