ETERNAL PREDESTINATION OF GOD
We will now, in a summary way, collect those OBJECTIONS of Pighius, which seem to carry with them any kind of colour, that our readers may understand that the weapons with which our antagonist fights are quite as bad as the cause which he alleges for kindling the flame of so mighty a contest. He asserts that the whole question turns on this, to what end man was created. And, in the first place, he holds it as a great absurdity to suppose that God expected any return from the creation of man, since, being content in Himself alone, He could want no one else, nor anything else.
I also confess that God has no need of any external aid, prop, or addition; but I deny the justness of the conclusion that, therefore, He had no respect or consideration of Himself when He created man for His own glory. For what meaneth that word of Solomon, "The Lord hath made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil"? (Prov. xvi. 4.) Wherefore we evince no absurdity when we say that God, though needing nothing to be added to Himself, yet created the race of men for His own glory. And this ought to be considered, and most deservedly so, the great and essential end of man's creation. The sophism of Pighius, therefore, is the more ridiculous when he reasons that God could have no respect of Himself in the creation of man because He is, in Himself, infinitely perfect. It is quite curious to observe how our opponent wriggles himself out of the net in which the above word of Solomon entangles him. "God (he says) did indeed make all things for Himself not, however, with any reference to His own glory, but because of the infiniteness of His goodness." And that this absurd interpretation may not want abundance of weight, he asserts that no commentators agree with me, except a few detestable heretics (as he terms them). Now why should I waste time on the refutation of such futile absurdities as these? The Hebrew word LAMAAUIHU, which Solomon uses, has the same meaning as our expression, "for His own sake." One person, inflated with his half-Latin gabble, is anxious to explain to us the meaning of the adverb propter; whereas, if he had but one spark of a sound mind, the context itself would clearly demonstrate to him that "the wicked were made for the day of evil" only because it was God's will to shew forth in them His glory; just as, elsewhere, God declares that He raised up Pharaoh for the very cause that, in him, He might show forth His power and name to all the nations of the earth.
To give some colour to his absurd error Pighius introduces the testimony of Moses, where he appeals to the Jews in those words, "And now, O Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to love Him, and to worship Him?" What one of my readers is so senseless as not to see at once that we have here a man, destitute of a sound mind, blattering without the least modesty? I am sure there is not such a reader of these pages. What! does God desire to be worshipped by us more for our sakes than for His own? Is His regard for His own glory so buried out of His sight that He regards us alone? What, then, is to become of all those testimonies of the Scripture which make the glory of God to be the highest object and ultimate end of man's salvation? Wherefore, let us hold fast this glorious truth?that the mind of God, in our salvation was such as not to forget Himself, but to set His own glory in the first and highest place; and that He made the whole world for the very end that it might he a stupendous theatre whereon to manifest His own glory. Not that He was not content in Himself, nor that He had any need to borrow addition from any other sources; but it was His good pleasure so highly to honour His creatures, as to impress on them the bright marks of His great glory.
After commencing with so much success (!), Pighius subjoins another end which God had in the creation of man. Having a respect (he says) to the nature of His own goodness, God wished to create a rational creature, capable of receiving that goodness which (he adds) could not be done without His bestowing on that creature freedom of will. This being admitted, he considers all my teaching to fall to the ground at once, when I maintain that God decreed a difference between the elect and the reprobate. Because man (he argues), being thus made by his free will the arbiter of his future state, had either event, the good or the evil (to be saved or to he lost), in his own hand.
Now, in the first place, readers are here to be admonished and exhorted ever to hold God, their Maker and Creator, in that highest of all honour which is due to Him, and never to exercise an insolent or forward eye when considering His purpose in the creation of the human race, but to view Him with reverence and soberness, and with the pure eye of faith. I know full well that no mention whatever can be made of God's eternal predestination, but, in a moment, numberless unholy and absurd thoughts rush into the mind. Hence it is that many over-modest persons are found, who wish that the glorious doctrine of predestination were never named at all, lest occasion should thereby be given to wanton minds to exalt themselves against God. I, however, passing by all such over-careful speculations and leaving them to others, consider it unjustifiable in a Christian man thus cautiously to keep back the genuine confession of the truth, lest it should be exposed to the grin of the profane. For in the first place there is nothing more precious to God than His truth. In the next place, He will not have His justice to be protected by our dissimulation. And finally, it needs no such protection. On these points, however, we shall dwell more fully hereafter. I will now briefly reply to Pighius on the point more particularly in question.
Pighius contends that men were so immediately created unto salvation that no counsel of God concerning the contrary event, namely, his destruction, preceded his creation. As if the Lord did not foresee before man was created what his future condition would be! And as if He did not afore determine what it was His will should be done! Man, that he might be the image of God, was adorned from the first with the light of reason and with rectitude of nature. Therefore (as our opponent would reason), God being (to speak reverently) blind, foresaw not all events, but waited in doubt and suspense for the issue of those events! Such is Pighius theological reasoning! Such are the antecedents and consequents of his logic! Hence he boldly concludes, from his view of the end of man's creation, that God so disposed the creation of all men that they should all, at their creation, be made (without distinction, difference, or discrimination) partakers of His goodness and blessedness. But godly minds can by no means whatever be brought to reconcile God's election and reprobation of men thus. They cannot harmonise by such carnal reasoning the voluntary sin of man and the eternal purpose of God. They cannot see, with these human eyes, how it was that man should be placed in that condition when first created, that he himself, falling by his own will, should be the cause of his own destruction; and yet that it was so ordained by the secret and eternal purpose of God that this voluntary destruction to the human race, and to all the posterity of Adam, should be a cause for the saints humbling themselves before God, and worshipping His eternal purpose in the whole. For, although it pleased God thus to ordain the whole, yet man did not the less willingly, on his part, hurl himself into this headlong ruin, who, nevertheless, had been endued with an upright nature, and had been made in the image of God. But I would repeat my being perfectly aware how much absurdity and irreconcilable contradiction these deep things seem to profane persons to carry with them. Nevertheless, let one conscience suffice us in the place of a thousand such witnesses. To which conscience, if we duly listen, we shall be ashamed not to confess that man perished justly, seeing that he chose rather to follow Satan than God!
