Predestination and Romans 9 - by Dr. William TwisseCalvinistic Articles on the Christian Faith
Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.
The whole Chapter from the first verse to the 23. is taken up in the answering of objections, each latter arising from the answer to the former: for the Apostle having taught in the last verse of the former Chapter, that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ giveth occasion of this doubt that may arise.
Question. What think you of the Jews, are not they the Elect people of God, and yet are not they separate from Christ?
Answer. The Apostle doth not plainly affirm it, that they are separate from Christ, but with much compassion bewails it, yea, and protesteth, that he would wish himself rather separate from Christ for their sakes: The grounds of which he rendereth to be for his kindred’s sake, ver. 3 for their privileges sake, ver. 4,5.
This coherence I could brook well enough, only I say it is devised at pleasure: and I find it is a general course to feign coherences, and sometimes only to shape thereby some conformation of the Apostle’s meaning to their interpretation of him. The Apostle I am sure makes none, and accordingly Ludovicus Leoburgensis professeth, saying, Prorsus nova disputatio instituitur, ir justametsi doctrinam de Justificatione alicubi repetit & intertexit, ramen duas alias materias principales tractat: videlicet, quis sit vere populus Dei, sesi quæ sit vera Ecclesis, & de vocatione Gentium. Judei contendebunt, se esse Ecclesiam, se esse populum; ad se solos pertinere promissiones. Paulus respondet Elector esse populos Dei. The disputation here instituted by the Apostle, is altogether new, wherein although he doth sometimes repeal and insert the Doctrine of Justification; yet he handles two other principal matters, to wit, who are the people of God in truth, and which is the true Church; and of the calling of the Gentiles. The Jews contended that they were the Church, they were God’s people, and that to them alone pertained the promises. Paul answers that the Elect alone are God’s people.
Analysis. What, is then the word (the word of promise of inseparable conjunction with Christ) to them of none effect?
Answer. No, all are not Israel which are of Israel: nor are all the children of Abraham, that are of the seed of Abraham, but in Isaac are his seed called, viz. Not the children of Abraham’s flesh are the children of God, but the children of promise, ver. 6-8. which he proveth by a twofold instance, or example.
First, of Isaac the seed of Abraham by Sarah, who was given unto him as his seed by the word of promise, ver. 9.
Secondly, of Jacob the seed of Isaac by Rebekah, of whom another promise was given, that the elder brother should be to him a servant, ver. 11.
Which promise touching Jacob is amplified by,
First, the freeness of it, all cause of different acceptation being removed from the two brethren, and in regard, first, of parentage, ver. 10. secondly, of personal condition and endowments, ver. 11. which freeness is also further set forth by the end of it, that the purpose of God might stand firm, as not depending on any condition in the Creature, ver. 11.
Secondly, A parallel promise suiting to it, preferring Jacob before Esau in God’s affection, when they were both considered only as brethren, ver. 13.
These words of the Apostle are I confess the key of the whole Chapter, for opening the meaning, or at least making way to a fair understanding of all that follows. If the Jews are rejected as the Apostle presupposeth (to wit, as touching the most of them) in the former words, then it may seem that God’s word is of none effect, which consequence, (the Apostle supposing such a consequence likely to be made) by his denying of it doth imply, that there was some Word of God that seemed to be made of none effect by this Doctrine concerning the rejection of the Jews. This word therefore is to be inquired into, the investigation whereof will give light to all the rest. Now this word can be no other than the word of some promise made by God for the taking of the seed of Abraham to be his people, to be his Church. For such a promise alone seems to stand in contradiction unto our Christian Doctrine, concerning the rejection of the Jews. And indeed such a promise God made to Abraham, Gen. 17.7. I will establish my Covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, for an everlasting Covenant, To be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee. This I conceive to be the Word of God, which the Apostle had before his eyes when he delivered this, and denied that this word and promise of God can be of none effect; although it be granted, that most part of the Jews be rejected, provided that all are not. And he gives this reason, to wit, because this word and promise of God concerning Abraham’s seed to be taken into his Covenant of Grace, did not comprehend all his seed: for all are not Israel, that are of Israel, &c. seeing then we do not maintain that all Israel are rejected (for as it followeth, Rom. 11.1. I demand then; Hath God cast away his people? God forbid, For I am also an Israelite. God hath not cast away his people whom he knew before, ver. 5. Even so then at this present there is a remnant according to the Election of grace. Withal the Apostle signifieth that not one of God’s people is rejected: to wit, not one of them whom he did foreknow, which Rom. 9.8. are called children of promise, in opposition to the children of the flesh: alluding to Isaac, who was begotten beyond the power of nature, and by virtue of God’s promise made to Abraham for a Son, when both he and Sarah were dead as touching any natural power to beget, or conceive a Child. But God to make his promise good, enabled them with power hereunto above nature. And conformably hereunto alluding also to the condition of God’s children begotten unto him, not by power of nature, but above nature, by virtue of a promise likewise, even that which he made unto Abraham, that in his seed (that is, in Christ) all the Nations of the earth should be blessed. That is, the Elect of God amongst all Nations. And to make this good by the power of his grace and his holy Spirit, he begets them unto himself, each in his appointed time according to their generations.
