Deeds of Law

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
~ Romans 11:6, Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:21, 2 Timothy 1:9

They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
~ Titus 1:16

A Display of Arminianism, by John Owen. 1642.


A Discovery of the old Pelagian Idol Free Will, with the new goddess contigency,

Advancing themselves into the Throne of the God of Heaven, to the Prejudice of His Grace, Providence and Supreme Dominion over the children of men;


The main errors by which they are fallen off from the received doctrine of all the reformed churches, with their opposition in divers particulars to the doctrine established in the Church of England, are discovered and laid open out of their own writings and confessions, and confuted by the Word of God.

Produce your cause, saith the LORD: bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. — Isaiah 41:21.

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. — Isaiah 45:9.

Prefatory Note.

The relation of man to his Creator has engaged the attention of earnest and thoughtful minds from the days of the patriarch of Uz to the most recent controversies of modern times. The entrance of sin into the world has vastly complicated this relationship so that, considered in its various bearings, it involves some of the most difficult problems with which the human intellect has ever attempted to grapple. The extent to which the intellect itself has been weakened and clouded by the corruption of our nature, renders us less able to penetrate into the deep mysteries of human duty and destiny. Does man now sin because he is essentially affected with the taint of the first sin, and is he involved in the responsibilities of the first sinner? Or does he sin wholly on his own account, and by his own free act, without the bias of his connection with Adam – except for whatever connection remains between example on the one hand and imitation on the other? Supposing there is a scheme of saving grace; is grace simply a divine and external aid to the will of man, which already operates freely in the direction of what is good – thus establishing a meritorious claim upon God to bestow such aid? Or is grace a supernatural influence, creating in man the very liberty itself to will and to do what is good? In the latter view of divine grace, as bestowed in divine sovereignty, and therefore according to a divine purpose, can [that grace] be reconciled with human responsibility? These are the questions which produced the sharp encounter of keen and conflicting wits between Pelagius and Augustine of old.

Towards the middle of the ninth century, these questions again assumed distinctive prominence in the history of theological speculation. Gottschalc, a monk of Orbais, distinguished himself by his advocacy of the doctrines of Augustine. It was the doctrine of predestination on which he chiefly insisted. And the controversy in his hands assumed this peculiar modification: it was not merely the application of gracious influence, but the reference of the atonement, that was exhibited under the limit and the regulation of divine sovereignty and purpose. Not that in this respect he was at variance with Augustine, but the point seems to have been specially and formally mooted in the discussions of this age. His view of predestination embraced an element which may be reckoned an advance on the Augustinian doctrine; for according to him, predestination was twofold: comprehending the punishment of the reprobate, as well as the salvation of the elect. But while he held that the predestination of men applied to the punishment for their sin, he was far from holding, as his opponents alleged, that men were predestined to the commission of sin. Council warred with council in the case of Gottschalc. Gottschalc himself expiated (by a death in prison) his audacious anticipation of the rights of private judgment and free inquiry in a dark age.

The next revival of the same controversy in substance, though under certain modifications, took place after the Reformation. It is remarkable that, at this period, discussion on these weighty questions sprang up almost simultaneously in three different parts of Europe, and in three schools of theology, among which a wide diversity existed. The shackles of mediaeval ignorance were burst asunder by the awakening intelligence of Europe; and if we except the controversy between Protestantism and Popery (on which the Reformation hinged), no point could more naturally engage the mind in the infancy of its freedom, than the compatibility of the divine purpose with human responsibility. The nature of redemption seemed to depend on the solution of this problem, and human speculation in all ages had revolved around it by the spell of the very mystery attached to it. When an interdict3 still lay on theological inquiry,

Thomists and Scotists 4 had discussed it in its metaphysical form and under a cloud of scholastic subtleties, lest the jealousies of a dominant church be awakened. But now, when a measure of intellectual freedom had been acquired, and the dispute between free-will on the one hand and efficacious grace on the other involved a practical issue between Rome and Geneva, the question received a treatment almost exclusively theological.

First, perhaps, in the order of time, this discussion was revived in Poland, and in connection with the heresies of Socinus. The divinity of Christ, the nature of the atonement, and the corruption of human nature, are all doctrines essentially connected. It is because Christ is divine that an adequate satisfaction has been rendered in his sufferings, to the claims of divine justice. And such an atonement is indispensable for our salvation, if man, because [he is] dead in sin, has no power to achieve salvation by any merit of his own. A denial of the total corruption of our nature seems essential to the Unitarian system; to this extent, there is common ground between the systems of Pelagius and Socinus. It is no wonder that this measure of identity should develop consequences affecting the doctrine of the divine purposes and of predestination – though it is beyond our limits to trace either the necessary or the historical evolution of these consequences. Spanheim, in his “Elenchus Controversiarum,” p. 237, ascribes the origin of the Arminian controversy in Holland to certain emissaries (Ostorodius and Voidovius) who were dispatched by the Polish Socinians into the Low Countries for the purpose of propagating the tenets of their sect. Their tenets respecting the Trinity and the atonement took no root in these countries. But Spanheim affirms that it was otherwise in regard to certain opinions of Socinus, “quae ille recoxit ex Pelagii disciplinâ,” on predestination, free-will, and the ground of justification before God.

About the same time, the Church of Rome was shaken to its center by the same controversy. The Jesuits always had Pelagian leanings, and their influence was triumphant in the Council of Trent. So far as its decrees stereotyped the Romish creed, they sealed the doom of the waning authority of Augustine. In 1588, Louis Molina made an attempt in his lectures on “The Concord of Grace and Free-will,” to unite the conflicting theories. The Jesuits did not regard his attempt with favor. A lengthened controversy arose. Molinism, partly as a deviation from, and partly as a compromise of, the fundamental principles of the Augustinian system, was effectually assailed (1) by the piety of Jansen, (2) by the learning of Arnauld, and (3) by the genius of Pascal – till the bull Unigenitus secured a lasting triumph for Jesuitism. It authoritatively condemned the doctrines of Augustine, as declared in the collection of extracts from his writings which Jansen had published under the title “Augustinus.”

But it was in Holland that the controversy on this point arose, which had the chief influence on British theology, and which reduced the questions at issue to the shape under which they are discussed by Owen in his “Display of Arminianism.” On the death of an eminent theologian by the name of Junius, Arminius was called to the vacant chair in the University of Leyden. Gomar, a professor in the same university, and also the Presbytery of Amsterdam, opposed his appointment on the ground of his erroneous principles. On giving a pledge that he would teach nothing at variance with the Belgic Confession and Catechism, he was allowed to enter his office as professor in 1603. Gomar and Arminius again fell into a dispute on the subject of predestination – the origin of prolonged troubles and controversies in the Church of Holland. Gomar and his party were supported by the majority of the clergy in the church. Arminius depended upon the political support of the state. The former sought a national synod to adjudicate on the prevailing controversy. The latter, having the ear of the state, contrived to prevent it. Stormy scenes ensued, amid which Arminius died. Episcopius became the leader of the Remonstrants (as his followers were called) from a remonstrance which they submitted in 1610 to the States of Holland and West Friesland. The Remonstrants levied soldiers to sustain their cause, and the provinces resounded with military preparations. At last, profiting by the confusion, Maurice (the head of the house of Orange), by a series of daring and reckless movements, seized upon the government of the States. In deference to Gomar and his party, he convened a general synod on November 13, 1618.

The doctrines of Arminius were condemned, and five articles were drawn up and published as the judgment of the synod on the points in dispute. The first asserts election by grace, in opposition to election on the ground of foreseen excellence; in the second, God is declared to have willed that Christ should efficaciously redeem all those, and those only, who from eternity were chosen to salvation; the third and fourth relate to the moral impotence of man, and the work of the Spirit in conversion; and the fifth affirms the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. The Church of France embodied these articles among her own standards. The Church of Geneva cordially acquiesced in them.

Four English deputies, Drs. Carleton, Hall, Davenant, and Ward, together with Dr. Balcanquhal from Scotland, by the command of James VI, repaired to Holland, and took their place in the Synod of Dort. This was in accordance with a request of the Dutch Church to be favored with the aid and countenance of some delegates from the British Churches. The proceedings of the Synod of Dort had the sanction of these British divines. No doubt can be entertained that the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were not Arminian; but upon the elevation of Laud to the see of Canterbury, Arminianism grew strong within its pale. A royal prohibition was issued against all discussion of the controverted points in the pulpit. All ecclesiastical preferments at the disposal of the Crown were bestowed on those who leaned to Arminian views. “The fates of our church,” says Owen, in the note to the reader prefixed to the following treatise, “having of late devolved the government thereof into the hands of men tainted with this poison, Arminianism became backed with the powerful arguments of praise and preferment, and quickly prevailed to beat poor naked truth into a corner.” It would, however, be neither fair nor correct if the statement of these facts left an impression that Arminianism made progress solely through the help of royal and prelatic favor. It was embraced and supported by some authors to whom no sinister motives can be imputed. And the cause has never found an abler advocate than John Goodwin, whose name (for his publications against the royal interest) was associated with that of Milton in the legal proceedings instituted against them both at the Restoration.

At this juncture, Owen felt it his duty to oppose the innovations on the received doctrine of the church, by the publication of a work in which the views of the Arminians are exhibited on all the leading topics of the controversy, with the exception of three points, relating to universal grace, justification, and the perseverance of the saints. He substantiates his statements regarding the Arminian tenets by copious quotations from the works of the Dutch Remonstrants. And he contrasts them, at the close of each chapter, with passages from Scripture. Exception may be taken to this course, as the sentence of any author, detached from the context, may convey a meaning which is essentially modified by it. Some of these quotations are so far accommodated by Owen as to present a full statement of a particular opinion, instead of appearing in the parenthetic and incidental form in which they present themselves in the original works –merely as parts of a sentence. We did not feel it needful to interfere with them in this shape; for, so far as we can judge, our author evinces perfect integrity in all the quotations to which he has recourse. And the slight alterations occasionally made on them never superinduce a dishonest or mistaken gloss on the views of the authors from whom the passages are selected.

It may be questioned whether Owen sufficiently discriminates the doctrine of Arminius from the full development which his system received at the hands of his followers after his death. Moreover, sometimes opinions possessing the distinctive features of Pelagianism are confounded with Arminianism, strictly so-called. Our author, perhaps, may be vindicated on the ground that it was his object to exhibit Arminianism as current and common in his day. His quotations seem to prove that his Display of it was not far from the truth. Though, from the refinement of modern discrimination on some of the points, many an Arminian would hardly subscribe to some of the statements as a correct representation of his creed. And a Calvinistic author is under an obvious temptation to run up Arminian views into what he may esteem their legitimate consequences in the extravagance of the Pelagian theory. The style is simple; some polish appears in the composition; and occasionally a degree of ornament and pleasantry is employed (as when he enters on the question of Free-will, chap. 12.). This is rare with Owen, who perhaps prided himself on the studious rejection of literary elegance. It could be wished that he had risen superior to the vice of the age in such discussions, by manifesting less acerbity of temper6 and diction in the refutation of the views which he combats in this work. It was Owen’s first publication (1642), and it immediately brought him into notice. The living of Fordham in Essex was conferred upon him by the Committee of Religion, to whom the work is dedicated. – ED. (Wm. Goold).

2 Martii, anno Domini 1642.

IT is this day ordered, by the Committee of the House of Commons in Parliament for the Regulating of Printing and Publishing of Books, that this book, entitled “A Display of Arminianism,” be printed. John White.



THE many ample testimonies of zealous reverence to the providence of God, as well as affectionate care for the privileges of men, which have been given by this honorable assembly of parliament, encourage the adorers of the one, no less than the lovers of the other, to vindicate that also from the encroachments of men. And as it was not, doubtless, without divine disposition that those should be the chiefest agents in robbing men of their privileges who had nefariously attempted to spoil God of his providence; so we hope the same all-ruling hand hath disposed of them to be glorious instruments of re-advancing his right and supreme dominion over the hearts of men whose hearts he hath prepared with courage and constancy to establish men in their inviolated rights, by reducing a sweet harmony between awful sovereignty and a well-moderated liberty. Now, the first of these being demandated to your particular care, I come unto you with a bill of complaint against no small number in this kingdom, who have wickedly violated our interest in the providence of God, and have attempted to bring in the foreign power of an old idol, to the great prejudice of all the true subjects and servants of the Most High. My accusation I make good by the evidence of the fact, joined with their own confessions. And because, to waive the imputation of violent intrusion into the dominion of another, they lay some claim and pretend some title unto it, I shall briefly show how it is contrary to the express terms of the great charter of Heaven to have any such power introduced amongst men. Your known love to truth and the gospel of Christ makes it altogether needless for me to stir you up by any motives to hearken to this just complaint, and provide a timely remedy for this growing evil; especially since experience hath so clearly taught us here, in England, that not only eternal but temporal happiness also dependeth on the flourishing of the truth of Christ’s gospel.

Justice and religion were always conceived as the main columns and upholders of any state or commonwealth; like two pillars in a building, whereof the one cannot stand without the other, nor the whole fabric without them both. As the philosopher spake of logic and rhetoric, they are artes anti,strofai, mutually aiding each other, and both aiming at the same end, though in different manners; so they, without repugnancy, concur and sweetly fall in one with another, for the reiglement and direction of every person in a commonwealth, to make the whole happy and blessed: and where they are both thus united, there, and only there, is the blessing in assurance whereof Hezekiah rejoiced, — truth and peace. An agreement without truth is no peace, but a covenant with death, a league with hell, a conspiracy against the kingdom of Christ, a stout rebellion against the God of heaven; and without justice, great commonwealths are but great troops of robbers. Now, the result of the one of these is civil peace; of the other, ecclesiastical: betwixt which two there is a great sympathy, a strict connection, having on each other a mutual dependence. Is there any disturbance of the state? it is usually attended with schisms and factions in the church; and the divisions of the church are too often even the subversions of the commonwealth. Thus it hath been ever since that unhappy difference between Cain and Abel; which was not concerning the bounds and limits of their inheritance, nor which of them should be heir to the whole world, but about the dictates of religion, the offering of their sacrifices. This fire, also, of dissension hath been more stirred up since the Prince of Peace hath, by his gospel, sent the sword amongst us; for the preaching thereof, meeting with the strongholds of Satan and the depraved corruption of human nature, must needs occasion a great shaking of the earth. But most especially, distracted Christendom hath found fearful issues of this discord, since the proud Romish prelates have sought to establish their hell-broached errors, by inventing and maintaining uncharitable, destructive censures against all that oppose them: which, first causing schisms and distractions in the church, and then being helped forward by the blindness and cruelty of ambitious potentates, have raised war of nation against nation, — witness the Spanish invasion of ‘88;2 [and war] of a people within themselves, as in the late civil wars of France, where, after divers horrible massacres, many chose rather to die soldiers than martyrs.

And, oh, that this truth might not, at this day, be written with the blood of almost expiring Ireland! Yea, it hath lastly descended to dissension betwixt private parties, — witness the horrible murder of Diazius, whose brains were chopped out with an axe by his own brother Alphonsus,3 for forsaking the Romish religion; what rents in [the] State, what grudgings, hatreds, and exasperations of mind among private men, have happened by reason of some inferior differences, we all at this day grieve to behold. “Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum!” Most concerning, then, is it for us to endeavor obedience to our Savior’s precept, of seeking first the kingdom of God, that we may be partakers of the good things comprised in the promise annexed. Were there but this one argument for to seek the peace of the church, because thereon depends the peace of the commonwealth, it were sufficient to quicken our utmost industry for the attaining of it. Now, what peace in the church without truth? All conformity to anything else is but the agreement of Herod and Pilate to destroy Christ and his kingdom. Neither is it this or that particular truth, but the whole counsel of God revealed unto us, without adding or detracting, whose embracement is required to make our peace firm and stable. No halting betwixt Jehovah and Baal, Christ and Antichrist; as good be all Philistine, and worshippers of Dagon, as to speak part the language of Ashdod and part the language of the Jews: hence, hence hath been the rise of all our miseries, of all our dissensions, whilst factious men labored everyday to commend themselves to them who sat aloft in the temple of God, by introducing new popish-arminian errors, whose patronage they had wickedly undertaken. Who would have thought that our church would ever have given entertainment to these Belgic semi-Pelagians, who have cast dirt upon the faces and raked up the ashes of all those great and pious souls whom God magnified, in using as his instruments to reform his church; to the least of which the whole troop of Arminians shall never make themselves equal, though they swell till they break? What benefit did ever come to this church by attempting to prove that the chief part in the several degrees of our salvation is to be ascribed unto ourselves, rather than God? — which is the head and sum of all the controversies between them and us. And must not the introducing and fomenting of a doctrine so opposite to that truth our church hath quietly enjoyed ever since the first Reformation necessarily bring along with it schisms and dissensions, so long as any remain who love the truth, or esteem the gospel above preferment? Neither let any deceive your wisdoms, by affirming that they are differences of an inferior nature that are at this day agitated between the Arminians and the orthodox divines of the reformed church. Be pleased but to cast an eye on the following instances, and you will find them hewing at the very root of Christianity. Consider seriously their denying of that fundamental article of original sin. Is this but a small escape in theology? — why, what need of the gospel, what need of Christ himself, if our nature be not guilty, depraved, corrupted? Neither are many of the rest of less importance. Surely these are not things “in quibus possimus dissentire salvв pace ac charitate,” as Austin speaks, — “about which we may differ without loss of peace or charity.” One church cannot wrap in her communion Austin and Pelagius, Calvin and Arminius. I have here only given you a taste, whereby you may judge of the rest of their fruit, — “mors in olla, mors in olla;” their doctrine of the final apostasy of the elect, of true believers, of a wavering hesitancy concerning our present grace and future glory, with divers others, I have wholly omitted: those I have produced are enough to make their abettors incapable of our church-communion. The sacred bond of peace compasseth only the unity of that Spirit; which leadeth into all truth. We must not offer the right hand of fellowship, but rather proclaim i`ero.j po,lemon4 “a holy war,” to such enemies of God’s providence, Christ’s merit, and the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit. Neither let any object, that all the Arminians do not openly profess all these errors I have recounted. Let ours, then, show wherein they differ from their masters.5 We see their own confessions; we know their arts, ba,qh kai. meqode,iaj tou/ Santana/, — “the depths and crafts of Satan;” we know the several ways they have to introduce and insinuate their heterodoxies into the minds of men. With some they appear only to dislike our doctrine of reprobation; with others, to claim an allowable liberty of the will: but yet, for the most part, — like the serpent, wherever she gets in her head, she will wriggle in her whole body, sting and all, — give but the least admission, and the whole poison must be swallowed. What was the intention of the maintainers of these strange assertions amongst us I know not, — whether the efficacy of error prevailed really with them or no, or whether it were the better to comply with Popery, and thereby to draw us back again unto Egypt; — but this I have heard, that it was affirmed on knowledge, in a former parliament, that the introduction of Arminianism amongst us was the issue of a Spanish consultation. It is a strange story that learned Zanchius6 tells us, how, upon the death of the Cardinal of Lorraine there was found in his study a note of the names of divers German doctors and ministers, being Lutherans, to whom was paid an annual pension, by the assignment of the cardinal, that they might take pains to oppose the Calvinists; and so, by cherishing dissension, reduce the people again to Popery. If there be any such amongst us, who, upon such poor inconsiderable motives, would be won to betray the gospel of Christ, God grant them repentance before it be too late! However, upon what grounds, with what intentions, for what ends soever, these tares have been sowed amongst us by envious men, the hope of all the piously learned in the kingdom is, that, by your effectual care and diligence, some means may be found to root them out. Now, God Almighty increase and fill your whole honorable society with wisdom, zeal, knowledge, and all other Christian graces, necessary for your great calling and employments; which is the daily prayer, of your most humble and devoted servant,



READER, — Thou canst not be such a stranger in our Israel as that it should be necessary for me to acquaint thee with the first sowing and spreading of these tares in the field of the church, much less to declare what divisions and thoughts of heart, what open bitter contentions, to the loss of ecclesiastical peace, have been stirred up amongst us about them. Only some few things, relating to this my particular endeavor, I would willingly premonish thee of: —

First, Never were so many prodigious errors introduced into a church, with so high a hand and so little opposition, as these into ours, since the nation of Christians was known in the world. The chief cause I take to be that which AEneas Sylvius gave why more maintained the pope to be above the council than the council above the pope, — because popes gave archbishoprics, bishoprics, etc., but the councils sued “in forma pauperis,” and, therefore, could scarce get an advocate to plead their cause. The fates of our church having of late devolved the government thereof into the hands of men tainted with this poison, Arminianism became backed with the powerful arguments of praise and preferment, and quickly prevailed to beat poor naked Truth into a corner. It is high time, then, for all the lovers of the old way to oppose this innovation, prevailing by such unworthy means, before our breach grow great like the sea, and there be none to heal it.

My intention in this weak endeavor (which is but the undigested issue of a few broken hours, too many causes, in these furious malignant days, continually interrupting the course of my studies), is but to stir up such who, having more leisure and greater abilities, will not as yet move a finger to help [to] vindicate oppressed truth.

In the meantime, I hope this discovery may not be unuseful, especially to such who, wanting either will or abilities to peruse larger discourses, may yet be allured by their words, which are smoother than oil, to taste the poison of asps that is under their lips. Satan hath ba,qh kai. meqodei,aj, depths where to hide, and methods how to broach his lies; and never did any of his emissaries employ his received talents with more skill and diligence than our Arminians, laboring earnestly, in the first place, to instill some errors that are most plausible, intending chiefly an introduction of them that are more palpable, knowing that if those be for a time suppressed until these be well digested, they will follow of their own accord. Wherefore, I have endeavored to lay open to the view of all some of their foundation-errors, not usually discussed, on which the whole inconsistent superstructure is erected, whereby it will appear how, under a most vain pretense of farthering piety, they have prevaricated against the very grounds of Christianity; wherein, —

First, I have not observed the same method in handling each particular controversy, but followed such several ways as seemed most convenient to clear the truth and discover their heresies.

Secondly, Some of their errors I have not touched at all, — as those concerning universal grace, justification, the final apostasy of true believers, — because they came not within the compass of my proposed method, as you may see chap. 1., where you have the sum of the whole discourse.

Thirdly, I have given some instances of their opposing the received doctrine of the church of England, contained in divers of the Thirty-nine Articles; which would it did not yield us just cause of farther complaint against the iniquity of those times whereinto we were lately fallen! Had a poor Puritan offended against half so many canons as they opposed articles, he had forfeited his livelihood, if not endangered his life. I would I could hear any other probable reason why divers prelates were so zealous for the discipline and so negligent of the doctrine of the church, but because the one was reformed by the word of God, the other remaining as we found it in the times of Popery.

Fourthly, I have not purposely undertaken to answer any of their arguments, referring that labor to a farther design, even a clearing of our doctrine of reprobation, and of the administration of God’s providence towards the reprobates, and over all their actions, from those calumnious aspersions they cast upon it; but concerning this, I fear the discouragements of these woeful days will leave me nothing but a desire that so necessary a work may find a more able pen.



  1. This committee was appointed by the House of Lords, March 12, 1640. It sometimes bears the name of the Committee of Accommodation, and consisted of ten earls, ten bishops, and ten barons. To prepare the subjects of discussion, some bishops and several divines of different persuasions were appointed a subcommittee. The duty of the committee was to examine all innovations in doctrine and discipline, illegally introduced into the church since the Reformation. See Neal’s History, vol. 2:395.
  2. He alludes to the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588. In France the civil wars on account of religion were terminated about 1628, when the Protestants secured the confirmation of the Edict of Nantes, but lost possession of the towns that had been given in guarantee for the faithful observance of it.
  3. Sleid. Com.
  4. Greg. Naz.
  5. Profitentur Remonst, hasce ad promotionem causae sure artes adhibere, ut apud vulgus non ulterius progrediantur quam de articulis vulgo notis, ut pro ingeniorum diversitate quosdam lacte din alant, alios solidiore cibo, etc. — Festus Hom. praestat ad specimen Con. Bel.
  6. Hieron. Zanch. ad Holderum. Res. Miscel.



THE soul of man, by reason of the corruption of nature, is not only darkened (Ephesians 4:18; John 1:5; 1 Corinthians 2:14) with a mist of ignorance, whereby he is disenabled for the comprehending of divine truth, but is also armed with prejudice and opposition against some parts thereof,1 which are either most above or most contrary to some false principles which he hath framed unto himself. As a desire of self-sufficiency was the first cause of this infirmity, so a conceit thereof is that wherewith he still languisheth; nothing doth he more contend for than an independency of any supreme power, which might either help, hinder, or control him in his actions. This is that bitter root from whence have sprung all those heresies2 and wretched contentions which have troubled the church, concerning the power of man in working his own happiness, and his exemption from the over-ruling providence of Almighty God. All which wrangling disputes of carnal reason against the word of God come at last to this head, Whether the first, and chiefest part, in disposing of things in this world, ought to be ascribed to God or man? Men for the most part have vindicated this pre-eminence unto themselves,3 by exclamations that so it must be, or else that God is unjust, and his ways unequal. Never did any men, “postquam Christiana gens esse caepit,” more eagerly endeavor the erecting of this Babel than the Arminians, the modern blinded patrons of human self-sufficiency; all whose innovations in the received doctrine of the reformed churches aim at and tend to one of these two ends: —

FIRST, To exempt themselves from God’s jurisdiction, — to free themselves from the supreme dominion of his all-ruling providence; not to live and move in him, but to have an absolute independent power in all their actions, so that the event of all things wherein they have any interest might have a considerable relation to nothing but chance, contingency, and their own wills; — a most nefarious, sacrilegious attempt! To this end, —

First, They deny the eternity and unchangeableness of God’s decrees; for these being established, they fear they should be kept within bounds from doing any thing but what his counsel hath determined should be done. If the purposes of the Strength of Israel be eternal and immutable, their idol free-will must be limited, their independency prejudiced; wherefore they choose rather to affirm that his decrees are temporary and changeable, yea, that he doth really change them according to the several mutations he sees in us: which, how wild a conceit it is, how contrary to the pure nature of God, how destructive to his attributes, I shall show in the second chapter.

Secondly, They question the prescience or foreknowledge of God; for if known unto God are all his works from the beginning, if he certainly foreknew all things that shall hereafter come to pass, it seems to cast an infallibility of event upon all their actions, which encroaches upon the large territory of their new goddess, contingency; nay, it would quite dethrone the queen of heaven, and induce a kind of necessity of our doing all, and nothing but what God foreknows. Now, that to deny this prescience is destructive to the very essence of the Deity, and plain atheism, shall be declared, chapter the third.

Thirdly, They depose the all-governing providence of this King of nations, denying its energetical, effectual power, in turning the hearts, ruling the thoughts, determining the wills, and disposing the actions of men, by granting nothing unto it but a general power and influence, to be limited and used according to the inclination and will of every particular agent; so making Almighty God a desirer that many things were otherwise than they are, and an idle spectator of most things that are done in the world: the falseness of which assertions shall be proved, chapter the fourth.

Fourthly, They deny the irresistibility and uncontrollable power of God’s will, affirming that oftentimes he seriously willeth and in-tendeth what he cannot accomplish, and so is deceived of his aim; nay, whereas he desireth, and really intendeth, to save every man, it is wholly in their own power whether he shall save any one or no; otherwise their idol free-will should have but a poor deity, if God could, how and when he would, cross and resist him in his dominion. Concerning this see chapter the fifth. “His gradibus itur in coelum.” Corrupted nature is still ready, either nefariously, with Adam, to attempt to be like God, or to think foolishly that he is altogether like unto us, Psalm 50; one of which inconveniences all men run into, who have not learned to submit their frail wills to the almighty will of God, and captivate their understandings to the obedience of faith. [See chapter fifth.]

SECONDLY, The second end at which the new doctrine of the Arminians aimeth is, to clear human nature from the heavy imputation of being sinful, corrupted, wise to do evil but unable to do good; and so to vindicate unto themselves a power and ability of doing all that good which God can justly require to be done by them in the state wherein they are, — of making themselves differ from others who will not make so good use of the endowments of their natures; that so the first and chiefest part in the work of their salvation may be ascribed unto themselves; — a proud Luciferian endeavor! To this end, —

First, They deny that doctrine of predestination whereby God is affirmed to have chosen certain men before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy, and obtain everlasting life by the merit of Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace, — any such predestination which may be the fountain and cause of grace or glory, determining the persons, according to God’s good pleasure, on whom they shall be bestowed: for this doctrine would make the special grace of God to be the sole cause of all the good that is in the elect more than [in] the reprobates; would make faith the work and gift of God, with divers other things, which would show their idol to be nothing, of no value. Wherefore, what a corrupt heresy they have substituted into the place hereof see chapter the sixth.

Secondly, They deny original sin and its demerit; which being rightly understood, would easily demonstrate that, notwithstanding all the labor of the smith, the carpenter, and the painter, yet their idol is of its own nature but an unprofitable block; it will discover not only the impotency of doing good which is in our nature, but show also whence we have it: see chapter the seventh.

Thirdly, If ye will charge our human nature with a repugnancy to the law of God, they will maintain that it was also in Adam when he was first created, and so comes from God himself: chapter the eighth.

Fourthly, They deny the efficacy of the merit of the death of Christ; — both that God intended by his death to redeem his church, or to acquire unto himself a holy people; as also, that Christ by his death hath merited and procured for us grace, faith, or righteousness, and power to obey God, in fulfilling the condition of the new covenant. Nay, this were plainly to set up an ark to break their Dagon’s neck; for, “what praise,” say they, “can be due to ourselves for believing, if the blood of Christ hath procured God to bestow faith upon us?” “Increpet to Deus, O Satan!” See chapters nine and ten.

Fifthly, If Christ will claim such a share in saving of his people, of them that believe in him, they will grant some to have salvation quite without him, that never heard so much as a report of a Savior; and, indeed, in nothing do they advance their idol nearer the throne of God than in this blasphemy: chapter eleven.

Sixthly, Having thus robbed God, Christ, and his grace, they adorn their idol free-will with many glorious properties no way due unto it: discussed, chapter twelve, where you shall find how, “movet cornicula risum, furtivis nudata coloribus.”

Seventhly, They do not only claim to their new-made deity a saving power, but also affirm that he is very active and operative in the great work of saving our souls, —

First, In fitly preparing us for the grace of God, and so disposing of ourselves that it becomes due unto us: chapter thirteen.

Secondly, In the effectual working of our conversion together with it: chapter fourteen.

And so at length, with much toil and labor, they have placed an altar for their idol in the holy temple, on the right hand of the altar of God, and on it offer sacrifice to their own net and drag; at least, “nec Deo, nec libero arbitrio, sed dividatur,” — not all to God, nor all to free-will, but let the sacrifice of praise, for all good things, be divided between them.


  1. John 6:42, 7:52. “Natura sic apparet vitiata ut hoc majoris vitii sit, non videre.” — Aug.
  2. Pelag. Semipelag. Scholastic.
  3. “In hac causa non judicant secundum aequitatem, sed secundum affectum commodi sui.” — Luth, de Arbit. Serv.



IT hath been always believed among Christians, and that upon infallible grounds, as I shall show hereafter, that all the decrees of God, as they are internal, so they are eternal, acts of his will; and therefore unchangeable and irrevocable. Mutable decrees and occasional resolutions are most contrary to the pure nature of Almighty God. Such principles as these, evident and clear by their own light, were never questioned by any before the Arminians began avki,nhta kinei/n, and to profess themselves to delight in opposing common notions of reason concerning God and his essence, that they might exalt themselves into his throne. To ascribe the least mutability to the divine essence, with which all the attributes and internal free acts of God are one and the same, was ever accounted u`perbolh. avfeo,thtoj, “transcendent atheism,” in the highest degree.1 Now, be this crime of what nature it will, it is no unjust imputation to charge it on the Arminians, because they confess themselves guilty, and glory in the crime.

First, They undermine and overthrow the eternity of God’s purposes, by affirming that, in the order of the divine decrees, there are some which precede every act of the creature, and some again that follow them: so Corvinus,2 the most famous of that sect. Now, all the acts of every creature being but of yesterday, temporary, like themselves, surely, those decrees of God cannot be eternal which follow them in order of time; and yet they press this, especially in respect of human actions, as a certain, unquestionable verity. “It is certain that God willeth or determineth many things which he would not, did not some act of man’s will go before it,” saith their great master, Arminius.3 The like affirmeth, with a little addition (as such men do always “proficere in pejus”), his genuine scholar, Nic. Grevin-chovius.4 “I suppose,” saith he, “that God willeth many things which he neither would nor justly could will and purpose, did not some action of the creature precede.” And here observe, that in these places they speak not of God’s external works, of those actions which outwardly are of him, — as inflicting of punishments, bestowing of rewards, and other such outward acts of his providence, whose administration we confess to be various, and diversely applied to several occasions, — but of the internal purposes of God’s will, his decrees and intentions, which have no present influence upon, or respect unto, any action of the creature; yea, they deny that concerning many things God hath any determinate resolution at all, or any purpose farther than a natural affection towards them. “God doth or omitteth that towards which, in his own nature and his proper inclination, he is affected, as he findeth man to comply or not to comply with that order which he hath appointed,” saith Corvinus.5 Surely these men care not what indignities they cast upon the God of heaven, so they may maintain the pretended endowments of their own wills; for such an absolute power do they here ascribe unto them, that God himself cannot determine of a thing whereunto, as they strangely phrase it, he is well affected, before, by an actual concurrence, he is sure of their compliance. Now, this imputation, that they are temporary, which they cast upon the decrees of God in general, they press home upon that particular which lies most in their way, the decree of election. Concerning this they tell us roundly, that it is6 false that election is confirmed from eternity: so the Remonstrants in their Apology, notwithstanding that St Paul tells us that it is the “purpose of God,” Romans 9:11, and that we were “chosen before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4. Neither is it any thing material what the Arminians there grant, — namely, that there is a decree preceding this, which may be said to be from everlasting: for seeing that St Paul teacheth us that election is nothing but God’s purpose of saving us, to affirm that God eternally decreed that he would elect us is all one as to say that God purposed that in time he would purpose to save us. Such resolutions may be fit for their own wild heads, but must not be ascribed to God only wise.

Secondly, As they affirm them to be temporary and to have had a beginning, so also to expire and have an ending, to be subject to change and variableness. “Some acts of God’s will do cease at a certain time,” saith Episcopius.7 What? doth say thing come into his mind that changeth his will? “Yes,” saith Arminius,8 “He would have all men to be saved; but, compelled with the stubborn and incorrigible malice of some, he will have them to miss it.” However, this is some recompense, — denying God a power to do what he will, they grant him to be contented to do what he may, and not much repine at his hard condition. Certainly, if but for this favor, he is a debtor to the Arminians. Thieves give what they do not take. Having robbed God of his power, they will leave him so much goodness as that he shall not be troubled at it, though he be sometimes compelled to what he is very loath to do. How do they and their fellows, the Jesuits,9 exclaim upon poor Calvin, for sometimes using the hard word of compulsion, describing the effectual, powerful working of the providence of God in the actions of men; but they can fasten the same term on the will of God, and no harm done! Surely he will one day plead his own cause against them. But yet blame them not, “si violandum est jus, regnandi causa violandum est.” It is to make themselves absolute that they thus cast off the yoke of the Almighty, and that both in things concerning this life and that which is to come. They are much troubled that it should be said that10 every one of us bring along with us into the world an unchangeable pre-ordination of life and death eternal; for such a supposal would quite overthrow the main foundation of their heresy, — namely, that men can make their election void and frustrate, as they jointly lay it down in their Apology.11 Nay, it is a dream, saith Dr Jackson,12 to think of God’s decrees concerning things to come as of acts irrevocably finished; which would hinder that which Welsingius lays down for a truth, — to wit,13 “that the elect may become reprobates, and the reprobates elect.” Now, to these particular sayings is their whole doctrine concerning the decrees of God, inasmuch as they have any reference to the actions of men, most exactly conformable; as, —

First,14 Their distinction of them into peremptory and not peremptory (terms rather used in the citations of litigious courts than as expressions of God’s purpose in sacred Scripture), is not, as by them applied, compatible with the unchangeableness of God’s eternal purposes. Pro,skairoi, say they, or temporary believers, are elected (though not peremptorily) with such an act of God’s will as hath a co-existence every way commensurate, both in its original, continuance, and end, with their fading faith; which sometimes, like Jonah’s gourd, is but “filia unius noctis,” — in the morning it flourisheth, in the evening it is cut down, dried up, and withereth. A man in Christ by faith, or actually believing (which to do is, as they say, in every one’s own power),15 is, in their opinion, the proper object of election; — of election, I say, not peremptory, which is an act pendent, expecting the final perseverance and consummation of his faith; and therefore immutable, because man having fulfilled his course, God hath no cause to change his purpose of crowning him with reward. Thus also (as they teach), a man according to his infidelity, whether present and removable, or obdurate and final, is the only object of reprobation; which, in the latter case, is peremptory and absolute, in the former conditional and alterable. It is the qualities of faith and unbelief on which their election and reprobation do attend.16 Now, let a faithful man, elected of God according to his present righteousness, apostate [apostatize] totally from grace (as to affirm that there is any promise of God implying his perseverance is with them to overthrow all religion), and let the unbelieving reprobate depose his incredulity and turn himself unto the Lord; answerable to this mutation of their conditions are the changings of the purpose of the Almighty concerning their everlasting state. Again; suppose these two, by alternate courses (as the doctrine of apostasy maintaineth they may), should return each to their former estate, the decrees of God concerning them must again be changed; for it is unjust with him either not to elect him that believes, though it be but for an hour, or not to reprobate unbelievers. Now, what unchangeableness can we fix to these decrees, which it lies in the power of man to make as inconstant as Euripus; making it, beside, to be possible that all the members of Christ’s church, whose names are written in heaven, should within one hour be enrolled in the black book of damnation?