But let us now hear Pighius' PROOFS of his above views, arguments and conclusions. In these he labours to shew that salvation was ordained for all men without distinction or difference. "If it were not so (he says), the Holy Spirit speaks falsely when He declares that God is the Father of all men" (Mal. ii. 10). The prophet is there treating of marriage, the faith of which many husbands, at that time, violated. Malachi is reminding such violators that God is the avenger of conjugal infidelity. Let our readers hence gather how much religion and conscience Pighius has in dealing with the holy Scripture! He then adds, from the Psalm, "The Lord is good to all" (cxlv. 9), from which he concludes that, therefore, all were ordained unto eternal life. Now, if this be true, the kingdom of heaven is open for dogs and asses! For the Psalmist is not magnifying that goodness of God only which He shews to man, but that also which He extends to all His works. But why should not Pighius thus fight for his brethren?
Then follows a third proof, that, according to Paul, "There is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile" (Rom. x. 12). Now all this I receive most fully, provided there be but added what the same apostle teaches, that the Gentiles were called to a participation of the Gospel because they were ordained thereto by the eternal counsel of God (Rom. xvi. 26). He cites also that passage in Ecclesiasticus, "God hateth nothing that He hath made." As if we had not always maintained that God hateth nothing in us that is His own, save that fallen nature only, which may be justly called a deformity of the first creation. The great question of reprobation, however, by no means turns on this hinge, whether or not God hateth anything that He hath made. For although long before the Fall of Adam God had, for secret reasons of His own, decreed what He would do, yet we read in the Scripture that nothing was, or is, condemned by Him but sin.
There flows from these premises, therefore, the plain and solid conclusion that God had just causes for reprobating a part of mankind?causes, however, hidden from us?but that He hates and condemns nothing in man, except that which is contrary to His justice. The next Scripture which he tacks on to his argument is that of Paul, who declares (he says) that God "included all under sin, that He might have mercy upon all" (Rom. xi. 32). As if Paul in this passage were disputing about the number of men! Whereas he is abstractedly lauding the grace of God towards all of us who attain unto salvation. Most certainly nothing was less in the mind of the apostle than an extension of the mercy of God to all men. His sole object was to prostrate all glorying of the flesh, that we may clearly understand that no man will ever be saved but he whom God saves by grace alone. Behold, then, with what glorious arguments our opponent demonstrates that none are chosen unto salvation from above in preference to others! And yet this ape of Euclid puffs himself off in the titles of all his chapters as a first-rate reasoner.
The third end of man's creation which is so clearly and powerfully expressed by Solomon, "The Lord hath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi. 4), Pighius attacks in this way. With reference to God's condemnation of the reprobate and His punishment of sin, he argues, "If we say that God in His eternal decrees had any respect to what would happen to each person after his creation, we must necessarily confess that the discrimination between the elect and the reprobate was, in the Divine mind, antecedent to the Fall of man. Whence it will follow that the reprobate are not condemned because they were ruined in Adam, but because they were already devoted to destruction even before the Fall of Adam." To this witless argument I reply, What wonder is it that Pighius should thus (to use his own expression) indiscriminately confound all things in reference to the deep judgments of God, when he knows not how to make the least distinction between remote and proximate CAUSES! After men have looked this way and that way, they can never, by so doing, fix upon the cause of their destruction, nor upon the fault that produced it. And why? because the proximate fault rests with themselves. And should they complain that the wound is inflicted on them from some other quarter, the internal sense of their mind will bind them fast to the conclusion that the evil arose from the voluntary defections and fall of the first man. I know full well that the insolence of the carnal mind cannot be prevented from immediately bawling, "If God foreknew the Fall of Adam, and yet was unwilling to apply a remedy, we are rather perishing in our innocence by His bare external decree than suffering the just punishment of our sin." And suppose we grant that nothing was in this way foreseen of God, or thus viewed by Him, the old complaint concerning original sin will still be made, and as loud as ever: "Why was not Adam left to sin for himself as a private individual, so as to bear the consequences alone? Why was he made to involve us, who deserved no such calamity, in a participation of the same ruin? Nay, under what colour of justice does God visit on us the punishment of another's fault?" But, after all has been said that can be said on the subject, the internal feeling of every man's heart continues to urge its conviction, nor will it suffer any child of Adam to absolve himself (even himself being his own judge) from the sin, the guilt, or the punishment consequent on the original transgression of Adam! Nor can anyone, in truth, raise a controversy on the matter. For as on account of the sin of one man a deadly wound was inflicted on all men, all men at once acknowledge the judgment of God thereon to be righteous!
If, then, nothing can prevent a man from acknowledging that the first origin of his ruin was from Adam, and if each man finds the proximate cause of his ruin in himself, what can prevent our faith from acknowledging afar off, with all sobriety, and adoring, with all humility, that remote secret counsel of God by which the Fall of man was thus pre-ordained? And what should prevent the same faith from beholding, at the same time, the proximate cause within; that the whole human race is individually bound by the guilt and desert of eternal death, as derived from the person of Adam; and that all are in themselves, therefore, subject to death, and to death eternal? Pighius, therefore, has not sundered, shaken, or altered (as he thought he had done) that pre-eminent and most beautiful symmetry with which these proximate and remote causes divinely harmonise!