Question. Is there not then unrighteousness with God to deal so unequally with persons equal? ver. 14.
Answer. God forbid, which denial the Apostle proveth by a double testimony of Moses, both of them declaring the absolute Sovereignty of God over the creatures, and thereby his liberty to deal diversely or unequally with persons equal.
First, the one by shewing the independency of his mercy, ver. 15. wherein he inferreth a Corollary denying the obtaining of mercy to the means which the creature useth who findeth mercy, ver. 16.
Secondly, by declaring and setting forth the right God challengeth to himself, to stir up a sinful Creature to this purpose, to shew his power on him, though it be in his just hardening and overthrow, ver. 17. Where he inferreth another Corollary arising from both these places, ascribing as well the hardening of the creature that is hardened, as the shewing mercy to him that obtaineth mercy, both to the absolute Sovereignty of God’s will, ver. 18.
This objection ariseth from the consideration of the equality of Esau and Jacob, before they were born, and whilest they were in their mother’s womb.
The Answer is rightly conceived, as freeing God from injustice, by reason of the sovereignty he hath over his creatures and liberty thereupon to deal, not only as here it is expressed in general, diversely, or unequally with persons equal (for so he deals even with his Elect) giving a greater measure of grace to one, as even to Saul a persecutor and less to another though never so moral, and free from such as the world accounts foul sins before their callings, but so unequally as to shew mercy unto one, and to deny mercy unto the other. For the more full explication whereof we are to consider, that righteousness or Justice is taken in a double notion. The one is, when things are carried towards men according to their works: The other is, when a man doth no other thing than he hath power to do, as in executing the power that God hath given them over inferior Creatures, we are just though we do kill Sheep, or Oxen, &c. Not in reference to any works of theirs, but only in reference to our own necessary use, and unto that lawful power which God hath given us to serve our own turns of them. And thus God is not unjust or unrighteous, but righteous and just, in shewing mercy on some, and not on others, when there is no difference between them.
But whereas it is said, ver. 16. that the Apostle inferreth a Corollary, denying the obtaining of mercy to the means, which the Creature useth to find mercy; implying that when the Apostle saith, it is not of him that willeth, and of him that runneth this of willing and running are the means to obtain mercy.
I no way like this, for if it be understood of willing and running in a natural manner, such willing and running are no means to obtain mercy: Or if it be to be understood of willing and running in a gracious manner; whosoever thus willeth and runneth hath obtained mercy: as the Apostle signifieth when he saith, I found mercy that I should be faithful. [1 Cor. 7.25.] And to obtain mercy in the Apostle’s phrase, Rom. 11.30. and 31. is clearly to obtain faith and repentance; So that according to this exposition, the meaning of the Apostle is this; though man is he who believeth and repenteth, yet the glory of all is to be given unto God, as who sheweth mercy to whom he will, when as freely he denieth it to others, and so hardeneth them. And that this is the Apostle’s meaning in this place, it appeareth by the Antithesis which the Apostle makes, between shewing mercy on the one side, and hardening on the other.