Secondly, As these not-peremptory decrees are mutable, so they make the peremptory decrees of God to be temporal. “Final impenitency,” say they, “is the only cause, and the finally unrepenting sinner is the only object, of reprobation, peremptory and irrevocable.” As the poet thought none happy,17 so they think no man to be elected, or a reprobate, before his death. Now, that denomination he doth receive from the decrees of God concerning his eternal estate, which must necessarily then be first enacted. The relation that is between the act of reprobation and the person reprobated importeth a co-existence of denomination. When God reprobates a man, he then becomes a reprobate; which if it be not before he hath actually fulfilled the measure of his iniquity, and sealed it up with the talent of final impenitency in his death, the decree of God must needs be temporal, the just Judge of all the world having till then suspended his determination, expecting the last resolution of this changeable Proteus. Nay, that God’s decrees concerning men’s eternal estates are in their judgment temporal, and not beginning until their death, is plain from the whole course of their doctrine, especially where they strive to prove that if there were any such determination, God could not threaten punishments or promise rewards. “Who,”18 say they, “can threaten punishment to him whom, by a peremptory decree, he will have to be free from punishment?” It seems he cannot have determined to save any whom he threatens to punish if they sin, which [it] is evident he doth all so long as they live in this world; which makes God not only mutable, but quite deprives him of his foreknowledge, and makes the form of his decree run thus: — “If man will believe, I determine he shall be saved; if he will not, I determine he shall be damned,” — that is, “I must leave him in the meantime to do what he will, so I may meet with him in the end.”

Thirdly, They affirm no decree of Almighty God concerning men is so unalterable19 but that all those who are now in rest or misery might have had contrary lots; — that those which are damned, as Pharaoh, Judas, etc., might have been saved; and those which are saved, as the blessed Virgin, Peter, John, might have been damned: which must needs reflect with a strong charge of mutability on Almighty God, who knoweth who are his. Divers other instances in this nature I could produce, whereby it would be farther evident that these innovators in Christian religion do overthrow the eternity and unchangeableness of God’s decrees; but these are sufficient to any discerning man. And I will add, in the close, an antidote against this poison, briefly showing what the Scripture and right reason teach us concerning these secrets of the Most High.

First, “Known unto God,” saith St James, “are all his works from the beginning,” Acts 15:18; whence it hath hitherto been concluded that whatever God doth in time bring to pass, that he decreed from all eternity so to do. All his works were from the beginning known unto him. Consider it particularly in the decree of election, that fountain of all spiritual blessings, that a saving sense and assurance thereof (2 Peter 1:10) being attained, might effect a spiritual rejoicing in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:31. Such things are everywhere taught as may raise us to the consideration of it as of an eternal act, irrevocably and immutably established: “He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4: his “purpose according to election,” before we were born, must “stand,” Romans 9:11; for to the irreversible stability of this act of his will he hath set to the seal of his infallible knowledge, 2 Timothy 2:19. His purpose of our salvation by grace, not according to works, was “before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9: an eternal purpose, proceeding from such a will as to which none can resist, joined with such a knowledge as to which all things past, present, and to come are open and evident, must needs also be, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, permanent and unalterable.

Secondly, The20 decrees of God, being conformable to his nature and essence, do require eternity and immutability as their inseparable properties. God, and he only, never was, nor ever can be, what now he is not. Passive possibility to any thing, which is the fountain of all change, can have no place in him who is “actus simplex,” and purely free from all composition; whence St James affirmeth that “with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James 1:17; with him, that is, in his will and purposes: and himself by his prophet, “I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed,” Malachi 3:6; where he proveth the not changing of his gracious purposes, because he is the LORD. The eternal acts of his will not really differing from his unchangeable essence, must needs be immutable.

Thirdly, Whatsoever God hath determined, according to the counsel of his wisdom and good pleasure of his will, to be accomplished, to the praise of his glory, standeth sure and immutable; for

“the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent,” 1 Samuel 15:29.

“He declareth the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10;

which certain and infallible execution of his pleasure is extended to particular contingent events, Isaiah 48:14. Yea, it is an ordinary thing with the Lord to confirm the certainty of those things that are yet for to come from his own decree; as,

“The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so it shall come to pass; and as I have purposed, it shall stand, that I will break the Assyrian,” etc., Isaiah 14:24,25; —

“It is certain the Assyrian shall be broken, because the Lord hath purposed it;” which were a weak kind of reasoning, if his purpose might be altered. Nay

“He is of one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, that he doeth,” Job 23:13.

“The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?” Isaiah 14:27.

So that the purpose of God and immutability of his counsel (Hebrews 6:17) have their certainty and firmness from eternity, and do not depend on the variable lubricity of mortal men; which we must needs grant, unless we intend to set up impotency against omnipotency, and arm the clay against the potter.

Fourthly, If God’s determination concerning any thing should have a temporal original, it must needs be either because he then perceived some goodness in it of which before he was ignorant, or else because some accident did affix a real goodness to some state of things which it had not from him; neither of which, without abominable blasphemy, can be affirmed, seeing he knoweth the end from the beginning, all things from everlasting, being always the same, the fountain of all goodness, of which other things do participate in that measure which it pleaseth him to communicate it unto them. Add to this the omnipotency of God: there is “power and might in his hand,” [so] that none is able to withstand him, 2 Chronicles 20:6; which will not permit that any of his purposes be frustrate. In all our intentions, if the defect be not in the error of our understandings, which may be rectified by better information, when we cannot do that which we would, we will do that which we can: the alteration of our purpose is for want of power to fulfill it; which impotency cannot be ascribed to Almighty God, who is “in heaven, and hath done whatsoever he pleased,” Psalm 115:3. So that the immutability of God’s nature, his almighty power, the infallibility of his knowledge, his immunity from error in all his counsels, do show that he never faileth in accomplishing any thing that he proposeth for the manifestation of his glory.

To close up this whole discourse, wherein I have not discovered half the poison contained in the Arminian doctrine concerning God’s decrees, I will in brief present to your view the opposition that is in this matter betwixt the word of God and the patrons of free-will: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4. “It is false to say that election is confirmed from everlasting,” Rem. Apol.
“He hath called us according to his own purpose and grace, before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9. “It is certain that God determineth divers things which he would not, did not some act of man’s will go before,” Armin.
“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18. “Some decrees of God precede all acts of the will of the creature, and some follow,” Corv.
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, swing, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10. “Men may make their election void and frustrate,” Rem. Apol.
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand,” as Romans 9:11. “It is no wonder if men do sometimes of elect become reprobate, and of reprobate, elect,” Welsin.
“The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,” 2 Timothy 2:19. “Election is uncertain and revocable, and whoever denies it overthrows the gospel,” Grevinch.
“The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations,” Psalm 33:11. “Many decrees of God cease at a certain time,” Episcop.
“My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10. “God would have all men to be saved, but, compelled with the stubborn malice of some, he changeth his purpose, and will have them to perish,” Armin.
“I am the LORD, I change not,” Malachi 3:6. “As men may change themselves from believers to unbelievers, so God’s determination concerning them changeth,” Rem.
“With the Father of lights is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James 1:17; Exodus 3:13,14; Psalm 102:27; 2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Samuel 15:29; Isaiah 14:27; Job 23:13; Psalm 115:3. “All God’s decrees are not peremptory, but some conditionate and changeable,” Sermon at Oxford.


  1. Philippians lib. quod sit Deus immutabilis.
  2. “In ordine volitorum divinorum, quaedam sunt quae omnem actum creaturae praecedunt, quaedam quae sequuntur.” — Corv, ad Molin., cap. 5. sect. 1, p. 67.
  3. “Certum est Deum quaedam velle, quae non vellet nisi aliqua volitio humana antecederet.” — Armin., Antip., p. 211.
  4. “Multa tamen arbitror Deum velle; quae non vellet, adeoque nec juste velle posset, nisi aliqua actio creaturae praecederet.” — Ad Ames., p. 24.
  5. “Deus facit vel non facit id ad quod, ex se et natura sua ac inclinatione propria est affectus, prout homo cum isto ordine conspirat, vel non conspirat.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 5. ad sect. 3.
  6. “Falsum est quod electio facta est ab seterno.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 18. p. 190.
  7. “Volitiones aliquae Dei cessant certo quodam tempore.” — Episcop. Disp. de Vol. Dei., thes. 7
  8. “Deus vult omnes salvos fieri, sed compulsus pertinaci et incorrigibili malitia quorundam, vult illos jacturam facere salutis.” — Armin. Antip. fol. 195.
  9. Bell. Amiss. Grat.; Armin. Antip. Rem. Apol.
  10. “(Docent) unumquemque invariabilem vitae, ac morris protagh.n una cum ipso ortu, in lucern hanc nobiscum adferre.” — Filii Armin. in Epist. Ded. ad Examen Lib. Perk.
  11. “Possunt homines etectionem suam irritam et frustraneam reddere.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 9. p. 105.
  12. Jackson, of the Divine Essence.
  13. “Non mirum videri debet quod aliquando ex electis reprobi et ex reprobis electi fiant.” — Welsin, de Of. Ch. Hom.
  14. “Omnia Dei decreta, non sunt peremptoria, sed quaedam conditionata ac mutabilia.” — Concio. ad Cler. Oxon. ann. 1641, Rem. Decla. Sent. in Synod., alibi passim. “Electio sicut et justificatio, et incerta et revocabilis, utramque vero conditionatam qui negaverit, ipsum quoque evangelium negabit.” — Grevinch, ad Ames., pp. 136,137.
  15. “Ad gloriam participandam pro isto tempore quo credunt electi sunt.” — Rem. Apol., p. 190.
  16. “Decreta hypothetica possunt mutari, quia conditio respectu hominis vel prsestatur vel non praestatur, atque ita existit vel non existit. Et quum extitit aliquandiu, saepe existere desinit, et rursus postquam aliquandiu desiit, existere incipit.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 5. sec. 10.
  17. “Dicique beatus — Ante obitum nemo,” etc. — Ovid.
  18. “Quis enim comminetur poenam ei, quem peremptorio decreto a poena immunem esse vult ?” — Rem. Apol., cap. 17. p. 187.
  19. Author of “God’s Love to Mankind,” p. 4, [a treatise written by Hoard. Davenant, professor of divinity in Cambridge, and afterwards bishop of Salisbury, wrote in reply his “Animadversions” on it. Dr Hill, in his Lectures on Divinity, pronounces this work of Davenant to be “one of the ablest defences of the Calvinistic system of predestination.”]
  20. “Quicquid operatur, operatur ut est.”




THE prescience or foreknowledge of God hath not hitherto, in express terms, been denied by the Arminians, but only questioned and overthrown by consequence, inasmuch as they deny the certainty and unchangeableness of his decrees, on which it is founded. It is not a foreknowledge of all or any thing which they oppose, but only of things free and contingent, and that only to comply with their formerly-exploded error, that the purposes of God concerning such things are temporal and mutable; which obstacle being once removed, the way is open how to ascribe the presidentship of all human actions to omnipotent contingency, and her sire free-will. Now, we call that contingent which, in regard of its next and immediate cause, before it come to pass, may be done or may be not done; as, that a man shall do such a thing tomorrow, or any time hereafter, which he may choose whether ever he will do or no. Such things as these are free and changeable, in respect of men, their immediate and second causes; but if we, as we ought to do, (James 4:13-15.) look up unto Him who foreseeth and hath ordained the event of them or their omission, they may be said necessarily to come to pass or to be omitted. It could not be but as it was. Christians hitherto, yea, and heathens,1 in all things of this nature, have usually, upon their event, reflected on God as one whose determination was passed on them from eternity, and who knew them long before; as the killing of men by the fall of a house, who might, in respect of the freedom of their own wills, have not been there. Or if a man fall into the hands of thieves, we presently conclude it was the will of God. It must be so; he knew it before.

Divines, for distinction’s sake,2 ascribe unto God a twofold knowledge; one, intuitive or intellective, whereby he foreknoweth and seeth all things that are possible, — that is, all things that can be done by his almighty power, — without any respect to their future existence, whether they shall come to pass or no. Yea, infinite things, whose actual being eternity shall never behold, are thus open and naked unto him; for was there not strength and power in his hand to have created another world? was there not counsel in the storehouse of his wisdom to have created this otherwise, or not to have created it at all? Shall we say that his providence extends itself every way to the utmost of its activity? or can he not produce innumerable things in the world which now he doth not. Now, all these, and every thing else that is feasible to his infinite power, he foresees and knows, “scientia,” as they speak, “simplicis intelligentiae,” by his essential knowledge.

Out3 of this large and boundless territory of things possible, God by his decrees freely determineth what shall come to pass, and makes them future which before were but possible. After this decree, as they commonly speak, followeth, or together with it, as4 others more exactly, taketh place, that prescience of God which they call “visionis,” “of vision,”5 whereby he infallibly seeth all things in their proper causes, and how and when they shall come to pass. Now, these two sorts of knowledge differ,6 inasmuch as by the one God knoweth what it is possible may come to pass; by the other, only what it is impossible should not come to pass. Things are possible in regard of God’s power, future in regard of his decree. So that (if I may so say) the measure of the first kind of science is God’s omnipotency, what he can do; of the other his purpose, what certainly he will do, or permit to be done. With this prescience, then, God foreseeth all, and nothing but what he hath decreed shall come to pass.

For every thing to be produced next and under him,7 God hath prepared divers and several kinds of causes, diversely operative in producing their effects, some whereof are said to work necessarily, the institution of their nature being to do as they do, and not otherwise; so the sun giveth light, and the fire heat. And yet, in some regard, their effects and products may be said to be contingent and free, inasmuch as the concurrence of God, the first cause, is required to their operation, who doth all things most freely, according to the counsel of his will. Thus the sun stood still in the time of Joshua, and the fire burned not the three children; but ordinarily such agents working “necessitate naturae,” their effects are said to be necessary. Secondly, To some things God hath fitted free and contingent causes, which either apply themselves to operation in particular, according to election, choosing to do this thing rather than that; as angels and men, in their free and deliberate actions, which they so perform as that they could have not done them; — or else they produce effects to. sumbebhko,j, merely by accident, and the operation of such things we say to be casual; as if a hatchet, falling out of the hand of a man cutting down a tree, should kill another whom he never saw. Now, nothing in either of these ways comes to pass but God hath determined it, both for the matter and manner,8 even so as is agreeable to their causes, — some necessarily, some freely, some casually or contingently, yet also, as having a certain futurition from his decree, he infallibly foreseeth that they shall so come to pass. But yet that he doth so in respect of things free and contingent is much questioned by the Arminians in express terms, and denied by consequence, notwithstanding St Jerome affirmeth9 that so to do is destructive to the very essence of the Deity.

First, Their doctrine of the mutability of God’s decrees, on whose firmness is founded the infallibility of this prescience, doth quite overthrow it. God thus foreknowing only what he hath so decreed shall come to pass, if that be no firmer settled but that it may [be] and is often altered, according to the divers inclinations of men’s wills, which I showed before they affirm, he can have at best but a conjectural foreknowledge of what is yet for to come, not founded on his own unchangeable purpose, but upon a guess at the free inclination of men’s wills. For instance,10 God willeth that all men should be saved. This act of his will, according to the Arminian doctrine, is his conditionate decree to save all men if they will believe. Well, among these is Judas, as11 equal a sharer in the benefit of this decree as Peter. God, then, will have him to be saved, and to this end allows him all those means which are necessary to beget faith in him, and are every way sufficient to that purpose, and do produce that effect in others; what can God foresee, then, but that Judas as well as Peter will believe? He intendeth he should, he hath determined nothing to the contrary. Let him come, then, and act his own part. Why, he proves so obstinately malicious,12 that God, with all his omnipotency, as they speak, by any way that becomes him, which must not be by any irresistible efficacy, cannot change his obdurate heart. Well, then, he determineth, according to the exigence of his justice, that he shall be damned for his impenitency, and foreseeth that accordingly. But now, suppose this wretch, even at his last moment, should bethink himself and return to the Lord, which in their conceit he may, notwithstanding his former reprobation (which,13 as they state it, seems a great act of mercy),14 God must keep to the rules of his justice, and elect or determine to save him; by which the varlet hath twice or thrice deceived his expectation.

Secondly,15 They affirm that God is said properly to expect and desire divers things which yet never come to pass. “We grant,” saith Corvinus, “that there are desires in God that never are fulfilled.” Now, surely, to desire what one is sure will never come to pass is not an act regulated by wisdom or counsel; and, therefore, they must grant that before he did not know but perhaps so it might be. “God wisheth and desireth some good things, which yet come not to pass,”16 say they, in their Confession; whence one of these two things must needs follow, — either, first, that there is a great deal of imperfection in his nature, to desire and expect what he knows shall never come to pass; or else he did not know but it might, which overthrows his prescience. Yea, and say they expressly,17 “That the hope and expectation of God is deceived by man;” and confess, “that the strength of their strongest argument lies in this, that God hoped and expected obedience from Israel.” Secondly, That he complaineth that his hope is deluded, which, being taken properly, and as they urge it, cannot consist with his eternal prescience; for they disesteem the usual answer of divines, that hope, expectation, and such like passions, which include in them any imperfection, are ascribed unto God per avnqrwpopa,qeian, — in regard of that analogy his actions hold with such of ours as we perform having those passions.

Thirdly,18 They teach that God hath determined nothing concerning such things as these in question. “That God hath determined future contingent things unto either part (I mean such as issue from the free-will of the creature), I abominate, hate, and curse, as false, absurd, and leading us on unto blasphemy,” saith Arminius. To determine of them to either part is to determine and ordain whether they shall be, or whether they shall not be; as, that David shall or shall not go up tomorrow against the Philistines, and prevail. Now, the infallibility of God’s foreknowing of such things depending on the certainty of his decree and determination, if there be no such thing as this, that also must needs fall to the ground.

Fourthly,19 See what positively they write concerning this everlasting foreknowledge of God: — First, They call it a troublesome question; secondly, They make it a thing disputable whether there be any such thing or no; and though haply it may be ascribed unto God, yet, thirdly, They think it no motive to the worship of him; fourthly, They say, better it were quite exploded, because the difficulties that attend it can scarcely be reconciled with man’s liberty, God’s threatenings and promises; yea, fifthly, It seems rather to be invented to crucify poor mortals than to be of any moment in religion. So Episcopius. It may be excepted that this is but one doctor’s opinion. It is true, they are one man’s words; but the thing itself is countenanced by the whole sect. As, first, in the large prolix declaration of their opinions, they speak not one word of it; and being taxed for this omission by the professors of Leyden, they vindicate themselves so coldly in their Apology, that some learned men do from hence conclude,20 that certainly, in their most secret judgments, all the Arminians do consent with Socinus in ascribing unto God only a conjectural foreknowledge. And one great prophet of their own affirms roundly,21 “That God, after his manner, oftentimes feareth, that is, suspecteth, and that not without cause, and prudently conjectureth, that this or that evil may arise,” Vorstius. And their chiefest patriarchs,22 “That God doth often intend what he doth not foresee will come to pass,” Armin., Corv. Now, whether this kind of atheism be tolerable among Christians or no, let all men judge who have their senses exercised in the word of God; which, I am sure, teaches us another lesson. For, —

First, It is laid down as a firm foundation, that “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18. Every thing, then, that in any respect may be called his work, is known unto him from all eternity. Now, what in the world, if we may speak as he hath taught us, can be exempted from this denomination? Even actions in themselves sinful are not; though not as sinful, yet in some other regard, as punishments of others. “Behold,” saith Nathan to David, in the name of God,

“I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun; for thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel,” 2 Samuel 12:11,12.

So, also, when wicked robbers had nefariously spoiled Job of all his substance, the holy man concludeth, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away,” Job 1:21. Now, if the working of God’s providence be so mighty and effectual, even in and over those actions wherein the devil and men do most maliciously offend, as did Absalom and the Sabean with the Chaldean thieves, that it may be said to be his work, and he may be said to “do it” (I crave liberty to use the Scripture phrase), then certainly nothing in the world, in some respect or other, is independent of his all-disposing hand; yea, Judas himself betraying our Savior did nothing but “what his hand and counsel determined before should be done,”23 Acts 4:28, in respect of the event of the thing itself. And if these actions, notwithstanding these two hindrances, — first, that they were contingent, wrought by free agents, working according to election and choice; secondly, that they were sinful and wicked in the agents, — had yet their dependence on his purpose and determinate counsel, surely he hath an interest of operation in the acts of every creature. But his works, as it appears before, are all known unto him from the beginning, for he worketh nothing by chance or accidentally, but all things determinately, according to his own decree, or “the counsel of his own will,” Ephesians 1:11.

Secondly, The manner of God’s knowing of things doth evidently show that nothing that is, or may be, can be hid from him;24 which is not by discourse and collection of one thing out of another, conclusions out of principles, but altogether and at once, evidently, clearly, and distinctly, both in respect tou/ o[ti, and tou/ dioti. By one most pure act of his own essence he discerneth all things: for there is “no creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all are naked and opened unto his eyes,” Hebrews 4:13. So that those things concerning which we treat25 he knoweth three ways: — First, In himself and his own decree, as the first cause; in which respect they may be said to be necessary, in respect of the certainty of their event. Secondly, In their immediate causes, wherein their contingency doth properly consist. Thirdly, In their own nature as future, but to his infinite knowledge ever present.

Thirdly, The Scripture (Psalm 44:21; Job 11:11; Daniel 2:47; Psalm 7:9, 26:2, 147:4; Luke 12:27; Matthew 10:29, 30; Psalm 139:2) is full of expressions to this purpose, — to wit, “That God knoweth all secrets, and revealeth hidden things: he searcheth the reins and the heart: he knoweth the number of the stars, and the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, the falling of sparrows, the number of the hairs of our heads.” Some places are most remarkable, as that of the Psalmist, “He knoweth my thoughts long before;” even before ever they come into our minds, before their first rising. And yet many actions that are most contingent depend upon those thoughts known unto God from eternity; nay, — which breaketh the very neck of the goddess contingency, — those things wherein her greatest power is imagined to consist are directly ascribed unto God, as our words, “the answer of the tongue,” Proverbs 16:1; and the directing of an arrow, shot by chance, to a mark not aimed at, 1 Kings 22:34. Surely God must needs foreknow the event of that contingent action; he must needs know the man would so shoot who had determined his arrow should be the death of a king. He maketh men poor and rich, Proverbs 22:2; He lifteth up one, and pulleth down another, Psalm 75:7. How many contingencies did gorgo.n o;mma tou/ despo,tou, his piercing eye run through to foresee the crowning of Esther for the deliverance of his people! In a word, “Known unto God are all his works.” Now, what can possibly be imagined to be more contingent than the killing of a man by the fall of an axe from out of his hand who intended no such thing? Yet this God assumeth as his own work, Deuteronomy 19:5, Exodus 21:13; and so surely was by him foreknown.

Fourthly, Do but consider the prophecies in Scripture, especially those concerning our Savior, how many free and contingent actions did concur for the fulfilling of them; as Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 53; Genesis 3:15, etc. The like may be said of other predictions; as of the wasting of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which though, in regard of God’s prescience, it was certainly to come to pass, yet they did it most freely, not only following the counsel of their own wills, but also using divination, or chanceable lots, for their direction, Ezekiel 21:21.

Yet he who made the eye seeth all these things, Psalm 94:9.

Divers other reasons and testimonies might be produced to confirm our doctrine of God’s everlasting prescience; which, notwithstanding Episcopius’ blasphemy, that it serves for nought but to cruciate poor mortals, we believe to be a good part of the foundation of all that consolation which God is pleased to afford us in this vale of tears. Amidst all our afflictions and temptations, under whose pressure we should else faint and despair, it is no small comfort to be assured that we do nor can suffer nothing but what his hand and counsel guides unto us, what is open and naked before his eyes, and whose end and issue he knoweth long before; which is a strong motive to patience, a sure anchor of hope, a firm ground of consolation. Now, to present in one view how opposite the opinions of the worshippers of the great goddess contingency are to this sacred truth, take this short antithesis: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18. “God sometimes feareth, and prudently conjectureth, that this or that evil may arise,” Vorsti.
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do,” Hebrews 4:13. “God doth not always foresee the event of what we intendeth,” Corvin. ad Mol.
“He that formed the eye, shall he not see?” Psalm 94:9. “When a man goeth into the wood with his neighbor to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbor, that he die,” Deuteronomy 19:5. “God delivers him into his hand,” Exodus 21:13. “Future contingencies are not determined unto either part,” Armin. That is, God hath not determined, and so, consequently, doth not foreknow, whether they shall come to pass or no.
“Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things,” Mt 6:31,32. “God hopeth and expecteth divers things that shall never come to pass,” Rem.
“Take away God’s prescience and you overthrow his deity,” Jerome. “The doctrine of prescience seems to be invented only to vex and cruciate poor mortal men,” Episcop.


  1. Dio.j d v otelei,eto boulh,, Hom; — “God’s will was done.”
  2. “Quaecunque possunt per creaturam fieri, vel cogitari, vel dici, et etiam quaecunque ipse facere potest, omnia cognoscit Deus, etiamsi neque sunt, neque erunt, neque fuerunt, scientia simplicis intelligentiae.” — Aquin, p. q. 14, a. 9, c. Ex verbis apostoli, Romans 3, “Qui vocat ea quae non sunt tanquam ea quae sunt.” Sic scholastici omnes. Fer. Scholast. Orthod. Speci. cap. in., alii passim. Vid. Hieron. Zanch. de Scientia Dei, lib. diatrib. 3., cap. 2, q. 5.
  3. Vid. Sam. Rhaetorfort. Exercit. de Grat., ex. 1. cap. 4.
  4. “Res ipsae nullo naturae momento possibiles esse dicendae sunt priusquam a Deo in-telliguntur, scientia quae dicitur simplicis intelligentiae, ita etiam scientia quae dicitur visionis, et fertur in res futuras, nullo naturae momento, posterior statuenda videtur, ista futuritione, rerum; cum scientia,” etc. — Dr Twiss. ad Errat. Vind. Grat.
  5. “Scientia visionis dicitur, quia ea quae videntur, apud nos habent esse distinctum extra videntem.” — Aq. p. q. 14, a. 9, c.
  6. “In eo differt praescientia intuitionis, ab ea, quae approbationis est, quod illa praesciat, quod evenire possibile est; hoc vero quod impossibile est non evenire.” — Ferrius. Orthod. Scholast. Spoci. cap. 23. Caeterum posterior ista scientia non proprie dicitur a Ferrio scientia approbationis, illa enim est, qua Deus dicitur nosse quae amat et ap-probat; ab utraque altera distincta. <400723>Matthew 7:23; <451102>Romans 11:2; <550219>2 Timothy 2:19. “Quamvis infinitorum numerorum, nullus sit numerus, non tamen est incomprehensibilis ei, cujus scientiae non est numerus.” — Aug. de Civit. Dei, lib. 12. cap. 18.
  7. “Quibusdam effectibus praeparavit causas necessarias, ut necessario eveniret, quibus-dam vero causas contingentes ut evenirent contingenter, secundum conditionem proximarum causarum.” — Aquin. p. q. 28, a. 4, in Cor. Zanch. de Natur. Dei, lib. v., qu. 4, thes.
  8. “Res et modos rerum” — Aquin.
  9. “Cui praescientiam tollis, aufers divinitatem.” — Hieron. ad Pelag., lib.
  10. “Deus ita omnium salutem ex aequo vult, ut illam ex aequo optet et desideret.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 31. sect. 1.
  11. “Talis gratia omnibus datur quae sufficiat ad fidem generandam.” — Idem, ibid, sect. 15.
  12. “Pertinaci quorundam malitia compulsus.” — Armin., ubi sup.
  13. “Reprobatio populi Judaici fuit actio temporaria et quae bono ipsorum Judaeorum si modo sanabiles adhuc essent, animumque advertere vellent, servire poterat, utque ei fini serviret a Deo facta erat.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 20. p. 221.
  14. “Injustum est apud Deum vel non credentem eligere, vel credentem non eligere.” — Rem. Apol.
  15. “Concedimus in Deo desideria, quae nunquam implentur.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. v. sect. 2.
  16. “Bona quaedam Deus optat et desiderat.” — Rem. Confes., cap. 2. sect. 9.
  17. “Dei spes et expectatio est ab hominibus elusa.” — Rem. Scrip. Syn. in cap. v., <230501>Isaiah 5:1. “In eo vis argumenti est, quod Deus ab Israele obedientiam et sperarit, et expectarit.” — Idem, ibid. “Quod Deus de elusa spe sua conqueratur.” — Idem, ubi supra.
  18. “Deum futura contingentia, decreto suo determinasse ad alterutram partem (intellige quae a libera creaturae voluntate patrantur), falsum, absurdum, et multiplicis blasphemiae praevium abominor et exsecror.” — Armin. Declarat. Senten.
  19. “Disquiri permittimus: — 1. Operosam illam quaestionem, de scientia futurorum contingentium absoluta et conditionata; 2. Etsi non negemus Deo illam scientiam attribui posse; 3. Tamen an necessarium saluti sit ad hoc ut Deus recte colatur examinari permittimus; 4. Tum merito facessere debent a scholis et ecclesiis, intricatae et spinosae istae quaestiones quae de ea agitari solent, — quomodo illa cum libertate arbitrii, cum seriis Dei comminationibus, aliisque actionibus, consistere possit: quae omnia crucem potius miseris mortalibus fixerunt, quam ad religionem cultumque divinum, momenti aliquid inquisitoribus suis attulerunt.” — Episcopius, Disput. 4. sect. 10.; Rem. Apol., pp. 43,44.
  20. Ames. Antisynod, p. 10.
  21. “Deus suo modo aliquando metuit, hoc est, merito suspicatur et prudenter conjicit, hoc vel illud malum oriturum.” — Vorsti. de Deo, p. 451.
  22. “Deus non semper ex praescientia finem intendit.” — Armin., Antip., p. 667; Corv. ad Molin., cap. 5. sect. 5.
  23. “Cum et pater tradiderit filium suum, et ipse Christus corpus suum: et Judas dominum suum: cur in hac traditione Deus est pius, et homo reus, nisi quia in re una quam fecerunt, causa non fuit una propter quam fecerunt.” — Aug., Epist. 48.
  24. “Deus non particulatim, vel singillatim omnia videt, velut alternanter concepta, hinc illuc, inde huc, sed omnia videt simul.” — Aug., lib. 15. de Trinit., cap. 14. “In scientia divina nullus est discursus, sed omnia perfecte intelligit.” — Tho., p. q. 14, a. 7. c.
  25. Tilen. Syntag. de Attrib. Dei, thes. 22; Zanch. de Nat. Dei. Unumquodque quod est, dum est, necesse est, ut sit.




I COME now to treat of that betwixt which and the Pelagian idol there is bellum a;spondon, implacable war and immortal hatred, absolutely destructive to the one side, — to wit, the providence of God. For this, in that notion Christianity hath hitherto embraced it, and that, in such a sense as the Arminians maintain it, can no more consist together than fire and water, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, and he that shall go to conjoin them ploughs with an ox and an ass; they must be tied together with the same ligament “quo ille mortua jungebat corpora vivis,” — wherewith the tyrant tied dead bodies to living men. This strange advancement of the clay against the potter, not by the way of repining, and to say, “Why hast thou made me thus?” but by the way of emulation, “I will not be so, I will advance myself to the sky, to the sides of thy throne,” was heretofore unknown to the more refined Paganism.1 As these of contingency, so they, with a better error, made a goddess of providence, because, as they feigned, she helped Latona to bring forth in the isle of Delos; intimating that Latona, or nature, though big and great with sundry sorts of effects, could yet produce nothing without the interceding help of divine providence: which mythology of theirs seems to contain a sweeter gust of divine truth than any we can expect from their towering fancies2 who are inclinable to believe that God for no other reason is said to sustain all things, but because he doth not destroy them. Now, that their proud, God-opposing errors may the better appear, according to my former method, I will plainly show what the Scripture teacheth us concerning this providence, with what is agreeable to right and Christian reason, not what is dictated by tumultuating affections.

Providence is a word which, in its proper signification, may seem to comprehend all the actions of God that outwardly are of him, that have any respect unto his creatures, all his works that are not ad intra, essentially belonging unto the Deity. Now, because God “worketh all things according to his decree, or the counsel of his will,” Ephesians 1:11, for whatsoever he doth now it pleased him from the beginning, Psalm 115:3; seeing, also, that known unto God are all his works from eternity; therefore, three things concerning his providence are considerable: — 1. His decree or purpose,3 whereby he hath disposed of all things in order, and appointed them for certain ends, which he hath fore-ordained. 2. His prescience, whereby he certainly fore-knoweth all things that shall come to pass. 3. His temporal operation, or working in time, — “My Father worketh hitherto,” John 5:17, — whereby he actually executeth all his good pleasure. The first and second of these have been the subject of the former chapters; the latter only now requireth our consideration.

This, then, we may conceive as an ineffable act or work of Almighty God, whereby he cherisheth, sustaineth, and governeth the world, or all things by him created, moving them, agreeably to those natures which he endowed them withal in the beginning, unto those ends which he hath proposed. To confirm this, I will first prove this position, That the whole world is cared for by God, and by him governed, and therein all men, good or bad, all things in particular, be they never so small and in our eyes inconsiderable. Secondly, show the manner how God worketh all, in all things, and according to the diversity of secondary causes which he hath created; whereof some are necessary, some free, others contingent, which produce their effects nec pa,ntwj, nec evpi. to. polu., sed kata. sumqeqhko,j, merely by accident.

The providence of God in governing the world is plentifully made known unto us, both by his works and by his word. I will give a few instances of either sort: —

1. In general, that the almighty Dhmiourgo,j, and Framer of this whole universe, should propose unto himself no end in the creation of all things, — that he should want either power, goodness, will, or wisdom, to order and dispose the works of his own hands, — is altogether impossible.

2. Take a particular instance in one concerning accident, the knowledge whereof by some means or other, in some degree or other, hath spread itself throughout the world, — and that is that almost universal destruction of all by the flood, whereby the whole world was well-nigh reduced to its primitive confusion. Is there nothing but chance to be seen in this? was there any circumstance about it that did not show a God and his providence? Not to speak of those revelations whereby God foretold that he would bring such a deluge, what chance, what fortune, could collect such a small number of individuals of all sorts, wherein the whole kind might be preserved? What hand guided that poor vessel from the rocks and gave it a resting-place on the mountains? Certainly, the very reading of that story, Genesis 7,8, having for confirmation the catholic tradition of all mankind, were enough to startle the stubborn heart of an atheist.

The word of God doth not less fully relate it than his works do declare it, Psalm 19, “My Father worketh hitherto,” saith our Savior, John 5:17. But did not God end his work on the seventh day, and did he not then “rest from all his work?” Genesis 2:2. True, from his work of creation by his omnipotence; but his work of gubernation by his providence as yet knows no end. Yea, and divers particular things he doth besides the ordinary course, only to make known “that he thus worketh,” John 9:3. As he hath framed all things by his wisdom, so he continueth them by his providence in excellent order, as is at large declared in that golden Psalm 104: and this is not bounded to any particular places or things, but “his eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” Proverbs 15:3; so that “none can hide himself in secret places that he shall not see him,” Jeremiah 23:24; Acts 17:24; Job 5:10,11; Exodus 4:11. And all this he saith that men “may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside him. He is the LORD, and there is none else. He formeth the light, and createth darkness: he maketh peace, and createth evil: he doeth all these things,” Isaiah 45:6,7. In these and innumerable like places doth the Lord declare that there is nothing which he hath made, that with the good hand of his providence he doth not govern and sustain.

Now, this general extent of his common providence to all doth no way hinder but that he may exercise certain special acts thereof towards some in particular, even by how much nearer than other things they approach unto him and are more assimilated unto his goodness. I mean his church here on earth, and those whereof it doth consist; “for what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them?” Deuteronomy 4:7. In the government hereof he most eminently showeth his glory, and exerciseth his power. Join here his works with his word, what he hath done with what he hath promised to do for the conservation of his church and people, and you will find admirable issues of a more special providence. Against this he promiseth “the gates of hell shall not prevail,” Matthew 16:18; — amidst of these he hath promised to remain, Matthew 28:20; supplying them with an addition of all things necessary, Matthew 6:33; desiring that “all their care might be cast upon him, who careth for them,” 1 Peter 5:7; forbidding any to “touch his anointed ones,” Psalm 105:15, and that because they are unto him as “the apple of his eye,” Zechariah 2:8. Now, this special providence hath respect unto a supernatural end, to which that, and that alone, is to be conveyed.

For wicked men, as they are excepted from this special care and government, so they are not exempted from the dominion of his almighty hand. He who hath created them “for the day of evil,” Proverbs 16:4, and provided a “place of their own” for them to go unto, Acts 1:25, doth not in this world suffer them to live without the verge of his all-ruling providence; but by suffering and enduring their iniquities with great patience and “long-suffering,” Romans 9:22, defending them oftentimes from the injuries of one another, Genesis 4:15, by granting unto them many temporal blessings, Matthew 5:45, disposing of all their works to the glory of his great name, Proverbs 21:1,2, he declareth that they also live, and move, and have their being in him, and are under the government of his providence. Nay, there is not the least thing in this world to which his care and knowledge doth not descend. In would it become his wisdom not to sustain, order, and dispose of all things by him created, but leave them to the ruin of uncertain chance. Jerome4 then was injurious to his providence, and cast a blemish on his absolute perfection, whilst he thought to have cleared his majesty from being defiled with the knowledge and care of the smallest reptiles and vermin every moment; and St Austin is express to the contrary:5 “Who,” saith he, “hath disposed the several members of the flea and gnat, that hath given unto them order, life, and motion?” etc., — even most agreeable to holy Scriptures: so Psalm 104:20,21, 145:15; Matthew 6:26,30, “He feedeth the fowls, and clotheth the grass of the field;” Job 39:1,2; Jonah 4:6,7. Sure it is not troublesome to God to take notice of all that he hath created. Did he use that great power in the production of the least of his creatures, so far beyond the united activity of men and angels, for no end at all? Doubtless, even they also must have a well-disposed order, for the manifestation of his glory. “Not a sparrow falleth on the ground without our Father;” even “the hairs of our head are all numbered,” Matthew 10:29,30. “He clotheth the lilies and grass of the field, which is to be cast into the oven,” Luke 12:27,28. Behold his knowledge and care of them! Again, he used frogs and lice for the punishment of the Egyptians, Exodus 8; with a gourd and a worm he exercised his servant Jonah, chapter 4; yea, he calls the locusts his “terrible army;” — and shall not God know and take care of the number of his soldiers, the ordering of his dreadful host?

That God by his providence governeth and disposeth of all things by him created is sufficiently proved; the manner how he worketh all in all, how he ordereth the works of his own hands, in what this governing and disposing of his creatures doth chiefly consist, comes now to be considered. And here four things are principally to be observed: — First, The sustaining, preserving, and upholding of all things by his power; for “he upholdeth all things by the word of his power,” Hebrews 1:3. Secondly, His working together with all things, by an influence of causality into the agents themselves; “for he also hath wrought all our works in us,” Isaiah 26:12. Thirdly, His powerful overruling of all events, both necessary, free, and contingent, and disposing of them to certain ends for the manifestation of his glory. So Joseph tells his brethren,

“As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is at this day, to save much people alive,” Genesis 1:20.