Now, our readers must bear in mind that both of the following propositions are equally condemned by Pighius He denies either that God from the beginning, before man had yet fallen, decreed what should take place after his Fall, or (in other words) that He chooses out of the fallen mass those whom He willed so to choose. He laughs at Augustine and all like him; that is, at all the godly who imagine (as he terms it) that, after God foreknew the universal ruin of the human race in the person of Adam, He ordained some to eternal life and others to eternal destruction. For since he takes it as an acknowledged fact that the counsel of God concerning the creation of all men to salvation was antecedent to the Fall of Adam he maintains without a doubt that that purpose of God still remains fixed and unaltered. Otherwise (argues he) God would not be consistent with Himself, and His immutable purpose would be subverted by the sin of man. He severely attacks that appearance of direct contradiction (as they term it) in our doctrine. He maintains that since God (as we teach) decreed, before Adam was created, what should happen to himself and to his posterity, the destruction of the reprobate ought not to be imputed to sin now, after the Fall, committed, because, he says, it would be absurd to make the effect antecedent to its cause. Now I maintain that both these propositions which Pighius combats are true. And, as to his holding before our eyes a pretended disagreement between the two sentiments, there is no such discordance at all.
What we maintain is this: that man was so created, and placed in such a condition, that he could have no cause whatever of complaint against his Maker. God foresaw the Fall of Adam, and most certainly His suffering him to fall was not contrary to, but according to, His divine will. What room is there for quibbling or shuffling here? And what does such quibbling profit or effect? Yet Pighius denies the truth of this position, because (he argues) the before conceived counsel of God concerning the salvation of all men still stands unaltered. As if no solution of his pretended difficulty could be found. The truth of the matter is, that salvation was not offered to all men on any other ground than on the condition of their remaining in their original innocence. For, that the decree of God concerning the salvation of all men was decisive and absolute, no one of a sound mind will hold or concede. For when man was placed in a way of salvation, his having willingly fallen therefrom was a sufficient ground for his just condemnation. But it could not be otherwise. Adam could not but fall, according to the foreknowledge and will of God. What then? Is Adam on that account freed from fault? Certainly not. He fell by his own full free will, and by his own willing act.
Now, if Augustine had said that it was once (or on one occasion) purposed of God to save all men, the wily argument of Pighius might have some weight in refutation of such an opinion. But when he declares his mind to be that Adam was so constituted, at his first creation, that his proximate, or his own, rejection of life was well known to God; nay, that his rejection of it was, as it were, already included in the secret counsel of God; Augustine truly and justly concludes from such grounds that the reprobate are so involved and bound up in the universal original guilt that, being left thus in death, they righteously suffer that judgment of God. The same I also hold. And I maintain that, as all men are lost in Adam, those who perish, perish by the just judgment of God; and yet I, at the same time, witness as my solemn confession that whatever happened to, or befel, Adam was so ordained of God.
And now, as I proceed, it will be my object, not so much to consider what Pighius says, nor in what order he says it, as to take care that this worthless fellow be prostrated and buried under the ruins of his own desperate impudence. And my great concern shall be to satisfy godly consciences, which we very frequently find to be disturbed by such fellows by reason of their simplicity and inexperience. To accomplish these ends I will select, out of the flowing stream of our opponent's interminable loquacity, those parts of it which appear to be the most taking and prominent, or the most specious and plausible, that all may witness how much such a fellow can "say, without saying anything"! One reason (he says) why he cannot believe in particular and special election is because Christ, the Redeemer of the whole world, commanded the Gospel to be preached to all men, promiscuously, generally, and without distinction. But the Gospel is an embassy of peace, by which the world is reconciled to God, as Paul teaches. And, according to the same holy witness, it is preached that those who hear it might be saved. To this pretended difficulty of Pighius, therefore, I would briefly reply that Christ was so ordained the Saviour of the whole world, as that He might save those that were given unto Him by the Father out of the whole world, that He might be the eternal life of them of whom He is the Head; that He might receive into a participation of all the "blessings in Him" all those whom God adopted to Himself by His own unmerited good pleasure to be His heirs. Now which one of these solemn things can our opponent deny?
Hence, the Apostle Paul declares this prophecy of Isaiah to be fulfilled in Christ: "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given Me," etc. Accordingly, Christ Himself declares aloud, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out (John vi. 37). And again, "Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition" (John xvii. 12). Hence we read everywhere that Christ diffuses life into none but the members of His own body. And he that will not confess that it is a special gift and a special mercy to be engrafted into the body of Christ, has never read with spiritual attention Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. Hereupon follows also a third important fact, that the virtue and benefits of Christ are extended unto, and belong to, none but the children of God. Now, that the universality of the grace of Christ cannot be better judged of than from the nature of the preaching of the Gospel there is no one who will not immediately grant. Yet, on this hinge the whole question turns. If we see and acknowledge, therefore, the principle on which the doctrine of the Gospel offers salvation to all, the whole sacred matter is settled at once. That the Gospel is, in its nature, able to save all I by no means deny. But the great question lies here: Did the Lord by His eternal counsel ordain salvation for all men? It is quite manifest that all men, without difference or distinction, are outwardly called or invited to repentance and faith. It is equally evident that the same Mediator is set forth before all, as He who alone can reconcile them to the Father. But it is as fully well known that none of these things can be understood or perceived but by faith, in fulfilment of the apostle Paul's declaration that "the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;" then what can it be to others but the "savour of death unto death?" as the same apostle elsewhere powerfully expresses himself.