Again, whereas the right of God in stirring up a creature to this purpose to shew his power on him, though it be in his hardening, and overthrow; this right I say, or rather the exercise of this right in God, is confined to a sinful creature, this is quite besides the Apostle’s Text; For albeit the creatures he speaketh of (as Pharaoh and the rebellious Israelites) were sinful creatures, yet it doth not follow that the Apostle in the Doctrine which here he delivereth, taketh any notice of their sinfulness; As indeed it is apparent that he doth not justify God’s courses here mentioned upon the consideration of their sinfulness, but only upon the consideration of God’s Sovereignty over his creatures. And indeed it is plain, that of two sinners God can give the grace of raising from sin to whom he will, and deny it unto the other: so it is manifest that of two creatures standing the estate of grace; God can maintain the one in that estate by his corroborating grace, and by denying the same grace, permit the other to fall from that estate of innocency wherein he stood; As it is clear in the difference that God put betwixt the Angels that stood, to wit, his elect Angels, and those that fell; they that stood being amplius adjuti, more succored than the other, as Austin professeth, De Civ. Dei, lib. 12. cap. 9. And Coquæus at large upon him. So that in this respect the denying of corroborating grace to those Angels that fell, while before they were without sin, was just with God; not in any reference unto their works, as if they had deserved that God should permit them to fall into sin, it being impossible that any creature should deserve this. For in this case there should be acknowledged a sin to precede the first sin, which cannot be avouched, without manifest contradiction. But it is just in respect of God’s Sovereignty to keep from sin whom he will, and to permit whom he will to fall into sin.
Question. Thou wilt further say unto me, Why doth he yet find fault, for who hath resisted his will?
Answer. To this the Apostle returneth answer in four material points.
First, He checketh the petulancy of the creature, by shewing that though God should harden the creature by his irresistible will, yet it is not for the creature to reply thus to God; this he doth by a comparison, arguing God’s Sovereignty over the creature, suitable to the power which the potter hath over the clay, ver. 20.
Secondly, he admitteth a denial or at least a mitigation of the rigour of that word objected in the manner of God’s hardening by his irresistible will, instead whereof the Apostle implieth, he doth rather harden by his suffering and long patience. What if God suffer in long patience, &c. ver. 22.
Thirdly, He cleareth the justice of God in hardening the creature, by shewing the conditions of those persons, whom he thus hardeneth, not creatures that have done neither good nor evil; but, (1.) vessels of wrath, which men are not, till first considered as sinners: (2.) fitted, or as it were perfected and ripened unto destruction, which Ephes. 2.2-3. men are not till after the refusal of the means of grace, Ephes. 2.4; 2 Chron. 36.15,16. or else after gross and unnatural iniquity, Gen. 15.16. compared with Levit. 28.27-29.
Fourthly, he declares the holy ends which God aims at in all this his dealing with vessels of wrath after this manner; which ends are the manifestation, first, of his power and wrath toward the wicked, ver. 22. secondly, of the riches of his glorious grace toward the elect, in dealing far otherwise with them, v. 23—Rom. 11.33. Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom, and of the power of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! To him be glory for ever, Amen.
By this objection arising out of the former Doctrine, namely, that God hath mercy on whom he will, and hardeneth others: he doth evince that by shewing mercy, is signified God’s giving the grace of obedience; by hardening, his denying the same grace of obedience; And withal that by denying this grace it comes to pass, that men cannot obey the will of God, seeing hereby is manifested, that God’s will is not, they should obey, but rather continue in their hardness of heart uncured, and consequently in their disobedience, whereupon it seems unreasonable that God should complain of men’s disobedience, as oftentimes he doth, as Esa. 65. Hear, O Heavens, and hearken O Earth, I have nourished and brought up a people, and they have rebelled against me. Again, Esa. 65. All the day long have I stretched out my hands unto a people that walk in a way that is not good, even after their own imaginations, And Jer. 8.7. Even the Stork in the air, knoweth her appointed times, and the Turtle, and the Crane, and the Swallow observeth the time of their coming, but my people knoweth not the judgments of the Lord, and ver. 6. I hearkened and heard, but none spake aright, no man repented of his wickedness, saying, what have I done? Everyone turneth into their race, as the horse rusheth into the battle. And Hos. 7.14. Though I have bound and strengthened their arm, yet they have rebelled against me. And Exod. 10.2. Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? Let my people go that they may serve me, ver. 4. But if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow I will bring Grasshoppers into thine house, &c. ver. 20. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go. Now this I say seems most unreasonable in the judgment of flesh and blood. Namely, both to harden a man’s heart, and yet to complain of, and find fault with the hardness of his heart, with his rebellion and disobedience, considering that no man can resist his will.