Fourthly, His determining and restraining second causes to such and such effects:

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” Proverbs 21:1.

First, His sustentation or upholding of all things is his powerful continuing of their being, natural strength, and faculties, bestowed on them at their creation: “In him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts 17. So that he doth neither work all himself in them, without any co-operation of theirs, which would not only turn all things into stocks, yea, and take from stocks their own proper nature, but also is contrary to that general blessing he spread over the face of the whole world in the beginning, “Be fruitful, and multiply,” Genesis 1:22; — nor yet leave them to a selfsubsistence, he in the meantime only not destroying them;6 which would make him an idle spectator of most things in the world, not to “work hitherto,” as our Savior speaks, and grant to divers things here below an absolute being, not derivative from him: the first whereof is blasphemous, the latter impossible.

Secondly, For God’s working in and together with all second causes for producing of their effects, what part or portion in the work punctually to assign unto him, what to the power of the inferior causes, seems beyond the reach of mortals; neither is an exact comprehension thereof any way necessary, so that we make every thing beholding to his power for its being, and to his assistance for its operation.

Thirdly, His supreme dominion exerciseth itself in disposing of all things to certain and determinate ends for his own glory, and is chiefly discerned advancing itself over those things which are most contingent, and making them in some sort necessary, inasmuch as they are certainly disposed of to some proposed ends. Between the birth and death of a man, how many things merely contingent do occur! how many chances! how many diseases! in their own nature all evitable, and, in regard of the event, not one of them but to some proves mortal; yet, certain it is that a man’s “days are determined, the number of his months are with the Lord, he hath appointed his bounds that he cannot pass,” Job 14:5. And oftentimes by things purely contingent and accidental he executeth his purposes, — bestoweth rewards, inflicteth punishments, and accomplisheth his judgments; as when he delivereth a man to be slain by the head of an axe, flying from the helve in the hand of a man cutting a tree by the way. But in nothing is this more evident than in the ancient casting of lots, a thing as casual and accidental as can be imagined, huddled in the cap at a venture. Yet God overruleth them to the declaring of his purpose, freeing truth from doubts, and manifestation of his power: Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD;” — as you may see in the examples of Achan, Joshua 7:16-18; Saul, 1 Samuel 10:20,21; Jonathan, 1 Samuel 14:41,42; Jonah, Jonah 1:7; Matthias, Acts 1:26. And yet this overruling act of God’s providence (as no other decree or act of his) doth not rob things contingent of their proper nature; for cannot he who effectually causeth that they shall come to pass, cause also that they shall come to pass contingently?

Fourthly, God’s predetermination of second causes (which I name not last as though it were the last act of God’s providence about his creatures, for indeed it is the first that concerneth their operation) is that effectual working of his, according to his eternal purpose, whereby, though some agents, as the wills of men, are causes most free and indefinite, or unlimited lords of their own actions, in respect of their internal principle of operation (that is, their own nature), [they] are yet all, in respect of his decree, and by his powerful working, determined to this or that effect in particular; not that they are compelled to do this, or hindered from doing that, but are inclined and disposed to do this or that, according to their proper manner of working, that is, most freely: for truly such testimonies are everywhere obvious in Scripture, of the stirring up of men’s wills and minds, of bending and inclining them to divers things, of the governing of the secret thoughts and motions of the heart, as cannot by any means be referred to a naked permission, with a government of external actions, or to a general influence, whereby they should have power to do this or that, or any thing else; wherein, as some suppose, his whole providence consisteth.

Let us now jointly apply these several acts to free agents, working according to choice, or relation, such as are the wills of men, and that will open the way to take a view of Arminian heterodoxies, concerning this article of Christian belief. And here two things must be premised: — First, That they be not deprived of their own radical or original internal liberty; secondly, That they be not exempt from the moving influence and gubernation of God’s providence; — the first whereof would leave no just room for rewards and punishments; the other, as I said before, is injurious to the majesty and power of God. St Augustine7 judged Cicero worthy of special blame, even among the heathens, for so attempting to make men free that he made them sacrilegious, by denying them to be subject to an overruling providence: which gross error was directly maintained by Damascen,8 a learned Christian, teaching, “Things whereof we have any power, not to depend on providence, but on our own free will;” an opinion fitter for a hog of the Epicurus herd than for a scholar in the school of Christ. And yet this proud, prodigious error is now, though in other terms, stiffly maintained: for what do they else who ascribe such an absolute independent liberty to the will of man, that it should have in its own power every circumstance, every condition whatsoever, that belongs to operation, so that all things required on the part of God, or otherwise, to the performance of an action being accomplished, it remaineth solely in the power of a man’s own will whether he will do it or no? which supreme and plainly divine liberty, joined with such an absolute uncontrollable power and dominion over all his actions, would exempt and free the will of man, not only from all fore-determining to the production of such and such effects, but also from any effectual working or influence of the providence of God into the will itself, that should sustain, help, or cooperate with it in doing or willing any thing; and, therefore, the authors of this imaginary liberty have wisely framed an imaginary concurrence of God’s providence, answerable unto it, — namely, a general and indifferent influence, always waiting and expecting the will of man to determine itself to this or that effect, good or bad; God being, as it were, always ready at hand to do that small part which he hath in our actions, whensoever we please to use him, or, if we please to let him alone, he no way moveth us to the performance of any thing. Now, God forbid that we should give our consent to the choice of such a captain, under whose conduct we might go down again unto Paganism, — to the erecting of such an idol into the throne of the Almighty. No, doubtless, let us be most indulgent to our wills, and assign them all the liberty that is competent unto a created nature, to do all things freely according to election and foregoing counsel, being free from all natural necessity and outward compulsion; but for all this, let us not presume to deny God’s effectual assistance, his particular powerful influence into the wills and actions of his creatures, directing of them to a voluntary performance of what he hath determined: which the Arminians opposing in the behalf of their darling free-will, do work in the hearts of men an overweening of their own power, and an absolute independence of the providence of God; for, —

First, they deny that God (in whom we live, and move, and have our being) doth any thing by his providence,9 “whereby the creature should be stirred up, or helped in any of his actions.” That is, God wholly leaves a man in the hand of his own counsel, to the disposal of his own absolute independent power, without any respect to his providence at all; whence, as they do, they may well conclude,10 “that those things which God would have to be done of us freely” (such as are all human actions), “he cannot himself will or work more powerfully and effectually than by the way of wishing or desiring,” as Vorstius speaks; which is no more than one man can do concerning another, perhaps far less than an angel. I can wish or desire that another man would do what I have a mind he should; but, truly, to describe the providence of God by such expressions seems to me intolerable blasphemy. But thus it must be; without such helps as these, Dagon cannot keep on his head, nor the idol of uncontrollable freewill enjoy his dominion.

Hence Corvinus will grant11 that the killing of a man by the slipping of an axe’s head from the helve, although contingent, may be said to happen according to God’s counsel and determinate will; but on no terms will he yield that this may be applied to actions wherein the counsel and freedom of man’s will do take place, as though that they also should have dependence on any such overruling power; — whereby he absolutely excludeth the providence of God from having any sovereignty within the territory of human actions, which is plainly to shake off the yoke of his dominion, and to make men lords paramount within themselves: so that they may well ascribe unto God (as they do12) only a deceivable expectation of those contingent things that are yet for to come, there being no act of his own in the producing of such effects on which he can ground any certainty; only, he may take a conjecture, according to his guess at men’s inclinations. And, indeed, this is the Helen for whose enjoyment, these thrice ten years, they have maintained warfare with the hosts of the living God; their whole endeavor being to prove, that, notwithstanding the performance of all things, on the part of God, required for the production of any action,13 yet the will of man remains absolutely free, yea, in respect of the event, as well as its manner of operation, to do it or not to do it. That is, notwithstanding God’s decree that such an action shall be performed, and his foreknowledge that it will so come to pass; notwithstanding his cooperating with the will of man (as far as they will allow him) for the doing of it, and though he hath determined by that act of man to execute some of his own judgments;14 yet there is no kind of necessity but that he may as well omit as do it: which is all one as if they should say, “Our tongues are our own; we ought to speak: who is lord over us? We will vindicate ourselves into a liberty of doing what and how we will, though for it we cast God out of his throne.” And, indeed, if we mark it, we shall find them undermining and pulling down the actual providence of God, at the root and several branches thereof; for, —

First, For his conservation or sustaining of all things, they affirm15 it to be very likely that this is nothing but a negative act of his will, whereby he willeth or determineth not to destroy the things by him created; and when we produce places of Scripture which affirm that it is an act of his power, they say they are foolishly cited. So that, truly, let the Scripture say what it will, (in their conceit,) God doth no more sustain and uphold all his creatures than I do a house when I do not set it on fire, or a worm when I do not tread upon it.

Secondly, For God’s concurring with inferior causes in all their acts and working, they affirm it to be only16 a general influence, alike upon all and every one, which they may use or not use at their pleasure, and in the use determine it to this or that effect, be it good or bad (so Corvinus), as it seems best unto them. In a word, to the will of man17 it is nothing but what suffers it to play its own part freely, according to its inclination; as they jointly speak in their Confession. Observe, also, that they account this influence of his providence not to be into the agent, the will of man, whereby that should be helped or enabled to do any thing (no, that would seem to grant a self-sufficiency),18 but only into the act itself for its production: as if I should help a man to lift a log, it becomes perhaps unto him so much the lighter, but he is not made one jot the stronger; which takes off the proper work of providence, consisting in an internal assistance.

Thirdly, For God’s determining or circumscribing the will of man to do this or that in particular, they absolutely explode it, as a thing destructive to their adored liberty.19 “It is no way consistent with it,” say they, in their Apology. So also Arminius:20 “The providence of God doth not determine the will of man to one part of the contradiction.” That is, “God hath not determined that you shall, nor doth by any means overrule your wills, to do this thing rather than that, to do this or to omit that.” So that the sum of their endeavor is, to prove that the will of man is so absolutely free, independent, and uncontrollable, that God doth not, nay, with all his power cannot, determine it certainly and infallibly to the performance of this or that particular action, thereby to accomplish his own purposes, to attain his own ends. Truly, it seems to me the most unfortunate attempt that ever Christians lighted on; which, if it should get success answerable to the greatness of the undertaking, the providence of God, in men’s esteem, would be almost thrust quite out of the world. “Tantae molis erat.” The new goddess contingency could not be erected until the God of heaven was utterly despoiled of his dominion over the sons of men, and in the room thereof a home-bred idol of self-sufficiency set up, and the world persuaded to worship it. But that the building climb no higher, let all men observe how the word of God overthrows this Babylonian tower.

First, then, In innumerable places it is punctual that his providence doth not only bear rule in the counsels of men and their most secret resolutions, (whence the prophet declareth that he knoweth that “the way of man is not in himself,” — that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps,” Jeremiah 10:23; and Solomon, that “a man’s heart, deviseth his way, but the LORD directeth his steps,” Proverbs 16:9; David, also, having laid this ground, that “the Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to naught,” and “maketh the devices of the people of none effect,” but “his own counsel standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations,” Psalm 33:10,11, proceedeth accordingly, in his own distress, to pray that the Lord would infatuate and make21 “foolish the counsel of Ahithophel,” 2 Samuel 15:31, — which also the Lord did, by working in the heart of Absalom to hearken to the cross counsel of Hushai); but also, secondly, That the working of his providence is effectual even in the hearts and wills of men to turn them which way he will, and to determine them to this or that in particular, according as he pleaseth: “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD,” saith Solomon, Proverbs 16:1; — which Jacob trusted and relied on when he prayed that the Lord would grant his sons to find favor and mercy before that man whom then he supposed to be some atheistical Egyptian, Genesis 43:14; whence we must grant, either that the good old man believed that it was in the hand of God to incline and unalterably turn and settle the heart of Joseph to favor his brethren, or else his prayer must have had such a senseless sense as this: “Grant, O Lord, such a general influence of thy providence, that the heart of that man may be turned to good towards my sons, or else that it may not, being left to its own freedom.” A strange request! yet how it may be bettered by one believing the Arminian doctrine I cannot conceive. Thus Solomon affirmeth that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” Proverbs 21:1. If the heart of a king, who hath an inward natural liberty equal with others, and an outward liberty belonging to his state and condition above them, be yet so in the hand of the Lord as that he always turneth it to what he pleaseth in particular, then certainly other men are not excepted from the rule of the same providence; which is the plain sense of these words, and the direct thesis which we maintain in opposition to the Arminian idol of absolute independent free-will. So Daniel, also, reproving the Babylonian tyrant, affirmeth that he “glorified not the God in whose hand was his breath, and whose were all his ways,” Daniel 5:23. Not only his breath and life, but also all his ways, his actions, thoughts, and words, were in the hand of God.

Yea, thirdly, sometimes the saints of God, as I touched before, do pray that God would be pleased thus to determine their hearts, and bend their wills, and wholly incline them to some one certain thing, and that without any prejudice to their true and proper liberty: so David, Psalm 119:36, “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” This prayer being his may also be ours, and we may ask it in faith, relying on the power and promise of God in Christ that he will perform our petitions, John 14:14. Now, I desire any Christian to resolve, whether, by these and the like requests, he intendeth to desire at the hand of God nothing but such an indifferent motion to any good as may leave him to his own choice whether he will do it or no, which is all the Arminians will grant him; or rather, that he would powerfully bend his heart and soul unto his testimonies, and work in him an actual embracing of all the ways of God, not desiring more liberty, but only enough to do it willingly. Nay, surely the prayers of God’s servants, requesting, with Solomon, that the Lord would be with them, and “incline their heart unto him, to keep his statutes and walk in his commandments,” 1 Kings 8:57,58; and with David, to “create in them a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within them,” Psalm 51:10; when, according to God’s promises, they entreat him “to put his fear into their hearts,” Jeremiah 32:40, “to unite their hearts to fear his name,” Psalm 86:11, to work in them both the will and the deed, an actual obedience unto his law; — cannot possibly aim at nothing but a general influence, enabling them alike either to do or not to do what they so earnestly long after.

Fourthly, The certainty of divers promises and threatenings of Almighty God dependeth upon his powerful determining and turning the wills and hearts of men which way he pleaseth; thus, to them that fear him he promiseth that they shall find favor in the sight of men, Proverbs 3:4. Now, if, notwithstanding all God’s powerful operation in their hearts, it remaineth absolutely in the hands of men whether they will favor them that fear him or no, it is wholly in their power whether God shall be true in his promises or no. Surely when Jacob wrestled with God on the strength of such promise, Genesis 32:12, he little thought of any question whether it were in the power of God to perform it. Yea, and the event showed that there ought to be no such question, chapter 33; for the Lord turned the heart of his brother Esau, as he doth of others when he makes them pity his servants when at any time they have carried them away captives, Psalm 106:46. See, also, the same powerful operation required to the execution of his judgments, Job 12:17, 20:21, etc. In brief, there is no prophecy nor prediction in the whole Scripture, no promise to the church or faithful, to whose accomplishment the free actions and concurrence of men are required, but evidently declareth that God disposeth of the hearts of men, ruleth their wills, inclineth their affections, and determines them freely to choose and do what he in his good pleasure hath decreed shall be performed; — such as were the prophecies of deliverance from the Babylonish captivity by Cyrus, Isaiah 45; of the conversion of the Gentiles; of the stability of the church, Matthew 16; of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, chapter 24; with innumerable others. I will add only some few reasons for the close of this long discourse.

This opinion, that God hath nothing but a general influence into the actions of men, not effectually moving their wills to this or that in particular, —

First, Granteth a goodness of entity, or being, unto divers things, whereof God is not the author, as those special actions which men perform without his special concurrence; which is blasphemous. The apostle affirms that “of him are all things.”

Secondly, It denieth God to be the author of all moral goodness, for an action is good inasmuch as it is such an action in particular;22 which that any is so, according to this opinion, is to be attributed merely to the will of man. The general influence of God moveth him no more to prayer than to evil communications tending to the corruption of good manners.

Thirdly, It maketh all the decrees of God, whose execution dependeth on human actions, to be altogether uncertain, and his foreknowledge of such things to be fallible and easily to be deceived; so that there is no reconciliation possible to be hoped for betwixt these following and the like assertions: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“In him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts 17:28. “God’s sustaining of all things is not an affirmative act of his power, but a negative act of his will.”
“He upholdeth all things by “Whereby he will not destroy them, “Rem. Apol.
the word of his power,” Hebrews 1:3. “Thou hast wrought all our works in us,” Isaiah 26:12. “My Father worketh hitherto,” John 5:17. “God by his influence bestoweth nothing on the creature whereby it may be incited or helped in its actions,” Corvinus
“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD,” Proverbs 16:1. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” Proverbs 21:1 “Those things God would have us freely do ourselves; he can no more effectually work or will than by the way of wishing,” Vorstius
“Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness,” Psalm 119:36. “Unite my heart to fear thy name,” Psalm 86:11. “The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, thou hast not glorified,” Daniel 5:23. “The providence of God doth not determine the free-will of man to this or that particular, or to one part of the contradiction,” Arminius.
See Matthew 27:1, compared with Acts 2:23, and 4:27, 28; Luke 24:27; John 19:31-36. For the necesity of other events, see Exodus 21:17; Job 14:5; Matthew 19:7, etc. “The will of man ought to be free from all kind of internal and external necessity in its actions,” Rem. That is, God cannot lay such necessity upon any thing as that it shall infallibly come to pass as he intendeth. See the contrary in the places cited.



  1. Qei,a pa,ntwn avrch. di, h-j a[panta kai. e;sti kai. diame,nei.” — Theophrastus, apud Picum. Vid. Senecam de Provid. et Plotinum.
  2. “An actus divinae providentiae omnium rerum conservatrix, sit affirmativus potentiae, an tantum negativus voluntatis, quo nolit res ereatas perdere.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 6.
  3. “Providentia seu ratio ordinis ad finem duo praecipue continet: principium decernens seu ipsam rationem ordinis in mente divina, ipsi Deo coaeternum, et principium exequens, quo suo modo, per debita media, ipsa in ordine et numero disponit.” — Thom.
  4. “Majestatem Dei dedecet scire per momenta singula, quot nascantur culices, quae pulicum et muscarum in terra multitudo.” — Hieron, in cap. 1, Hab.
  5. “Quis disposuit membra pulicis ac culicis, ut habeant ordinem suum, habeant vitam suam, habeant motum suum,” etc. “Qui fecit in coelo angelum, ipse fecit in terra vermi culum, sed angelum in coelo pro habitatione coelesti, vermiculum in terra pro habitatione terrestri, nunquid angelum fecit repere in coeno, aut vermiculum in coelo,” etc. — Aug., tom. 8, in Psalm 148.
  6. Rem. Apol., cap. 6.
  7. “Qui sic homines voluit esse liberos ut fecit sacrilegos.” — Aug.
  8. Ta. evf v u`mi/n ouv th/j pronoi,aj avlla. tou/ h`mete,rou auvtezousi,ou. — Damascen.
  9. “Deus influxu suo nihil confert creaturae, quo ad agendum incitetur ac adjuvetur.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 3. sect. 15, p. 35.
  10. “Quae Deus libere prorsus et contingenter a nobis fieri vult, ea potentius aut efficacius quam per modum voti aut desiderii, velle non potest. — Vorst. Parasc., p. 4.
  11. “Deinde etsi in isto casu destinatum aliquod consilium ac voluntas Dei determinata consideranda esset, tamen in omnibus actionibus et in its quidem quae ex deliberato hominum consilio et libera voluntate et male quidem fiunt, ita se rem habere inde concludi non possit, puta, quia hic nullum consilium et arbitrii libertas locum habent.” — Corv. ad. Molin., cap. 3. sect. 14, p. 33.
  12. “Respectu contingentiae quam res habent in se, tum in divina scientia Deo expectatio tribuitur.” — Rem. Defen. Sent. in Act. Syn., p. 107.
  13. “Potentia voluntatis, ab omni interna et externa necessitate immunis debet mahere.” — Rem. Confes., cap. 6. sect. 3. Vid. plura. Rem. Apol., cap. 6. p. 69, a.
  14. “In arbitrio creaturae semper est vel influere in actum vel influxum suum suspendere, et vel sic, vel aliter influere.” — Corv, ad. Molin., cap. 3. sect. 15.
  15. “An conservatio ista sit vis sive actus petentiae an actus merus voluntatis negativus, quo vult res creatas non destruere aut annihilare, — pesterius non sine magna veri specie affirmatur: locus ad Hebrews 1:3 inepte adducitur.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 6. sect. 1, p. 68, a.
  16. “Curandum diligenter, ut Deo quidem universalis, homini vero particularis influxus in actus tribuatur, quo universalem Dei influxum, ad particularem actum determinet.” — Corv, ad Molin., cap. 3. sect. 5.
  17. “Ita concurrit Deus in agendo, cum hominis voluntate, ut istam pro genio suo agere et libere suas partes obire sinat.” — Rem. Confes., cap. 6. sect. 3.
  18. “Influxus divinus est in ipsum actum non in voluntatem.” — Armin. Antip., alii passim.
  19. “Determinatio cum libertate vera nullo modo consistere potest.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 7. fol. 82.
  20. “Providentia divina non determinat voluntatem liberam ad unam contradictionis vel contrarietatis partem.” — Armin. Artic. Perpen.
  21. “Dominus dissipavit consilium quod dederat Achitophel agendo in corde Absolon, nt tale consilium repudiaret, et aliud quod ei non expediebat eligeret.” — Aug, do Grat., et Lib. Arbit., cap. 20.
  22. “Qui aliquid boni a Deo non effici affirmat, ille Deum esse negat: si namque vel tantillum boni a Deo non est: jam non omnis boni effector est eoque nec Deus.” — Bucer. 3 cap. 9. ad Rom.




BY the former steps is the altar of Ahaz set on the right hand of the altar of God, — the Arminian idol, in a direct opposition, exalted to an equal pitch with the power and will of the Most High. I shall now present unto you the Spirit of God once more contending with the towering imaginations of poor mortals, about a transcendent privilege of greatness, glory, and power: for having made his decrees mutable, his prescience fallible, and almost quite divested him of his providence, as the sum and issue of all their endeavors, they affirm that his will may be resisted, he may fail of his intentions, be frustrate of his ends, — he may and doth propose such things as he neither doth nor can at any time accomplish, and that because the execution of such acts of his will might haply clash against the freedom of the will of men; which, if it be not an expression of spiritual pride above all that ever the devil attempted in heaven, divines do not well explicate that sin of his. Now, because there may seem some difficulty in this matter, by reason of the several acceptations of the will of God, especially in regard of that whereby it is affirmed that his law and precepts are his will, which, alas! we all of us too often resist or transgress, I will unfold one distinction of the will of God, which will leave it clear what it is that the Arminians oppose, for which we count them worthy of so heavy a charge.

“Divinum velle est ejus esse,” say the schoolmen,1 “The will of God is nothing but God willing;” not differing from his essence “secundem rem,” in the thing itself, but only “secundem rationem,” in that it importeth a relation to the thing willed. The essence of God, then, being a most absolute, pure, simple act or substance, his will consequently can be but simply one; whereof we ought to make neither division nor distinction. If that whereby it is signified were taken always properly and strictly for the eternal will of God, the differences hereof that are usually given are rather distinctions of the signification of the word than of the thing. In which regard they are not only tolerable, but simply necessary, because without them it is utterly impossible to reconcile some places of Scripture seemingly repugnant. In the 22d chapter of Genesis, verse 2, God commandeth Abraham to take his only son Isaac, and offer him for a burnt-offering in the land of Moriah. Here the words of God are declarative of some will of God unto Abraham, who knew it ought to be, and little thought but that it should be, performed; but yet, when he actually addressed himself to his duty, in obedience to the will of God, he receiveth a countermand, verse 12, that he should not lay his hand upon the child to sacrifice him. The event plainly manifesteth that it was the will of God that Isaac should not be sacrificed; and yet notwithstanding, by reason of his command, Abraham seems before bound to believe that it was well-pleasing unto God that he should accomplish what he was enjoined. If the will of God in the Scripture be used but in one acceptation, here is a plain contradiction. Thus God commands Pharaoh to let his people go. Could Pharaoh think otherwise, nay, was he not bound to believe that it was the will of God that he should dismiss the Israelites at the first hearing of the message? Yet God affirms that he would harden his heart, that he should not suffer them to depart until he had showed his signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. To reconcile these and the like places of Scripture, both the ancient fathers and schoolmen, with modern divines, do affirm that the one will of God may be said to be divers or manifold, in regard of the sundry manners whereby he willeth those things to be done which he willeth, as also in other respects, and yet, taken in its proper signification, is simply one and the same. The vulgar distinction of God’s secret and revealed will is such as to which all the others may be reduced; and therefore I have chosen it to insist upon.

The secret will of God is his eternal, unchangeable purpose concerning all things which he hath made, to be brought by certain means to their appointed ends: of this himself affirmeth, that “his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10. This some call the absolute, efficacious will of God, the will of his good pleasure, always fulfilled; and indeed this is the only proper, eternal, constant, immutable will of God, whose order can neither be broken nor its law transgressed, so long as with him there is neither change nor shadow of turning.

The revealed will of God containeth not his purpose and decree, but our duty, — not what he will do according to his good pleasure, but what we should do if we will please him; and this, consisting in his word, his precepts and promises, belongeth to us and our children, that we may do the will of God. Now this, indeed, is rather to. qelhto,n than to. qe,lhma, that which God willeth, rather than his will, but termed so as we call that the will of a man which he hath determined shall be done: “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life,” saith our Savior, John 6:40; that is, this is that which his will hath appointed. Hence it is called “voluntas signi,” or the sign of his will, metaphorically only called his will, saith Aquinas;2 for inasmuch as our commands are the signs of our wills, the same is said of the precepts of God. This is the rule of our obedience, and whose transgression makes an action sinful; for h` a`marti,a evsti.n h` avnomi,a, “sin is the transgression of a law,” and that such a law as is given to the transgressor to be observed. Now, God hath not imposed on us the observation of his eternal decree and intention; which, as it is utterly impossible for us to transgress or frustrate, so were we unblamable if we should. A master requires of his servant to do what he commands, not to accomplish what he intends, which perhaps he never discovered unto him; nay, the commands of superiors are not always signs that the commander will have the things commanded actually performed (as in all precepts for trial), but only that they who are subjects to this command shall be obliged to obedience, as far as the sense of it doth extend. “Et hoc clarum est in praeceptis divinis,” saith Durand,3 etc., — “And this is clear in the commands of God,” by which we are obliged to do what he commandeth; and yet it is not always his pleasure that the thing itself, in regard of the event, shall be accomplished, as we saw before in the examples of Pharaoh and Abraham.

Now, the will of God in the first acceptation is said to be hid or secret, not because it is so always, for it is in some particulars revealed and made known unto us two ways: —

First, By his word; as where God affirmeth that the dead shall rise. We doubt not but that they shall rise, and that it is the absolute will of God that they shall do so. Secondly, By the effects; for when any thing cometh to pass, we may cast the event on the will of God as its cause, and look upon it as a revelation of his purpose. Jacob’s sons little imagined that it was the will of God by them to send their brother into Egypt; yet afterward Joseph tells them plainly it was not they, but God that sent him thither, Genesis 45:5. But it is said to be secret for two causes: — First, Because for the most part it is so. There is nothing in divers issues declarative of God’s determination but only the event, which, while it is future, is hidden to them who have faculties to judge of things past and present, but not to discern things for to come. Hence St James bids us not be too peremptory in our determinations that we will do this or that, not knowing how God will close with us for its performance. Secondly, It is said to be secret in reference to its cause, which for the most part is past our finding out: “His path is in the great waters, and his footsteps are not known.”

It appeareth, then, that the secret and revealed will of God are diverse in sundry respects, but chiefly in regard of their acts and their objects. First, In regard of their acts, the secret will of God is his eternal decree and determination concerning any thing to be done in its appointed time; his revealed will is an act whereby he declareth himself to love or approve any thing, whether ever it be done or no. Secondly, They are diverse in regard of their objects. The object of God’s purpose and decree is that which is good in any kind, with reference to its actual existence, for it must infallibly be performed; but the object of his revealed will is that only which is morally good (I speak of it inasmuch as it approveth or commandeth), agreeing to the law and the gospel, and that considered only inasmuch as it is good; for whether it be ever actually performed or no is accidental to the object of God’s revealed will.

Now, of these two differences the first is perpetual, in regard of their several acts; but not so the latter. They are sometimes coincident in regard of their objects. For instance, God commandeth us to believe; here his revealed will is that we should so do: withal, he intendeth we shall do so; and therefore ingenerateth faith in our hearts that we may believe. Here his secret and revealed will are coincident; the former4 being his precept that we should believe, the latter his purpose that we shall believe. In this case, I say, the object of the one and the other is the same, — even what we ought to do, and what he will do. And this inasmuch as he hath “wrought all our works in us,” Isaiah 26:12. They are our own works which he works in us; his act in us and by us is ofttimes our duty towards him. He commands us by his revealed will to walk in his statutes, and keep his laws; upon this he also promiseth that he will so effect all things, that of some this shall be performed: Ezekiel 36:26,27,

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.”

So that the self-same obedience of the people of God is here the object of his will, taken in either acceptation. And yet the precept of God is not here, as some learned men suppose, declarative of God’s intention, for then it must be so to all to whom it is given; which evidently it is not, for many are commanded to believe on whom God never bestoweth faith. It is still to be looked upon as a mere declaration of our duty, its closing with God’s intention being accidental unto it. There is a wide difference betwixt “Do such a thing,” and, “You shall do it.” If God’s command to Judas to believe imported as much as, “It is my purpose and intention that Judas shall believe,” it must needs contradict that will of God whereby he determined that Judas, for his infidelity, should go to his “own place.” His precepts are in all obedience of us to be performed, but do not signify his will that we shall actually fulfill his commands. Abraham was not bound to believe that it was God’s intention that Isaac should be sacrificed, but that it was his duty. There was no obligation on Pharaoh to think it was God’s purpose the people should depart at the first summons; he had nothing to do with that: but there was one to believe that if he would please God, he must let them go. Hence divers things of good use in these controversies may be collected: —

First, That God may command many things by his word which he never decreed that they should actually be performed; because, in such things, his words are not a revelation of his eternal decree and purpose, but only a declaration of some thing wherewith he is well-pleased, be it by us performed or no. In the fore-cited case he commanded Pharaoh to let his people go, and plagued him for refusing to obey his command. Hence we may not collect that God intended the obedience and conversion of Pharaoh by this his precept, but was frustrated of his intention, — for the Scripture is evident and clear that God purposed by his disobedience to accomplish an end far different, even a manifestation of his glory by his punishment, — but only that obedience unto his commands is pleasing unto him; as 1 Samuel 15:22.

Secondly, That the will of God to which our obedience is required is the revealed will of God contained in his word; whose compliance with his decree is such, that hence we learn three things tending to the execution of it: — First, That it is the condition of the word of God, and the dispensation thereof, instantly to persuade to faith and obedience. Secondly, That it is our duty by all means to aspire to the performance of all things by it enjoined, and our fault if we do not. Thirdly, That God by these means will accomplish his eternal decree of saving his elect; and that he willeth the salvation of others, inasmuch as he calleth them unto the performance of the condition thereof. Now, our obedience is so to be regulated by this revealed will of God, that we may sin either by omission against its precepts or commission against its prohibitions; although by our so omitting or committing of any thing the secret will or purpose of God be fulfilled. Had Abraham disobeyed God’s precept, when he was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac, though God’s will had been accomplished thereby, who never intended it, yet Abraham had grievously sinned against the revealed will of God, the rule of his duty. The holiness of our actions consisteth in a conformity unto his precepts, and not unto his purposes. On this ground Gregory affirmeth,5 “That many fulfill the will of God” (that is, his intentions) “when they think to change it” (by transgressing his precepts); “and by resisting imprudently, obey God’s purpose.” And to show how merely we in our actions are tied to this rule of our duty, St Austin6 shows how a man may do good in a thing cross to God’s secret will, and evil in that which complieth with it, which he illustrates by the example of a sick parent having two children, the one wicked, who desires his father’s death, the other godly, and he prays for his life. But the will of God is he shall die, agreeably to the desire of the wicked child; and yet it is the other who hath performed his duty, and done what is pleasing unto God.

Thirdly, To return from this not unnecessary digression, that which we have now in agitation is the secret will of God, which we have before unfolded; and this it is that we charge the Arminians for affirming that it may be resisted, — that is, that God may fail in his purposes, come short of what he earnestly intendeth, or be frustrated of his aim and end: as if, [when] he should determinately resolve the faith and salvation of any man, it is in the power of that man to make void his determination, and not believe, and not be saved. Now, it is only in cases of this nature, wherein our own free wills have an interest, that they thus limit and circumscribe the power of the Most High. In other things they grant his omnipotence to be of no less extent than others do; but in this case they are peremptory and resolute, without any coloring or tergiversation: for whereas there is a question proposed by the apostle, Romans 9:19, “Who hath resisted his will?” which that none hath or can he grants in the following verses, Corvinus affirms,7 “It is only an objection of the Jews, rejected by the apostle;” — which is much like an answer young scholars usually give to some difficult place in Aristotle, when they cannot think of a better, “Loquitur ex aliorum sententia;” for there is no sign of any such rejection of it by the apostle in the whole following discourse; yea, and it is not the Jews that St Paul disputeth withal here, but weaker brethren concerning the Jews, which is manifest from the first verse of the next chapter, where he distinguisheth between “brethren” to whom and “Israel” of whom he spake. Secondly, He speaks of the Jews in the whole treatise in the third person, but of the disputer in the second. Thirdly, It is taken for a confessed principle between St Paul and the disputer, as he calls him, that the Jews were rejected, which surely themselves would not readily acknowledge. So that Corvinus rejects, as an objection of the Jews, a granted principle of St Paul and the other Christians of his time. With the like confidence the same author affirmeth,8 “That they nothing doubt but that many things are not done which God would have to be done.” Vorstius goes farther, teaching9 “that not only many things are [not] done which he would have done, but also that many things are done which he would not have done.” He means not our transgressing of his law, but God’s failing in his purpose, as Corvinus clears it, acknowledging that the execution of God’s will is suspended or hindered by man; to whom Episcopius subscribes.10 As, for example, God purposeth and intendeth the conversion of a sinner, — suppose it were Mary Magdalene; — can this intention of his be crossed and his will resisted? “Yea,” say the Arminians, “for God converts sinners by his grace.” “But we can resist God when he would convert us by his grace,”11 say six of them jointly in their meeting at the Hague. “But some one may here object,” say they, “that thus God faileth of his intention, doth not attain the end at which he aims. We answer, This we grant.” Or be it the salvation of men, they say,12 “they are certain that God intendeth that for many which never obtain it;” that end he cannot compass.

And here, methinks, they place God in a most unhappy condition, by affirming that they are often damned whom he would have to be saved, though he desires their salvation with a most vehement desire and natural affection,13 — such, I think, as crows have to the good of their young ones: for that there are in him such desires as are never fulfilled,14 because not regulated by wisdom and justice, they plainly affirm; for although by his infinite power, perhaps, he might accomplish them, yet it would not become him so to do.

Now, let any good-natured man, who hath been a little troubled for poor Jupiter in Homer, mourning for the death of his son Sarpedon, which he could not prevent, or hath been grieved for the sorrow of a distressed father, not able to remove the wickedness and inevitable ruin of an only son, drop one tear for the restrained condition of the God of heaven, who, when he would have all and every man in the world to come to heaven, to escape the torments of hell, and that with a serious purpose and intention that it shall be so, a vehement affection and fervent natural desire that it should be so, yet, being not in himself alone able to save one, must be forced to lose his desire, lay down his affection, change his purpose, and see the greatest part of them to perish everlastingly,15 yea, notwithstanding that he had provided a sufficient means for them all to escape, with a purpose and intention that they should so do.

In brief, their whole doctrine on this point is laid down by Corvinus, chapter 3, against Moulin, and the third section; where, first, he alloweth of the distinction of the will of God into that whereby he will have us do something, and that whereby he will do any thing himself. The first is nothing but his law and precepts; which we with him affirm may be said to be resisted, inasmuch as it is transgressed. The latter, he saith, if it respect any act of man’s, may be considered as preceding that act, or following it; if preceding it, then it may be resisted, if man will not cooperate. Now, this is the will of God, whereby himself intendeth to do any thing; the sum of which distinction is this, “The will of God concerning the future being of any thing may be considered as it goeth before the actual existence of the thing itself, and in this regard it may be hindered or resisted; but as it is considered to follow any act of man, it is always fulfilled:” by which latter member, striving to mollify the harshness of the former, he runs himself into inexplicable nonsense, affirming that that act of the will of God whereby he intendeth men shall do any thing cannot be hindered after they have done it, — that is, God hath irresistibly purposed they shall do it, provided they do it! In his following discourse, also, he plainly grants that there is no act of God’s will about the salvation of men that may not be made void and of none effect, but only that general decree whereby he hath established an inseparable connection between faith and salvation, or whereby he hath appointed faith in Christ to be the means of attaining blessedness, which is only an immanent act of God’s will, producing no outward effect; so that every act thereof that hath an external issue by human co-operation is frustrable and may fall to the ground: which in what direct opposition it stands to the word of God, let these following instances declare: —

First, “Our God is in the heavens,” saith the psalmist: “he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased,” Psalm 115:3. Not only part, but all, whatsoever he pleased should come to pass, by any means. “He ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will,” Daniel 4:17. The transposition of kingdoms is not without the mixture of divers free and voluntary actions of men, and yet in that great work God doth all that he pleaseth. Yea, before him “all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” verse 35. “My counsel,” saith he, “shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10; “I have purposed, I will also do it,” verse 11. Nay, so certain is he of accomplishing all his purposes, that he confirms it with an oath:

“The LORD of hosts hath sworn, Surely as I have thought, so it shall come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,” Isaiah 14:24.