And farther, as it is undeniably manifest that out of the multitudes whom God calls by His outward voice in the Gospel very few believe, if I prove that the greater part of these multitudes remain unbelieving (for God deems none worthy His illumination but whom He will), I obtain thereby the next conclusion, that the mercy of God is offered equally to those who believe and to those who believe not, so that those who are not divinely taught within are only rendered inexcusable, not saved. Some make a distinction here, holding that the Gospel is saving to all as it regards its power to save, but not in its effect of saving. But they by no means untie the knot by this half-way argument. We are still rolled back to the same great question point, whether the same power to believe is conferred upon all men! Now Paul assigns the reason why all do not obey the Gospel. He refers us to the prophet Isaiah: "Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" (Rom. x. 16.) The prophet here, astonished at the fewness of those who believe, seems to cry aloud, 'That it was a thing of the highest shame and reproach that, while the Word of God was sounding in the ears of all men, there were scarcely any hearts inwardly touched by it!' But that so awful a depravity in man might not terrify the contemplators of it, the apostle Paul afterwards intimates that it is not given to all thus to believe, but to those only to whom God manifests Himself (verse 20). In a word, the apostle in this chapter intimates that any effort or sound of the human voice will be ineffectual, unless the secret power of God work in the hearts of the hearers. Of this fact Luke places before our eyes a memorable proof, who, after he had recorded the sermon preached by Paul (Acts xiii. 48), says, "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Now, why was not this same doctrine of Paul received with the same mind and heart by all who heard it? Luke assigns the reason and defines the number of the receivers: "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed." The rest did not believe because they were not" ordained to eternal life." And who is the giver of this disposition of heart but God alone?
As to those who absurdly argue that these characters were ordained to believe by the natural impulse of their own hearts, such silly persons are no more worthy of refutation than those would be who should affirm that the world was made by itself. The secret of the whole lies in the hidden wisdom of the Gospel, which is deeper than can be penetrated by any acuteness of human intellect. "The natural man (saith the apostle) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." Is it because he will not? That indeed is quite true; for all are rebellious against God who are not subdued and humbled by His Spirit. But the apostle carries the matter much deeper and higher than this, both as to man and as to God, showing that there is that "foolishness" and ignorance in man that he cannot understand the things of the Spirit, and that the wisdom and counsel of God decreed the whole. For (saith the apostle), "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, and who hath been His counsellor?" No one (argues he) can know the secrets of God, but by His Spirit only. Whence, he fully concludes, that those alone are the scholars of God who are gifted, not with the spirit of this world, but with His own heavenly Spirit, "that they may know the things that are freely given them of God" (1 Cor. ii. 12).
Now, what does the apostle mean by drawing this comparison between "the spirit of the world" and "the Spirit which is of God" but this, that men while unregenerate can only be wise in their own way,. and can only cleave unto the earth, but that God as a heavenly Father illuminates His own children in an especial manner? And yet, Pighius would here thrust upon us the absurd notion that where it pleases God, each one may prepare himself by his own voluntary will and endeavour. As if Paul were not speaking to the Corinthians, whom he shortly afterwards describes as having been thieves, drunkards, slanderers, dissolute, and laden with every monstrous iniquity, until they were cleansed by the Sanctification of the Spirit. Now what could there be in these characters whom God had dragged out of hell itself? what could there be in these awful sinners, I say, that could help them to meet God half-way, as it were, or to deserve the illumination of His Spirit? But why should I employ a wide circle of words? The Spirit of God, who reveals to us the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," is the Spirit of adoption; and divine adoption is wholly gratuitous, the free gift of God. Therefore, the Spirit Himself is freely given on whomsoever He is bestowed. Now, that the Spirit is not thus freely bestowed on all men universal experience undeniably proves. Wherefore, faith is the special gift of God, and by that gift election is manifested to, and ratified in, the soul that receives it.
This is what Paul means when he says that Christ, who is a "stumbling-block to the Jews" and "foolishness to the Greeks," is "to them that are called, the wisdom of God and the power of God." But the next question is, where does calling come from? Whence but from God, who calleth according to His purpose those whom He hath chosen? From this state of things flows the conclusion (and this we hold fast) that the Gospel, which is, in its essential nature, "a savour of life unto life," and ought to be so to all that hear it, becomes "a savour of death unto death in them that perish," who thus remain in their darkness and unbelief because "the arm of the Lord" is not revealed to them. If, then, amidst so universal a corruption and depravity of our nature some few do believe the Gospel, to ascribe the faith of such to their own goodness would be perfectly impious. No! Let thanks, on the contrary, be given to God continually (according to the admonition of the apostle), "because He hath from the beginning chosen such believers unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth," in which words the apostle traces faith and sanctification to the eternal election of God as its source and cause. What shall we say then? Were these chosen because they had sanctified themselves and rendered themselves meet or worthy to be chosen? The apostle asserts most expressly that this sanctification was the work of the Spirit of God. And as the nature of faith is the same, and equally the gift of God and the work of His Spirit, it incontrovertibly follows that those who are illuminated unto faith are thus illuminated and gifted with faith, that their election of God may be manifested and ratified by these its very effects. And most certainly, when we hear that no one cometh unto Christ but he that is drawn by the Father, we may safely adopt the language and argument of Augustine: "Who can be said to be drawn who is already willing to go? And yet no one comes to Christ but he who is willing. Wherefore, every comer to Christ is drawn in a wonderful way, that he may be willing, by Him who knows how to work inwardly on the very hearts of men; and so to work in them, not that they may believe against their wills (which would be impossible), but that they may be made willing to believe who were before unwilling to believe."