To this the Apostle answereth in certain notable particulars.
First, shewing that when the Scripture doth manifest this to be God’s course, namely to harden, and yet to complain of a man’s hardness and disobedience, it becometh not the creature to quarrel with God, or dispute with God hereabout, because his weak capacity is not able to comprehend the reasonableness thereof. As for hardening by a will irresistible, implying that there may be a kind of hardening by a will resistible, as Arminius interpreteth the Apostle, it is to put upon the Apostle the conceits of man, for he maketh no such distinction.
Secondly, He proceeds to shew how that God as the Creator, hath power over the creature to dispose of him as he thinks good, in two notable particulars. First, in making him, of what fashion he will, ver. 20. Secondly, in making him to what end he will, and that without control from the creature (the one being answerable to the other) in these words: Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Now these different conditions, as different fashions of a vessel, are to be conceived in congruous reference to the double act of God formerly mentioned. First, the one was in shewing mercy on whom he will, whereby a man is made a vessel of grace fit for honour. Secondly, the other was in hardening whom he will, whereby a man left destitute of grace, is exposed to rebellion and disobedience and consequently made a vessel fit for dishonour.
Secondly, to what end he will, to wit, either to honor or dishonor, that is, either to become finally a vessel of mercy, or a vessel of wrath, like as the potter disposeth of clay in making vessels thereof; answerable hereunto in each particular, according to the mere pleasure of his will.
Thirdly, he sheweth that the end of all this is threefold.
The manifestation of his wrath or justice on the one.
The riches of his glory, that is of his glorious grace on the vessels of mercy.
His power and sovereignty in making whom he will vessels of wrath, or mercy.
Fourthly, he shews withal, that before the execution of his wrath comes, he suffers these vessels of wrath with long patience; implying both by this, and by this wrath, that the liberty of the creature in sinning, is nothing prejudiced in all this, and in the course of his patience, way is opened for his complaints and admonitions, and that in pathetical manner, unto these vessels of wrath to move them to repentance. For that God doth complain, and expostulate, and reprove for these their sinful courses is most evident. And it is no less evident that when they go on in their obstinate courses, not profiting by God’s Word and Works unto Repentance, the cause is (though no culpable cause) that God hath not given them a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, from the first unto the last, Deut. 29.4. That is, that both man runneth on willfully in his sinful courses, and that most culpably, and also that without grace it cannot be otherwise. Though the reconciling of both these be very obscure and difficult as indeed the providence of God especially in evil, and generally in working what he will, by the free wills of the creature, is of a most mysterious nature. This patience of God comprehends not God’s bare suffering the wicked only, but his prospering of them also, Jer. 12.1. Why are all they in wealth that rebelliously transgress? (1.) As for the first material point of the Apostle’s answer, I agree with you, in the explication thereof. (2.) But as concerning the second, in my judgment there is nothing sound.
For first, you feign the rigor of that which was objected to consist in a certain manner of God’s hardening: to wit, by his irresistible will; As if the Apostle did give us to understand, that there is a double kind of hardening, that is imputed unto God. The one by his irresistible will; the other is not expressed by you, but intimated to consist in hardening by his will resistible, whereas no such distinction is either expressed or insinuated by the Apostle, neither do you once go about to prove it. And the distinction itself is very absurd; both in brining in a will of God resistible, whereas the Apostle supposeth the will of God in hardening to be irresistible, without all distinction; neither doth he give any the least intimation of a twofold hardening used by God, or imputable to him. He plainly professeth, that as God hath mercy on whom he will, so he hardeneth whom he will, without all distinction. And you may as well distinguish God’s shewing of mercy, as if that were twofold; one by his will resistible, another by his will irresistible; For shewing mercy and hardening are made opposite by the Apostle. And it is a well known rule in Schools, that Quot modis dicitur unum oppositorum, tot modis dicetur & alterum, of two opposites, look how many ways the one is taken, so many ways may the other be taken. And upon this Doctrine of the Apostle, ariseth the objection to this effect. That seeing God’s will is irresistible in hardening a man; it seems unreasonable that God should complain of such a man’s rebellion and disobedience whom himself hath hardened, supposing that they cannot obey God who are hardened. And throughout this objection also, there is no color of any such distinction as you introduce at pleasure, concerning God’s will, as either resistible or irresistible, and accordingly as concerning the different manner of God’s abjuration, to wit, either by his resistible will, or by his irresistible will.