And indeed it were a very strange thing, that God should intend what he foreseeth will never come to pass. But I confess this argument will not be pressing against the Arminians, who question that prescience; but yet, would they also would observe from the Scripture, that the failing of wicked men’s counsels and intentions is a thing that God is said to “deride in heaven,” as Psalm 2:4. He threatens them with it. “Take counsel together,” saith he, “and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand,” Isaiah 8:10. See also chapter 29:7,8. And shall they be enabled to recriminate, and cast the like aspersion on the God of heaven? No, surely. Saith St Austin,16 “Let us take heed we be not compelled to believe that Almighty God would have any thing done which doth not come to pass.” To which truth, also, that the schoolmen have universally consented is showed by Alvarez, Disput. 32, pro. 3. And these few instances will manifest the Arminian opposition to the word of God in this particular: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased,” Psalm 115:3. “We nothing doubt but many things which God willeth, or that it pleaseth him to have done, do yet never come to pass,” Corvinus. “We grant that some of God’s desires are never fulfilled,” Idem.
“I will do all my pleasure.” Isaiah 46:10. “None can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Daniel 4:35. “It is in the power of man to hinder the execution of God’s will,” Idem.
“I have purposed, I will also do it,” Isaiah 46:11. “It is ridiculous to imagine that God doth not seriously will any thing but what taketh effect,” Episcopius.
“As I have purposed, so shall it stand,” Isaiah 14:24. “It may be objected that God faileth of his end: this we readily grant,” Rem. Synod.


  1. Aquin., p. q. 19, ar. ad. 1.
  2. Aquin., q. g. 19, a. 11, c.
  3. Durand, Dist. c. 48, q. 3.
  4. The words “former” and “latter” evidently refer to the previous sentence, — “former” corresponding with the revealed will, “latter” with the secret will of God. The order is reversed in the first clause of this sentence, and hence the author’s meaning might be mistaken.
  5. “Multi voluntatem Del faciunt, cum illam nituntur vitare, et resistendo impruden-ter obsequuntur divino consilio.” — Greg. Moral., lib. 6. cap. 11.
  6. Aug. Enchirid. ad Lauren., cap. 101.
  7. “Ea sententia non continet apostoli verba, sed Judseorum objectionem ab apostolo rejectam.” — Corv, ad Molin., cap. 3. per. 19.
  8. “Multa non fieri quae Deus fieri vult, vel non dubitamus.” — Ibid, cap. 5:p. 5.
  9. “Multa fiunt quae Deus fieri non vult: nec semper fiunt quae ipse fiere vult.” — Vorst. de Deo, p. 64.
  10. “Ab homine esse agnoscimus, quod voluntatis (divinae) executio saepe suspendatur.” — Corv., ubi sup. parag. 12; Episcop. Disput. Pri. de Volun. Dei, corol. 5.
  11. “Possumus Deo resistere, cum nos vult per gratiam suam convertere.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 193. “Objiciet quis, ergo illum suum finem Deus non est assecutus, respon-demus, nos hoc concedere.” — Rem. Defens. Sent. in Synod., p. 256.
  12. “Nobis certum est, Deum multorum salutem intendere, in quibus eam non assequitur.” — Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 271.
  13. “Vehemens est in Deo affectus ad homini benefaciendum.” — Corv, ad Molin., cap. 5. sect. 8.
  14. “Esse in Deo desideria quae non implentur concedimus.” — Idem, sect. 9. “Non decet ut Deus infinita sua potentia utatur ad id efficiendum, quo desiderio suo naturali fertur.” — Armim Antip., p. 584.
  15. “Deus eo fine et intentione remedium praeparavit, ut omnes ejus actu fierent participes, quamvis id non actu evenit.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 7. fol. 86.
  16. “Ne credere cogamur aliquid omnipotentem Deum voluisse factumque non esse.” — Aug. En., cap. 103.




THE cause of all these quarrels, wherewith the Arminians and their abettors have troubled the church of Christ, comes next unto our consideration. The eternal predestination of Almighty God, that fountain of all spiritual blessings, of all the effects of God’s love derived unto us through Christ, the demolishing of this rock of our salvation hath been the chief endeavor of all the patrons of human self-sufficiency; so to vindicate unto themselves a power and independent ability of doing good, of making themselves to differ from others, of attaining everlasting happiness, without going one step from without themselves. And this is their first attempt, to attain their second proposed end, of building a tower from the top whereof they may mount into heaven, whose foundation is nothing but the sand of their own free-will and endeavors. Quite on a sudden (what they have done in effect) to have taken away this divine predestination, name and thing, had been an attempt as noted as notorious, and not likely to attain the least success amongst men professing to believe the gospel of Christ; wherefore, suffering the name to remain, they have abolished the thing itself, and substituted another so unlike it in the room thereof, that any one may see they have gotten a blear-eyed Leah instead of Rachel, and hug a cloud instead of a Deity. The true doctrine itself hath been so excellently delivered by divers learned divines, so freed from all objections, that I shall only briefly and plainly lay it down, and that with special reference to the seventeenth article of our church, where it is clearly avowed; showing withal, — which is my chief intention, — how it is thwarted, opposed, and overthrown by the Arminians. Predestination, in the usual sense [in which] it is taken, is a part of God’s providence concerning his creatures, distinguished from it by a double restriction: —

First, In respect of their objects; for whereas the decree of providence comprehendeth his intentions towards all the works of his hands, predestination respecteth only rational creatures.

Secondly, In regard of their ends; for whereas his providence directeth all creatures in general to those several ends to which at length they are brought, whether they are proportioned unto their nature or exceeding the sphere of their natural activity, predestination is exercised only in directing rational creatures to supernatural ends: so that, in general, it is the counsel, decree, or purpose of Almighty God concerning the last and supernatural end of his rational creatures, to be accomplished for the praise of his glory. But this also must receive a double restriction before we come precisely to what we in this place aim at: and these again in regard of the objects or the ends thereof.

The object of predestination is all rational creatures, Now, these are either angels or men. Of angels I shall not treat. Secondly, The end by it provided for them is either eternal happiness or eternal misery. I speak only of the former, — the act of God’s predestination transmitting men to everlasting happiness: and in this restrained sense it differs not at all from election, and we may use them as synonyma, terms of the same importance; though, by some affirming that God predestinateth them to faith whom he hath chosen, they seem to be distinguished as the decrees of the end, and the means conducing thereunto, whereof the first is election, intending the end, and then takes place predestination, providing the means. But this exact distinction appeareth not directly in the Scripture.

This election the word of God proposeth unto us as the gracious, immutable decree of Almighty God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, out of his own good pleasure, he chose certain men, determining to free them from sin and misery, to bestow upon them grace and faith, to give them unto Christ, to bring them to everlasting blessedness, for the praise of his glorious grace; or, as it is expressed in our church articles, “Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ unto everlasting salvation, as vessels made unto honor; wherefore, they who are endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose,” etc.

Now, to avoid prolixity, I will annex only such annotations as may clear the sense and confirm the truth of the article by the Scriptures, and show briefly how it is overthrown by the Arminians in every particular thereof: —

First, The article, consonantly to the Scripture, affirmeth that it is an eternal decree, made before the foundations of the world were laid; so that by it we must needs be chosen before we were born, before we have done either good or evil. The words of the article are clear, and so also is the Scripture: “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4;

“The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, it was said,” etc., Romans 9:11,12;

“We are called with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9.

Now, from hence it would undoubtedly follow that no good thing in us can be the cause of our election, for every cause must in order precede its effect; but all things whereof we by any means are partakers, inasmuch as they are ours, are temporary, and so cannot be the cause of that which is eternal. Things with that qualification must have reference to the sole will and good pleasure of God; which reference would break the neck of the Arminian election. Wherefore, to prevent such a fatal ruin, they deny the principle, — to wit, that election is eternal.1 So the Remonstrants, in their Apology:2 “Complete election regardeth none but him that is dying; for this peremptory election decreeth the whole accomplishment and consummation of salvation, and therefore requireth in the object the finished course of faith and obedience,” saith Grevinchovius; which is to make God’s election nothing but an act of his justice, approving our obedience, and such an act as is incident to any weak man, who knows not what will happen in the next hour that is yet for to come. And is this post-destination that which is proposed to us in the Scripture as the unsearchable fountain of all God’s love towards us in Christ? “Yea,”3 say they, “we acknowledge no other predestination to be revealed in the gospel besides that whereby God decreeth to save them who should persevere in faith;” that is, God’s determination concerning their salvation is pendulous, until he find by experience that they will persevere in obedience. But I wonder why, seeing election is confessedly one of the greatest expressions of God’s infinite goodness, love, and mercy towards us, if it follow our obedience, we have it not, like all other blessings and mercies, promised unto us. Is it not because such propositions as these, “Believe, Peter, and continue in the faith unto the end, and I will choose thee before the foundation of the world,” are fitter for the writings of the Arminians than the word of God? Neither will we be their rivals in such an election, as from whence no fruit,4 no effect, no consolation can be derived to any mortal man, whilst he lives in this world.

Secondly, The article affirmeth that it is constant, — that is, one immutable decree; agreeably also to the Scriptures, teaching but one purpose, but one foreknowledge, one good pleasure, one decree of God, concerning the infallible ordination of his elect unto glory; although of this decree there may be said to be two acts, — one concerning the means, the other concerning the end, but both knit up in the “immutability of God’s counsel,” Hebrews 6:17. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,” 2 Timothy 2:19; “His gifts and calling are without recalling,” not to be repented of, Romans 11:29. Now, what say our Arminians to this?

Why, a whole multitude of notions and terms have they invented to obscure the doctrine. “Election,” say they,5 “is either legal or evangelical, general or particular, complete or incomplete, revocable or irrevocable, peremptory or not peremptory,” with I know not how many more distinctions of one single eternal act of Almighty God, whereof there is neither “vola nec vestigium,” sign or token, in the whole Bible, or any approved author. And to these quavering divisions they accommodate their doctrine, or rather they purposely invented them to make their errors unintelligible.

Yet something agreeably thus they dictate:6 “There is a complete election, belonging to none but those that are dying; and there is another, incomplete, common to all that believe: as the good things of salvation are incomplete which are continued whilst faith is continued, and revoked when that is denied, so election is incomplete in this life, and revocable.” Again: “There are,” they say in their Confession,7 “three orders of believers and repenters in the Scripture, whereof some are beginners, others having continued for a time, and some perseverants. The first two orders are chosen vere, truly, but not absolute prorsus, absolutely, but only for a time, — so long as they will remain as they are; the third are chosen finally and peremptorily: for this act of God is either continued or interrupted, according as we fulfill the condition.” But whence learned the Arminians this doctrine? Not one word of it from the word of truth; no mention there of any such desultory election, no speech of faith, but such as is consequent to one eternal irrevocable decree of predestination: They “believed” who were “ordained to eternal life,” Acts 13:48. No distinction of men half and wholly elected, where it is affirmed that it is impossible the elect should be seduced, Matthew 24:24, — that none should snatch Christ’s sheep out of his Father’s hand, John 10:28,29. What would they have more? God’s purpose of election is sealed up, 2 Timothy 2:19, and therefore cannot be revoked; it must stand firm, Romans 9:11, in spite of all opposition. Neither will reason allow us to think any immanent act of God to be incomplete or revocable, because of the mere alliance it hath with his very nature. But reason, Scripture, God himself, all must give place to any absurdities, if they stand in the Arminian way, bringing in their idol with shouts, and preparing his throne, by claiming the cause of their predestination to be in themselves.

Thirdly, The article is clear that the object of this predestination is some particular men chosen out of mankind; that is, it is such an act of God as concerneth some men in particular, taking them, as it were, aside from the midst of their brethren, and designing them for some special end and purpose. The Scripture also aboundeth in asserting this verity, calling them that are so chosen a “few,” Matthew 20:16, which must needs denote some certain persons; and the “remnant according to election,” Romans 11:5; those whom “the Lord knoweth to be his,” 2 Timothy 2:19; men “ordained to eternal life,” Acts 13:48; “us,” Romans 8:39; those that are “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” Revelation 21:27; — all which, and divers others, clearly prove that the number of the elect is certain, not only materially, as they say,8 that there are so many, but formally also, that these particular persons, and no other, are they, which cannot be altered. Nay, the very nature of the thing itself doth so demonstratively evince it, that I wonder it can possibly be conceived under any other notion. To apprehend an election of men not circumscribed with the circumstance of particular persons is such a conceited, Platonical abstraction, as it seems strange that any one dares profess to understand that there should be a predestination, and none predestinated; an election, and none elected; a choice amongst many, yet none left or taken; a decree to save men, and yet thereby salvation destinated to no one man, either “re aut spe,” in deed or in expectation. In a word, that there should be a purpose of God to bring men unto glory, standing inviolable, though never any one attained the purposed end, is such a riddle as no AEdipus can unfold. Now, such an election, such a predestination, have the Arminians substituted in the place of God’s everlasting decree. “We deny,”9 say they, “that God’s election extendeth itself to any singular persons as singular persons;” that is, that any particular persons, as Peter, Paul, John, are by it elected. No; how, then? Why,10 “God hath appointed, without difference, to dispense the means of faith; and as he seeth these persons to believe or not to believe by the use of those means, so at length he determineth of them,” as saith Corvinus. Well, then, God chooseth no particular man to salvation, but whom he seeth believing by his own power, with the help only of such means as are afforded unto others who never believe; and as he maketh himself thus differ from them by a good use of his own abilities, so also he may be reduced again unto the same predicament, and then his election, which respecteth not him in his person, but only his qualification, quite vanisheth. But is this God’s decree of election? “Yes,” say they; and make a doleful complaint that any other doctrine should be taught in the church.11 “It is obtruded,” say the true-born sons of Arminius, “on the church as a most holy doctrine, that God, by an absolute, immutable decree, from all eternity, out of his own good pleasure, hath chosen certain persons, and those but few in comparison, without any respect had to their faith and obedience, and predestinated them to everlasting life.” But what so great exception is this doctrine liable unto, what wickedness doth it include, that it should not be accounted most holy? Nay, is not only the matter but the very terms of it contained in the Scripture? Doth it not say the elect are few, and they chosen before the foundation of the world, without any respect to their obedience or any thing that they had done, out of God’s mere gracious good pleasure, that his free purpose according to election might stand, even because so it pleased him; and this that they might be holy, believe, and be sanctified, that they might come unto Christ, and by him be preserved unto everlasting life? Yea, this is that which galls them:12 “No such will can be ascribed unto God, whereby he so willeth any one to be saved as that thence their salvation should be sure and infallible,” saith the father of those children.

Well, then, let St Austin’s definition be quite rejected,13 “That predestination is a preparation of such benefits whereby some are most certainly freed and delivered from sin and brought to glory;” and that also of St Paul, “That (by reason of this) nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ.” What is this election in your judgment?14 “Nothing but a decree whereby God hath appointed to save them that believe in Christ,” saith Corvinus, be they who they will; or a general purpose of God, whereby he hath ordained faith in Christ to be the means of salvation. Yea, but this belongs to Judas as well as to Peter. This decree carrieth as equal an aspect to those that are damned as to those that are saved. Salvation, under the condition of faith in Christ, was also proposed to them; but was Judas and all his company elected? How came they, then, to be seduced and perish? That any of God’s elect go to hell is as yet a strange assertion in Christianity. Notwithstanding this decree, none may believe, or all that do may fall away, and so none at all be saved; which is a strange kind of predestination: or all may believe, continue in faith, and be saved; which were a more strange kind of election.

We, poor souls, thought hitherto that we might have believed, according unto Scripture, that some by this purpose were in a peculiar manner made the Father’s (“Thine they were”), and by him given unto Christ, that he might bring them unto glory; and that these men were so certain and unchangeable a number, that not only God “knoweth them” as being “his,” but also that Christ “calleth them by name,” John 10:3, and looketh that none taketh them out of his hand. We never imagined before that Christ hath been the mediator of an uncertain covenant, because there are no certain persons covenanted withal but such as may or may not fulfill the condition. We always thought that some had been separated before by God’s purpose from the rest of the perishing world, that Christ might lay down his life for his “friends,” for his “sheep,” for them that were “given him” of his Father. But now it should seem he was ordained to be a king when it was altogether uncertain whether he should ever have any subjects, to be a head without a body, or to such a church whose collection and continuance depend wholly and solely on the will of men.

These are doctrines that I believe searchers of the Scripture had scarce ever been acquainted withal, had they not lighted on such expositors as teach,15 “That the only cause why God loveth” (or chooseth) “any person is, because the honesty, faith, and piety wherewith, according to God’s command and his own duty, he is endued, are acceptable to God;” which, though we grant it true of God’s consequent or approving love, yet surely there is a divine love wherewith he looks upon us otherwise, when he gives us unto Christ, else either our giving unto Christ is not out of love, or we are pious, just, and faithful before we come unto him, — that is, we have no need of him at all. Against either way, though we may blot these testimonies out of our hearts, yet they will stand still recorded in holy Scripture, — namely, that God so loved us when we were his “enemies,” Romans 5:10, “sinners,” verse 8, of no “strength,” verse 6; that “he gave his only-begotten Son” to die, “that we should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. But of this enough.

Fourthly, Another thing that the article asserteth according to the Scripture is, that there is no other cause of our election but God’s own counsel. It recounteth no motives in us, nothing impelling the will of God to choose some out of mankind, rejecting others, but his own decree, — that is, his absolute will and good pleasure; so that as there is no cause, in any thing without himself, why he would create the world or elect any at all, — for he doth all these things for himself, for the praise of his own glory, — so there is no cause in singular elected persons why God should choose them rather than others. He looked upon all mankind in the same condition, vested with the same qualifications, or rather without any at all; for it is the children not yet born, before they do either good or evil, that are chosen or rejected, his free grace embracing the one and passing over the other. Yet here we must observe, that although God freely, without any desert of theirs, chooseth some men to be partakers both of the end and the means, yet he bestoweth faith, or the means, on none but for the merit of Christ; neither do any attain the end or salvation but by their own faith, through that righteousness of his. The free grace of God notwithstanding, choosing Jacob when Esau is rejected, the only antecedent cause of any difference between the elect and reprobates, remaineth firm and unshaken; and surely, unless men were resolved to trust wholly to their own bottoms, to take nothing gratis at the hands of God, they would not endeavor to rob him of his glory, of having mercy on whom he will have mercy, of loving us without our desert before the world began. If we must claim an interest in obtaining the temporal acts of his favor by our own endeavors, yet, oh, let us grant him the glory of being good unto us, only for his own sake, when we were in his hand as the clay in the hand of the potter. What made this piece of clay fit for comely service, and not a vessel wherein there is no pleasure, but the power and will of the Framer? It is enough, yea, too much, for them to repine and say, “Why hast thou made us thus?” who are vessels fitted for wrath. Let not them who are prepared for honor exalt themselves against him, and sacrifice to their own nets, as the sole providers of their glory. But so it is: human vileness will still be declaring itself, by claiming a worth no way due unto it; of a furtherance of which claim if the Arminians be not guilty, let the following declaration of their opinions in this particular determine: —

“We confess,” say they,16 “roundly, that faith, in the consideration of God choosing us unto salvation, doth precede, and not follow as a fruit of election.” So that whereas Christians have hitherto believed that God bestoweth faith on them that are chosen, it seems now it is no such matter, but that those whom God findeth to believe, upon the stock of their own abilities, he afterward chooseth. Neither is faith, in their judgment, only required as a necessary condition in him that is to be chosen, but as a cause moving the will of God to elect him that hath it,17 as the will of the judge is moved to bestow a reward on him who according to the law hath deserved it,” as Grevinchovius speaks: which words of his, indeed, Corvinus strives to temper, but all in vain, though he wrest them contrary to the intention of the author; for with him agree all his fellows.18 “The one only absolute cause of election is, not the will of God, but the respect of our obedience,” saith Episcopius. At first they required nothing but faith, and that as a condition, not as a cause;19 then perseverance in faith, which at length they began to call obedience, comprehending all our duty to the precepts of Christ: for the cause, say they, of this love to any person, is the righteousness, faith, and piety wherewith he is endued; which being all the good works of a Christian, they, in effect, affirm a man to be chosen for them, — that our good works are the cause of election; which whether it were ever so grossly taught, either by Pelagians or Papists, I something doubt.

And here observe, that this doth not thwart my former assertion, where I showed that they deny the election of any particular persons, which here they seem to grant upon a foresight of their faith and good works; for there is not any one person, as such a person, notwithstanding all this, that in their judgment is in this life elected, but only as he is considered with those qualifications of which he may at any time divest himself, and so become again to be no more elected than Judas.

The sum of their doctrine in this particular is laid down by one of ours in a tract entitled “God’s Love to Mankind,” etc.; a book full of palpable ignorance, gross sophistry, and abominable blasphemy, whose author seems to have proposed nothing unto himself but to rake all the dunghills of a few of the most invective Arminians, and to collect the most filthy scum and pollution of their railings to cast upon the truth of God; and, under I know not what self-coined pretences, belch out odious blasphemies against his holy name.

The sum, saith he, of all these speeches (he cited to his purpose) is,20 “That there is no decree of saving men but what is built on God’s foreknowledge of the good actions of men.” No decree? No, not that whereby God determineth to give some unto Christ, to ingraft them in him by faith, and bring them by him unto glory; which giveth light to that place of Arminius, where he affirmeth,21 “That God loveth none precisely to eternal life but considered as just, either with legal or evangelical righteousness.”

Now, to love one to eternal life is to destinate one to obtain eternal life by Christ, and so it is coincident with the former assertion, that our election, or choosing unto grace and glory, is upon the foresight of our good works; which contains a doctrine so contradictory to the words and meaning of the apostle, Romans 9:11, condemned in so many councils, suppressed by so many edicts and decrees of emperors and governors, opposed as a pestilent heresy, ever since it was first hatched, by so many orthodox fathers and learned schoolmen, so directly contrary to the doctrine of this church, so injurious to the grace and supreme power of Almighty God, that I much wonder any one, in this light of the gospel and flourishing time of learning, should be so boldly ignorant or impudent as to broach it amongst Christians. To prove this to be a heresy exploded by all orthodox and catholic antiquity were to light a candle in the sun; for it cannot but be known to all and every one who ever heard or read any thing of the state of Christ’s church after the rising of the Pelagian tumults.22

To accumulate testimonies of the ancients is quite beside my purpose. I will only add the confession of Bellarmine,23 a man otherwise not overwell affected to truth. “Predestination,” saith he, “from the foresight of works, cannot be maintained unless we should suppose something in the righteous man, which should make him differ from the wicked, that he doth not receive from God; which truly all the fathers with unanimous consent do reject.” But we have a more sure testimony, to which we will take heed, even the holy Scripture, pleading strongly for God’s free and undeserved grace.

First, our Savior Christ, Matthew 11:26, declaring how God revealeth the gospel unto some, which is hidden from others (a special fruit of election), resteth in his will and good pleasure as the only cause thereof: “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” So, comforting his “little flock,” Luke 12:32, he bids them fear not, “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom;” — “His good pleasure is the only cause why his kingdom is prepared for you rather than others.” But is there no other reason of this discrimination? No; he doth it all “that his purpose according to election might stand” firm, Romans 9:11; for we are

“predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” Ephesians 1:11.

But did not this counsel of God direct him to choose us rather than others because we had something to commend us more than they? No;

“The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; but because the LORD loved you,” Deuteronomy 7:7,8.

“He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy;” yea, “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, 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: as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” Romans 9:11-13.

In brief, wherever there is any mention of election or predestination, it is still accompanied with the purpose, love, or will of God; his foreknowledge, whereby he knoweth them that are his; his free power and supreme dominion over all things. Of our faith, obedience, or any thing importing so much, not one syllable, no mention, unless it be as the fruit and effect thereof. It is the sole act of his free grace and good pleasure, that “he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,” Romans 9:23. For this only end hath he

“saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9.

Even our calling is free and undeserved, because flowing from that most free grace of election, whereof we are partakers before we are [i.e., exist]. It were needless to heap up more testimonies in a thing so clear and evident. When God and man stand in competition who shall be accounted the cause of an eternal good, we may be sure the Scripture will pass the verdict on the part of the Most High. And the sentence, in this case, may be derived from thence by these following reasons: —

First, If final perseverance in faith and obedience be the cause of, or a condition required unto, election, then none can be said in this life to be elected; for no man is a final perseverer until he be dead, until he hath finished his course and consummated the faith. But certain it is that it is spoken of some in the Scripture that they are even in this life elected: “Few are chosen,” Matthew 20:16; “For the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened,” chapter 24:22; “And shall, if it were possible, deceive the very elect,” verse 24, — where it is evident that election is required to make one persevere in the faith, but nowhere is perseverance in the faith required to election; yea, and Peter gives us all a command that we should give all diligence to get an assurance of our “election,” even in this life, 2 Peter 1:10: and, therefore, surely it cannot be a decree presupposing consummated faith and obedience.

Secondly, Consider two things of our estate, before the first temporal act of God’s free grace (for grace is no grace if it be not free), which is the first effect of our predestination, comprehendeth us: — First, “Were we better than others.” No, in no wise: both Jews and Gentiles were all under sin,” Romans 3:9. “There is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” verse 23; — being all “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1; being “by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” verse 3; “far off,” until we are “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” verse 13. We were “enemies” against God, Romans 5:10; Titus 3:3. And look what desert there is in us with these qualifications, when our vocation, the first effect of our predestination, as St Paul showeth, Romans 8:30, and as I shall prove hereafter, separateth us from the world of unbelievers. So much there is in respect of predestination itself; so that if we have any way deserved it, it is by being sinners, enemies, children of wrath, and dead in trespasses. These are our deserts; this is the glory, whereof we ought to be ashamed. But, secondly, When they are in the same state of actual alienation from God, yet then, in respect of his purpose to save them by Christ, some are said to be his: “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6; — they were his before they came unto Christ by faith; the sheep of Christ before they are called, for he “calleth his sheep by name,” chapter 10:3; before they come into the flock or congregation, for “other sheep,” saith he, “I have, which are not of this fold, them also must I bring,” chapter 10:16; — to be beloved of God before they love him: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” 1 John 4:10. Now, all this must be with reference to God’s purpose of bringing them unto Christ, and by him unto glory; which we see goeth before all their faith and obedience.

Thirdly, Election is an eternal act of God’s will: “He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4; consummated antecedently to all duty of ours, Romans 9:11. Now, every cause must, in order of nature, precede its effect; nothing hath an activity in causing before it hath a being. Operation in every kind is a second act, flowing from the essence of a thing which is the first. But all our graces and works, our faith, obedience, piety, and charity, are all temporal, of yesterday, the same standing with ourselves, and no longer; and therefore cannot be the cause of, no, nor so much as a condition necessarily required for, the accomplishment of an eternal act of God, irrevocably established before we are.

Fourthly, If predestination be for faith foreseen, these three things, with divers such absurdities, will necessarily follow: — First, That election is not of “him that calleth,” as the apostle speaks, Romans 9:11, — that is, of the good pleasure of God, who calleth us with a holy calling, — but of him that is called; for, depending on faith, it must be his whose faith is, that doth believe. Secondly, God cannot have mercy on whom he win have mercy, for the very purpose of it is thus tied to the qualities of faith and obedience, so that he must have mercy only on believers antecedently to his decree. Which, thirdly, hinders him from being an absolute free agent, and doing of what he will with his own, — of having such a power over us as the potter hath over his clay; for he finds us of different matter, one clay, another gold, when he comes to appoint us to different uses and ends.

Fifthly, God sees no faith, no obedience, perseverance, nothing but sin and wickedness, in any man, but what himself intendeth graciously and freely to bestow upon him; for “faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God;” it is “the work of God, that we believe,” John 6:29; he “blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3. Now, all these gifts and graces God bestoweth only upon those whom he hath antecedently ordained to everlasting life: for “the election obtained it, and the rest were blinded,” Romans 11:7; “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”’ Acts 2:47. Therefore, surely, God chooseth us not because he foreseeth those things in us, seeing he bestoweth those graces because he hath chosen us. “Wherefore,”24 saith Austin, “doth Christ say, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ but because they did not choose him that he should choose them; but he chose them that they might choose him.” We choose Christ by faith; God chooseth us by his decree of election. The question is, Whether we choose him because he hath chosen us, or he chooseth us because we have chosen him, and so indeed choose ourselves? We affirm the former, and that because our choice of him is a gift he himself bestoweth only on them whom he hath chosen.

Sixthly, and principally, The effects of election, infallibly following it, cannot be the causes of election, certainly preceding it. This is evident, for nothing can be the cause and the effect of the same thing, before and after itself. But all our faith, our obedience, repentance, good works, are the effects of election, flowing from it as their proper fountain, erected on it as the foundation of this spiritual building; and for this the article of our church is evident and clear. “Those,” saith it, “that are endued with this excellent benefit of God are called according to God’s purpose, are justified freely, are made the sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of Christ; they walk religiously in good works,” etc. Where, first, they are said to be partakers of this benefit of election, and then by virtue thereof to be entitled to the fruition of all those graces. Secondly, it saith, “Those who are endued with this benefit enjoy those blessings;” intimating that election is the rule whereby God proceedeth in bestowing those graces, restraining the objects of the temporal acts of God’s special favor to them only whom his eternal decree doth embrace. Both these, indeed, are denied by the Arminians; which maketh a farther discovery of their heterodoxies in this particular.25 “You say,” saith Arminius to Perkins, “that election is the rule of giving or not giving of faith; and, therefore, election is not of the faithful, but faith of the elect: but by your leave this I must deny.” But yet, whatever it is the sophistical heretic here denies, either antecedent or conclusion, he falls foul on the word of God. “They ‘believed,”’ saith the Holy Ghost, “who were ‘ordained to eternal life,’” Acts 13:48; and, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” chapter 2:47. From both which places it is evident that God bestoweth faith only on them whom he hath pre-ordained to eternal life; but most clearly, Romans 8:29,30,

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. 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.”

St Austin interpreted this place by adding in every link of the chain, “Only those.” However, the words directly import a precedency of predestination before the bestowing of other graces, and also a restraint of those graces to them only that are so predestinated. Now, the inference from this is not only for the form logical, but for the matter also; it containeth the very words of Scripture, “Faith is of God’s elect,” Titus 1:1.

For the other part of the proposition, that faith and obedience are the fruits of our election, they cannot be more peremptory in its denial than the Scripture is plentiful in its confirmation: “He hath chosen us in Christ, that we should be holy,” Ephesians 1:4; not because we were holy, but that we should be so. Holiness, whereof faith is the root and obedience the body, is that whereunto, and not for which, we are elected. The end and the meritorious cause of any one act cannot be the same; they have divers respects, and require repugnant conditions. Again; we are “predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ,” verse 5. Adoption is that whereby we are assumed into the family of God, when before we are “foreigners, aliens, strangers, afar off;” which we see is a fruit of our predestination, though it be the very entrance into that estate wherein we begin first to please God in the least measure. Of the same nature are all those places of holy writ which speak of God’s giving some unto Christ, of Christ’s sheep hearing his voice, and others not hearing, because they are not of his sheep; all which, and divers other invincible reasons, I willingly omit, with sundry other false assertions and heretical positions of the Arminians about this fundamental article of our religion, concluding this chapter with the following scheme: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. 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.” So that “nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:29,30,39. “No such will can be ascribed unto God, whereby he so would have any to be saved, that from thence his salvation should be sure and infallible,” Armin.
“He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,” Ephesians 1:4. “I acknowledge no sense, no perception of any such election in this life,” Grevinch.
“Not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9. “We deny that God’s election unto salvation extendeth itself to singular persons,” Rem. Coll. Hag.
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth,” etc., Romans 9:11. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me,” John 6:37 “As we are justified by faith, so we are not elected but by faith,” Grevinch.
“Many are called, but few are chosen,” Matthew 22:14. “We profess roundly that faith is considered by God as a condition preceding election, and not following as a fruit thereof,” Rem. Coll. Hag.
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” Luke 12:82. “The sole and only cause of election is not the will of God, but the respect of our obedience,” Episcop. “God hath determined to grant the means of salvation unto all without difference; and according as he foreseeth men will use those means, so he determineth of them,” Corv. “For the cause of this love to any person is, [that] the goodness, faith, and piety, wherewith, according to God’s command and his own duty, he is endued, are pleasing to God,” Rem. Apol.
“What hast thou that thou didst not receive?” 1 Corinthians 4:7. “Are we better than they? No, in no wise,” Romans 3:9. But we are “predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,” Ephesians 1:5; John 6:37- 39, 10:3, 13:18, 17:6; Acts 13:48; Titus 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:19; James 1:17,18, etc. The sum of their doctrine is: God hath appointed the obedience of faith to be the means of salvation. If men fulfill this condition, he determineth to save them, which is their election; but if, after they have entered the way of godliness, they fall from it, they lose also their predestination. If they will return again, they are chosen anew; and if they can hold out to the end, then, and for that continuance, they are peremptorily elected, or post-destinated, after they are saved. Now, whether these positions may be gathered from those places of Scripture which deliver this doctrine, let any man judge.


  1. “Electio non est ab aeterno.” — Rem. Apol.
  2. “Electio alia completa est, quae neminem spectat nisi immorientem. Electio peremptoria totum salutis complementum et consummationem decernit, ideoque in objecto requirit totam consummatam fidei obedientiam.” — Grevinch, ad Ames. p. 136, passim. dis.
  3. “Non agnoscimus aliam praedestinationem in evangelio patefactam, quam qua Deus decrevit credentes et qui in eadem fide perseverarent, salvos facere.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 34.
  4. “Electionis fructum aut sensum in hac vita nullum agnosco.” — Grevinch.
  5. Episcop. Thes., p. 35; Epist. ad Walach., p. 38; Grevinch. ad Ames., p. 133.
  6. “Electio alia completa est, quae neminem spectat nisi morientem, alia incompleta, quae omnibus fidelibus communis est; ut salutis bona sunt incompleta quae continu-antur, fide contlnuata, et abnegate, revocantur, sic electio est incompleta in hac vita, non peremptoria, revocabilis.” — Grevinch, ad Ames.
  7. “Tres sunt ordines credentium et resipiscentium in Scripturis, novitli, credentes aliquandiu, perseverantes. Duo priores ordines credentium eliguntur vere quidem, at non prorsus absolute, nec nisi ad tempus, puta quamdiu et quatenus tales sunt,” etc. —Rem. Confess., cap. 18, sect. 6,7.
  8. Aquinas.
  9. “Nos negamus Dei electionem ad salutem extendere sese ad slngulares personas, qua singulares personas.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., fol. 76.
  10. “Deus statuit indiscrimlnatim media ad fidem administrare, et prout has, vel illas personas, istis mediis credituras vel non credituras videt, ita tandem de illis statuit.” — Corv. ad Tilen., 76.
  11. “Ecclesiae tanquam sacrosancta doctrina obtruditur, Deum absolutissimo et immutabili decreto ab omni retro aeternitate, pro puro suo beneplacito, singulares quosdam homines, eosque, quoad caeteros, paucissimos, citra ullius obedientiae aut fidei in Chris-tum intuitum praedestinasse ad vitam.” — Praefat. Lib. Armin. ad Perk.
  12. “Nulla Deo tribui potest voluntas, qua ita velit hominem ullum salvari, ut salus inde illis constet certo et infallibiliter.”–Armin. Antip., p. 583.
  13. “Praedestinatio est praeparatio beneficiorum quibus certissime liberantur quicunque liberantur.” — Aug, de Bono Per. Sen., cap. 14.
  14. “Decretum electionis nihil aliud est quam decretum quo Deus constituit credentes in Christo justificare et salvare.” — Corv, ad Tilen., p. 13.
  15. “Ratio dilectionis personae est, quod probitas, tides, vel pietas, qua ex officio suo et prrescripto Dei ista persona praedita est, Deo grata sit.” — Rem. Apol., p. 18.
  16. “Rotunde fatemur, fidem in consideratione Dei in eligendo ad salutem antecedere, et non tauquam fracture electionis sequi.” —Rem. Hag. Coll., p. 85.
  17. Grevinch. ad Amea, p. 24; Corv. ad Molin., p. 260.
  18. “Electionis et reprobationis causa unica vera et absoluta non est Dei voluntas, seal respectus obedientise et inobedientise.” — Epis. Disput. 8.
  19. “Cum peccatum pono causam merltoriam reprobationls, ne existlmato e contra me ponere justitiam causam meritoriam electionis.” — Attain. Antip.; Rein. Apol., p. 73.
  20. God’s Love, p. 6.
  21. “Deum nullam creaturam preecise ad vitam ,eternam amare, nisi consideratam ut justam sire justitia legali sire evangelica” — Armin. Artic. Perpend., fol. 21.
  22. Vid. Prosp. ad Excep. Gen. ad Dub., 8,9. Vid. Car. de Ingratis., c. 2,3.
  23. “Non potest defendi praedestinatlo ex operibus praevisis, nisi aliquid boni ponatur in homine justo, quo discernatur ab impio, quod non sit illi a Deo, quod sane patres omnes summa consensione rejiciunt.” — Bellar, de Grat., et Lib. Arbit., cap. 14.
  24. “Non ob aliud dicit, ‘Non vos me eligistis, seal ego vos elegi,’ nisi quia non elegerunt eumut eligeret eos; sed ut eligerent eum elegit eos.” — Aug, de Bono Perse, cap. 16.
  25. “Dicis electionem divinarn esse regulam fidei dandae vel non dandae; ergo, electio non est fidelium, sed tides electorum: seal liceat mihi tua bona venia hoc negare.” — Armin. Antip., p. 221.




HEROD the Great, imparting his counsel of rebuilding the temple unto the Jews, they much feared he would never be able to accomplish his intention,1 but, like an unwise builder, having demolished the old before he had sat down and cast up his account whether he were able to erect a new, they should (by his project) be deprived of a temple. Wherefore, to satisfy their jealousies, he resolved, as he took down any part of the other, presently to erect a portion of the new in the place thereof. Right so the Arminians, determining to demolish the building of divine providence, grace, and favor, by which men have hitherto ascended into heaven, and fearing lest we should be troubled, finding ourselves on a sudden deprived of that wherein we reposed our confidence for happiness, they have, by degrees, erected a Babylonish tower in the room thereof, whose top, they would persuade us, shall reach unto heaven. First, therefore, the foundation-stones they bring forth, crying, “Hail, hail,” unto them, and pitch them on the sandy, rotten ground of our own natures. Now, because heretofore some wise master-builders had discovered this ground to be very unfit to be the basis of such a lofty erection, by reason of a corrupt issue of blood and filth arising in the midst thereof, and overspreading the whole platform, to encourage men to an association in this desperate attempt, they proclaim to all that there is no such evil fountain in the plain which they have chosen for the foundation of their proud building, setting up itself against the knowledge of God in plain terms. Having rejected the providence of God from being the original of that goodness of entity which is in our actions, and his predestination from being the cause of that moral and spiritual goodness wherewith any of them are clothed, they endeavor to draw the praise of both to the rectitude of their nature and the strength of their own endeavors But this attempt, in the latter case, being thought to be altogether vain, because of the disability and corruption of nature, by reason of original sin, propagated unto us all by our first parents, whereby it is become wholly void of integrity and holiness, and we all become wise and able to do evil, but to do good have no power, no understanding; therefore, they utterly reject this imputation of an inherent, original guilt, and demerit of punishment, as an enemy to our upright and well-deserving condition. And oh, that they were as able to root it out of the hearts of all men, that it should never more be there, as they have been to persuade the heads of divers that it was never there at all!