All this Pighius loudly denies, adducing that passage of the apostle (1 Tim. ii. 4): "Who will have all men to be saved;" and, referring also to Ezek xviii. 23, he argues thus, "That God willeth not the death of a sinner," may be taken upon His own oath, where He says by that prophet, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the wicked that dieth; but rather that he should return from his ways and live." Now we reply, that as the language of the prophet here is an exhortation to repentance, it is not at all marvellous in him to declare that God willeth all men to be saved. For the mutual relation between threats and promises shows that such forms of speaking are conditional. In this same manner God declared to the Ninevites; and to the kings of Gerar and Egypt, that He would do that which, in reality, He did not intend to do, for their repentance averted the punishment which He had threatened to inflict upon them. Whence it is evident that the punishment was denounced on condition of their remaining obstinate and impenitent. And yet, the denunciation of the punishment was positive, as if it had been an irrevocable decree. But after God had terrified them with the apprehension of His wrath, and had duly humbled them as not being utterly desperate, He encourages them with the hope of pardon, that they might feel that there was yet left open a space for remedy. Just so it is with respect to the conditional promises of God, which invite all men to salvation. They do not positively prove that which God has decreed in His secret counsel, but declare only what God is ready to do to all those who are brought to faith and repentance.
But men untaught of God, not understanding these things, allege that we hereby attribute to God a twofold or double will. Whereas God is so far from being variable, that no shadow of such variableness appertains to Him, even in the most remote degree. Hence Pighius, ignorant of the Divine nature of these deep things, thus argues: "What else is this but making God a mocker of men, if God is represented as really not willing that which He professes to will, and as not having pleasure in that in which He in reality has pleasure?" But if these two members of the sentence be read in conjunction, as they ever ought to be? "I have no pleasure in the death of the' wicked;" and, "But that the wicked turn from his way and live"? read these two propositions in connection with each other, and the calumny is washed off at once. God requires of us this conversion, or "turning away from our iniquity," and in whomsoever He finds it He disappoints not such an one of the promised reward of eternal life. Wherefore, God is as much said to have pleasure in, and to will, this eternal life, as to have pleasure in the repentance; and He has pleasure in the latter, because He invites all men to it by His Word. Now all this is in perfect harmony with His secret and eternal counsel, by which He decreed to convert none but His own elect. None but God's elect, therefore, ever do turn from their wickedness. And yet, the adorable God is not, on these accounts, to be considered variable or capable of change, because, as a Law-giver, He enlightens all men with the external doctrine of conditional life. In this primary manner He calls, or invites, all men unto eternal life. But, in the latter ease, He brings unto eternal life those whom He willed according to His eternal purpose, regenerating by His Spirit, as an eternal Father, His own children only.
It is quite certain that men do not "turn from their evil ways" to the Lord of their own accord, nor by any instinct of nature. Equally certain is it that the gift of conversion is not common to all men; because this is that one of the two covenants which Cod promises that He will not make with any but with His own children and His own elect people, concerning whom He has recorded His promise that "He will write His law in their hearts" (Jer. xxxi. 33). Now, a man must be utterly beside himself to assert that this promise is made to all men generally and indiscriminately. God says expressly by Paul, who refers to the prophet Jeremiah, "For this is the covenant that I will make with them. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers: but I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts" (Heb. viii. 9, 10). Surely, to apply this promise to those who were worthy of this new covenant, or to such as had prepared themselves by their own merits or endeavours to receive it must be worse than the grossest ignorance and folly; and the more so, as the Lord is speaking by the prophet to those who had before "stony hearts." All this is plainly stated also, and fully explained, by the prophet Ezekiel (chap. xxxvi. 26).
That obstinacy and enmity are common to all men I fully admit, and I also maintain that the heart of no man is softened and made flexible and obedient to the will of God until God gives him the will and power to do what He commands. For why are we called "new creatures," but because "we are His workmanship, created unto good works"? But, I pray you, what kind of a division, and how iniquitous a division, of all praise and glory would it be to make God the Creator of us mortal men, and yet to make each one of us his own creator unto righteousness and eternal life? In this way God would only have for Himself the praise of ineffectual and failing grace. That portion of the glory which is the far more excellent would fall to our lot. But the Scripture positively affirms that to circumcise the hearts of men is the work of God alone, nor is regeneration ascribed to any other than God Himself. Hence it is that whatever in man is created anew, in the image of God, is called "spirit." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John iii. 6). God does, indeed, frequently invite us to repentance, but He Himself is everywhere declared to be the Author of conversion; His "law" is said "to convert souls." The intermediate agency of this conversion, however, is frequently transferred to the ministers of the Word. But as, while they labour by praying, by sowing, by watering, it is God alone that "giveth the increase," it is not at all to be wondered at that it should be declared to be His work alone to open the heart of His own to "attend to the things spoken" by His ministers.
Hence it is that Augustine, after having treated of the elect, and having shown that their salvation is safely secured under the faithful custody of God, so that no one of them can perish, makes these solemn and blessed observations: "All the rest of mankind, who are nor of this number (says he), but are of the same fallen mass, being ordained vessels of wrath, are born for the use and service of these elect ones. For God created no one, even of them, at random, or by chance, or for nought. Nor does He work ignorantly whatever of good He works in, or by, them. For His creating in them a human nature is itself a good thing. And His adorning by them the order of this present life is a good thing. But God brings no one of these to spiritual repentance and to reconciliation with Himself! Although, therefore, these are born out of the same lump of perdition as the elect of God, yet by their hardness and impenitency of heart they all, as far as in them lies, 'treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath.' While out of this same fallen mass God calls some to repentance by His goodness and mercy, leaving these, the rest, in just judgment, to their own destruction." Thus, Augustine.