Secondly, you feign at pleasure in like manner, a denial, or at least a mitigation of the rigor of Paul’s former Doctrine, whence rose this objection (for so I had rather express it, than as you do, when in very obscure manner you call it the rigor of the word objected) And I wonder you would adventure to devise a denial, or any color of denial made by the Apostle of that, which formerly he delivered in saying, He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth; when your self have not hitherto manifested any mind to deny ought delivered by him, as it is not fit you should. But it may be the rigor mentioned by you, is not conceived to consist in Paul’s former Doctrine of God’s hardening whom he will, but rather in complaining of their disobedience whom God himself hath hardened, his will being irresistible. Now this, though amplified as a rigorous thing, the Apostle may seem to deny, or at least mitigate. But first it seems to me, that the objection chargeth God not so much with a rigorous course, (for who shall hinder God to deal with any, as rigorously as pleaseth him, there being no injustice in rigor?) as with an unreasonable course. But whether rigorous or unreasonable in shew, the Apostle by saying God suffers them with long patience, doth neither deny, nor any way mitigate the condition of this course of his, for complaining of their disobedience, whom himself hath hardened. For albeit God all the day long, yea, and all the year long, yea, and many years long, stretcheth out his hands to a people that walk in a way that is not good, even after their own imaginations, such being the hardness of their hearts, as even in despite of God’s sufferance of them, and gracious proceedings with them, in the ministry of his word, and sparing them in his works also, yet if God himself continues to harden them, his will being irresistible, God’s complaining of their rebellion and disobedience, seems never a whit the less rigorous or unreasonable, according to the objection proposed. For as Austin saith, Contra Julianum Pelag. lib. 5. cap. 4. Quantamlibet præbu rit patientiam, nisi Deus dederit, quis agat pænitentiam? though God afford never so great patience, yet unless God give [grace] who shall perform repentance? And to say that God doth harden by his long patience, is a strange liberty that you take in interpreting Paul. If to harden, be to suffer with long patience, then to shew mercy, being opposite to hardening, must be not to suffer with long patience. And if to suffer with long patience be to harden, then as often as he suffers his own elect with long patience, he hardeneth them. And when Peter saith, God is patient toward us, the meaning in proportion must be, he hardens us. Let me tell you, that Julian the Pelagian of old, took the like advantage as you do of the word Patience in this place to corrupt the Doctrine of Paul, lib. 5. Contr. Jul. Pelag. cap. 3, (saith Austin) what is this that you say, [when they are said to be given over to their lusts, they are to be understood, as men left by divine patience, not compelled into sins by God’s power] as if the Apostle had not put both these together, both patience and power, when he saith, But if God willing to shew his wrath, and demonstrate his power, suffered in much patience the vessels of God’s wrath fitted, or prepared, for destruction. Yet which of these two do you say is that which is written? And the Prophet if he shall err, and speak, I the Lord have deceived that Prophet: and I will stretch out mine arm upon him, and cut him off out of the midst of my people Israel. (Ezek. 14.9.) Is this patience, or power? choose which you will, or confess both. Yet you see, that the sin of him who prophesieth falsely is also a punishment of sin. And when it is said, I the Lord have deceived that Prophet: will you say here also, that this is to be understood as if it were said, I have deserted him, that by reason of his merits he is seduced that he might err? Be it so, if you will; yet after this manner he was punished for his sins, that by prophesying that which was false he might sin. But look unto that which the Prophet Micaiah saw; to wit, The Lord sitting upon his throne, and the whole army of heaven stood about him, on his right hand, and on his left: And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab the King of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead? and one spake on this manner, and another on that. And there came forth a Spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and will be a lying Spirit in the mouth of all his Prophets. (1 Kings 22:19-22) But this very thing was also a punishment of sin; God judging, God sending an evil Angel: That we may more clearly understand, how