If any would know how considerable this article concerning original sin hath ever been accounted in the church of Christ, let him but consult the writings of St Augustine, Prosper, Hilary, Fulgentius, any of those learned fathers whom God stirred up to resist, and enabled to overcome, the spreading Pelagian heresy, or look on those many councils, edicts, decrees of emperors, wherein that heretical doctrine of denying this original corruption is condemned, cursed, and exploded. Now, amongst those many motives they had to proceed so severely against this heresy, one especially inculcated deserves our consideration, namely, —

That it overthrew the necessity of Christ’s coming into the world to redeem mankind. It is sin only that makes a Savior necessary; and shall Christians tolerate such an error as, by direct consequence, infers the coming of Jesus Christ into the world to be needless? My purpose for the present is not to allege any testimonies of this kind; but, holding myself close to my first intention, to show how far in this article, as well as others, the Arminians have apostated from the pure doctrine of the word of God, the consent of orthodox divines, and the confession of this church of England.

In the ninth article of our church, which is concerning original sin, I observe especially four things: — First, That it is an inherent evil, the fault and corruption of the nature of every man. Secondly, That it is a thing not subject or conformable to the law of God, but hath in itself, even after baptism, the nature of sin. Thirdly, That by it we are averse from God, and inclined to all manner of evil. Fourthly, That it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. All which are frequently and evidently taught in the word of God, and every one denied by the Arminians, as it may appear by these instances, in some of them: —

First, That it is an inherent sin and pollution of nature, having a proper guilt of its own, making us responsible to the wrath of God, and not a bare imputation of another’s fault to us his posterity: which, because it would reflect upon us all with a charge of a native imbecility and insufficiency to good, is by these self-idolizers quite exploded.

“Infants2 are simply in that estate in which Adam was before his fall,” saith Venator.3 “Neither is it at all considerable whether they be the children of believers or of heathens and infidels; for infants, as infants, have all the same innocency,” say they jointly, in their Apology: nay, more plainly,4 “It can be no fault wherewith we are born.” In which last expression these bold innovators, with one dash of their pens, have quite overthrown a sacred verity, an apostolic, catholic, fundamental article of Christian religion. But, truly, to me there are no stronger arguments of the sinful corruption of our nature than to see such nefarious issues of unsanctified hearts. Let us look, then, to the word of God confounding this Babylonish design.

First, That the nature of man, which at first was created pure and holy, after the image of God, endowed with such a rectitude and righteousness as was necessary and due unto it, to bring it unto that supernatural end to which it was ordained, is now altogether corrupted and become abominable, sinful, and averse from goodness, and that this corruption or concupiscence is originally inherent in us and derived from our first parents, is plentifully delivered in holy writ, as that which chiefly compels us to a self-denial, and drives us unto Christ. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” saith David, Psalm 51:5. Where, for the praise of God’s goodness towards him, he begins with the confession of his native perverseness, and of the sin wherein he was wrapped before he was born. Neither was this peculiar to him alone; he had it not from the particular iniquity of his next progenitors, but by an ordinary propagation from the common parent of us all; though in some of us, Satan, by this Pelagian attempt for hiding the disease, hath made it almost incurable: for even those infants of whose innocency the Arminians boast are unclean in the verdict of St Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:14, if not sanctified by an interest in the promise of the covenant; and no unclean thing shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.5 “The weakness of the members of infants is innocent, and not their souls;” they want nothing, but that the members of their bodies are not as yet ready instruments of sin. They are not sinful only by external denomination, — accounted so because of the imputation of Adam’s actual transgression unto them; for they have all an uncleanness in them by nature, Job 14:4, from which they must be “cleansed with the washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5:20. Their whole nature is overspread with such a pollution as is proper only to sin inherent, and doth not accompany sin imputed; as we may see in the example of our Savior, who was pure, immaculate, holy, undefiled, and yet “the iniquity of us all” was imputed unto him. Hence are those phrases of “washing away sin,” Acts 22:16; of “cleansing filth,” 1 Peter 3:21, Titus 3:5. Something there is in them, as soon as they are born, excluding them from the kingdom of heaven; for except they also be born again of the Spirit, they shall not enter into it, John 3:5.

Secondly, The opposition that is made between the righteousness of Christ and the sin of Adam, Romans 5, which is the proper seat of this doctrine, showeth that there is in our nature an inbred sinful corruption; for the sin of Adam holds such relation unto sinners, proceeding from him by natural propagation, as the righteousness of Christ doth unto them who are born again of him by spiritual regeneration. But we are truly, intrinsically, and inherently sanctified by the Spirit and grace of Christ; and therefore there is no reason why, being so often in this chapter called sinners, because of this original sin, we should cast it off, as if we were concerned only by an external denomination, for the right institution of the comparison and its analogy quite overthrows the solitary imputation.

Thirdly, All those places of Scripture which assert the proneness of our nature to all evil, and the utter disability that is in us to do any good, that wretched opposition to the power of godliness, wherewith from the womb we are replenished, confirms the same truth. But of these places I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

Fourthly, The flesh, in the Scripture phrase, is a quality (if I may so say) inherent in us; for that, with its concupiscence, is opposed to the Spirit and his holiness, which is certainly inherent in us. Now, the whole man by nature is flesh; for “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John 3:6; — it is an inhabiting thing, a thing that “dwelleth” within us, Romans 7:17. In brief, this vitiosity, sinfulness, and corruption of our nature is laid open, First, By all those places which cast an aspersion of guilt, or desert of punishment, or of pollution, on nature itself; as Ephesians 2:1,3, we are “dead in trespasses and sins,” being “by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” being wholly encompassed by a “sin that doth easily beset us.” Secondly, By them which fix this original pravity in the heart, will, mind, and understanding, Ephesians 4:18; Romans 12:2; Genesis 6:5. Thirdly, By those which positively decipher this natural depravation, 1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7; — or, Fourthly, That place it in the flesh, or old man, Romans 6:6; Galatians 5:16. So that it is not a bare imputation of another’s fault, but an intrinsical adjacent corruption of our nature itself, that we call by this name of original sin. But, alas! it seems we are too large carvers for ourselves, in that wherewith we will not he contented.

The Arminians deny all such imputation, as too heavy a charge for the pure, unblamable condition wherein they are brought into this world. They deny, I say, that they are guilty of Adam’s sin, as sinning in him, or that his sin is any way imputed unto us; which is their second assault upon the truth of this article of faith.

“Adam6 sinned in his own proper person, and there is no reason why God should impute that sin of his unto infants,” saith Boraeus. The nature of the first covenant, the right and power of God, the comparison instituted by the apostle between Adam and Christ, the divine constitution, whereby Adam was appointed to be the head, fountain, and origin of all human kind, are with him no reasons at all to persuade it.7 “For it is against equity,” saith their Apology, “that one should be accounted guilty for a sin that is not his own, — that he should be reputed nocent who, in regard of his own will, is truly innocent.” And here, Christian reader, behold plain Pelagianism obtruded on us without either welt8 or guard; men on a sudden made pure and truly innocent, notwithstanding all that natural pollution and corruption the Scripture everywhere proclaims them to be replenished withal. Neither is the reason they intimate of any value, that their wills assented not to it, and which a little before they plainly urge. “It is,” say they,9 “against the nature of sin that that should be counted a sin to any by whose own proper will it was not committed:” which being all they have to say, they repeat it over and over in this case, — “It must be voluntary, or it is no sin.” But I say this is of no force at all; for, — first, St John, in his most exact definition of sin, requires not voluntariness to the nature of it, but only an obliquity, a deviation from the rule. It is an anomy, — a discrepancy from the law, which whether voluntary or no it skills not much; but sure enough there is in our nature such a repugnancy to the law of God. So that, secondly, if originally we are free from a voluntary actual transgression, yet we are not from an habitual voluntary digression and exorbitancy from the law. But, thirdly, in respect of our wills, we are not thus innocent neither; for we all sinned in Adam, as the apostle affirmeth. Now, all sin is voluntary, say the Remonstrants, and therefore Adam’s transgression was our voluntary sin also, and that in divers respects, — first, in that his voluntary act is imputed to us as ours, by reason of the covenant which was made with him on our behalf. But because this, consisting in an imputation, must needs be extrinsical unto us, therefore, secondly, we say that Adam, being the root and head of all human kind, and we all branches from that root, all parts of that body whereof he was the head, his will may be said to be ours. We were then all that one man,10 — we were all in him, and had no other will but his; so that though that be extrinsical unto us, considered as particular persons, yet it is intrinsical, as we are all parts of one common nature. As in him we sinned, so in him we had a will of sinning. Thirdly, original sin is a defect of nature, and not of this or that particular person:11 whereon Alvarez grounds this difference of actual and original sin, — that the one is always committed by the proper will of the sinner; to the other is required only the will of our first parent, who was the head of human nature. Fourthly, It is hereditary, natural, and no way involuntary, or put into us against our wills. It possesseth our wills and inclines us to voluntary sins.

I see no reason, then, why Corvinus should affirm, as he doth,12 “That it is absurd, that by one man’s disobedience many should be made actually disobedient,” unless he did it purposely to contradict St Paul, teaching us that “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” Romans 5:19. Paulus ait, Corvinus negat; eligite cui credatis; — Choose whom you will believe, St Paul or the Arminians. The sum of their endeavor in this particular is, to clear the nature of man from being any way guilty of Adam’s actual sin, as being then in him a member and part of that body whereof he was the head, or from being obnoxious unto an imputation of it by reason of that covenant which God made with us all in him. So that, denying, as you saw before, all inherent corruption and pravity of nature, and now all participation, by any means, of Adam’s transgression, methinks they cast a great aspersion on Almighty God, however he dealt with Adam for his own particular, yet for casting us, his most innocent posterity, out of paradise. It seems a hard case, that having no obliquity or sin in our nature to deserve it, nor no interest in his disobedience whose obedience had been the means of conveying so much happiness unto us, we should yet be involved in so great a punishment as we are; for that we are not now by birth under a great curse and punishment, they shall never be able to persuade any poor soul who ever heard of paradise, or the garden where God first placed Adam. And though all the rest, in their judgment, be no great matter, but an infirmity and languor of nature, or some such thing, yet, whatever it be, they confess it lights on us as well as him.13 “We confess,” say they, “that the sin of Adam may be thus far said to be imputed to his posterity, inasmuch as God would have them all born obnoxious to that punishment which Adam incurred by his sin, or permitted that evil which was inflicted on him to descend on them.” Now, be this punishment what it will, never so small, yet if we have no demerit of our own, nor interest in Adam’s sin, it in such an act of injustice as we must reject from the Most Holy, with a “God forbid.” Far be it from the Judge of all the world to punish the righteous with the ungodly. If God should impute the sin of Adam unto us, and thereon pronounce us obnoxious to the curse deserved by it, — if we have a pure, sinless, unspotted nature, — even this could scarce be reconciled with that rule of his proceeding in justice with the sons of men, “The soul that sinneth it shall die;” which clearly granteth an impunity to all not tainted with sin. Sin and punishment, though they are sometimes separated by his mercy, pardoning the one and so not inflicting the other, yet never by his justice, inflicting the latter where the former is not. Sin imputed, by itself alone, without an inherent guilt, was never punished in any but Christ. The unsearchableness of God’s love and justice, in laying the iniquity of us all upon him who had no sin, is an exception from that general rule he walketh by in his dealing with the posterity of Adam. So that if punishment be not due unto us for a solely imputed sin, much less, when it doth not stand with the justice and equity of God to impute any iniquity unto us at all, can we justly be wrapped in such a curse and punishment as woeful experience teaches us that we lie under. Now, in this act of injustice, wherewith they charge the Almighty, the Arminians place the whole nature of original sin.14 “We account not,” say they, “original sin for a sin properly so called, that should make the posterity of Adam to deserve the wrath of God, nor for an evil that may properly be called a punishment, but only for an infirmity of nature;” which they interpret to be a kind of evil that, being inflicted on Adam, God suffereth to descend upon his posterity. So all the depravation of nature, the pollution, guilt, and concupiscence we derive from our first parents, the imputation of Adam’s actual transgression, is all straitened to a small infirmity inflicted on poor innocent creatures.

But let them enjoy their own wisdom, which is earthly, sensual, and devilish. The Scripture is clear that the sin of Adam is the sin of us all, not only by propagation and communication (whereby not his singular fault, but something of the same nature, is derived unto us), but also by an imputation of his actual transgression unto us all, his singular disobedience being by this means made ours. The grounds of this imputation I touched before, which may be all reduced to his being a common person and head of all our nature; which investeth us with a double interest in his demerits, whilst so he was: —

1. As we were then in him and parts of him;

2. As he sustained the place of our whole nature in the covenant God made with him; — both which, even according to the exigence of God’s justice, require that his transgression be also accounted ours And St Paul is plain, not only that “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” Romans 5:19, by the derivation of a corrupted nature, but also that “by one man’s offense judgment came upon all,” verse 18. Even for his one sin all of us are accounted to have deserved judgment and condemnation; and therefore, verse 12, he affirmeth that by one man sin and death entered upon all the world; and that because we have all sinned in him: which we no otherwise do but that his transgression in God’s estimation is accounted ours. And the opposition the apostle there maketh between Christ and his righteousness, and Adam and his disobedience, doth sufficiently evince it; as may appear by this figure:15 —

Sicut, sic


Adamo, sic Christo,

in omnes

kri,ma( ca,rij Qeou/,

redundavit, eis

kata,kroma( dikai,wsin zwh/j,

per unum

para,ptwma Adami, dikai,wma Christi.

The whole similitude chiefly consists in the imputation of Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteousness, unto the seed of the one by nature, and of the other by grace. But that we are counted righteous for the righteousness of Christ is, among Protestants (though some differ in the manner of their expressions), as yet without question; and, therefore, are no less undoubtedly accounted sinners by, or guilty of, the first sin of Adam.

I shall not show their opposition unto the truth in many more particulars concerning this article of original sin, having been long ago most excellently prevented, even in this very method, by the way of antithesis to the Scripture and the orthodox doctrine of our church, by the famously learned Master Reynolds, in his excellent treatise, “Of the Sinfulness of Sin;” where he hath discovered their errors, fully answered their sophistical objections, and invincibly confirmed the truth from the word of God.

Only, as I have showed already how they make this we call original sin no sin at all, neither inherent in us nor imputed unto us, nor no punishment truly so called; so, because our church saith directly that it meriteth damnation, I will briefly show what they conceive to be the desert thereof.

First, For Adam himself, they affirm “that the death threatened unto him if he transgressed the covenant, and due unto him for it,16 was neither death temporal, for that before he was subject unto, by the primary constitution of his nature; nor yet such an eternal death as is accompanied with damnation or everlasting punishment.” Nor why, then, let us here learn some new divinity. Christians have hitherto believed that whatsoever may be comprised under the name of death, together with its antecedents, consequents, and attendants, was threatened to Adam in this commination; and divines, until this day, can find but these two sorts of death in the Scripture, as penal unto men, and properly so called; and shall we now be persuaded that it was neither of these that was threatened unto Adam. It must be so, if we will believe the Arminians; it was neither the one nor the other of the former; but whereas he was created mortal, and subject to a temporal death, the sanction of his obedience was a threatening of the utter dissolution of his soul and body, or a reduction to their primitive nothing. But what if a man will not here take them at their words, but believe, according to St Paul, That death entered by sin; that if we had never sinned, we had never died; that man, in the state of innocency, was, by God’s constitution, free even from temporal death, and all things directly conducing thereunto, secondly, That this death, threatened to our first parents, comprehended damnation also of soul and body for evermore, and that of their imaginary dissolution there is not the least intimation in the word of God? —why, I confess they have impudence enough, in divers places, to beg that we would believe their assertions, but never confidence enough to venture once to prove them true. Now, they who make so slight of the desert of this sin in Adam himself will surely scarce allow it to have any ill merit at all in his posterity.

“Whether17 ever any one were damned for original sin, and adjudged to everlasting torments, is deservedly doubted of. Yea, we doubt not to affirm that never any was so damned,” saith Corvinus. And that this is not his sole opinion he declares by telling you no less of his master, Arminius18 “It is most true,” saith he, “that Arminius teacheth that it is perversely said that original sin makes a man guilty of death.” Of any death, it should seem, temporal, eternal, or that annihilation they dream of. And he said true enough. Arminius doth affirm it, adding this reason,19 “Because it is only the punishment of Adam’s actual sin.” Now, what kind of punishment they make this to be I showed you before. But truly I wonder, seeing they are everywhere so peremptory that the same thing cannot be a sin and a punishment, why they do so often nickname this “infirmity of nature,” and call it a sin; which they suppose to be as far different from it as fire from water. Is it because they are unwilling, by new naming it, to contradict St Paul in express terms, never proposing it under any other denomination, or, if they can get a sophistical elusion for him, is it lest, by so doing, Christians should the more plainly discern their heresy? Or whatever other cause it be, in this I am sure they contradict themselves, notwithstanding in this they agree full well,20 “That God rejecteth none for original sin only,” as Episcopius speaks. And here, if you tell them that the question is not “de facto,” what God doth, but “de jure,” what such sinners deserve, they tell us plainly,21 “That God will not destinate any infants to eternal punishment for original sin, without their own proper actual sins; neither can he do so by right or in justice.” So that the children of Turks, Pagans, and the like infidels, strangers from the covenant of grace, departing in their infancy, are far happier than any Christian men, who must undergo a hard warfare against sin and Satan, in danger to fall finally away at the last hour, and through many difficulties entering the kingdom of heaven, when they, without farther trouble, are presently assumed thither for their innocency; yea, although they are neither elected of God (for, as they affirm, he chooseth none but for their faith, which they have not); nor redeemed by Christ (for he died only for sinners, “he sayeth his people from their sins,” which they are not guilty of); nor sanctified by the Holy Ghost, all whose operations they restrain to a moral suasion, whereof infants are not a capable subject; — which is not much to the honor of the blessed Trinity, that heaven should be replenished with them whom the Father never elected, the Son never redeemed, nor the Holy Ghost sanctified.

And thus you see what they make of this original pravity of our nature, at most an infirmity or languor thereof, — neither a sin, nor the punishment of sin properly so called, nor yet a thing that deserves punishment as a sin; which last assertion, whether it be agreeable to holy Scripture or no, these three following observations will declare: —

First, There is no confusion, no disorder, no vanity in the whole world, in any of God’s creatures, that is not a punishment of our sin in Adam. That great and almost universal ruin of nature, proceeding from the curse of God overgrowing the earth, and the wrath of God revealing itself from heaven, is the proper issue of his transgression. It was of the great mercy of God that the whole frame of nature was not presently rolled up in darkness, and reduced to its primitive confusion. Had we ourselves been deprived of those remaining sparks of God’s image in our souls, which vindicate us from the number of the beasts that perish, — had we been all born fools and void of reason, — by dealing so with some in particular, he showeth us it had been but justice to have wrapped us in the same misery, all in general. All things, when God first created them, were exceeding good, and thought so by the wisdom of God himself; but our sin even compelled that good and wise Creator to hate and curse the work of his own hands. “Cursed is the ground,” saith he to Adam,

“for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee,” Genesis 3:17,18.

Hence was that heavy burden of “vanity,” that “bondage of corruption,” under which to this day “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain” until it be delivered, Romans 8:20-22. Now, if our sin had such a strange malignant influence upon those things which have no relation unto us but only as they were created for our use, surely it is of the great mercy of God that we ourselves are not quite confounded; which doth not yet so interpose itself, but that we are all compassed with divers sad effects of this iniquity, lying actually under divers pressing miseries, and deservedly obnoxious to everlasting destruction. So that, —

Secondly, Death temporal, with all its antecedents and attendants, — all infirmities, miseries, sicknesses, wasting destroying passions, casualties that are penal, all evil conducing thereunto or waiting on it, — a punishment of original sin; and this not only because the first actual sin of Adam is imputed to us, but most of them are the proper issues of that native corruption and pollution of sin which is stirring and operative within us for the production of such sad effects, our whole nature being by it thoroughly defiled. Hence are all the distortures and distemperatures of the soul by lusts, concupiscence, passions, blindness of mind, perverseness of will, inordinateness of affections, wherewith we are pressed and turmoiled, even proper issues of that inherent sin which possesseth our whole souls.

Upon the body, also, it hath such an influence, in disposing it to corruption and mortality, as it is the original of all those infirmities, sicknesses, and diseases, which make us nothing but a shop of such miseries for death itself. As these and the like degrees are the steps which lead us on apace in the road that tends unto it, so they are the direct, internal, efficient causes thereof, in subordination to the justice of Almighty God, by such means inflicting it as a punishment of our sins in Adam. Man before his fall, though not in regard of the matter whereof he was made, nor yet merely in respect of his quickening form, yet in regard of God’s ordination, was immortal, a keeper of his own everlastingness. Death, to which before he was not obnoxious, was threatened as a punishment of his sin: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;” the exposition of which words, given by God at the time of his inflicting this punishment, and pronouncing man subject to mortality, clearly showeth that it comprehended temporal death also: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Our return to dust is nothing but the soul leaving the body, whereby before it was preserved from corruption. Farther, St Paul opposeth that death we had by the sin of Adam to the resurrection of the body by the power of Christ:

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.

The life which all shall receive by the power of Christ at the last day is essentially a reunion of soul and body; and therefore their separation is a thing we incurred by the sin of Adam. The same apostle also, Romans v., describeth a universal reign of death over all, by reason of the first transgression. Even diseases, also, in the Scripture, are attributed unto sin, as their meritorious cause, John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 11:30; Revelation 2:22. And, in respect of all these, the mercy of God doth not so interpose itself but that all the sons of men are in some sort partakers of them.

Thirdly, The final desert of original sin, as our article speaketh, is damnation, — the wrath of God, to be poured on us in eternal torments of body and soul. To this end, also, many previous judgments of God are subservient, — as the privation of original righteousness (which he took and withheld upon Adam’s throwing it away), spiritual desertion, permission of sin, with all other destroying depravations of our nature, as far as they are merely penal; some of which are immediate consequents of Adam’s singular actual transgression, as privation of original righteousness; others, as damnation itself, the proper effects of that derived sin and pollution that is in us. There is none damned but for his own sin. When divines affirm that by Adam’s sin we are guilty of damnation, they do not mean that any are actually damned for this particular fact; but that by his sin, and our sinning in him, by God’s most just ordination, we have contracted that exceeding pravity and sinfulness of nature which deserveth the curse of God and eternal damnation. It must be an inherent uncleanness that actually excludes out of the kingdom of heaven, Revelation 21:27; which uncleanness the apostle shows to be in infants not sanctified by an interest in the covenant. In brief, we are baptized unto the “remission of sins,” that we may be saved, Acts 2:38. That, then, which is taken away by baptism is that which hinders our salvation; which is not the first sin of Adam imputed, but our own inherent lust and pollution. We cannot be washed, and cleansed, and purged from an imputed sin; which is done by the laver of regeneration. From that which lies upon us only by an external denomination, we have no need of cleansing; we may be said to be freed from it, or justified, but not purged. The soul, then, that is guilty of sin shall die, and that for its own guilt. If God should condemn us for original sin only, it were not by reason of the imputation of Adam’s fault, but of the iniquity of that portion of nature in which we are proprietaries.

Now here, to shut up all, observe, that in this inquiry of the desert of original sin, the question is not, What shall be the certain lot of those that depart this life under the guilt of this sin only? but, What this hereditary and native corruption doth deserve in all those in whom it is? for, as St Paul saith, “We judge not them that are without” (especially infants), 1 Corinthians 5:13. But for the demerit of it in the justice of God, our Savior expressly affirmeth, that” except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John 3:3,5; and let them that can, distinguish between a not going to heaven and a going to hell: a third receptacle of souls in the Scripture we find not. St Paul also tells us that “by nature we are the children of wrath,” Ephesians 2:3. Even originally and actually we are guilty of and obnoxious unto that wrath, which is accompanied with fiery indignation, that shall consume the adversaries. Again, we are assured that no unclean thing shall enter into heaven, Revelation 21:27; with which hell-deserving uncleanness children are polluted: and, therefore, unless it be purged with the blood of Christ, they have no interest in everlasting happiness. By this means sin is come upon all to condemnation; and yet do we not peremptorily censure to hell all infants departing this world without the laver of regeneration, — the ordinary means of waiving the punishment due to this pollution. That is the question “de facto,” which we before rejected. Yea, and two ways there are whereby God sayeth such infants, snatching them like brands out of the fire: —

First, By interesting them in the covenant, if their immediate or remote parents have been believers. He is a God of them and of their seed, extending his mercy unto a thousand generations of them that fear him.

Secondly, By his grace of election, which is most free, and not tied to any conditions; by which I make no doubt but God taketh many unto him in Christ whose parents never knew, or had been despisers of, the gospel. And this is the doctrine of our church, agreeable to the Scripture, affirming the desert of original sin to be God’s wrath and damnation. To both which how opposite is the Arminian doctrine may thus appear: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” Romans 5:18. “Adam sinned in his own proper person only, and there is no reason why God should impute that sin unto infants,” Boraeus.
“By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” Romans 5:19. “It is absurd that by one man’s disobedience many should be made actually disobedient,” Corvinus.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Psalm 51:5. “Infants are simply in that estate in which Adam was before his fall,” Venator.
“Else were your children unclean; but now are they holy,” 1 Corinthians 7:14. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one,” Job 14:4. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” John 3:3. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John 3:6. “Neither is it considerable whether they be the children of believers or of heathens; for all infants have the same innocency,” Rem. Apol. “That which we have by birth can be no evil of sin, because to be born is plainly involuntary,” Idem.
“By nature the children of wrath, even as others,” Ephesians 2:3. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” to wit, in him, Romans 5:12. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing,” chap. 7:18. “Original sin is neither a sin properly so called, which should make the posterity of Adam guilty of God’s wrath, nor yet a punishment of any sin on them,” Rem. Apol. “It is against equity that one should be accounted guilty of a sin that is not his own, that he should be judged nocent who in regard of his own will is truly innocent,” Idem.
“In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Genesis 2:17. “For as in Adam all die, even so,” etc., 1 Corinthians 15:22. “By nature the children of wrath,” Ephesians 2:3. “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth,” Revelation 21:27. “God neither doth nor can in justice appoint any to hell for original sin,” Rem. Apol. “It is perversely spoken, that original sin makes any one guilty of death,” Armin. “We no way doubt to affirm, that never any one was damned for original sin,” Corv.


  1. Joseph. Antiq. Judeo., lib. 15. cap. 11, sect. 6.
  2. “Infantes sunt simpliees, et stautes in eodem statu in quo Adamus fuit ante lapsum.” — Venat. Theol. re. et me., fol. 2.
  3. “Nec refert an infantes isti sint fidelium, an ethnicorum liberi, infantium enim, qua infantium, eadem est innocentia.” — Rem. Apol., p. 87.
  4. “Malum culpee non est, quia nasci plane est involuntarium,” etc. — Ibid, p. 84.
  5. “Imbecillitas membrorum infantilium innocens est, non animus.” — Aug.
  6. Adamus in propria persona peceavit, et nulla est ratio cur Deus peccatum illud infantibus imputet.” — Bor. in Artic. 31.
  7. “Contra aequitatem est, ut quis reus agatur propter peccatum non suum, ut vere nocens judicetur, qui quoad propriam suam voluntatem innocens est.” — Rem. Apol., c. 7. p. 84.
  8. An old Saxon word denoting a fence or border.
  9. “Contra naturam peccati est, ut censeatur peccatum, aut ut proprie in peccatum imputetur, quod propria voluntate commissure non est.” — Rem. Apol., c. 7. p. 84.
  10. Omnes eramus unus ille homo.” — Aug.
  11. “Est voluntarium, voluntate primi originantis, non voluntate contrahentis: ratione naturm, non personm.” — Thom, 1,2., q. 81, a.
  12. “Absurdum est ut ex unius inobedientia multi actu inobedientes, facti essent.” — Corr. ad Molin., cap. 7. sect. 8.
  13. “Fatemur peccatum Adami, a Deo posse dici imputatum posteris ejus, quatenus Deus posteros Adami eidem malo, cui Adamus per peccatum obnoxium se reddidit, obnoxios nasci voluit; sive quatenus Deus, malum, quod Adamo inflictum erat in poenam, in posteros ejus dimanare et transire permisit.” — Rem. Apol., p. 84.
  14. “Peccatum itaque originale nec habent pro peccato proprie dicto, quod posteros Adami odio Dei dignos faciat, nec pro malo, quod per modum proprie dictae poenae ab Adamo in posteros dimanet sed pro infirmitate,” etc. — Rem. Apol., fol. 84.
  15. Pareeus., ad Rom. 5.
  16. “Cure de aeterna morte loquuntur Remonstrantes in hac deAdamo quaestione, non intelligunt mortam illam, quae aeterna pcena sensus — dicitur,” etc. — Rem. Apol., cap. 4. p. 57.
  17. “An ullus omnino homo, propter peccatum originis solum damnetur, ac aeternis cruciatibus addicatur, merito dubitari potest: imo nullum ita damnari affirmare non veremur.” — Corv, ad Molin., cap. 9. sect. 5.
  18. “Verissimum est Arminium docere, perverse dici peccatum originis reum facere mortis.” — Corv, ad Tilen., p. 888.
  19. “Perverse dicitur peccatum originis, reum facere mortis, quum peccatum illud poena sit peccati actualis Adami.” — Armin. Resp. ad Quaest. 9. a. 3.
  20. “Deus neminem ob solum peccatum originis rejecit.” — Episcop., disp. 9. thes. 2.
  21. “Pro certo statuunt Deum nullos infantes, sine actualibus ac propriis peccatis morientes, aeternis cruciatibus destinare velle, aut jure destinare posse ob peccatum quod vocatur originis.” — Rem. Apol., p. 87.




IN the last chapter we discovered the Arminian attempt of re-advancing the corrupted nature of man into that state of innocency and holiness wherein it was at first by God created; in which design, because they cannot but discern that the success is not answerable to their desires, and not being able to deny but that for so much good as we want (having cast it away), or evil of sin that we are subject unto more than we were at our first creation, we must be responsible to the justice of God, they labor to draw down our first parents, even from the instant of their forming, into the same condition wherein we are engaged by reason of corrupted nature. But, truly, I fear they will scarce obtain so prosperous an issue of their endeavor as Mohammed had when he promised the people he would call a mountain unto him; which miracle when they assembled to behold, but the mountain would not stir for all his calling, he replied, “If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain,” and away he packed towards it. For we shall find that our Arminians can neither themselves climb the high mountain of innocency, nor yet call it down into the valley of sin and corruption wherein they are lodged. We have seen already how vain and frustrate was their former attempt: let us now take a view of their aspiring insolence, in making the pure creatures of God, holy and undefiled with any sin, to be invested with the same wretchedness and perverseness of nature with ourselves.

It is not my intention to enter into any curious discourse concerning the state and grace of Adam before his fall, but only to give a faithful assent to what God himself affirmed of all the works of his hands, — they were exceeding good. No evil, no deformity, or anything tending thereunto, did immediately issue from that Fountain of goodness and wisdom; and therefore, doubtless, man, the most excellent work of his hands, the greatest glory of his Creator, was then without spot or blemish, endued with all those perfections his nature and state of obedience was capable of. And careful we must be of casting any aspersions of defect on him that we will not with equal boldness ascribe to the image of God.

Nothing doth more manifest the deviation of our nature from its first institution, and declare the corruption wherewith we are polluted, than that propensity which is in us to every thing that is evil; that inclination of the flesh which lusteth always against the Spirit; that lust and concupiscence which fomenteth, conceiveth, hatcheth, bringeth forth, and nourisheth sin; that perpetual proneness that is in unregenerate nature to every thing that is contrary to the pure and holy law of God. Now, because neither Scripture nor experience will suffer Christians quite to deny this pravity of our nature, this averseness from all good and propensity to sin, the Arminians extenuate as much as they are able, affirming that it is no great matter, no more than Adam was subject unto in the state of innocency. But, what! did God create in Adam a proneness unto evil? was that a part of his glorious image in whose likeness he was framed? Yea, saith Corvinus,1 “By reason of his creation, man had an affection to what was forbidden by the law.” But yet this seems injustice, that “God2 should give a man a law to keep, and put upon his nature a repugnancy to that law;” as one of them affirmed at the synod of Dort. “No,” saith the former author;3 “man had not been fit to have had a law given unto him, had he not been endued with a propension and natural inclination to that which is forbidden by the law.” But why is this so necessary in men rather than angels? No doubt there was a law, a rule for their obedience, given unto them at their first creation, which some transgressed, when others kept it inviolate. Had they also a propensity to sin concreated with their nature? had they a natural affection put upon them by God to that which was forbidden by the law? Let them only who will be wise beyond the word of God affix such injustice on the righteous Judge of all the earth. But so it seems it must be.4 “There was an inclination in man to sin before the fall, though not altogether so vehement and inordinate as it is now,” saith Arminius. Hitherto we have thought that the original righteousness wherein Adam was created had comprehended the integrity and perfection of the whole man; not only that whereby the body was obedient unto the soul, and all the affections subservient to the rule of reason for the performance of all natural actions, but also a light, uprightness, and holiness of grace in the mind and will, whereby he was enabled to yield obedience unto God for the attaining of that supernatural end whereunto he was created. No; but5 “original righteousness,” say our new doctors, “was nothing but a bridle to help to keep man’s inordinate concupiscence within bounds:” so that the faculties of our souls were never endued with any proper innate holiness of their own.6 “In the spiritual death of sin there are no spiritual gifts properly wanting in the will, because they were never there,” say the six collocutors at the Hague.

The sum is, man was created with a nature not only weak and imperfect, unable by its native strength and endowments to attain that supernatural end for which he was made, and which he was commanded to seek, but depraved also with a love and desire of things repugnant to the will of God, by reason of an inbred inclination to sinning. It doth not properly belong to this place to show how they extenuate those gifts also with which they cannot deny but that he was endued, and also deny those which he had, as a power to believe in Christ, or to assent unto any truth that God should reveal unto him; and yet they grant this privilege to every one of his posterity, in that depraved condition of nature whereinto by sin he cast himself and us. We have all now a power of believing in Christ; that is, Adam, by his fall, obtained a supernatural endowment far more excellent than any he had before. And let them not here pretend the universality of the new covenant until they can prove it; and I am certain it will be long enough. But this, I say, belongs not to this place; only, let us see how, from the word of God, we may overthrow the former odious heresy: —

God in the beginning “created man in his own image,” Genesis 1:27, — that is, “upright,” Ecclesiastes 7:29, endued with a nature composed to obedience and holiness. That habitual grace and original righteousness wherewith he was invested was in a manner due unto him for the obtaining of that supernatural end whereunto he was created. A universal rectitude of all the faculties of his soul, advanced by supernatural graces, enabling him to the performance of those duties whereunto they were required, is that which we call the innocency of our first parents. Our nature was then inclined to good only, and adorned with all those qualifications that were necessary to make it acceptable unto God, and able to do what was required of us by the law, under the condition of everlasting happiness. Nature and grace, or original righteousness, before the fall, ought not to be so distinguished as if the one were a thing prone to evil, resisted and quelled by the other; for both complied, in a sweet union and harmony, to carry us along in the way of obedience to eternal blessedness. [There was] no contention between the flesh and the Spirit; but as all other things at theirs, so the whole man jointly aimed at his own chiefest good, having all means of attaining it in his power. That there was then no inclination to sin, no concupiscence of that which is evil, no repugnancy to the law of God, in the pure nature of man, is proved, because, —

First, The Scripture, describing the condition of our nature at the first creation thereof, intimates no such propensity to evil, but rather a holy perfection, quite excluding it. We were created “in the image of God,” Genesis 1:27, — in such a perfect uprightness as is opposite to all evil inventions, Ecclesiastes 7:29; to which image when we are again in some measure “renewed” by the grace of Christ, Colossians 3:10, we see by the first-fruits that it consisted in “righteousness and true holiness,” — in truth and perfect holiness, Ephesians 4:24.

Secondly, An inclination to evil, and a lusting after that which is forbidden, is that inordinate concupiscence wherewith our nature is now infected; which is everywhere in the Scripture condemned as a sin; St Paul, in the seventh to the Romans, affirming expressly that it is a sin, and forbidden by the law, verse 7, producing all manner of evil, and hindering all that is good, — a “body of death,” verse 24; and St James maketh it even the womb of all iniquity, James 1:14,15. Surely our nature was not at first yoked with such a troublesome inmate. Where is the uprightness and innocency we have hitherto conceived our first parents to have enjoyed before the fall? A repugnancy to the law must needs be a thing sinful. An inclination to evil, to a thing forbidden, is an anomy, — a deviation and discrepancy from the pure and holy law of God. We must speak no more, then, of the state of innocency, but only of a short space wherein no outward actual sins were committed. Their proper root, if this be true, was concreated with our nature. Is this that obediential harmony to all the commandments of God which is necessary for a pure and innocent creature, that hath a law prescribed unto him? By which of the ten precepts is this inclination to evil required? Is it by the last, “Thou shalt not covet?” or by that sum of them all, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart,” etc.? Is this all the happiness of paradise, — to be turmoiled with a nature swelling with abundance of vain desires, and with a main stream carried headlong to all iniquity, if its violent appetite be not powerfully kept in by the bit and bridle of original righteousness? So it is we see with children now;7 and so it should have been with them in paradise, if they were subject to this rebellious inclination to sin.