But that no one might imagine that there is here any discrepancy, variance, or conflict between divine grace and our industry, these sentiments of the holy father everywhere meet us in his works. "Men toil (says he) to find in our own free will what good thing there is that is our own, and which we have not received from God. I, for my part, know not what good things of the kind can be discovered in us at all." In another place, arguing on the same deep subject, he draws this conclusion "Wherefore, unless we hold fast these two positions, not only that that power of will which is free to turn this way and that, and which is one of those natural good things which a bad man may badly use, is the gift of God; but that that good will which is one of those spiritual good things of which there cannot be made a bad use, is of God also; unless, I say, we hold fast these two propositions, I know not on what grounds we are to defend the sacred position of the apostle, involved in his memorable question, 'What hast thou that thou didst not receive?' But if there be in us a certain kind of free will, received from God, which may yet be either good or evil; and if there be in us also a good will, rendered so by ourselves; that which proceeds from ourselves is better than that which we receive from God." Augustine arrives at this final inference from the above premises: "Where God (says he) is pleased to give this will to obey Him and to come unto Christ, it is an act of His free mercy, not according to the merits of those on whom He bestows the gift and to whom He shows the mercy. Where God is not willing to bestow the gift, nor to show the mercy, it is a display of His wrath which declares that none can come to Christ to whom the will to come is not given. And though He has the power to draw them, He draws them not; but they are left to perish, and thus to manifest the truth of His Word, that 'no one can come unto Christ, except the Father draw him.'"
The difficulty which, according to Pighius, lies in that other place of Paul, where the apostle affirms that "God will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. ii. 4), is solved in one moment, and by one question, namely, How does God wish all men to come to the knowledge of the truth? For Paul couples this salvation and this coming to the knowledge of the truth together. Now, I would ask, did the same will of God stand the same from the beginning of the world or not? For if God willed, or wished, that His truth should be known unto all men, how was it that He did not proclaim and make known His law to the Gentiles also? Why did He confine the light of life within the narrow limits of Judaea? And what does Moses mean when he says, "For what nation is there so great who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" (Deut. iv. 7, 8.) The Divine lawgiver surely here means that there was no other nation which had statutes and laws, by which it was ruled, like unto that nation. And what does Moses here but extol the peculiar privilege of the race of Abraham? To this responds the high encomium of David, pronounced on the same nation, "He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they have not known them" (Ps. cxlvii. 20). Nor must we disregard the express reason assigned by the Psalmist "Because the Lord loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them" (Deut. iv. 37). And why did God thus choose them? Not because they were, in themselves, more excellent than others, but because it pleased God to choose them "for His peculiar people." What? Are we to suppose that the apostle did not know that he himself was prohibited by the Holy Spirit from "preaching the word" in Asia, and from passing over into Bithynia? But as the continuance of this argument would render us too prolix, we will he content with taking one position more: that God, after having thus lighted the candle of eternal life to the Jews alone, suffered the Gentiles to wander for many ages in the darkness of ignorance; and that, at length, this special gift and blessing were promised to the Church: "But the Lord shall arise upon thee; and His glory shall be seen upon thee" (Isa. lx. 2). Now let Pighius boast, if he can, that God willeth all men to be saved! The above arguments, founded on the Scriptures, prove that even the external preaching of the doctrine of salvation, which is very far inferior to the illumination of the Spirit, was not made of God common to all men.
This passage of the apostle (1 Tim. ii. 4) was long ago brought forward by the Pelagians, and handled against us with all their might. What Augustine advanced in reply to them in many parts of his works, I think it unnecessary to bring forward on the present occasion. I will only adduce one passage, which clearly and briefly proves how unconcernedly he despised their objection now in question. "When our Lord complains (says he) that though He wished to gather the children of Jerusalem as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but she would not, are we to consider that the will of God was overpowered by a number of weak men, so that He who was Almighty God could not do what He wished or willed to do? If so, what is to become of that omnipotence by which He did 'whatsoever pleased Him in heaven and in earth'? Moreover, who will be found so profanely mad as to say that God cannot convert the evil wills of men, which He pleases, when He pleases, and as He pleases, to good? Now, when He does this, He does it in mercy; and when He doeth it not, in judgment He doeth it not."
The knot immediately before us, however, is not yet, I confess, untied. I have nevertheless extorted from Pighius thus much: that no one but a man deprived of his common sense and common judgment can believe that salvation was ordained by the secret counsel of God equally and indiscriminately for all men. The true meaning of Paul, however, in the passage now under consideration is perfectly clear and intelligible to every one who is not determined on contention. The apostle is exhorting that all solemn "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and for all that are in authority." And because there were, in that age, so many and such wrathful and bitter enemies of the Church, Paul, to prevent despair from hindering the prayers of the faithful, hastens to meet their distresses by earnestly entreating them to be instant in prayer " for all men," and especially "for all those in authority." "For (saith the apostle) God will have all men to be saved." Who does not see that the apostle is here speaking of orders of men rather than of individuals? Indeed, that distinction which commentators here make is not without great reason and point; that nations of individuals, not individuals of nations, are here intended by Paul. At any rate, that no other "will" of God is here to be understood than that which is revealed by the external preaching of the Gospel is undeniably evident from the context. The plain meaning of the apostle therefore is, that God "willeth" the salvation of all men considered generally, whom He therefore mercifully calls, or invites, unto Christ by the open preaching of the Word.