it is said in the Psalm (78:49), that he sent the wrath of his indignation by evil Angels. But did God err in this? did he judge or do ought unjustly or rashly in this? Far be it from us so to think. But the Prophet spake not in vain, when he said, Thy judgments are a great depth. The Apostle doth not cry out in vain, when he saith, O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his Counselor? or who first gave unto him, that he might be recompensed? (Romans 11) And again, in the same Chapter [of Austin] it followeth; For this cause God gave them over to the lusts of uncleanness. (Romans 1) You hear, that for this God gave them over; and you vainly inquire, How it is to be understood, that God gave them over? taking much pains to shew, that God gives men over in such manner, by deserting them: But after what manner soever God gives them over, for this cause God gave them over: For this he deserted them. And you see God’s given of them over, what kind of desertion soever it be, and after what manner soever you understand the things which followed hereupon. For the Apostles care was to shew, how great a punishment it is, to be given over of God to the lusts of uncleanness, whether by forsaking them, or after what other manner soever; whether explicable or inexplicable, whereby God doth this, who is both good and just in an unspeakable manner.
Thirdly, as touching the third, there is as little soundness in that also, for already you have confessed, that the Apostle in answering this objection, to justify God, hath recourse to God’s sovereignty over his creatures, as great as the potter hath over the clay, who maketh vessels of what fashion he will, and to what end he will. But in the last place you feign most unreasonably, a justification of God’s course in hardening whom he will, from the consideration of persons hardened, as being sinners. I say this is most unreasonable.
First, because when the creature is dealt withal according to his deserts, this alone is most sufficient and satisfactory to every one that acknowledgeth it, for the justification of any course taken with such. And it is merely in vain to fly to any other course of justification, especially when it is less satisfactory then this. And how strange were it, that the Apostle should insist so fully and directly upon that other course of satisfaction, upon the consideration of God’s sovereignty, and should only intimate this, and that obscurely, when this doth afford far better satisfaction then the former.
Secondly, in this case, there were no ground for any such objection, nor any color of unreasonableness; if God did but deal with them according to their deserts, as often as he hardeneth them.
Thirdly, the objection ariseth not upon God’s hardening a man simply, but upon the hardening of whom he will, and that in a conjunct consideration, with his shewing mercy therewithal on whom he will. In which case if God be justified from the consideration of their conditions with whom he deals, like as he dealeth differently with them, in shewing mercy on some, and hardening others, so there should be acknowledged a different condition, in the persons with whom God dealeth in so different a manner. But it is confessed by you, that the persons here in Paul’s consideration are equal, with whom nevertheless God deals very unequally.
Fourthly, though this be a plausible course in the judgment of man, especially of the Arminians, for the smothering of the light of God’s truth in this place, yet when it is well considered, in the proper nature of it, I presume it will be very dissonant unto common reason. For what I pray you is hardening in this place, standing in opposition to the shewing of mercy, but only the denying of the grace of Faith and Repentance to them that hear the Gospel; like as to shew mercy is to give the grace of Faith and Repentance, as appeareth manifestly, both by the same phrase used, Rom. 11.30,31. and also by this very place clearing itself? For it is such an operation whereupon it will follow, that God shall have cause or occasion to complain, as appeareth by the objection moved hereupon. Now I say, to deny Faith and Repentance is not of the nature of a punishment, neither can it be said with sobriety, that man by sin doth deserve that God should deny him faith and repentance, like as it cannot be with sobriety affirmed, that man by being sick, hath deserved that the Physician should not cure him: or that man being dead, hath deserved thereby that God should not raise him from death; whereas indeed a man could not be raised from death, unless he were first dead, nor cured unless first sick, neither were there any need of Faith in Christ crucified, and of repentance, unless man were a sinner.