Thirdly, and principally, Whence had our primitive nature this affection to those things that were forbidden it, — this rebellion and repugnancy to the law, which must needs be an anomy, and so a thing sinful? There was as yet no demerit, to deserve it as a punishment. What fault is it to be created?8 The operation of any thing which hath its original with the being of the thing itself must needs proceed from the same cause as doth the essence or being itself; as the fire’s tending upwards relates to the same original with the fire: and, therefore, this inclination or affection can have no other author but God; by which means he is entitled not only to the first sin, as the efficient cause, but to all the sins in the world arising from thence. Plainly, and without any strained consequences, he is made the author of sin; for even those positive properties which can have no other fountain but the author of nature, being set on evil, are directly sinful. And here the idol of free-will may triumph in this victory over the God of heaven. Heretofore all the blame of sin lay upon his shoulders, but now he begins to complain, Ouvk e`gw. ai;tio,j eivmi avlla. Zeu.j kai. moi/ra. “It is God and the fate of our creation that hath placed us in this condition of naturally affecting that which is evil. Back with all your charges against the ill government of this new deity within his imaginary dominion; what hurt doth he do but incline men unto evil, and God himself did no less at the first?” But let them that will, rejoice in these blasphemies: it sufficeth us to know that” God created man upright,” though he “hath sought out many inventions;” so that in this following dissonancy we cleave to the better part: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them,” Genesis 1:27. “Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him,” Colossians 3:10. “ — which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Ephesians 4:24. “There was in man before the fall an inclination to sinning, though not so vehement and inordinate as now it is,” Armin. “God put upon man a repugnancy to his law,” Gesteranus in the Synod. “Man, by reason of his creation, had an affection to those things that are forbidden by the law,” Corv.
“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but he hath sought out many inventions,” Ecclesiastes 7:29. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” Romans 5:12. “The will of man had never any spiritual endowments,” Rem. Apol.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God tempteth no man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust,” James 1:13,14. “It was not fit that man should have a law given him, unless he had a natural inclination to what was forbidden by the law,” Corv.


  1. “Ex ratione creationis homo habebat affectum ad ea quae vetabantur.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 6. sect. 1.
  2. “Deus homini repugnantiam indidit adversus legem.” — Joh. Gest. in Synod. Confes.
  3. “Homo non est idoneus cui lex feratur, quando in eo, ad id quod lege vetatur, non est propensio, ac inclinatio naturalis.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 10. sect. 15.
  4. “Inclinatio ad peccandum ante lapsum in homine fuit, licet non ita vehemens ac inordinata ut nunc est.” — Armin. ad Artic. Respon.
  5. “Justitia originalis instar fraeni fuit, quod preestabat internae concupiscentiae ordinationem.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 8. sect. 1.
  6. “In spirituali morte non separantur proprie dona spiritualia a voluntate, quia illa nunquam fuerunt ei insita.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 250.
  7. “Vidi ego zelantem parvulum qui nondum loquebatur, et intuebatur pallidus, amaro aspectu colluctaneum suum.” — Aug.
  8. “Operatio quae simul incipit cum esse rei, est ei ab agente, a quo habet esse, sicut moveri sursum inest igni a generante.” — Alvar., p. 199.




IN the last chapter we discovered the Arminian attempt of re-advancing the corrupted nature of man into that state of innocency and holiness wherein it was at first by God created; in which design, because they cannot but discern that the success is not answerable to their desires, and not being able to deny but that for so much good as we want (having cast it away), or evil of sin that we are subject unto more than we were at our first creation, we must be responsible to the justice of God, they labor to draw down our first parents, even from the instant of their forming, into the same condition wherein we are engaged by reason of corrupted nature. But, truly, I fear they will scarce obtain so prosperous an issue of their endeavor as Mohammed had when he promised the people he would call a mountain unto him; which miracle when they assembled to behold, but the mountain would not stir for all his calling, he replied, “If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain,” and away he packed towards it. For we shall find that our Arminians can neither themselves climb the high mountain of innocency, nor yet call it down into the valley of sin and corruption wherein they are lodged. We have seen already how vain and frustrate was their former attempt: let us now take a view of their aspiring insolence, in making the pure creatures of God, holy and undefiled with any sin, to be invested with the same wretchedness and perverseness of nature with ourselves.

It is not my intention to enter into any curious discourse concerning the state and grace of Adam before his fall, but only to give a faithful assent to what God himself affirmed of all the works of his hands, — they were exceeding good. No evil, no deformity, or anything tending thereunto, did immediately issue from that Fountain of goodness and wisdom; and therefore, doubtless, man, the most excellent work of his hands, the greatest glory of his Creator, was then without spot or blemish, endued with all those perfections his nature and state of obedience was capable of. And careful we must be of casting any aspersions of defect on him that we will not with equal boldness ascribe to the image of God.

Nothing doth more manifest the deviation of our nature from its first institution, and declare the corruption wherewith we are polluted, than that propensity which is in us to every thing that is evil; that inclination of the flesh which lusteth always against the Spirit; that lust and concupiscence which fomenteth, conceiveth, hatcheth, bringeth forth, and nourisheth sin; that perpetual proneness that is in unregenerate nature to every thing that is contrary to the pure and holy law of God. Now, because neither Scripture nor experience will suffer Christians quite to deny this pravity of our nature, this averseness from all good and propensity to sin, the Arminians extenuate as much as they are able, affirming that it is no great matter, no more than Adam was subject unto in the state of innocency. But, what! did God create in Adam a proneness unto evil? was that a part of his glorious image in whose likeness he was framed? Yea, saith Corvinus,1 “By reason of his creation, man had an affection to what was forbidden by the law.” But yet this seems injustice, that “God2 should give a man a law to keep, and put upon his nature a repugnancy to that law;” as one of them affirmed at the synod of Dort. “No,” saith the former author;3 “man had not been fit to have had a law given unto him, had he not been endued with a propension and natural inclination to that which is forbidden by the law.” But why is this so necessary in men rather than angels? No doubt there was a law, a rule for their obedience, given unto them at their first creation, which some transgressed, when others kept it inviolate. Had they also a propensity to sin concreated with their nature? had they a natural affection put upon them by God to that which was forbidden by the law? Let them only who will be wise beyond the word of God affix such injustice on the righteous Judge of all the earth. But so it seems it must be.4 “There was an inclination in man to sin before the fall, though not altogether so vehement and inordinate as it is now,” saith Arminius. Hitherto we have thought that the original righteousness wherein Adam was created had comprehended the integrity and perfection of the whole man; not only that whereby the body was obedient unto the soul, and all the affections subservient to the rule of reason for the performance of all natural actions, but also a light, uprightness, and holiness of grace in the mind and will, whereby he was enabled to yield obedience unto God for the attaining of that supernatural end whereunto he was created. No; but5 “original righteousness,” say our new doctors, “was nothing but a bridle to help to keep man’s inordinate concupiscence within bounds:” so that the faculties of our souls were never endued with any proper innate holiness of their own.6 “In the spiritual death of sin there are no spiritual gifts properly wanting in the will, because they were never there,” say the six collocutors at the Hague.

The sum is, man was created with a nature not only weak and imperfect, unable by its native strength and endowments to attain that supernatural end for which he was made, and which he was commanded to seek, but depraved also with a love and desire of things repugnant to the will of God, by reason of an inbred inclination to sinning. It doth not properly belong to this place to show how they extenuate those gifts also with which they cannot deny but that he was endued, and also deny those which he had, as a power to believe in Christ, or to assent unto any truth that God should reveal unto him; and yet they grant this privilege to every one of his posterity, in that depraved condition of nature whereinto by sin he cast himself and us. We have all now a power of believing in Christ; that is, Adam, by his fall, obtained a supernatural endowment far more excellent than any he had before. And let them not here pretend the universality of the new covenant until they can prove it; and I am certain it will be long enough. But this, I say, belongs not to this place; only, let us see how, from the word of God, we may overthrow the former odious heresy: —

God in the beginning “created man in his own image,” Genesis 1:27, — that is, “upright,” Ecclesiastes 7:29, endued with a nature composed to obedience and holiness. That habitual grace and original righteousness wherewith he was invested was in a manner due unto him for the obtaining of that supernatural end whereunto he was created. A universal rectitude of all the faculties of his soul, advanced by supernatural graces, enabling him to the performance of those duties whereunto they were required, is that which we call the innocency of our first parents. Our nature was then inclined to good only, and adorned with all those qualifications that were necessary to make it acceptable unto God, and able to do what was required of us by the law, under the condition of everlasting happiness. Nature and grace, or original righteousness, before the fall, ought not to be so distinguished as if the one were a thing prone to evil, resisted and quelled by the other; for both complied, in a sweet union and harmony, to carry us along in the way of obedience to eternal blessedness. [There was] no contention between the flesh and the Spirit; but as all other things at theirs, so the whole man jointly aimed at his own chiefest good, having all means of attaining it in his power. That there was then no inclination to sin, no concupiscence of that which is evil, no repugnancy to the law of God, in the pure nature of man, is proved, because, —

First, The Scripture, describing the condition of our nature at the first creation thereof, intimates no such propensity to evil, but rather a holy perfection, quite excluding it. We were created “in the image of God,” Genesis 1:27, — in such a perfect uprightness as is opposite to all evil inventions, Ecclesiastes 7:29; to which image when we are again in some measure “renewed” by the grace of Christ, Colossians 3:10, we see by the first-fruits that it consisted in “righteousness and true holiness,” — in truth and perfect holiness, Ephesians 4:24.

Secondly, An inclination to evil, and a lusting after that which is forbidden, is that inordinate concupiscence wherewith our nature is now infected; which is everywhere in the Scripture condemned as a sin; St Paul, in the seventh to the Romans, affirming expressly that it is a sin, and forbidden by the law, verse 7, producing all manner of evil, and hindering all that is good, — a “body of death,” verse 24; and St James maketh it even the womb of all iniquity, James 1:14,15. Surely our nature was not at first yoked with such a troublesome inmate. Where is the uprightness and innocency we have hitherto conceived our first parents to have enjoyed before the fall? A repugnancy to the law must needs be a thing sinful. An inclination to evil, to a thing forbidden, is an anomy, — a deviation and discrepancy from the pure and holy law of God. We must speak no more, then, of the state of innocency, but only of a short space wherein no outward actual sins were committed. Their proper root, if this be true, was concreated with our nature. Is this that obediential harmony to all the commandments of God which is necessary for a pure and innocent creature, that hath a law prescribed unto him? By which of the ten precepts is this inclination to evil required? Is it by the last, “Thou shalt not covet?” or by that sum of them all, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart,” etc.? Is this all the happiness of paradise, — to be turmoiled with a nature swelling with abundance of vain desires, and with a main stream carried headlong to all iniquity, if its violent appetite be not powerfully kept in by the bit and bridle of original righteousness? So it is we see with children now;7 and so it should have been with them in paradise, if they were subject to this rebellious inclination to sin.

Thirdly, and principally, Whence had our primitive nature this affection to those things that were forbidden it, — this rebellion and repugnancy to the law, which must needs be an anomy, and so a thing sinful? There was as yet no demerit, to deserve it as a punishment. What fault is it to be created?8 The operation of any thing which hath its original with the being of the thing itself must needs proceed from the same cause as doth the essence or being itself; as the fire’s tending upwards relates to the same original with the fire: and, therefore, this inclination or affection can have no other author but God; by which means he is entitled not only to the first sin, as the efficient cause, but to all the sins in the world arising from thence. Plainly, and without any strained consequences, he is made the author of sin; for even those positive properties which can have no other fountain but the author of nature, being set on evil, are directly sinful. And here the idol of free-will may triumph in this victory over the God of heaven. Heretofore all the blame of sin lay upon his shoulders, but now he begins to complain, Ouvk e`gw. ai;tio,j eivmi avlla. Zeu.j kai. moi/ra. “It is God and the fate of our creation that hath placed us in this condition of naturally affecting that which is evil. Back with all your charges against the ill government of this new deity within his imaginary dominion; what hurt doth he do but incline men unto evil, and God himself did no less at the first?” But let them that will, rejoice in these blasphemies: it sufficeth us to know that” God created man upright,” though he “hath sought out many inventions;” so that in this following dissonancy we cleave to the better part: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them,” Genesis 1:27. “Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him,” Colossians 3:10. “ — which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Ephesians 4:24. “There was in man before the fall an inclination to sinning, though not so vehement and inordinate as now it is,” Armin. “God put upon man a repugnancy to his law,” Gesteranus in the Synod. “Man, by reason of his creation, had an affection to those things that are forbidden by the law,” Corv.
“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but he hath sought out many inventions,” Ecclesiastes 7:29. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” Romans 5:12. “The will of man had never any spiritual endowments,” Rem. Apol.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God tempteth no man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust,” James 1:13,14. “It was not fit that man should have a law given him, unless he had a natural inclination to what was forbidden by the law,” Corv.


  1. “Ex ratione creationis homo habebat affectum ad ea quae vetabantur.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 6. sect. 1.
  2. “Deus homini repugnantiam indidit adversus legem.” — Joh. Gest. in Synod. Confes.
  3. “Homo non est idoneus cui lex feratur, quando in eo, ad id quod lege vetatur, non est propensio, ac inclinatio naturalis.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 10. sect. 15.
  4. “Inclinatio ad peccandum ante lapsum in homine fuit, licet non ita vehemens ac inordinata ut nunc est.” — Armin. ad Artic. Respon.
  5. “Justitia originalis instar fraeni fuit, quod preestabat internae concupiscentiae ordinationem.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 8. sect. 1.
  6. “In spirituali morte non separantur proprie dona spiritualia a voluntate, quia illa nunquam fuerunt ei insita.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 250.
  7. “Vidi ego zelantem parvulum qui nondum loquebatur, et intuebatur pallidus, amaro aspectu colluctaneum suum.” — Aug.
  8. “Operatio quae simul incipit cum esse rei, est ei ab agente, a quo habet esse, sicut moveri sursum inest igni a generante.” — Alvar., p. 199.




THE sum of those controversies, wherewith the Arminians and their abettors have troubled the church, about the death of Christ, may be reduced to two heads: — First, Concerning the object of his merit, or whom he died for; secondly, Concerning the efficacy and end of his death, or what he deserved, procured, merited, and obtained, for them for whom he died. In resolution of the first, they affirm that he died for all and every one; of the second, that he died for no one man at all in that sense Christians have hitherto believed that he laid down his life, and submitted himself to bear the burden of his Father’s wrath for their sakes. It seems to me a strange extenuation of the merit of Christ, to teach that no good at all by his death doth redound to divers of them for whom he died. What participation in the benefit of his suffering had Pharaoh or Judas? Do they not at this hour, and shall they not to eternity, feel the weight and burden of their own sins? Had they either grace in this world, or glory in the other, that they should be said to have an interest in the death of our Savior? Christians have hitherto believed, that for whom Christ died, for their sins he made satisfaction, that they themselves should not eternally suffer for them. Is God unjust to punish twice for the same fault? his own Son once, and again the poor sinners for whom he suffered? I cannot conceive an intention in God that Christ should satisfy his justice for the sin of them that were in hell some thousands of years before, and yet be still resolved to continue their punishment on them to all eternity. No, doubtless: Christ giveth life to every one for whom he gave his life; he loseth not one of them whom he purchased with his blood.

The first part of this controversy may be handled under these two questions: — First, Whether God giving his Son, and Christ making his soul a ransom for sin, intended thereby to redeem all and every one from their sins, that all and every one alike, from the beginning of the world to the last day, should all equally be partakers of the fruits of his death and passion; which purpose of theirs is in the most frustrate? Secondly, Whether God had not a certain infallible intention of gathering unto himself a “chosen people,” of collecting a “church of first-born,” of saving his “little flock,” of bringing some certainly to happiness, by the death of his only Son; which in the event he doth accomplish?

The second part also may be reduced to these two heads: — First, Whether Christ did not make full satisfaction for all their sins for whom he died, and merited glory, or everlasting happiness, to be bestowed on them upon the performance of those conditions God should require? Secondly (which is the proper controversy I shall chiefly insist upon), Whether Christ did not procure for his own people a power to become the sons of God, merit and deserve at the hands of God for them, grace, faith, righteousness, and sanctification, whereby they may be enabled infallibly to perform the conditions of the new covenant, upon the which they shall be admitted to glory?

To the first question of the first part of the controversy, the Arminians answer affirmatively, — to wit, that Christ died for all alike; the benefit of his passion belongs equally to all the posterity of Adam. And to the second negatively, — that God had no such intention of bringing many chosen sons unto salvation by the death of Christ, but determined of grace and glory no more precisely to one than to another, to John than Judas, Abraham than Pharaoh? Both which, as the learned Moulin observed,1 seemed to be invented to make Christianity ridiculous, and expose our religion to the derision of all knowing men: for who can possibly conceive that one by the appointment of God should die for another, and yet that other, by the same justice, be allotted unto death himself, when one’s death only was due; that Christ hath made a full satisfaction for their sins who shall everlastingly feel the weight of them themselves; that he should merit and obtain reconciliation with God for them who live and die his enemies, grace and glory for them who are graceless in this life and damned in that which is to come; that he should get remission of sins for them whose sins were never pardoned? In brief, if this sentence be true, either Christ by his death did not reconcile us unto God, make satisfaction to his justice for our iniquities, redeem us from our sins, purchase a kingdom, an everlasting inheritance for us, — which I hope no Christian will say; or else all the former absurdities must necessarily follow, — which no rational man will ever admit.

Neither may we be charged as straiteners of the merit of Christ; for we advance the true value and worth thereof (as hereafter will appear) far beyond all the Arminians ascribe unto it. We confess that that “blood of God,” Acts 20:28, of the “Lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Peter 1:19, was so exceedingly precious, of that infinite worth and value, that it might have saved a thousand believing worlds, John 3:16; Romans 3:22. His death was of sufficient dignity to have been made a ransom for all the sins of every one in the world. And on this internal sufficiency of his death and passion is grounded the universality of evangelical promises; which have no such restriction in their own nature as that they should not be made to all and every one, though the promulgation and knowledge of them are tied only to the good pleasure of God’s special providence, Matthew 16:17; as also that economy and dispensation of the new covenant whereby, the partition-wall being broken down, there remains no more difference between Jew and Gentile, the utmost borders of the earth being given in for Christ’s inheritance.

So that, in some sense, Christ may be said to die for “all,” and “the whole world;” — first, Inasmuch as the worth and value of his death was very sufficient to have been made a price for all their sins; secondly, Inasmuch as this word “all” is taken for some of all sorts (not for every one of every sort), as it is frequently used in the holy Scripture: so Christ being lifted up, “drew all unto him,” John 12:32; that is, believers out of all sorts of men. The apostles cured all diseases, or some of all sorts: they did not cure every particular disease, but there was no kind of disease that was exempted from their power of healing. So that where it is said that Christ “died for all,” it is meant either, — first, All the faithful; or, secondly, Some of all sorts; thirdly, Not only Jews, but Gentiles. For, —

Secondly, The proper counsel and intention of God in sending his Son into the world to die was, that thereby he might confirm and ratify the new covenant to his elect, and purchase for them all the good things which are contained in the tenure of that covenant, — to wit, grace and glory; that by his death he might bring many (yet some certain) children to glory, obtaining for them that were given unto him by his Father (that is, his whole church) reconciliation with God, remission of sins, faith, righteousness, sanctification, and life eternal. That is the end to which they are to be brought, and the means whereby God will have them attain it. He died that he might gather the dispersed children of God, and make them partakers of everlasting glory, — to “give eternal life to as many as God gave him,” John 17:2. And on this purpose of himself and his Father is founded the intercession of Christ for his elect and chosen people; performed partly on the earth, John 17, partly in heaven, before the throne of grace: which is nothing but a presentation of himself and his merits, accompanied with the prayers of his mediatorship before God, that he would be pleased to grant and effectually to apply the good things he hath by them obtained to all for whom he hath obtained them. His intercession in heaven is nothing but a continued oblation of himself. So that whatsoever Christ impetrated, merited, or obtained by his death and passion, must be infallibly applied unto and bestowed upon them for whom he intended to obtain it; or else his intercession is vain, he is not heard in the prayers of his mediatorship. An actual reconciliation with God, and communication of grace and glory, must needs betide all them that have any such interest in the righteousness of Christ as to have it accepted for their good. The sole end why Christ would so dearly purchase those good things is, an actual application of them unto his chosen: God set forth the propitiation of his blood for the remission of sins, that he might be the justifier of him which believeth on Jesus, Romans 3:25,26. But this part of the controversy is not that which I principally intend; only, I will give you a brief sum of those reasons which overthrow their heresy in this particular branch thereof: —

First, The death of Christ is in divers places of the Scripture restrained to his “people,” and “elect,” his “church,” and “sheep,” Matthew 1:21; John 10:11-13; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; John 11:51,52; Romans 8:32,34; Hebrews 2:9,14; Revelation 5:9; Daniel 9:26; — and therefore the good purchased thereby ought not to be extended to “dogs,” “reprobates,” and “those that are without.”

Secondly, For whom Christ died, he died as their sponsor, in their room and turn, that he might free them from the guilt and desert of death; which is clearly expressed Romans 5:6-8. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed,” Isaiah 53:5,6, etc. “He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,” Galatians 3:13. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. Evidently he changeth turns with us, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Yea, in other things, it is plain in the Scripture that to die for another is to take his place and room, with an intention that he should live, 2 Samuel 18:33; Romans 5. So that Christ dying for men made satisfaction for their sins, that they should not die. Now, for what sins he made satisfaction, for them the justice of God is satisfied; which surely is not done for the sins of the reprobates, because he justly punisheth them to eternity upon themselves, Matthew 5:26.

Thirdly, For whom Christ “died,” for them also he “rose again,” to make intercession for them: for whose “offenses he was delivered,” for their “justification he was raised,” Romans 4:25, 5:10. He is a high priest “to make intercession for them” in the holy of holies for whom “by his own blood he obtained eternal redemption,” Hebrews 9:11,12. These two acts of his priesthood are not to be separated; it belongs to the same mediator for sin to sacrifice and pray. Our assurance that he is our advocate is grounded on his being a propitiation for our sins. He is an “advocate” for every one for whose sins his blood was a “propitiation,” 1 John 2:1,2. But Christ doth not intercede and pray for all, as himself often witnesseth, John 17; he “maketh intercession” only for them who “come unto God by him,” Hebrews 7:25. He is not a mediator of them that perish, no more than an advocate of them that fail in their suits; and therefore the benefit of his death also must be restrained to them who are finally partakers of both. We must not so disjoin the offices of Christ’s mediatorship, that one of them may be versated about some towards whom he exerciseth not the other; much less ought we so to separate the several acts of the same office. For whom Christ is a priest, to offer himself a sacrifice for their sins, he is surely a king, to apply the good things purchased by his death unto them, as Arminius himself confesseth; much more to whom he is a priest by sacrifice, he will be a priest by intercession. And, therefore, seeing he doth not intercede and pray for every one, he did not die for every one.

Fourthly, For whom Christ died he merited grace and glory, faith and salvation, and reconciliation with God; as I shall show hereafter. But this he hath not done for all and every one. Many do never believe; the wrath of God remaineth upon some; the wrath of God abideth on them that do not believe, John 3:36. To abide argueth a continued, uninterrupted act. Now, to be reconciled to one, and yet to lie under his heavy anger, seem to me avsu,stata, — things that will scarce consist together.

The reasons are many; I only point at the heads of some of them.

Fifthly, Christ died for them whom God gave unto him to be saved: “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6. He layeth down his life for the sheep committed to his charge, chapter 10:11. But all are not the sheep of Christ, all are not given unto him of God to be brought to glory; for of those that are so given there is not one that perisheth, for “he giveth eternal life to as many as God hath given him,” chapter 17:2. “No man is able to pluck them out of his Father’s hand,” chapter 10:28,29.

Sixthly, Look whom, and how many, that love of God embraced that was the cause of sending his Son to redeem them; for them, and so many, did Christ, according to the counsel of his Father, and in himself, intentionally lay down his life. Now, this love is not universal, being his “good pleasure” of blessing with spiritual blessings and saving some in Christ, Ephesians 1:4,5; which good pleasure of his evidently comprehendeth some, when others are excluded, Matthew 11:25,26. Yea, the love of God in giving Christ for us is of the same extent with that grace whereby he calleth us to faith, or bestoweth faith on us: for “he hath called us with an holy calling, according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 1:9; which, doubtless, is not universal and common unto all.

Innumerable other reasons there are to prove, that seeing God hath given his elect only, whom only he loved, to Christ to be redeemed; and seeing that the Son loveth only those who are given him of his Father, and redeemeth only whom he loveth; seeing, also, that the Holy Spirit, the love of the Father and the Son, sanctifieth all, and only them, that are elected and redeemed, — it is not our part, with a preposterous liberality, against the witness of Christ himself, to assign the salvation attained by him as due to them that are without the congregation of them whom the Father hath loved and chosen, without that church which the Son loved and gave his life for, nor none of the members of that sanctified body whereof Christ is the Head and Savior. I urge no more, because this is not that part of the controversy that I desire to lay open.

I come now to consider the main question of this difference, though sparingly handled by our divines, concerning what our Savior merited and purchased for them for whom he died. And here you shall find the old idol playing his pranks, and quite divesting the merit of Christ from the least ability or power of doing us any good; for though the Arminians pretend, very speciously, that Christ died for all men, yet, in effect, they make him die for no one man at all, and that by denying the effectual operation of his death, and ascribing the proper issues of his passion to the brave endeavors of their own Pelagian deity.

We, according to the Scriptures, plainly believe that Christ hath, by his righteousness, merited for us grace and glory; that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings, in, through, and for him; that he is made unto us righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that he hath procured for us, and that God for his sake bestoweth on us, every grace in this life that maketh us differ from others, and all that glory we hope for in that which is to come; he procured for us remission of all our sins, an actual reconciliation with God, faith, and obedience. Yea, but this is such a desperate doctrine as stabs at the very heart of the idol, and would make him as altogether useless as if he were but a fig-tree log. What remaineth for him to do, if all things in this great work of our salvation must be thus ascribed unto Christ and the merit of his death? Wherefore the worshippers of this great god, Lib. Arbit., oppose their engines against the whole fabric, and cry down the title of Christ’s merits to these spiritual blessings, in the behalf of their imaginary deity.

Now, because they are things of a twofold denomination about which we contend before the King of heaven, each part producing their evidence, the first springing from the favor of God towards us, the second from the working of his grace actually within us, I shall handle them severally and apart; — especially because to things of this latter sort, gifts, as we call them, enabling us to fulfill the condition required for the attaining of glory, we lay a double claim on God’s behalf; first, As the death of Christ is the meritorious cause procuring them of him; secondly, As his free grace is their efficient cause working them in us; — they also producing a double title, whereby they would invest their beloved darling with a sole propriety in causing these effects; first, In regard that they are our own acts, performed in us and by us; secondly, As they are parts of our duty which we are enjoined to do. So that the quarrel is directly between Christ’s merits and our own free-will about procuring the favor of God, and obtaining grace and righteousness. Let us see what they say to the first.

They affirm that2 “the immediate and proper effect or end of the death and passion of Christ is, not an actual ablation of sin from men, not an actual remission of iniquities, justification and redemption of any soul;” that is, Christ’s death is not the meritorious cause of the remission of our sins, of redemption and justification. The meritorious cause, I say: for of some of them, as of justification, as it is terminated in us, we confess there are causes of other kinds, as faith is the instrument and the Holy Spirit the efficient thereof; but for the sole meritorious procuring cause of these spiritual blessings, we always took it to be the righteousness and death of Christ, believing plainly that the end why Christ died, and the fruit of his sufferings, was our reconciliation with God, redemption from our sins, freedom from the curse, deliverance from the wrath of God and power of hell, — though we be not actual partakers of these things, to the pacification of our own consciences, without the intervening operation of the Holy Spirit, and faith by him wrought in us.

But if this be not, pray what is obtained by the death of Christ Why,3 “a potential, conditionate reconciliation, not actual and absolute,” saith Corvinus. But yet this potential reconciliation being a new expression, never intimated in the Scripture, and scarce of itself intelligible, we want a farther explanation of their mind, to know what it is that directly they assign to the merits of Christ. Wherefore they tell us that the fruit of his death was4 “such an impetration or obtaining of reconciliation with God, and redemption for us, that God thereby hath a power, his justice being satisfied, and so not compelling him to the contrary, to grant remission of sins to sinful men on what condition he would;” or, as another speaketh it,5 “There was, by the effusion of Christ’s blood, a right obtained unto and settled in God, of reconciling the world, and of opening unto all a gate of repentance and faith in Christ.” But now, whereas the Scripture everywhere affirmeth that Christ died for our good, to obtain blessings for us, to purchase our peace, to acquire and merit for us the good things contained in the promise of the covenant, this opinion seems to restrain the end and fruit thereof to the obtaining of a power and liberty unto God of prescribing us a condition whereby we may be saved. But yet, it may be, thus much at least Christ obtained of God in our behalf, that he should assign faith in him to be this condition, and to bestow it upon us also. No; neither the one nor the other.6 “After all this, had it so seemed good unto his wisdom, God might have chosen the Jews, and others, following the righteousness of the law, as well as believers; because he might have assigned any other condition of salvation besides faith in Christ,” saith Grevinchovius. Notwithstanding, then, the death of Christ for us, we might have been held to the old rule, “Do this, and live.” But if this be true, I cannot perceive how it may be said that Christ died to redeem us from our sins, to save our souls, and bring us unto glory. Neither, perhaps, do they think this to be any great inconvenience; for the same author affirmeth that7 “Christ cannot be said properly to die to save any one.” And a little after he more fully declares himself, that8 “after Christ had obtained all that he did obtain by his death, the right remained wholly in God to apply it, or not to apply it, as it should seem good unto him; the application of grace and glory to any man was not the end for which Christ obtained them, but to get a right and power unto God of bestowing those things on what sort of men he would;” — which argues no redemption of us from our sins, but a vindication of God from such a condition wherein he had not power to forgive them; not an obtaining of salvation for us, but of a liberty unto God of saving us on some condition or other.

But now, after God hath got this power by the death of Christ, and out of his gracious good pleasure assigned faith to be the means for us to attain those blessings, he hath procured himself a liberty to bestow. Did Christ obtain this faith for us of him, if it be a thing not in our own power? No;9 “faith is not obtained by the death of Christ,” saith Corvinus. So that there is no good thing, no spiritual blessing, into which any man in the world hath any interest by the death of Christ: which is not so great an absurdity but that they are most ready to grant it. Arnoldus confesseth,10 “that he believes that the death of Christ might have enjoyed its end, or his merit its full force, although never any had believed:” and again,11 “The death and satisfaction of Christ being accomplished, it might come to pass that, none fulfilling the condition of the new covenant, none should be saved.” So also saith Grevinchovius. O Christ! that any pretending to profess thy holy name should thus slight the precious work of thy death and passion! Surely never any before, who counted it their glory to be called Christians, did ever thus extenuate (their friends the Socinians only excepted) the dignity of his merit and satisfaction. Take but a short view of what benefit they allow to redound to us by the effusion of his precious blood, and you may see what a pestilent heresy these men have labored to bring into the church. Neither faith nor salvation, grace nor glory, hath he purchased for us, — not any spiritual blessing, that by our interest in his death we can claim to be ours! It is not such a reconciliation with God as that he thereupon should be contented again to be called our God; it is not justification, nor righteousness, nor actual redemption from our sins; it did not make satisfaction for our iniquities, and deliver us from the curse;12 “only it was a means of obtaining such a possibility of salvation, as that God, without wronging of his justice, might save us if he would, one way or other.” So that, when Christ had done all that he could, there was not one man in the world immediately the better for it; notwithstanding the utmost of his endeavor, every one might have been damned with Judas to the pit of hell; for13 “he died as well for Simon Magus and Judas as he did for Peter and Paul,” say the Arminians. Now, if no more good redound to us by the death of Christ than to Simon Magus, we are not much obliged to him for our salvation. Nay, he may be rather said to have redeemed God than us; for he procured for him immediately a power to redeem us if he would; for us only, by virtue of that power, a possibility to be redeemed; — which leaves nothing of the nature of merit annexed to his death, for that deserveth that something be done, not only that it may be done; the workman deserveth that his wages be given him, and not that it may be given him. And then what becomes of all the comfort and consolation that is proposed to us in the death of Christ? But it is time to see how this stubble is burned and consumed by the word of God, and that established which they thought to overthrow.

First, It is, clear that Christ died to procure for us an actual reconciliation with God, and not only a power for us to be reconciled unto him; for “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” Romans 5:10. We enjoy an actual reconciliation unto God by his death. He is content to be called “our God” when we are enemies, without the intervening of any condition on our part required; though the sweetness, comfort, and knowledge of this reconciliation do not compass our souls before we believe in him. Again, we have remission of sins by his blood, and justification from them; not a sole vindication into such an estate wherein, if it please God and ourselves, our sins are pardonable: for we are

“justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins,” Romans 3:24,25.

Yea, he obtained for us by his death righteousness and holiness.

“He gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it,” Ephesians 5:25,26;

“that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle;” that we should be “holy and without blemish,” verse 27. Where, first, we have whom Christ died or gave himself for, even his church; secondly, what he obtained for it, — holiness and righteousness, a freedom from the spots and blemishes of sin, that is, the grace of justification and sanctity:

“He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

And, lastly, he died to purchase for us “an eternal inheritance,” Hebrews 9:15. So that both grace and glory are bestowed on them for whom he died, as the immediate fruits of his death and passion.

Secondly, See what the Scripture r`htw/j, “expressly,” assigneth as the proper end and immediate effect (according to the purpose of God and his own intention) of the effusion of the blood of Jesus Christ, and you shall find that he intended by it to take away the sins of many; to “make his soul an offering for sin,” that he might “see his seed,” that “the pleasure of the LORD might prosper in his hand,” Isaiah 53:10; to be “a ransom for many,” Matthew 20:28; to “bear the sins of many,” Hebrews 9:28. He “bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we should live unto righteousness,” 1 Peter 2:24; that “we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21; thereby reconciling us unto God, verse 19. He died to “reconcile us unto God, in the body of his flesh through death,” that we might be “holy and unblamable,” Colossians 1:21,22; to “purge our sins,” Hebrews 1:3; to “obtain eternal redemption for us,” chap. 9:12. So that if Christ by his death obtained what he did intend, he hath purchased for us not only a possibility of salvation, but holiness, righteousness, reconciliation with God, justification freedom from the guilt and condemning power of sin, everlasting redemption, eternal life and glory in heaven.

Thirdly, I appeal unto the conscience of all Christians, — First, Whether they do not suppose the very foundation of all their consolation to be stricken at, when they shall find those places of Scripture (Hebrews 9:12,14, 15, 24, 28; Isaiah 53:10; I John 2:2, etc) that affirm Christ to have died to take away our sins, to reconcile us unto God, to put away or abolish our transgressions, to wash and regenerate us, perfectly to save us, and purchase for us an everlasting redemption, whereby he is become unto us righteousness, and redemption, and sanctification, the Lord our righteousness, and we become the righteousness of God in him, to be so wrested as if he should be said only to have done something from which these things might happily follow?

Secondly, Whether they think it not a ready way to impair their love and to weaken their faith in Christ, when they shall be taught that Christ hath done no more for them than for those that are damned in hell; that, be their assurance never so great that Christ died for them, yet there is enough to be laid to their charge to condemn them; that though God is said to have reconciled them unto himself in Christ, Colossians 1:19,20, yet indeed he is as angry with them as with any reprobate in the world; that God loveth us not first, but so long as we continue in a state of enmity against him, before our conversion, he continues our enemy also, so that the first act of friendship or love must be performed on our part, notwithstanding that the Scripture saith, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled unto God,” Romans 5:10?

Thirdly, Whether they have not hitherto supposed themselves bound to believe that Christ died for their sins, and rose for their justification? Do they not think it lawful to pray that God would bestow upon them grace and glory for Christ’s sake? and to believe that Jesus Christ was such a mediator of the new covenant as procured for the persons covenanted withal all the good things comprehended in the promise of that covenant? I will not farther press upon this prevarication against Christian religion; only, I would desire all the lovers of Jesus Christ seriously to consider whether these men do truly aim at his honor and advancing the dignity of his merit, and not rather at the crying up of their own endeavors, seeing the sole cause of their denying these glorious effects of the blood of Christ is to appropriate the praise of them unto themselves; as we shall see in the next chapter.

These charges are never to be waived by the vanity of their sophistical distinctions, as of that of impetration and application; which, though it may be received in an orthodox meaning, yet not in that sense, or rather nonsense, whereunto they abuse it; — namely, as though Christ had obtained that for some which shall never be imparted unto them; that all the blessings procured by his death are proper to none, but pendent in the air for them that can or will catch them: whereupon, when we object14 that by this means all the efficacy of the merit of Christ is in our own power, they readily grant it, and say it cannot otherwise be. Let them that can, receive these monsters in Christianity; for my part, in these following contradictory assertions I will choose rather to adhere to the authority of the word of God than of Arminius and his sectaries: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. “He loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might present it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,” Ephesians 5:25,27. “The immediate effect of the death of Christ is not the remission of sins, or the actual redemption of any,” Armin. “Christ did not properly die to save any one,” Grevinch.
“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,” 2 Corinthians 5:19. “A potential and conditionate reconciliation, not actual and absolute, is obtained by the death of Christ,” Corv.
“When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand,” Isaiah 53:10. “I believe it might have come to pass that the death of Christ might have had its end, though never any man had believed,” Corv.
“By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isaiah 53:11. “The death and satisfaction of Christ being accomplished, yet it may so come to pass that, none at all fulfilling the condition of the new covenant, none might be saved,” Idem.
“Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” Hebrews 9:28. “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” chapter 9:12. “He hath reconciled you in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblamable, and unreprovable,” Colossians 1:21,22. “The impetration of salvation for all, by the death of Christ, is nothing but the obtaining of a possibility thereof; that God, without wronging his justice, may open unto them a gate of mercy, to be entered on some condition,” Rem. Coll. Hag.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins,” etc.: “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus,” Romans 3:25,26. “Notwithstanding the death of Christ, God might have assigned any other condition of salvation as well as faith, or have chosen the Jews following the righteousness of the law,” Grevinch.
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes we were healed,” 1 Peter 2:24. “Why, then, the efficacy of the death of Christ depends wholly on us.” “True; it cannot otherwise be,” Rem. Apol.