But Pighius renews the battle with me on the field of "respect of persons." And because it is written that there is "no respect of persons with God," he at once concludes therefrom that all men are equally loved of God. I did, indeed, answer him, arguing that by the term "persons," in the Scripture, is signified all those external circumstances attached to men, which external circumstances involve not the great cause of all, but which procure favour to some men and load others with hatred and contempt. Pighius, however, thunders out that this explanation of the term is absurd beyond all expression or conception. But if the matter were put to the vote, I am quite satisfied that I should have many men of the highest estimation in the Church, both as companions and as leaders, in my interpretation of the term in question. Let one ground on which my explanation rests suffice for the present occasion. There is in the Hebrew language the noun PANIM, which is of the same signification as the plural Latin noun Facies, which signifies "faces" or "appearances. The Hebrew noun PANIM is used when judges are forbidden to "accept persons in judgment." The same term is used when Moses testifies that "the Lord regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward" (Deut. i. 17; x. 17). This same noun is also frequently used in the history of Job. Now I would ask, What else can be understood by this term than all kinds of external appearances (as we generally term them) by which we are often drawn aside from the reality, with which they stand connected? In the same manner, the apostles, when speaking of servants and masters, Jews and Gentiles, nobles and obscure, high and low, use the Greek term provswpon, to denote that external appearance of excellency which some have above others, and which often prevents what is just and right in, or towards, such persons from being clearly seen. Hence it is also that Christ opposes the judging according to o;yi;n (that is, "aspect") to just judgment. As if He had said, Wherever the favour or hatred of men rules, it cannot be but that such prejudice must pervert all equity and righteousness.
Everyone, therefore, will immediately see that Pighius, carried away by the maddened insolence of hatred against the truth, cared not what he said. But now let us listen to this admonitor's correction of our interpretation. He pronounces "respect of persons" to be a vice that has place in the administration of justice. Whence he concludes that God is no respecter of persons, because He is impartial to all men, and because, as is becoming in a dispenser of the public justice and of the public good, He shews Himself, as a matter of course, impartially liberal and beneficent. Thus prates Pighius, putting an extinguisher upon the light of the Scripture, and babbling just what first comes into his own truthless head. For the whole Scripture confirms my interpretation and view; nor does my opponent produce one passage to prove his absurd figment. And what wonder, when he can bring forth his mad dreams with so much confidence and security, when he has not even weighed the meaning of the very term itself upon which he is uttering so much vain talk. And I suppose his thus pouring out words, in contempt of all grammar and sense, is to shew himself off as a great theologian! With him "person" (persona) signifies nothing more or less than "man." Whereas it is all the while more than evident that by "person" is signified an external quality, assuming which, or clothed with which, men are considered worthy of favour and respect or justly subjected to contempt. But whether God be an equal and impartial dispenser or not, the testimony of Christ, we think, is much more worthy of credit than that of Pighius. Our Lord then introduces the blessed God, under the person or character of the master of a household, speaking thus, "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good?" According to which reasoning of our Lord, Paul, that he might set forth the adorable God, bound and responsible to no one, nor hindered by any person or thing from dispensing His grace, "according to His own will," closes his argument with this interrogation: "Or, who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?"
Now, in the first place, if there had been one grain of the fear of God in this man Pighius, could he ever have dared thus insolently to call God to order? For he absolutely prescribes it as a rule to the Most High, that He ought to extend His bounty to all equally, as from a public treasury. Thus leaving nothing to God by which to exercise His free beneficence. God judges of every individual (Pighius says) according to the dignity, merit and works of each individual, and not according to His own good pleasure. For what merit in them, then, did God choose the family of Abraham? What dignity did He find in that race which moved Him to prefer them to all the rest of the world? God Himself assigns no other reason than because "He loved their fathers." This He declares more expressly elsewhere: "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you, above all people" (Deut. x. 14, 15). In another place, God reduces all their merits to nothing by declaring Abraham and all his family to have been idolaters: "And Joshua said unto the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the Flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the Flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed and gave him Isaac" (Jos. xxiv. 2, 3). From the above passages, at any rate, I obtain that which Pighius denies: that the sovereign pleasure of God was clearly preached by Moses. But our opponent denies that it depends on the sovereign decree of God that one is chosen and another left, asserting that it depends on the affections of men. What then meaneth this, "That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger"? (Rom. ix. 11, 12.) But the blasphemy which Pighius afterwards vomits out is execrable: "God (he asserts) is made not only unjust, but cruel, if He be represented as ordaining any human being whatever to destruction." Pighius, however, will one day stand before the tribunal of that God of whom Paul declares, "That He will manifest His power upon the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." Nay, our opponent even now feels, under the sense of the eternal destruction which awaits him, that God is not a being fabricated out of the opinions or thoughts of men, but that He was, is, and will be, the eternal Judge of the whole world. This miserable mortal (I say) is even now experiencing how true that word is, "That God overcometh when He is judged" (Ps. li. 4).
I am willing to confess, however, that a godly and upright life is sometimes contrasted with "person" (persona), as when Peter says, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons (proswpolhvpth") but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him" (Acts x. 34, 35). But the answer to those who would bring this Scripture against us is, that what gifts soever God bestows on His own children He approves and delights in, while in the whole moral nature of man He finds nothing but what deserves His righteous hatred. Wherefore, in order that God may have worshippers whom He may love, He must, while they are yet devoid of all good, first bestow upon them in the midst of their unworthiness of it His free love, and thus freely give them that which He may afterwards love Himself. "But this first (or preventing) grace He bestows on whom He will (saith Augustine), because He is merciful, which grace, if He does not give, He is just. And where He giveth it not, it is because Re willeth not to give it, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy.' And when Peter says that God is 'no respecter of persons,' he shows, at the close of the chapter, what he means by it, namely, that God sometimes, passing by the children of those who do worship Him, delivers from destruction the children of the reprobate." And what Augustine farther says on this mighty subject is well worthy of being borne in memory: "No more glorious glass, in which to behold predestination, exists (says he) than the blessed Mediator Himself, who, according to His human nature, considered as such, attained to the honour of becoming the 'only begotten Son of God' by no merit of His own." But this good pleasure of God, which God Himself sets before us for our admiration in Christ, the Head of the Church, Pighius will not admit or suffer even in the individual members of His body. Nay, he contends that the blessed mother of Christ was chosen on account of her own merit, as is proved (he says) from her own song, "Who hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden." Such are Pighius' PROOFS that the election of God is founded on the merits of men, and that it is not sovereign and free, because He chose, in the case of Mary, that which was mean and contemptible!