Lastly, consider, as there is a grace of raising from out of sin, so there is a grace of preserving from sin. This grace God granted to the elect Angels, he denied to the rest, merely out of his own free pleasure, according to the Sovereignty he hath over his creatures, and not with any reference unto sin preceding. For how was that possible? namely, that there could be any sin found in Angels before their first sin? yet were the one, (to wit) the elect Angels amplius adjuti, more succored than the other, as Austin expressly professeth, lib. 12. De Civ. Dei. cap. 9. Indeed I find Ephes. 2.3. That we are born children of wrath, in respect of sin, but that sin makes a man a vessel of wrath, or that he is not a vessel of wrath till sin comes, the Apostle saith not; nay, the Apostle intimates the contrary, when he represents the power of God over his creatures, by the power of the Potter over the Clay, in making therehence one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour. It is true, since the fall of Adam; man in his generation hath no being without sin; (for we are even conceived in sin) yet it is not that sin, that makes a man a vessel of wrath, for if it did, then all should be made by God vessels of wrath. But albeit the Apostle signifies that we are all born children of wrath, which is verified in respect of the desert, even of sin original, yet neither Apostle nor Prophet doth any where give us to understand, that all men are made vessels of wrath. This phrase includes, first, the intention of God like a Potter, to make such use of them, as to make his just wrath appear upon them, and this purpose of God was everlasting, not only as old as every man’s generation, but as old as the creation of all, yea, and from everlasting before the Creation. Secondly, it includes also a fitness in the vessel for such an use, not fitness in the way of desert only; (such fitness being found in all the natural sons of Adam) but fitness in respect of God’s purpose to shew wrath. Now like as in proportion hereunto, the making of a man fit for mercy, is the giving of him grace; so the denying of grace finally makes him fit for wrath in this sense, for as much as God will damn none but such as die in their sins. Here I speak of wrath and mercy, as they consist in giving salvation, or inflicting damnation.
Lastly, if none are ripened for destruction, till the refusal of means of grace, or the committing of gross and unnatural iniquity, then it followeth, that no Infants of Turks and Sarecens are vessels of wrath; No, nor men of ripe years amongst the heathen, many of whom never having either refused the means of grace (forasmuch as they never enjoyed them) and having lived civilly and morally all their days, Philosopher-like, free from gross and unnatural iniquity. And though all this be granted you; yet if God to that end refuse to shew mercy on them, in giving them Faith and Repentance, and continues to harden them by denying such grace, look how rigorous and unreasonable soever the objection pretended God’s course to be, in complaining of them for their disobedience, when God himself hath hardened them, in the same degree of rigor and unreasonableness, it continues still without all mitigation, notwithstanding all that you have said hitherto to the contrary.
Fourthly, as for the fourth, I have no desire to quarrel with you thereabout; God’s judgments indeed, Rom. 11.33. that is, his agendirationes (as Piscator interpreteth it) are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out. But you take a course quite contrary, to make them nothing unsearchable, but easy to be found out. For if obduration be in respect of sin, surely there is no unsearchable depth in this. And in my opinion, the chief ways of God, which the Apostle aims at in the place alleged, consists in having mercy on whom he will, and hardening whom he will, and in general thus in proportion to that which goeth before; There was a time when God had a Church without distinction of Jews and Gentiles, as before the Flood, and after, till the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt: Again, there was a time after this, for about 1600 years, that God had a Church of the Jews in distinction from the Gentiles. And since that for the space of about 1600 years, God hath had a Church among the Gentiles in distinction from the Jews. And we look for a time to come when God shall have a Church, and that here on earth, consisting both of the nation of the Jews, and of the Nations of the Gentiles. Three of these states are signified by the Apostle immediately before, Rom. 11.30. For even as ye in time past, have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy, through their unbelief, there have we two of them; one past, another then present: Then follows the third, ver. 31. Even so now have they not believed by the mercy shewed unto you; (this is part of the second) that they also may obtain mercy. This is the third, which we look for, ver. 32. For God hath shut up all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. Then follows the exclamation, ver. 33. O the deepness of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God (for he knows all courses possible to be taken, both wise and unwise, and out of the depth of his wisdom makes choice of what he things fit) O how unsearchable are his judgments, (for out of all these different courses, results such a splendor of the glory of God, as not creature (till it be revealed) can project, nor devise any courses countervailable thereunto, when it is revealed) and his ways past finding out!