  1. Molin. Suffrag. ad Synod. Dordra.
  2. “Immediata morris Christi effectio, ac passionis, illa est non actualis peccatorum ab his aut illis ablatio, non actualis remissio, non justificatio, non actualis horum aut illorum redemptio.” — Armin. Antip., p. 76.
  3. “Reconciliatio potentialis et conditionata non actualis et absoluta, per mortem Christi impetratur.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 28. sect. 11.
  4. “Remissionis, justificationis, et redemptionis, apud Deum impetratio, qua factum est, ut Deus jam possit, utpote justitia cui satisfactum est non obstante, hominibus peccatoribus peccata remittere.” — Armin., ubi sup.
  5. “Autoris mens non est alia, quam effuso sanguine Christi reconciliandi mundum Deo jus impetratum fuisse, et inito novo foedere et gratioso curn hominibus, Deum gratiae ostium omnibus denuo, poenitentiae ac verae in Christum fidei lege, adaperuisse.” — Epistol. ad Wal., p. 93.
  6. “Potuisset Deus, si ita sapientiae suae visum fuisset, operarios, Judaeos, vel alios etiam praeter fideles eligere, quia potuit aliam salutis conditionem, quam fidem in Christum exigere.” — Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 415.
  7. “Christus non est proprie mortuus ad aliquem salvandum.” — Idem, ibid, p. 8.
  8. “Postquam impetratio praestita ac peracta esset, Deo jus suum integrum mansit, pro arbitrio suo, eam applicare, vel non applicare; nec applicatio finis impetrationis proprie fuit, sed jus et potestas applicandi, quibus et qualibus vellet.” — p. 9.
  9. “Fides non est impetrata merito Christi,” etc. — Corv. ad Molin., cap. 28. p. 419.
  10. “Se omnino credere, futurum fuisse, ut finis mortis Christi constaret, etiamsi nemo credidisset.” — Idem, cap. 27, sect. 3,4.
  11. “Posita et praestita Christi morte et satisfactione, fieri potest, ut, nemine novi foederis conditionem prastante, nemo salvaretur.” — Idem. Grevinch. ad Ames. p. 9.
  12. “Impetratio salutis pro omnibus, est acquisitio possibilitatis, ut nimirum Deus, illaesa sua justitia, hominem peccatorem possit recipere in gratiam.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 172.
  13. “Pro Juda ac Petro mortuus est Christus, et pro Simone Mago et Juda tam quam pro Paulo et Petro.” — Rem. Synod, p. 320.
  14. “Sic efficacia meriti Christi tota penes nos stabit, qui vocationem alioqui inefficacem, efficacem reddimus; sane, fieri aliter non potest.” — Rem. Apol., p. 93.




THE second part of this controversy is in particular concerning grace, faith, and holiness, sincere obedience to the precepts of the new covenant, all whose praise we appropriate to the Most High by reason of a double interest, — first, Of the merit of Christ, which doth procure them for us; secondly, Of the Holy Spirit, which works them in us. The death of Christ is their meritorious cause; the Spirit of God and his effectual grace their efficient, working instrumentally with power by the word and ordinances. Now, because this would deprive the idol of his chiefest glory, and expose him to open shame, like the bird “furtivis nudata coloribus,” the Arminians advance themselves in his quarrel, and in behalf of their darling quite exclude both merit of Christ and Spirit of God from any title to their production.

First, For the merit of Christ Whereas we affirm that God “blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in him,” or for his sake, Ephesians 1:3, amongst which, doubtless, faith possesseth not the lowest room; that “he is made unto us righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;” that “he was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;” that he is “the Lord our righteousness,” and glories to be called by that name (and whatever he is unto us, it is chiefly by the way of merit); that “to us it is given u`pe.r Cristou/, for Christ’s sake, to believe on him,” Philippians 1:29, where u`pe.r Cristou/ is plainly referred to di,dotai, [evcari,sqh,?] “is given,” — as if the apostle should have said, “Christ is the meritorious cause of the bestowing of those good gifts, faith and constancy unto martyrdom, upon you;” — when, I say, we profess all these to be the proper and immediate products of the passion and blood of Christ, these turbulent Davusses come in with a prohibition, and quite expel it from having any interest therein.

“There1 is nothing more vain, nothing more foolish,” say they in their Apology, “than to attribute our regeneration and faith unto the death of Christ; for if Christ may be said to have merited for us faith and regeneration, then faith cannot be a condition whose performance God should require at the hands of sinners under the pain of eternal damnation.” And again,2 “If faith be the effect of the merit of Christ, it cannot be our duty.” No? Suppose, then, that the church should pray that it would please God, for Christ’s sake, to call home those sheep that belong to his fold not as yet collected, — that he would grant faith and repentance, for the merit of his Son, to them that are as yet afar off, — were this an altogether vain and foolish prayer? Let others think as they please, it is such a vanity as I desire not to be weaned from; nor any one else, I believe, that loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity. Oh, that Christians should patiently endure such a diminution of their Savior’s honor, as with one dash of an Arminian pen to have the chief effects of his death and passion quite obliterated! If this be a motive to the love and honor of the Son of God, if this be a way to set forth the preciousness of his blood, by denying the efficacy thereof in enabling us by faith to get an interest in the new covenant, most Christians in the world are under a necessity of being new catechised by these seraphical doctors. Until when, they must give us leave to believe, with the apostle, that God “blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3; and we will take leave to account faith a spiritual blessing, and, therefore, bestowed on us for Christ’s sake. Again; since our regeneration is nothing but a “purging of our consciences from dead works that we may serve the living God,” which being done by “the blood of Christ,” as the apostle witnesseth, Hebrews 9:14, we will ascribe our new birth, or forming anew, to the virtue of that grace which is purchased by his blood; that “precious blood” it is which “redeemeth us from our vain conversation,” 1 Peter 1:18,19, by whose efficacy we are vindicated from the state of sin and corrupted nature wherein we are born.

The Arminians have but one argument, that ever I could meet with, whereby they strive to rob Christ of this glory of meriting and procuring for us faith and repentance; and that is, because they are such acts of ours as in duty and obedience to the precepts of the gospel we are bound to perform;3 and this they everywhere press at large, “usque et usque.” In plain terms, they will not suffer their idol to be accounted defective in any thing that is necessary to bring us unto heaven. Now, concerning this argument, that nothing which God requireth of us can be procured for us by Christ, I would have two things noted: — First, That the strength of it consists in this, that no gift of God bestowed upon us can be a thing well pleasing to him, as being in us, for all his precepts and commands signify only what is well-pleasing unto him that we should be or do; and it is not the meriting of any thing by Christ, but God’s bestowing of it as the effect thereof, which hinders it from being a thing requirable of us as a part of our duty: which I shall consider hereafter. Only now observe, that there being nothing in us, by the way of habit or act, from the beginning of our faith to the consummation thereof, from our new birth until we become perfect men in Christ by the finishing of our course, that is not required of us in the gospel, all and every grace whereof we are in this life partakers are, by this means, denied to be the gifts of God. Secondly, Consider the extent of this argument itself. Nothing whose performance is our duty can be merited for us by Christ. When the apostle beseecheth us to be “reconciled unto God,” I would know whether it be not a part of our duty to yield obedience to the apostle’s exhortation? If not, his exhortation is frivolous and vain: if so, then to be reconciled unto God is a part of our duty; and yet the Arminians sometimes seem to confess that Christ hath obtained for us a reconciliation with God. The like may be said in divers other particulars. So that this argument either proveth that we enjoy no fruit of the death of Christ in this life, or (which is most true) it proveth nothing at all; for neither the merit of Christ procuring nor God bestowing any grace in the habit doth at all hinder but that, in the exercise thereof, it may be a duty of ours, inasmuch as it is done in us and by us. Notwithstanding, then, this exception, — which cannot stand by itself alone without the help of some other not as yet discovered, — we will continue our prayers, as we are commanded, in the name of Christ; that is, that God would bestow upon us those things we ask for Christ’s sake, and that by an immediate collation, yea, even then when we cry with the poor penitent, “Lord, help our unbelief,” or with the apostles, “Lord, increase our faith.”

Secondly, The second plea on God’s behalf, to prove him the author and finisher of all those graces whereof in this life we are partakers, ariseth from what the Scripture affirmeth concerning his working these graces in us, and that powerfully, by the effectual operation of his Holy Spirit. To which the Arminians oppose a seeming necessity that they must needs be our own acts, contradistinct from his gifts, because they are in us and commanded by him. The head, then, of this contention betwixt our God and their idol about the living child of grace is, whether he can work that in us which he requireth of us. Let us hear them pleading their cause: —

“It4 is most certain that that ought not to be commanded which is wrought in us; and that cannot be wrought in us which is commanded. He foolishly commandeth that to be done of others who will work in them what he commandeth,” saith their Apology. O foolish St Prosper, who thought that it was the whole Pelagian heresy to say,5 “That there is neither praise nor worth, as ours, in that which Christ bestoweth upon us!” Foolish St Augustine, praying,6 “Give us, O Lord, what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt!” Foolish Benedict, bishop of Rome, who gave such a form to his prayer as must needs cast an aspersion of folly on the Most High!7 “O Lord,” saith he, “teach us what we should do; show us whither we should go; work in us what we ought to perform.” O foolish fathers of the second Arausican council, affirming,8 “That many good things are done in man which he doth not himself; but a man doth no good which God doth not so work that he should do it!” And again, “As often as we do good, God worketh in us and with us, that we may so work.” In one word, this makes fools of all the doctors of the church who ever opposed the Pelagian heresy, inasmuch as they all unanimously maintained that we are partakers of no good thing in this kind without the effectual powerful operation of the almighty grace of God, and yet our faith and obedience, so wrought in us, to be most acceptable unto him. Yea, what shall we say to the Lord himself, in one place commanding us to fear him, and in another promising that he will put his fear into our hearts, that we shall not depart from him? Is his command foolish, or his promise false? The Arminians must affirm the one or renounce their heresy. But of this, after I have a little farther laid open this monstrous error from their own words and writings.

“Can9 any one,” say they, “wisely and seriously prescribe the performance of a condition to another, under the promise of a reward and threatening of punishment, who will effect it in him to whom it is prescribed? This is a ridiculous action, scarce worthy of the stage.” That is, seeing Christ hath affirmed that “he that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,” Mark 16:16, whereby faith is established the condition of salvation, and unbelief threatened with hell, if God should by his Holy Spirit ingenerate faith in the hearts of any, causing them so to fulfill the condition, it were a mere mockery, to be exploded from a theater as an unlikely fiction; which, what an aspersion it casts upon the whole gospel of Christ, yea, on all God’s dealings with the children of men ever since, by reason of the fall, they became unable of themselves to fulfill his commands, I leave to all men’s silent judgment. Well, then, seeing they must be accounted avsu,stata, things inconsistent, that God should be so righteous as to show us our duty, and yet so good and merciful as to bestow his graces on us, let us hear more of this stuff, “Faith10 and conversion cannot be our obedience, if they are wrought in us by God,” say they at the Hague; and Eplscopius,11 “That it is a most absurd thing to affirm that God either effects by his power, or procureth by his wisdom, that the elect should do those things that he requireth of them.” So that where the Scripture calls faith the gift and work of God, they say it is an improper locution, inasmuch as he commands it; properly, it is an act or work of our own. And for that renowned saying of St Augustine, that12 “God crowneth his own gifts in us,” “it is not to be received without a grain of salt;” that is, some such gloss as wherewith they corrupt the Scripture. The sum at which they aim is, that to affirm that God bestoweth any graces upon us, or effectually worketh them in us, contradicteth his word requiring them as our duty and obedience. By which means they have erected their idol into the throne of God’s free grace and mercy, and attribute unto it all the praise due to those many heavenly qualifications the servants of God are endowed withal, for they never have more good in them, no, nor so much, as is required; all that they have or do is but their duty; — which, how derogatory it is to the merit of Christ, themselves seem to acknowledge, when they affirm that he is no otherwise said to be a Savior than are all they who confirm the way to salvation by preaching, miracles, martyrdom, and example. So that, having quite overthrown the merits of Christ,13 “they grant us to be our own saviors in a very large sense,” Rem. Apol., fol. 96. All which assertions, how contrary they are to the express word of God, I shall now demonstrate.

There is not one of all those plain texts of Scripture, not one of those innumerable and invincible arguments, whereby the effectual working of God’s grace in the conversion of a sinner, his powerful translating us from death to life, from the state of sin and bondage to the liberty of the sons of God, which doth not overthrow this prodigious error. I will content myself with instancing in some few of them which are directly opposite unto it, even in terms: —

First, Deuteronomy 10:16, The Lord commandeth the Israelites to “circumcise the foreskin of their hearts, and to be no more stiff-necked;” so that the circumcising of their hearts was a part of their obedience, — it was their duty so to do, in obedience to God’s command. And yet, in the 30th chapter, verse 6, he affirmeth that “he will circumcise their hearts, that they might love the LORD their God with all their hearts.” So that, it seems, the same thing, indiverse respects, may be God’s act in us and our duty towards him. And how the Lord will here escape that Arminian censure, that if his words be true in the latter place, his command in the former is vain and foolish, “ipse viderit,” — let him plead his cause, and avenge himself on those that rise up against him.

Secondly, Ezekiel 18:31, “Make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” The making of a new heart and a new spirit is here required under a promise of a reward of life, and a great threatening of eternal death; so that so to do must needs be a part of their duty and obedience. And yet, chapter 36:26,27, he affirmeth that he will do this very thing that here he requireth of them: “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh; and I will cause you to walk in my statutes,” etc. In how many places, also, are we commanded to “fear the Lord!” which, when we do, I hope none will deny it to be a performance of our duty; and yet, Jeremiah 32:40, God promiseth that “he will put his fear in our hearts, that we shall not depart from him.”

Thirdly, Those two against which they lay particular exceptions, faith and repentance, are also expressly attributed to the free donation of God: He “granteth unto the Gentiles repentance unto life,” Acts 11:18; and of faith directly, “It is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8. To which assertion of the Holy Spirit I shall rather fasten my belief than to the Arminians, affirming that it is no gift of God because it is of ourselves; and yet this hindereth not but that it may be styled, “Our most holy faith,” Jude 1:20. Let them that will, deny that any thing can properly be ours which God bestoweth on us; the prophet accounted them not inconsistent when he averred that “the LORD worketh all our works in us,” Isaiah 26:12. They are our works, though of his working. The apostle labored; though it was not he, but “the grace of God that was with him,” 1 Corinthians 15:10. He “worketh in us kai. to. ze,lein kai. to. evnergei/n of his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13; and yet the performance of our duty may consist in those acts of our wills and those good deeds whereof he is the author. So that, according to St Austin’s counsel,14 we will still pray that he would bestow what he commandeth us to have.

Fourthly, 1 Corinthians 4:7, “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” Every thing that makes us differ from others is received from God; wherefore, the foundation of all difference in spiritual things between the sons of Adam being faith and repentance, they must also of necessity be received from above. In brief, God’s “circumcising our hearts,” Colossians 2:11, his “quickening us when we are dead,” Ephesians 2:1,2, begetting us anew, John 1:13, making us in all things such as he would have us to be, is contained in that promise of the new covenant, Jeremiah 32:40,

“I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me;” and is no way repugnant to the holy Scripture, declaring our duty to be all this that the Lord would have us. And now, let all men judge whether, against so many and clear testimonies of the Holy Ghost, the Arminian reasons, borrowed from the old philosophers, be of any value. The sum of them all you may find in Cicero, his third book De Natura Deorum.15 “Every one,” saith he, “obtaineth virtue for himself; never any wise man thanked God for that: for our virtue we are praised; in virtue we glory, which might not be were it a gift of God.” And truly this, in softer terms, is the sum of the Remonstrants’ arguments in this particular.

Lastly, Observe, that this error is that which, of all others, the orthodox fathers did most oppose in the Pelagian heretics; yea, and to this day,16 the more learned schoolmen stoutly maintain the truth herein against the innovating Jesuits. With some few of the testimonies of the ancients I will shut up this discourse.17 “It is certain that when we do any thing, we do it,” saith St Augustine; “but it is God that causeth us so to do.” And in another place,18 “Shall we not account that to be the gift of God, because it is required of us under the promise of eternal life? God forbid that this should seem so, either to the partakers or defenders of grace;” where he rejecteth both the error and the sophism wherewith it is upholden. So also Coelestius, bishop of Rome, in his epistle to the bishops of France.19 “So great,” saith he, “is the goodness of God towards men, that he will have those good things to be our good duties” (he calls them merits, according to the phrase of those days) “which are his own gifts;” to which purpose I cited before two canons out of the Arausican council. And St Prosper, in his treatise against Cassianus the semi-Pelagian, affirmeth it to be a foolish complaint of proud men20 “that free-will is destroyed, if the beginning, progress, and continuance in good be said to be the gifts of God.” And so the imputation of folly, wherewith the Arminians in my first quotation charge their opposers, being retorted on them by this learned father, I refer you to these following excerpta for a close: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked,” Deuteronomy 10:16. “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed,” chapter 30:6. — “Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 18:31. “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you,” chapter 36:26. “This is most certain, that that ought not to be commanded which is wrought in us. He foolishly commandeth that to be done of others who will work in them what he commandeth,” Rem. Apol.
“If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, then shall ye continue following the LORD your God,” 1 Samuel 12:14. “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me,” Jeremiah 32:40. “It is absurd to affirm that God either worketh by his power, or procureth by his wisdom, that the elect should do those things which God requireth of them,” Episcop.
“Thou hast wrought all our works in us,” Isaiah 26:12. “God worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13. “Faith and conversion cannot be acts of our obedience if they are wrought by God in us,” Rem. Coll. Hag. “That God should require that of us which himself will work in us is a ridiculous action, scarce fit for a stage,” Rem. Apol.
“He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3. “That saying of Augustine, that ‘God crowneth his own gifts in us,’ is not easily to be admitted,” Ibid.
“Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ to believe on him,” Philippians 1:29. “The blood of Christ purgeth our consciences from dead works to serve the living God,” Hebrews 9:14. “There is nothing more vain and foolish than


  1. “Nihil ineptius, nihil vanius, quam regenerationem et fidem merito Christi tribuere; si enim Christus nobis meritus dicatur fidem et regenerationem, tum fides conditio esse non poterat quam a peccatoribus Deus sub comminatione morris aeternae exigeret.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 8. p. 95.
  2. “Si fides sit effectum meriti Christi, non potest esse actus officii nostri.” — Idem.
  3. Rem. Apol., ubi sup.; Corv. ad Molin., cap. 28. sect. 9.
  4. “Illud certissimum est, nec jubendum esse quod efficitur, nec efiiciendum quod jubetur. Stulte jubet et vult ab alio fieri aliquid, qui ipse quod jubet in eo efficere vult.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 9. p. 105, a.
  5. “At exigua conclusione pene tu totum Pelagianum dogma confirmas, dicendo, nullius laudis esse ac meriti; si id in eo Christus quod ipse donaverat praetulisset.” — Prosp. ad Collat., cap. 36.
  6. “Da, Domine, quod jubes, et jube quod vis.” — Aug.
  7. “O Domine, doce nos quid agamus; quo gradiamur ostende; quid efficiamus operare.” — Ben. Pap. in Concil. Legunstad.
  8. “Multa in homine bona fiunt. quae non facit homo: nulla vero facit homo bona, quae non Deus praestet ut faciat.” — Consil. Arau. 2. can. 20. “Quoties enim bona agimus, Deus in nobis et nobiscum, ut operemur, operatur.” — Can. 9.
  9. “Anne conditionem quis serio et sapienter praescribet alteri, sub promisso praemii et poenae gravissimae comminatione, qui eam, in eo cui praescribit efficere vult! Haec actio tota ludicra, et vix scena digna est.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 9. p. 105, a.
  10. “Fides et conversio non possunt esse obedientia, si tantum ab aliquo, in alio, efficiantur.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 196.
  11. “Absurdem est statuere Deum ant efficere per potentiam, aut procurare per sapientiam, ut electi ea faciant, quae ab ipsis, ut ipsi ea faciant, exigit et postulat.” — Episcop., Disp. Pri. 8. thes. 7.
  12. Apol., cap. 9. ubi. sup. — “ Deum dona sua in nobis coronare, dictum hoc Augustini nisi cum grano salis accipiatur, neutiquam est admittendum.” — Idem, ibid p. 115.
  13. “Atqui dices, sic servatores nostri essent omnes,” — eodem sensu quo Christus, — “saltem ex parte qui praeconio, miraculis, et exemplo salutis viam, confirmant; esto, quid tum? “ — Rem. Apol., cap. 8. [p. 94.]
  14. “Petamus ut det quod ut habeamus jubet.” — Aug.
  15. “Virtutem autem nemo unquam acceptam deo retulit. Nimirum recte: propter virtutem enim jure laudamur, et in virtute recte gloriamur. Quod non contingeret, si id donum a Deo, non a nobis haberemus.” — Cicero De Nat. Deor. 3. 36,
  16. Alvarez, Disput. 81., ubi Aug., Thom., alios, citat.
  17. “Certum est nos facere cum facimus; sed ille facit ut faciamus.” — Aug. de Grat., et Lib. Arbit., cap. xvi.
  18. “ — Neque id donum Dei esse fateamur, quoniam exigi audivimus a nobis, praemio vitae si hoc fecerimus oblato? Absit, ut hoc placeat participibus et defensoribus gratiae.” — Aug, de Praedest. Sanc., cap. 20.
  19. “Tanta est erga homines bonitas Dei, ut nostra velit esse merita quae sunt ipsius dona.” — Coelest. Epist. ad Ep. Gal., cap. 12.
  20. “Non enim conturbat nos superbientium inepta querimonia; quia liberum arbitrium causantur auferri: si et principia, et profectus, et perseverantia in bonis usque ad finem Dei dona esse dicantur.” — Prosp. ad Collat., p. 404.




I SHALL shut up all this discourse concerning the meritorious cause of salvation, with their shutting out of Christ from being the only one and absolutely necessary means to bring us unto heaven, to make us happy. This is the last pile they erect upon their Babylonish foundation, which makes the idol of human self-sufficiency every way perfect, and fit to be sacrificed unto. Until these proud builders, to get materials for their own temple, laid the axe to the root of Christianity, we took it for granted that “there is no salvation in any other,” because “there is none other name under heaven given unto men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. Neither yet shall their nefarious attempts frighten us from our creed, nor make us be wanting to the defense of our Savior’s honor. But I shall be very brief in the consideration of this heterodoxy, nothing doubting but that to have repeated it is fully to have confuted it, in the judgment of all pious Christians.

First, then, They grant salvation to the ancient patriarchs and Jews, before the coming of Christ, without any knowledge of or faith in him at all; nay, they deny that any such faith in Christ was ever prescribed unto them or required of them.1 “It is certain that there is no place in the Old Testament from whence it may appear that faith in Christ as a Redeemer was ever enjoined or found in any of them,” say they jointly in their Apology; the truth of which assertion we shall see hereafter. Only they grant a general faith, involved under types and shadows, and looking on the promise as it lay hid in the goodness and providence of God, which indirectly might be called a faith in Christ: from which kind of faith I see no reason why thousands of heathen infidels should be excluded. Agreeable unto these assertions are the dictates of their patriarch Arminius, affirming,2 “that the whole description of the faith of Abraham, Romans 4, makes no mention of Jesus Christ, either expressly or so implicitly as that it may be of any one easily understood.” And to the testimony of Christ himself to the contrary, John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad,” he answereth, “He rejoiced to see the birth of Isaac, who was a type of me,” — a goodly gloss, corrupting the text.

Secondly, What they teach of the Jews, that also they grant concerning the Gentiles living before the incarnation of Christ; they also might attain salvation, and be justified without his knowledge.3 “For although,” saith Corvinus, “the covenant was not revealed unto them by the same means that it was unto the Jews, yet they are not to be supposed to be excluded from the covenant” (of grace), “nor to be excluded from salvation; for some way or other they were called.”

Thirdly, They are come at length to that perfection in setting out this stain of Christianity, that Bertius, on good consideration, denied this proposition,4 “That no man can be saved that is not ingrafted into Christ by a true faith;” and Venator to this question,5 “Whether the only means of salvation be the life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ?” answereth, “No.” Thus they lay men in Abraham’s bosom who never believed in the Son of Abraham; make them overcome the serpent who never heard of the Seed of the woman; bring goats into heaven, who never were of the flock of Christ, never entered by him, the door; make men please God without faith, and obtain the remission of sins without the sprinkling of the blood of the Lamb, — to be saved without a Savior, redeemed without a Redeemer, — to become the sons of God, and never know their elder Brother; — which prodigious error might yet be pardoned, and ascribed to human imbecility, had it casually slipped from their pens, as it did from some others.6 But seeing it hath foundation in all the grounds of their new doctrine, and is maintained by them on mature deliberation,7 it must be looked on by all Christians as a heresy to be detested and accursed. For, first, deny the contagion and demerit of original sin; then make the covenant of grace to be universal, and to comprehend all and every one of the posterity of Adam; thirdly, grant a power in ourselves to come unto God by any such means as he will appoint, and affirm that he doth assign some means unto all, — and it will naturally follow that the knowledge of Christ is not absolutely necessary to salvation, and so down falls the preeminence of Christianity; its heaven-reaching crown must be laid level with the services of dunghill gods.8

It is true, indeed, some of the ancient fathers, before the rising of the Pelagian heresy, — who had so put on Christ, as Lipsius speaks, that they had not fully put off Plato, — have unadvisedly dropped some speeches seeming to grant that divers men before the incarnation, living meta. lo,gou, “according to the dictates of right reason,” might be saved without faith in Christ; as is well showed by learned Casaubon in his first exercitation on Baronius. But let this be accounted part of that stubble which shall burn at the last day, wherewith the writings of all men not divinely inspired may be stained. It hath also since (as what hath not?) been drawn into dispute among the wrangling schoolmen; and yet, which is rarely seen, their verdict in this particular almost unanimously passeth for the truth. Aquinas9 tells us a story of the corpse of a heathen, that should be taken up in the time of the Empress Irene and her son Constantine, with a golden plate on his breast, wherein was this inscription: — “Christ is born of a virgin, and I believe in him. O sun, thou shalt see me again in the days of Irene and Constantine.” But the question is not, Whether a Gentile believing in Christ may be saved? or whether God did not reveal himself and his Son extraordinarily to some of them? for shall we straiten the breast and shorten the arm of the Almighty, as though he might not do what he will with his own; but, Whether a man by the conduct of nature, without the knowledge of Christ, may come to heaven? the assertion whereof we condemn as a wicked, Pelagian, Socinian heresy, and think that it was well said of Bernard,10 “That many laboring to make Plato a Christian, do prove themselves to be heathens.” And if we look upon the several branches of this Arminian novel doctrine, extenuating the precious worth and necessity of faith in Christ, we shall find them hewed off by the two-edged sword of God’s word.

FIRST, For their denying the patriarchs and Jews to have had faith “in Christum exhibendum et moriturum,” as we in him “exhibitum et mortuum,” it is disproved, —

First, By all evangelical promises made from the beginning of the world to the birth of our Savior; as that, Genesis 3:15, “The seed of the woman shall break the serpent’s head;” and chapter 12:3, 49:10; Psalm 2:7,8,110; with innumerable others concerning his life, office, and redeeming of his people: for surely they were obliged to believe the promises of God.

Secondly, By those many clear expressions of his death, passion, and suffering for us, as Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:6-10, etc., 63:1-3; Daniel 9:26. But what need we reckon any more? Our Savior taught his disciples that all the prophets from Moses spake concerning him, and that the sole reason why they did not so readily embrace the faith of his passion and resurrection was because they believed not the prophets, Luke 24:25,26; showing plainly that the prophets required faith in his death and passion.

Thirdly, By the explicit faith of many Jews, as of old Simeon, Luke 2:34; of the Samaritan woman, who looked for a Messiah, not as an earthly king, but as one that should “tell them all things,” — redeem them from sin, and tell them all such things as Christ was then discoursing of, concerning the worship of God, John 4:25.

Fourthly, By the express testimony of Christ himself. “Abraham,” saith he, “rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad,” John 8:56. His day, his hour, in the Scripture, principally denote his passion. And that which he saw surely he believed, or else the father of the faithful was more diffident than Thomas, the most incredulous of his children.

Fifthly, By these following, and the like places of Scripture: Christ is a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13:8; slain in promises, slain in God’s estimation and in the faith of believers. He is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever,” Hebrews 13:8, under the law and the gospel.

“There is none other name under heaven given unto men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.

Never any, then, without the knowledge of a Redeemer, participation of his passion, communication of his merits, did ever come to the sight of God; no man ever came to the Father but by him. Hence St Paul tells the Ephesians that they were “without Christ,” because they were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” Ephesians 2:12; intimating that God’s covenant with the Jews included Christ Jesus and his righteousness no less than it doth now with us. On these grounds holy Ignatius called Abel11 “A martyr of Christ;” he died for his faith in the promised Seed. And in another place,12 “All the saints were saved by Christ; hoping in him, and waiting on him, they obtained salvation by him.” So Prosper, also,13 “We must believe that never any man was justified by any other faith, either before the law or under the law, than by faith in Christ coming to save that which was lost.” Whence Eusebius contendeth14 that all the old patriarchs might properly be called Christians; they all ate of the same spiritual meat, and all drank of the same spiritual drink, even of the rock that followed them, which rock was Christ.

SECONDLY, If the ancient people of God, notwithstanding divers other especial revelations of his will and heavenly instructions, obtained not salvation without faith in Christ, much less may we grant this happiness without him to them who were deprived of those other helps also. So that though we confess the poor natural endeavors of the heathen not to have wanted their reward (either positive in this life, by outward prosperity, and inward calmness of mind, in that they were not all perplexed and agitated with furies, like Nero and Caligula; or negative in the life to come, by a diminution of the degrees of their torments, — they shall not be beaten with so many stripes), yet we absolutely deny that there is any saving mercy of God towards them revealed in the Scripture, which should give us the least intimation of their attaining everlasting happiness.

For, not to consider the corruption and universal disability of nature to do anything that is good (“without Christ we can do nothing,” John 15:5), nor yet the sinfulness of their best works and actions, the “sacrifice of the wicked being an abomination unto the LORD,” Proverbs 15:8 (“Evil trees cannot bring forth good fruit; men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles,” Matthew 7:16, 17); — the word of God is plain, that “without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6; that “he that believeth not is condemned,” Mark 16:16; that no nation or person can be blessed but in the Seed of Abraham, Genesis 12:3. And the “blessing of Abraham” comes upon the Gentiles only “through Jesus Christ,” Galatians 3:14. He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” John 14:6. “None cometh to the Father but by him.” He is the “door,” by which those that do not enter are “without,” with “dogs and idolaters,” Revelation 22:15. So that “other foundation” of blessedness “can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 3:11. In brief, do but compare these two places of St. Paul, Romans 8:30, where he showeth that none are glorified but those that are called; and Romans 10:14, 15, where he declares that all calling is instrumentally by the preaching of the word and gospel; and it will evidently appear that no salvation can be granted unto them on whom the Lord hath so far poured out his indignation as to deprive them of the knowledge of the sole means thereof, Christ Jesus. And to those that are otherwise minded, I give only this necessary caution, — Let them take heed, lest, whilst they endeavor to invent new ways to heaven for others, by so doing, they lose the true way themselves.

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” Luke 24:25, 26. “There is no place in the Old Testament whence it may appear that faith in Christ as a Redeemer was either enjoined or found in any then,” Rem. Apol.
“Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad,” John 8:56. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isaiah 53:11. See the places before cited. “Abraham’s faith had no reference to Christ,” Annin.
“At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” Ephesians 2:12. “The Gentiles living under the Old Testament, though it was not revealed unto them as unto the Jews, yet were not excluded from the covenant of grace, and from salvation,” Corv.
“There is none other name under heaven given unto men, whereby we must be saved,” but only by Christ, Acts 4:12. “I deny this proposition, That none can be saved that is not ingrafted into Christ by a true faith,” Bert.
“The blessing of Abraham cometh on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ,” Galatians 3:14. “He that believeth not is condemned,” Mark 16:16. “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11:6. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 3:11. “To this question, Whether the only way of salvation be the life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ? I answer, No,” Venat.


  1. “Certum est locum nullum esse, unde appareat fidem istam, sub Vet. Test., praeceptam fuisse ant viguisse.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 7. p. 91.
  2. “Consideretur omnis descriptio fidei Abrahae, Romans 4; et apparebit in illa Jesu Christi non fieri mentionem, expresse, sed illa tantum implicatione, quam explicare cuivis non est facile.” — Armin. “Gavisus est videre natalem Isaac, qui fuit typus mei.” — Idem.
  3. “Gentes sub Veteri Testamento viventes licet ipsis ista ratione qua Judaeis non fuit revelatum, non tamen inde continuo ex faedere absolute exclusae sunt, nec a salute praecise exclusi judicari debent, quia aliquo saltem mode vocantur.” — Corv. Defens. Armin. ad Tilen., p. 107.
  4. “Nego hanc propositionem: neminem posse salvari, quam qui Jesu Christo per veram fidem sit insitus.” — Bert, ad Sibrand., p. 133.
  5. “Ad hanc queestionem an unica via salutis, sit vita, passio, mors, resurrectio, et as-censio Jesu Christi? respondeo, Non.” — Venat., apud Fest. Hom. et Peltium.
  6. Zulng. Profes. Fid. ad Reg. Gall.
  7. Art. of the Church of Eng., art. xvii.
  8. “Nihil magis repugnat fidei, quam sine fide salvum esse posse quempiam hominum.” — Acost. de Indo. Salu. Proc.
  9. Aquin. 2, 2ae q. 2, a. 7, c. — “ Christus nascitur ex virgine, et ego credo in eum. O sol, sub Irenae et Constantini temporibus iterum me videbis.”
  10. “Dum multum sudant nonnulli, quomodo Platonem faciant Christianum, se probant esse ethnicos.” — Bern. Epist.
  11. Paradoqei,j ge( tw/n dia. Cristo.n avnairouma,noin( avpo. tou/ ai[matoj  ;Azel tou/ dsikai,ou. — Ignat. Epist. ad Ephes. [cap. 12.]
  12. Pa,ntej ou-n ei` a[gioi evn Cristw|/ evsw,qhsan( evlpi,santaj eivj auvto.n kai. auvto.n avmagei,nantej( kai. di v auvtou/ swthei,aj e;tucon. — Epist, ad Philippians [cap. 5.]
  13. “Non alia fide quemquam hominum, sive ante legem sive legis tempore, justificatum esse, credendum est, quam hac eadem qua Dominus Jesu,” etc. — Prosp. ad Ob. 8., Gallorum.
  14. “Omnes ergo illos qui ab Abraham sursum versus ad primum hominem, generationis ordine conscribuntur, etsi non nomine, rebus tamen, et religione Christianos fuisse, si quis dicat, non mihi videtur errare.” — Euseb. Hist. Eccles., lib. 1. cap, 4.




OUR next task is to take a view of the idol himself, of this great deity of free-will, whose original being not well known, he is pretended, like the Ephesian image of Diana, to have fallen down from heaven, and to have his endowments from above. But yet, considering what a nothing he was at his first discovery in comparison of that vast giant-like hugeness to which now he is grown, we may say of him as the painter said of his monstrous picture, which he had mended or rather marred according to everyone’s fancy, “Hunc populus fecit,” — it is the issue of the people’s brain. Origen1 is supposed to have brought him first into the church; but among those many sincere worshippers of divine grace, this setter forth of new demons found but little entertainment. It was looked upon but like the stump of Dagon, with his head and hands laid down before the ark of God, without whose help he could neither know nor do that which is good in any kind, still accounted but “truncus ficulnus, inutile lignum,” — “a fig-tree log, an unprofitable piece of wood.” “Incerti patres scamnum facerentne?” The fathers of the succeeding ages had much debate to what use they should put it, and though some exalted it a degree or two above its merits, yet the most concluded to keep it a block still; until at length there arose a stout champion,2 challenging on his behalf the whole church of God, and, like a knight-errant, wandered from the west to the east to grapple with any that should oppose his idol; who, though he met with divers adversaries,3 one especially,4 who in the behalf of the grace of God continually foiled him and cast him to the ground, and that in the judgment of all the lawful judges assembled in councils,5 and in the opinion of most of the Christian bystanders,6 yet, by his cunning insinuation, he planted such an opinion of his idol’s deity and self-sufficiency in the hearts of divers, that to this day it could never be rooted out.

Now, after the decease of his Pelagian worshippers, some of the corrupter schoolmen, seeing him thus from his birth exposed without shelter to wind and weather, to all assaults, out of mere charity and self-love built him a temple, and adorned it with natural lights, merits, uncontrolled independent operations, with many other gay attendances. But in the beginning of the Reformation, — that fatal time for idolatry and superstition, together with abbeys and monasteries, — the zeal and learning of our forefathers, with the help of God’s word, demolished this temple, and brake this building down to the ground; in the rubbish whereof we well hoped the idol himself had been so deeply buried as that his head should never more have been exalted, to the trouble of the church of God, until not long since some curious wits, whose weak stomachs were clogged with manna and loathed the sincere milk of the word, raking all dunghills for novelties, lighted unhappily upon this idol, and presently, with no less joy than did the mathematician at the discovery of a new geometrical proportion, exclaim, “We have found it! we have found it!” And without more ado, up they erected a shrine, and until this day continue offering of praise and thanks for all the good they do to this work of their own hands.

And that the idol may be free from ruin, to which in himself they have found by experience that he is subject, they have matched him to contingency, a new goddess of their own creation, who, having proved very fruitful in monstrous births upon their conjunctions, they nothing doubt they shall never want one to set on the throne and make president of all human actions: so that after he hath, with various success, at least twelve hundred years, contended with the providence and grace of God, he boasteth now as if he had obtained a total victory. But yet all his prevailing is to be attributed to the diligence and varnish of his new abettors, with (to our shame be it spoken!) the negligence of his adversaries. In him and his cause there is no more real worth than was when by the ancient fathers he was exploded and cursed out of the church: so that they who can attain, through the many winding labyrinths of curious distinctions, to look upon the thing itself, shall find that they have been, like Egyptian novices, brought through many stately frontispieces and goodly fabrics, with much show of zeal and devotion, to the image of an ugly ape.

Yet here observe, that we do not absolutely oppose free-will, as if it were “nomen inane,” a mere figment, when there is no such thing in the world, but only in that sense the Pelagians and Arminians do assert it. About words we will not contend. We grant man, in the substance of all his actions, as much power, liberty, and freedom as a mere created nature is capable of. We grant him to be free in his choice from all outward coaction, or inward natural necessity, to work according to election and deliberation, spontaneously embracing what seemeth good unto him. Now, call this power free-will, or what you please, so you make it not supreme, independent, and boundless, we are not at all troubled. The imposition of names depends upon the discretion of their inventers. Again; even in spiritual things, we deny that our wills are at all debarred, or deprived of their proper liberty: but here we say, indeed, that we are not properly free until the Son makes us free; — no great use of freedom in that wherein we can do nothing at all. We do not claim such a liberty as should make us despise the grace of God,7 whereby we may attain true liberty indeed; which addeth to, but taketh nothing from, our original freedom. But of this after I have showed what an idol the Arminians make of free-will. Only take notice in the entrance that we speak of it now, not as it was at first by God created, but as it is now by sin corrupted; yet, being considered in that estate also, they ascribe more unto it than it was ever capable of. As it now standeth, according to my formerly-proposed method, I shall show, — first, what inbred native virtue they ascribe unto it, and with how absolute a dominion and sovereignty over all our actions they endow it; secondly, what power they say it hath in preparing us for the grace of God; thirdly, how effectually operative it is in receiving the said grace, and with how little help thereof it accomplisheth the great work of our conversion; — all briefly, with so many observations as shall suffice to discover their proud errors in each particular.