On this same Divine principle is dissipated also another objection adduced by Pighius: "When Christ (he says) calls the blessed of His Father to inherit the kingdom, He does not state their being elected to be the cause of their right to that inheritance, but because they had done works of charity" (Matt. xxv. 34-36). Now I would by no means hurry away men to the secret election of God, that they may with open mouth expect salvation from thence; but I would exhort them to flee directly to Christ, in whom salvation is set forth before our eyes, which salvation, had it not been revealed in Christ, would have for ever remained "hidden in God." For whosoever walketh not in the plain way of faith, to him the election of God can be nothing but a labyrinth of destruction. Wherefore, if we would enjoy the certain remission of our sins, if our consciences would rest in a sure confidence of eternal life, if we would call upon God as our heavenly Father without fear, we must by no means make our beginning with the investigation of what God decreed concerning us before the world began. Our contemplation must be what God, of His Fatherly love, has revealed to us in Christ, and what Christ Himself daily preaches to us through His everlasting Gospel. Our deepest search and highest aim must be to become the sons of God, and to know that we are such. But the mirror of free adoption, in which alone we can behold so high and unspeakable a blessing, is Christ the Son, who came down to us from the Father, for the very end that, by engrafting us into His body, He might make us heirs of the kingdom of heaven, of which kingdom He is Himself the earnest and the pledge. And as, moreover, this inheritance was once obtained for us by the blood of Christ, and remains consigned to us on the sacred pages of the everlasting Gospel; so the knowledge and possession of it can be attained in no other way than by faith.
In a word, I not only now freely confess, but everywhere inculcate, in all my writings both that the salvation of men is inseparably connected with their faith, and that Christ is the only door by which any man can enter the kingdom of heaven, and also that tranquil peace can be found nowhere but in the Gospel. I have, moreover, ever taught that whosoever shall turn aside even the shortest step from the Gospel of Christ, and from faith therein, can do nothing but lose himself in doubts, ambiguities and perplexities; and that the more confidently anyone attempts to break in upon and penetrate those profound mysteries of God's secret counsel, without the Gospel and faith therein, will ever, in so doing, get so much the farther and farther from God. Wherefore, that the children of God, notwithstanding their election of God before all worlds, are to walk by faith, I deny not, but constantly affirm.
Hence, on these principles another argument set against us by our opponent is done away with, when he alleges "that God will crown at the last day those gifts of His Spirit which He may have bestowed on His elect in this present life." But this does not alter the truth and fact that God engrafts, by faith and by the sanctification of His Spirit, those whom He hath chosen in Christ into His body. Nor does it alter the truth that He calls and justifies, in His own time, those whom He predestinated to these blessings before the foundation of the world. Wherefore, Paul connects both these works of God most beautifully, where he says, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God;" to which he immediately adds, "to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. viii. 28). This, then, is the way in which God governs His own. This is the manner in which He completes the work of His grace in them. But why He thus takes them by the hand at all there is another and far higher cause, namely, His eternal purpose, by which He ordained them unto eternal life. Wherefore, the impudence of Pighius is the more ridiculous; for he hesitates not to grasp most insolently, for his own purpose, a testimony of the Scripture which thus stands directly against him. For in the first place, he would absurdly remind us that it is not said that all things "work together for good " to the elect or the beloved. But he asserts that a different cause is assigned, namely, that it was because they loved God. Whereas the apostle purposely adds the correction of all possible error upon the point by subjoining "who are the called according to His purpose," that no one might attribute "the working of all things for his good " to his own merit.
In fact, the mind of the apostle in this passage is first to show how the faithful, for whom God causes all things to work together for good," ought to be affected towards Him?that they ought to "love God." And love to God is, indeed, a peculiar first-fruit of being "called" of God. But that those who are thus "called" might not cleave to themselves and their own merits, Paul moreover teaches them that the real source of their salvation and of "all things working together for their good" is seated much higher than themselves?in heaven itself and in the eternal purpose of God, even because they were first chosen of God, and were therefore "the called according to His purpose." This knot also Pighius thinks he can loosen and settle by a single sentence, which is positively a solemn joke. He says that God "calls" all men to holiness. Whereas the apostle most plainly sets forth "calling" as being effectual only by the absolute "purpose" of God? "Who are the called (saith the apostle) according to His purpose." Over these truths, so prominently and striking plain, Pighius would spread a darkness so thick that their transparent clearness should scarcely be seen. What, for instance, can be more perspicuously clear than this passage of Scripture? "Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified" (Rom. viii. 30). Now, to what extent soever our opponent may mangle and lacerate this sentence of the Apostle Paul, he can never so stretch it out as to make it reach to all mankind. Hence is evident the extreme folly of the arguments of all those who labour to subvert the election of God by substituting for it faith and good works. This is making, or attempting to make, "the daughter swallow up the mother" (as the old proverb hath it).