“Herein,8” saith Arminius, “consisteth the liberty of the will, that all things required to enable it to will any thing being accomplished, it still remains indifferent to will or not.” And all of them at the synod: “There9 is,” say they, “accompanying the will of man an inseparable property, which we call liberty, from whence the will is termed a power, which, when all things pre-required as necessary to operation are fulfilled, may will anything, or not will it;” that is, our free-wills have such an absolute and uncontrollable power in the territory of all human actions, that no influence of God’s providence, no certainty of his decree, no unchangeableness of his purpose, can sway it at all in its free determinations, or have any power with his highness to cause him to will or resolve on any such act as God by him intendeth to produce. Take an instance in the great work of our conversion. “All10 unregenerate men,” saith Arminius, “have, by virtue of their free-will, a power of resisting the Holy Spirit, of rejecting the offered grace of God, of contemning the counsel of God concerning themselves, of refusing the gospel of grace, of not opening the heart to him that knocketh.” What a stout idol is this, whom neither the Holy Spirit, the grace and counsel of God, the calling of the gospel, the knocking at the door of the heart, can move at all, or in the least measure prevail against him! Woe be unto us, then, if when God calls us our free-will be not in good temper, and well disposed to hearken unto him! for it seems there is no dealing with it by any other ways, though powerful and almighty. “For11 grant,” saith Corvinus, “all the operations of grace which God can use in our conversion, yet conversion remaineth so in our own free power that we can be not converted; that is, we can either turn or not turn ourselves;” where the idol plainly challengeth the Lord to work his utmost, and tells him that after he hath so done he will do what he please. His infallible prescience, his powerful predetermination, the moral efficacy of the gospel, the infusion of grace, the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, all are nothing, not at all available in helping or furthering our independent wills in their proceedings. Well, then, in what estate will you have the idol placed?

“In12 such a one wherein he may be suffered to sin, or to do well, at his pleasure,” as the same author intimates. It seems, then, as to sin, so nothing is required for him to be able to do good but God’s permission? No! For the Remonstrants13 (as they speak of themselves) “do always suppose a free power of obeying or not obeying, as well in those who do obey as in those who do not obey;” — that he that is obedient may therefore be counted obedient, because he obeyeth when he could not obey, and so on the contrary:” where all the praise of our obedience, whereby we are made to differ from others, is ascribed to ourselves alone, and that free power that is in us. Now, this they mean not of any one act of obedience, but of faith itself, and the whole consummation thereof.14 “For if a man should say, that every man in the world hath a power of believing if he will, and of attaining salvation, and that this power is settled in his nature, what argument have you to confute him?” saith Arminius triumphantly to Perkins; where the sophistical innovator as plainly confounds grace and nature as ever did Pelagius. That, then, which the Arminians claim here in behalf of their free-will is, an absolute independence on God’s providence in doing anything, and of his grace in doing that which is good, — a self-sufficiency in all its operations, a plenary indifferency of doing what we will, this or that, as being neither determined to the one nor inclined to the other by any overruling influence from heaven. So that the good acts of our wills have no dependence on God’s providence as they are acts, nor on his grace as they are good; but in both regards proceed from such a principle within us as is no way moved by any superior agent. Now, the first of these we deny unto our wills, because they are created; and the second, because they are corrupted. Their creation hinders them from doing anything of themselves without the assistance of God’s providence; and their corruption, from doing anything that is good without his grace. A self-sufficiency for operation, without the effectual motion of Almighty God, the first cause of all things, we can allow neither to men nor angels, unless we intend to make them gods; and a power of doing good, equal unto that they have of doing evil, we must not grant to man by nature, unless we will deny the fall of Adam, and fancy ourselves still in paradise. But let us consider these things apart.

FIRST, I shall not stand to decipher the nature of human liberty, which perhaps would require a larger discourse than my proposed method will bear. It may suffice that, according to my former intimation, we grant as large a freedom and dominion to our wills over their own acts as a creature, subject to the supreme rule of God’s providence, is capable of. Endued we are with such a liberty of will as is free from all outward compulsion and inward necessity, having an elective faculty of applying itself unto that which seems good unto it, in which it is a free choice; notwithstanding, it is subservient to the decree of God, as I showed before, chap. 4. Most free it is in all its acts, both in regard of the object it chooseth and in regard of that vital power and faculty whereby it worketh, infallibly complying with God’s providence, and working by virtue of the motion thereof; but surely to assert such a supreme independency and every way unbounded indifferency as the Arminians claim, whereby, all other things requisite being pre-supposed, it should remain absolutely in our own power to will or not to will, to do anything or not to do it, is plainly to deny that our wills are subject to the rule of the Most High. It is granted that in such a chimerical, fancied consideration of free-will, wherein it is looked upon as having no relation to any act of God’s but only its creation, abstracting from his decree, it may be said to have such a liberty in regard of the object; but the truth is, this divided sense is plain nonsense, a mere fiction of such an estate as wherein it never was, nor ever can be, so long as men will confess any deity but themselves, to whose determinations they must be subject. Until, then, more significant terms may be invented for this free power in our nature, which the Scripture never once vouchsafed to name, I shall be content to call it with Prosper, a15 “spontaneous appetite of what seemeth good unto it,” free from all compulsion, but subservient to the providence of God. And against its exaltation to this height of independency, I oppose, —

First, Everything that is independent of any else in operation is purely active, and so consequently a god; for nothing but a divine will can be a pure act, possessing such a liberty by virtue of its own essence. Every created will must have a liberty by participation, which includeth such an imperfect potentiality as cannot be brought into act without some premotion (as I may so say) of a superior agent. Neither doth this motion, being extrinsical, at all prejudice the true liberty of the will, which requireth, indeed, that the internal principle of operation be active and free, but not that that principle be not moved to that operation by an outward superior agent. Nothing in this sense can have an independent principle of operation which hath not an independent being. It is no more necessary to the nature of a free cause, from whence a free action must proceed, that it be the first beginning of it, than it is necessary to the nature of a cause that it be the first cause.

Secondly, If the free acts of our wills are so subservient to the providence of God as that he useth them to what end he will, and by them effecteth many of his purposes, then they cannot of themselves be so absolutely independent as to have in their own power every necessary circumstance and condition, that they may use or not use at their pleasure. Now, the former is proved by all those reasons and texts of Scripture I before produced to show that the providence of God overruleth the actions and determineth the wills of men freely to do that which he hath appointed. And, truly, were it otherwise, God’s dominion over the most things that are in the world were quite excluded; he had not power to determine that any one thing should ever come to pass which hath any reference to the wills of men.

Thirdly, All the acts of the will being positive entities, were it not previously moved by God himself, “in whom we live, move, and have our being,” must needs have their essence and existence solely from the will itself; which is thereby made auvto. o,n, a first and supreme cause, endued with an underived being. And so much to that particular.

Let us now, in the SECOND place, look upon the power of our freewill in doing that which is morally good; where we shall find not only an essential imperfection, inasmuch as it is created, but also a contracted effect, inasmuch as it is corrupted. The ability which the Arminians ascribe unto it in this kind, of doing that which is morally and spiritually good, is as large as themselves will confess to be competent unto it in the state of innocency, even a power of believing and a power of resisting the gospel, of obeying and not obeying, of turning or of not being converted.

The Scripture, as I observed before, hath no such term at all, nor anything equivalent unto it. But the expressions it useth concerning our nature and all the faculties thereof, in this state of sin and unregeneration, seem to imply the quite contrary; as, that we are in “bondage,” Hebrews 2:15; “dead in sins,” Ephesians 2:1, and so “free from righteousness,” Romans 6:20; “servants of sin,” verse 17; under the “reign” and “dominion” thereof, verses 12, 14; all “our members being instruments of unrighteousness,” verse 13; not “free indeed,” until “the Son make us free.” So that this idol of free-will, in respect of spiritual things, is not one whit better than the other idols of the heathen. Though it look like “silver and gold,” it is the “work of men’s hands.”

“It hath a mouth, but it speaketh not; it hath eyes, but it seeth not; it hath ears, but it heareth not; a nose, but it smelleth not; it hath hands, but it handleth not; feet, but it walketh not; neither speaketh it through its throat. They that made it are like unto it; and so is every one that trusteth in it. O Israel, trust thou in the LORD,” etc., Psalm 115:4-9.

That it is the work of men’s hands, or a human invention, I showed before. For the rest, it hath a mouth unacquainted with the “mystery of godliness,” “full only of cursing and bitterness,” Romans 3:14; “speaking great swelling words,” Jude 16; “great things, and blasphemies,” Revelation 13:5; a “mouth causing the flesh to sin,” Ecclesiastes 5:6; — his eyes are blind, not able to perceive those things that are of God, nor to know those things that are “spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:14; “eyes before which there is no fear of God,” Romans 3:18; — his “understanding is darkened, because of the blindness of his heart,” Ephesians 4:18; “wise to do evil, but to do good he hath no knowledge,” Jeremiah 4:22; so that without farther light, all the world is but a mere “darkness,” John 1:5; — he hath ears, but they are like the ears of the “deaf adder” to the word of God, “refusing to hear the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely,” Psalm 58:5; being “dead” when his voice first calls it, John 5:25; “ears stopped that they should not hear,” Zechariah 7:11; “heavy ears” that cannot hear, Isaiah 6:10; — a nose, to which the gospel is “the savor of death unto death,” 2 Corinthians 2:16; — “ hands full of blood,” Isaiah 1:15; and “fingers defiled with iniquity,” chap. 59:3; — feet, indeed, but, like Mephibosheth, lame in both by a fall, so that he cannot at all walk in the path of goodness; but

“swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in his ways, and the way of peace hath he not known,” Romans 3:15-17.

These, and divers other such endowments and excellent qualifications, doth the Scripture attribute to this idol, which it calls “The old man,” as I shall more fully discover in the next chapter. And is not this a goodly reed whereon to rely in the paths of godliness? a powerful deity whereunto we may repair for a power to become the sons of God, and attain eternal happiness? The abilities of free-will in particular I shall consider hereafter; now only I will, by one or two reasons, show that it cannot be the sole and proper cause of any truly good and spiritual act, well-pleasing unto God.

First, All spiritual acts well-pleasing unto God, as faith, repentance, obedience, are supernatural; flesh and blood revealeth not these things:

“Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man; but of God,” John 1:13;

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” John 3:6.

Now, to the performance of any supernatural act it is required that the productive power thereof be also supernatural; for nothing hath an activity in causing above its own sphere. “Nec imbelles generant feroces aquilas columbae.” But our free-will is a merely natural faculty, betwixt which and those spiritual, supernatural acts there is no proportion, unless it be advanced above its own orb, by inherent, habitual grace. Divine, theological virtues, differing even in the substance of the act from those moral performances about the same things to which the strength of nature may reach (for the difference of acts ariseth from their formal objects, which to both these are diverse), must have another principle and cause above all the power of nature in civil things and actions morally good, inasmuch as they are subject to a natural perception, and do not exceed the strength of our own wills. This faculty of free-will may take place, but yet not without these following limitations: — First, That it always requireth the general concurrence of God, whereby the whole suppositum in which free-will hath its subsistence may be sustained, Matthew 10:29, 30. Secondly, That we do all these things imperfectly and with much infirmity; every degree, also, of excellency in these things must be counted a special gift of God, Isaiah 26:12. Thirdly, That our wills are determined by the will of God to all their acts and motions in particular; but to do that which is spiritually good we have no knowledge, no power.

Secondly, That concerning which I gave one special instance, in whose production the Arminians attribute much to free-will, is faith. This they affirm (as I showed before) to be inbred in nature, everyone having in him from his birth a natural power to believe in Christ and his gospel; for Episcopius denies that16 “any action of the Holy Spirit upon the understanding or will is necessary, or promised in the Scripture, to make a man able to believe the word preached unto him.” So that it seems every man hath at all times a power to believe, to produce the act of faith upon the revelation of its object: which gross Pelagianism is contrary, —

First, To the doctrine of the church of England, alarming that a man cannot so much as prepare himself by his own strength to faith and calling upon God, until the grace of God by Christ prevent him, that he may have a good will. — Artic. 10.

Secondly, To the Scripture, teaching that it is “the work of God that we do believe,” John 6:29. It is “not of ourselves; it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8. To some “it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 13:11. And what is peculiarly given to some cannot be in the power of everyone: “To you it is given in the behalf of Christ to believe on him,” Philippians 1:29. Faith is our access or coming unto Christ; which none can do “except the Father draw him,” John 6:44; and he so draweth, or “hath mercy, on whom he will have mercy,” Romans 9:18. And although Episcopius rejects any immediate action of the Holy Spirit for the ingenerating of faith, yet St. Paul affirmeth that there is no less effectual power required to it than that which raised Christ from the dead; which, sure, was an action of the almighty Godhead. “That ye may know,” saith he, “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,” Ephesians 1:18-20. So that, let the Arminians say what they please, recalling that I write to Christians, I will spare my labor of farther proving that faith is the free gift of God; and their opposition to the truth of the Scripture in this particular is so evident to the meanest capacity that there needs no recapitulation to present the sum of it to their understandings.


  1. Hieron. ad Ruff
  2. “Pelagius: Dogma quod — Pestifero vomuit coluber sermone Britannus.” — Prosper. de Ingrat., cap. 1.
  3. Adfuit, exhortante Deo provisa per orbem, Sanctorum pia cura patrum: — 1. Pestern subeuntem Prima recidit, Sedes Roma Petri. 2. Non segnior inde, orientis Rectorum cura emicuit. Synod. Palest. 3. Hieronymus libris valde excellentibus hostem Dissecuit. 4. Atticus Constantinop. 5. Duae Synodi Africanae.” — Prosper. de Ingrat.
  4. “Concilium cui dux Aurelius ingeniumque Augustinus erat. Quem Christi gratia cornu Uberiore rigans, nostro lumen dedit aevo.” — Prosp., ibid.
  5. “Dixit Pelagius, quis est mihi Augustinus? Universi acclamabant blasphemantem in episcopum, ex cujus ore, dominus univerae Africae, unitatis indulserit felicitatem, non solum a conventu illo, sed ab omni ecclesia pellendum.” — Oros. Apologet., p. 621, de Synod. Palest. “Prae omnibus studium gerite libros. S. Aug. quos ad Prosp. et Hilar. scripsit, memoratis fratribus legendos iugerere,” etc. — Epist. Synod. Byzac.
  6. “Imo noverunt, non solum Romanam Africanamque ecclesiam, sod per omnes mundi partes, universae promissionis filios, cum doctrina hujus viri, sicut in tota fide, ita in gratiae confessione congruere.” — Prosp. ad Rufin. “Augustinum sanctae recordationis virum pro vita sua, et meritis, in nostra communione semper habuimus, nec unquam hunc sinistrae suspicionis saltem rumor suspexit.” — Coelest., Epist. ad Gal. Episcop. These I have cited to show what a heavy prejudice the Arminian cause lies under, being professedly opposite to the doctrine of St. Austin, and they continually slighting of his authority.
  7. Homo non libertate gratiam, sed gratia libertatem, assequitur.” — Aug.
  8. “Libertas Arbitrii consistit in eo, quod homo, positis omnibus requisitis ad volendum, indifferens tamen sit, ad volendum vel nolendum, hoc vel illud.” — Armin. Art. Perpend., p. 11.
  9. “Voluntatem comitatur proprietas quaedam inseparabilis, quam libertatem vocamus; a qua voluntas dicitur potentia, quae positis omnibus praerequisitis ad agendum necessariis, potest velle et nolle, aut velle et non velle.” — Remon. in Act. Synod, p. 16.
  10. “Omnes irregeniti habent Lib. Arbit. et potentiam Spiritui Sancto resistendi, gratiam Dei oblatam repudiandi, consilium Dei adversus se contemrendi, evangelium gratiae repudiandi, ei qui cot pulsat non aperiendi.” — Armin. Artic. Perpend.
  11. “Positis omnibus operationibus gratiae, quibus Deus in conversione nostri uti possit, manet tamen conversio ita in nostra potestate libera, ut possimus non converti; hoc est, nosmet ipsos convertere vel non convertere.” — Corv, ad Bog., p. 263.
  12. “Non potest Deus Lib. Arbit. integrum servare, nisi tam peccare hominem sineret, quam bene agere.” — Corv, ad Molin., cap. 6.
  13. “Semper Remonstrantes supponunt liberam obediendi potentiam et non obediendi; ut qui obediens est idcirco obediens censeatur, quia cum possit non obedire obedit tamen, et e contra.” — Rem. Apol., p. 70.
  14. “Quod si quis dicat omnes in universum homines, habere potentiam credendi si velint, et salutem consequendi: et hanc potentiam esse naturae hominum divinitus collatam, quo tuo argumento eum confutabis?” — Armin. Antip., p. 272.
  15. “Lib. Arbit. est rei sibi placitae spontaneus appetitus.” — Prosp, ad Collat., cap. 18, p. 379.
  16. “An ulla actio S. S. immediata in mentem aut voluntatem necessaria sit, aut in Scriptura promittatur ad hoc, ut quis credere possit verbo extrinsecus proposito, negativam tuebimur.” — Episcop., Disput. Privat.




THE judgment of the Arminians concerning the power of free-will about spritual things in a man unregenerate, merely in the state of corrupted nature, before and without the help of grace, may be laid open by these following positions: —

First, That every man in the world, reprobates and others, have in themselves power and ability of believing in Christ, of repenting and yielding due obedience to the new covenant; and that because they lost not this power by the fall of Adam.1 “Adam after his fall,” saith Grevinchovius, “retained a power of believing; and so did all reprobates in him.”2 “He did not lose” (as they speak at the synod) “the power of performing that obedience which is required in the new covenant considered formally, as it is required by the new covenant; he lost not a power of believing, nor a power of forsaking sin by repentance.” And those graces that he lost not are still in our power. Whence they affirm, that3 “faith is called the work of God only because he requireth us to do it.” Now, having appropriated this power unto themselves, to be sure that the grace of God be quite excluded, which before they had made needless, they teach, —

Secondly, That for the reducing of this power into act, that men may become actual believers, there is no infused habit of grace, no spiritual vital principle, necessary for them, or bestowed upon them; but everyone, by the use of his native endowments, doth make himself differ from others.4 “Those things which are spoken concerning the infusion of habits before we can exercise the act of faith, we reject,” saith the epistle to the Walachians.5 “That the internal principle of faith required in the gospel is a habit divinely infused, by the strength and efficacy whereof the will should be determined, I deny,” saith another of them. Well, then, if we must grant that the internal vital principle of a supernatural spiritual grace is a mere natural faculty, not elevated by any divine habit, — if it be not God that begins the good work in us, but our own free-wills, — let us see what more goodly stuff will follow. One man by his own mere endeavors, without the aid of any received gift, makes himself differ from another.6 “What matter is it in that, that a man should make himself differ from others? There is nothing truer; he who yieldeth faith to God commanding him, maketh himself differ from him who will not have faith when he commandeth.” They are the words of their Apology, which, without question, is an irrefragable truth, if faith be not a gift received from above; for on that ground only the apostle proposeth these questions, “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received?” The sole cause why he denies anyone by his own power to make himself differ from another is, because that wherein the difference consisteth is “received,” being freely bestowed upon him. Deny this, and I confess the other will fall of itself. But until their authority be equal with the apostles’, they would do well to forbear the naked obtrusion of assertions so contradictory to theirs; and so they would not trouble the church. Let them take all the glory unto themselves, as doth Grevinchovius7 “I make myself,” saith he, “differ from another when I do not resist God and his divine predetermination; which I could have resisted. And why may I not boast of this as of mine own? That I could is of God’s mercy” (endowing his nature with such an ability as you heard before); “but that I would, when I might have done otherwise, is of my power.” Now, when, after all this, they are forced to confess some evangelical grace, though consisting only in a moral persuasion by the outward preaching of the word, they teach, —

Thirdly, That God sendeth the gospel, and revealeth Christ Jesus unto men, according as they well dispose themselves for such a blessing.8 “Sometimes,” say they in their synodical writings, “God calleth this or that nation, people, city, or person, to the communion of evangelical grace, whom he himself pronounceth worthy of it, in comparison of others.” So that whereas, Acts 18:10, God encourageth Paul to preach at Corinth by affirming that he had “much people in that city” (which, doubtless, were his people then only by virtue of their election), in these men’s judgments9 “they were called so because that even then they feared God, and served him with all their hearts, according to that knowledge they had of him, and so were ready to obey the preaching of St Paul.” Strange doctrine, that men should fear God, know him, serve him in sincerity, before they ever heard of the gospel, and by these means deserve that it should be preached unto them! This is that pleasing of God before faith that they plead for, Act. Synod., p. 66; that10 “preparation and disposition to believe, which men attain by the law and virtuous education;” that “something which is in sinners,11 whereby though they are not justified, yet they are made worthy of justification.” For12 “conversion and the performance of good works is,” in their apprehension, “a condition prerequired to justification,” for so speak the children of Arminius; which if it be not an expression not to be paralleled in the writings of any Christian, I am something mistaken. The sum of their doctrine, then, in this particular concerning the power of free-will in the state of sin and unregeneration, is, That every man having a native, inbred power of believing in Christ upon the revelation of the gospel, hath also an ability of doing so much good as shall procure of God that the gospel be preached unto him; to which, without any internal assistance of grace, he can give assent and yield obedience; the preparatory acts of his own will always proceeding so far as to make him excel others who do not perform them, and are therefore excluded from farther grace; — which is more gross Pelagianism than Pelagius himself would ever justify. Wherefore we reject all the former positions, as so many monsters in Christian religion, in whose room we assert these that follow: —

First, That we, being by nature dead in trespasses and sins, have no power to prepare ourselves for the receiving of God’s grace, nor in the least measure to believe and turn ourselves unto him. Not that we deny that there are any conditions pre-required in us for our conversion, dispositions preparing us in some measure for our new birth or regeneration; but we affirm that all these also are the effects of the grace of God, relating to that alone as their proper cause, for of ourselves, “without him, we can do nothing,” John 15:5. “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves,” 2 Corinthians 3:5, much less do that which is good. In respect of that, “every one of our mouths must be stopped;” for “we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:19, 23. We are “by nature the children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 8:6. Our new birth is a resurrection from death, wrought by the greatness of God’s power. And what ability, I pray, hath a dead man to prepare himself for his resurrection? Can he collect his scattered dust, or renew his perished senses? If the leopard can change his spots, and the Ethiopian his skin, then can we do good who by nature are taught to do evil, Jeremiah 13:23. We are all “ungodly,” and “without strength” considered, when Christ died for us, Romans 5:6; “wise to do evil,” but “to do good we have no strength, no knowledge.” Yea, all the faculties of our souls, by reason of that spiritual death under which we are detained by the corruption of nature, are altogether useless, in respect of any power for the doing of that which is truly good. Our understandings are blind or “darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us, because of the blindness of our hearts,” Ephesians 4:18; whereby we become even “darkness” itself, Ephesians 5:8. So void is the understanding of true knowledge, that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness unto him,” 1 Corinthians 2:14. [He is] nothing but confounded and amazed at spiritual things; and, if he doth not mock, can do nothing but wonder, and say, “What meaneth this?” Acts 2:12, 13. Secondly, we are not only blind in our understandings, but captives also to sin in our wills, Luke 4:18; whereby “we are servants of sin,” John 8:34; “free” only in our obedience to that tyrant, Romans 6:20. Yea, thirdly, all our affections are wholly corrupted, for “every imagination of the thoughts of the heart of man is only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5. While we are “in the flesh, the motions of sin do work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death,” Romans 7:5.

These are the endowments of our nature, these are the preparations of our hearts for the grace of God, which we have within ourselves. Nay, —

Secondly, There is not only an impotency but an enmity in corrupted nature to anything spiritually good: The things that are of God are “foolishness unto a natural man,” 1 Corinthians 2:14. And there is nothing that men do more hate and contemn than that which they account as folly. They mock at it as a ridiculous drunkenness, Acts 2:13. And would to God our days yielded us not too evident proofs of that universal opposition that is between light and darkness, Christ and Belial, nature and grace, — that we could not see everyday the prodigious issues of this inbred corruption swelling over all bounds, and breaking forth into a contempt of the gospel and all ways of godliness! So true it is that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,” Romans 8:7. So that, —

Thirdly, As a natural man, by the strength of his own free-will, neither knoweth nor willeth, so it is utterly impossible he should do anything pleasing unto God. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then can he do good,” Jeremiah 13:23. “An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit.” “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11:6; and “that is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8. So that though Almighty God, according to the unsearchableness of his wisdom, worketh divers ways and in sundry manners, for the translating of his chosen ones from the power of darkness into his marvelous light, — calling some powerfully in the midst of their march in the way of ungodliness, as he did Paul, — preparing others by outward means and helps of common restraining grace, moralizing nature before it be begotten anew by the immortal seed of the word, — yet this is certain, that all good in this kind is from his free grace; there is nothing in ourselves, as of ourselves, but sin. Yea, and all those previous dispositions wherewith our hearts are prepared, by virtue of common grace, do not at all enable us to concur, by any vital operation, with that powerful, blessed, renewing grace of regeneration whereby we become the sons of God. Neither is there any disposition unto grace so remote as that possibly it can proceed from a mere faculty of nature, for every such disposition must be of the same order with the form that is to be introduced; but nature, in respect of grace, is a thing of an inferior alloy, between which there is no proportion. A good use of gifts may have a promise of an addition of more, provided it be in the same kind. There is no rule, law, or promise that should make grace due upon the good use of natural endowments. But you will say, here I quite overthrow free-will, which before I seemed to grant. To which I answer, that in regard of that object concerning which now we treat, a natural man hath no such thing as free-will at all, if you take it for a power of doing that which is good and well-pleasing unto God in things spiritual, for an ability of preparing our hearts unto faith and calling upon God, as our church article speaks, a home-bred self-sufficiency, preceding the change of our wills by the almighty grace of God, whereby any good should be said to dwell in us; and we utterly deny that there is any such thing in the world. The will, though in itself radically free, yet in respect of the term or object to which in this regard it should tend, is corrupted, enthralled, and under a miserable bondage; tied to such a necessity of sinning in general, that though unregenerate men are not restrained to this or that sin in particular, yet for the main they can do nothing but sin. All their actions wherein there is any morality are attended with iniquity: “An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit;” even “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD.” These things being thus cleared from the Scripture, the former Arminian positions will of themselves fall to the ground, having no foundation but their own authority; for any pretense of proof they make none from the word of God. The first two I considered in the last chapter, and now add only concerning the third, — that the sole cause why the gospel is sent unto some and not unto others is, not any dignity, worth, or desert of it in them to whom it is sent, more than in the rest that are suffered to remain in the shadow of death, but only the sole good pleasure of God, that it may be a subservient means for the execution of his decree of election: “I have much people in this city,” Acts 18:20;

“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight,” Matthew 11:25, 26.

So that the Arminian opposition to the truth of the gospel in this particular is clearly manifest: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“Of ourselves we can do nothing,” John 15:5. “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves,” 2 Corinthians 3:5. “We are by nature the children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1-3. “We retain still after the fall a power of believing and of repentance, because Adam lost not this ability,” Rem. Declar. Sen. in Synod.
“Faith is not of ourselves: it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8. “Faith is said to be the work of God, because he commandeth us to perform it,” Rem. Apol. “There is no infusion of any habit or spiritual vital principle necessary to enable a man to believe,” Corv.
“Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received?” 1 Corinthians 4:7. “There is nothing truer than that one man maketh himself differ from another. He who believeth when God commandeth, maketh himself differ from him who will not,” Rem. Apol.
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, who are taught to do evil,” Jeremiah 13:23. “I may boast of mine own, when I obey God’s grace, which it was in my power not to obey, as well as to obey,” Grevinch.
“Believing on him that justifieth the ungodly,” Romans 4:5. “Being justified freely by his grace,” Romans 3:24. “True conversion and the performance of good works is a condition required on our part before justification,” Filii Attain.
“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight,” Matthew 11:25, 26. “God sendeth the gospel to such persons or nations, that in comparison of others may be said to be worthy of it,” Rem. Apol.


  1. “Adamus post lapsum potentiam credendi retinuit, et reliqui reprobi etiam in illo.” — Grevinch. ad Ames., p. 188.
  2. “Adamus non amisit vires eam obedientiam praestandi quae in novo foedere exigitur, prout puta ea consideratur formaliter, hoc est, prout novo foedere exacta est, nec potentiam credendi amisit; nec amisit potentiam, per resipiscentiam, ex peccato resurgendi.” — Rem. Declar. Sent. in Synod., p. 107.
  3. Fides vocatur opus Dei, quia Deus ipse id a nobis fieri postulat.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 10. p. 112.
  4. “Ea quae de habituum infusione dicuntur, ante omnem fidei actum, rejiciuntur a nobis.” — Epist, ad Wal., p. 67.
  5. “Principium internum fidei a nobis in evangelio requisitum, esse habitum quendam divinitus infusum, cujus vi ac efficacitate voluntas determinetur; hoc negavi.” — Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 324.
  6. “Quid in eo positum est, quod homo discriminare seipsum dicitur? Nihil verius; qui fidem Deo praecipienti habet, is discrimiunt se ab eo qui Deo praecipienti fidem habere non vult.” — Rem. Apol., cap. 14. p. 144.
  7. “Ego meipsum discerno, cum enim Deo ac divinae praedeterminationi resistere possem, non restiti tamen. Atqui in eo quidni liceat mihi tanquam de meo gloriari? Quod enim potui Dei miserentis est, quod autem volui cum possem nolle, id meae potestatis est.” — Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 253.
  8. “Interdum Deus hanc vel illam gentem, civitatem, personam, ad evangelicae gratiae communionem vocat, quam ipse dignam pronuntiat comparative,” etc. — Rein. Declarat. Sent. Synod.
  9. “Illi, in quorum gratiam, Dominus Paulum in Corinthum misit, dicuntur Dei populus, quia Deum turn timebant, eique, secundum cognitionem quam de eo habebant, serviebant ex animo, et sic ad praedicationem Pauli,” etc. — Corv. ad Molin. 3. sect. 27.
  10. “Per legem, vel per piam educationem vel per institutionem — per haec enim hominem praeparari et disponi ad credendum, planissimum est.” — Rem. Act. Synod.
  11. “Praecedit aliquid in peccatoribus, quo quamvis nondum justificati sunt, digni efficiantur justificatione.” — Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 434.
  12. “Tenendum est, veram conversionem praestationemque bonorum operum esse conditionem praerequisitam ante justificationem.” — Filii Arm. Praef. ad cap. 7. ad Rem.




How little or nothing at all it is that the Arminians assign to the grace of God, in performing the great work of our conversion, may plainly appear from what I have showed already that they ascribe to our own free-will, so that I shall briefly pass that over, which otherwise is so copiously delivered in holy Scripture that it would require a far larger discussion. A prolix confirmation of the truth we profess will not suit so well with my intention; which is merely to make a discovery of their errors, by not knowing the depths whereof so many are deceived and inveigled.

Two things, in this great conjunction of grace and nature, the Arminians ascribe unto free-will: — first, A power of co-operation and working with grace, to make it at all effectual; secondly, A power of resisting its operation, and making it altogether ineffectual; God in the meantime bestowing no grace but what awaits an act issuing from one of these two abilities, and hath its effect accordingly. If a man will co-operate, then grace attains its end; if he will resist, it returns empty. To this end they feign all the grace of God bestowed upon us for our conversion to be but a moral persuasion by his word, not an infusion of a new vital principle by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. And, indeed, granting this, I shall most willingly comply with them in assigning to free-will one of the endowments before recited, — a power of resisting the operation of grace; but instead of the other, must needs ascribe to our whole corrupted nature, and everyone that is partaker of it, a universal disability of obeying it, or coupling in that work which God by his grace doth intend. If the grace of our conversion be nothing but a moral persuasion, we have no more power of obeying it in that estate wherein we are dead in sin, than a man in his grave hath in himself to live anew and come out at the next call. God’s promises and the saints’ prayers in the holy Scripture seem to design such a kind of grace as should give us a real internal ability of doing that which is spiritually good. But it seems there is no such matter; for if a man should persuade me to leap over the Thames, or to fly in the air, be he never so eloquent, his sole persuasion makes me no more able to do it than I was before ever I saw him. If God’s grace be nothing but a sweet persuasion (though never so powerful), it is a thing extrinsical, consisting in the proposal of a desired object, but gives us no new strength at all to do anything we had not before a power to do. But let us hear them pleading themselves to each of these particulars concerning grace and nature. And, —

First, for the nature of grace:1 “God hath appointed to save believers by grace, — that is, a soft and sweet persuasion, convenient and agreeing to their free-will, — and not by any almighty action,” saith Arminius. It seems something strange, that “the carnal mind being enmity against God,” and the will enthralled to sin, and full of wretched opposition to all his ways, yet God should have no other means to work them over unto him but some persuasion that is sweet, agreeable, and congruous unto them in that estate wherein they are. And a small exaltation it is of the dignity and power of grace, when the chief reason why it is effectual, as Alvarez observes, may be reduced to a well-digested supper or an undisturbed sleep, whereby some men may be brought into better temper than ordinary to comply with this congruous grace. But let us for the present accept of this, and grant that God doth call some by such a congruous persuasion, at such a time and place as he knows they will assent unto it. I ask whether God thus calleth all men, or only some? If all, why are not all converted? for the very granting of it to be congruous makes it effectual. If only some, then why them, and not others? Is it out of a special intention to have them obedient? But let them take heed, for this will go near to establish the decree of election; and out of what other intention it should be they shall never be able to determine. Wherefore2 Corvinus denies that any such congruity is required to the grace whereby we are converted, but only that it be a moral persuasion; which we may obey if we will, and so make it effectual. Yea, and Arminius himself, after he had defended it as far as he was able, puts it off from himself, and falsely fathers it upon St. Austin. So that, as they jointly affirm,3 “they confess no grace for the begetting of faith to be necessary, but only that which is moral;” which one of them interpreteth to be4 “a declaration of the gospel unto us;” — right like their old master, Pelagius. “God,” saith he,5 “worketh in us to will that which is good and to will that which is holy, whilst he stirs us up with promise of rewards and the greatness of the future glory, who before were given over to earthly desires, like brute beasts, loving nothing but things present, stirring up our stupid wills to a desire of God by a revelation of wisdom, and persuading us to all that is good.” Both of them affirm the grace of God to be nothing but a moral persuasion, working by the way of powerful, convincing arguments; but yet herein Pelagius seems to ascribe a greater efficacy to it than the Arminians, granting that it works upon us when, after the manner of brute beasts, we are set merely on earthly things. But these, as they confess that, for the production of faith,6 it is necessary that such arguments be proposed on the part of God to which nothing can probably be opposed why they should not seem credible; so there is, say they, required on our part a pious docility and probity of mind. So that all the grace of God bestowed on us consisteth in persuasive arguments out of the word; which, if they meet with teachable minds, may work their conversion.

Secondly, Having thus extenuated the grace of God, they affirm,7 “that in operation the efficacy thereof dependeth on free-will:” so the Remonstrants in their Apology.8 “And to speak confidently,” saith Grevinchovius, “I say that the effect of grace, in an ordinary course, dependeth on some act of our free-will.” Suppose, then, that of two men made partakers of the same grace, — that is, [who] have the gospel preached unto them by the same means, — one is converted and the other is not, what may be the cause of this so great a difference? Was there any intention or purpose in God that one should be changed rather than the other? “No; he equally desireth and intendeth the conversion of all and every one.” Did, then, God work more powerfully in the heart of the one by his Holy Spirit than of the other? “No; the same operation of the Spirit always accompanieth the same preaching of the word.” But was not one, by some almighty action, made partaker of real infused grace, which the other attained not unto? “No; for that would destroy the liberty of his will, and deprive him of all the praise of believing.” How, then, came this extreme difference of effects? who made the one differ from the other? or what hath he that he did not receive? “Why, all this proceedeth merely from the strength of his own free-will yielding obedience to God’s gracious invitation, which, like the other, he might have rejected: this is the immediate cause of his conversion, to which all the praise thereof is due.” And here the old idol may glory to all the world, that if he can but get his worshippers to prevail in this, he hath quite excluded the grace of Christ, and made it “nomen inane,” a mere title, whereas there is no such thing in the world.

Thirdly, They teach, that notwithstanding any purpose and intention of God to convert, and so to save, a sinner, — notwithstanding the most powerful and effectual operation of the blessed Spirit, with the most winning, persuasive preaching of the word, — yet it is in the power of a man to frustrate that purpose, resist that operation, and reject that preaching of the gospel. I shall not need to prove this, for it is that which, in direct terms, they plead for; which also they must do, if they will comply with their former principles. For granting all these to have no influence upon any man but by the way of moral persuasion, we must not only grant that it may be resisted, but also utterly deny that it can be obeyed. We may resist it, I say, as having both a disability to good and repugnancy against it; but for obeying it, unless we will deny all inherent corruption and depravation of nature, we cannot attribute any such sufficiency unto ourselves.

Now, concerning this weakness of grace, that it is not able to overcome the opposing power of sinful nature, one testimony of Arminius shall suffice:9 “It always remaineth in the power of free-will to reject grace that is given and to refuse that which followeth; for grace is no almighty action of God, to which free-will cannot resist.” Not that I would assert, in opposition to this, such an operation of grace as should, as it were, violently overcome the will of man, and force him to obedience, which must needs be prejudicial unto our liberty; but only consisting in such a sweet effectual working as doth infallibly promote our conversion, make us willing who before were unwilling, and obedient who were not obedient, that createth clean hearts and reneweth right spirits within us.

That, then, which we assert, in opposition to these Arminian heterodoxies, is, That the effectual grace which God useth in the great work of our conversion, by reason of its own nature, — being also the instrument of and God’s intention for that purpose, — doth surely produce the effect intended, without successful resistance, and solely, without any considerable co-operation of our own wills, until they are prepared and changed by that very grace. The infallibility of its effect depends chiefly on the purpose of God. When by any means he intends a man’s conversion, those means must have such an efficacy added unto them as may make them fit instruments for the accomplishment of that intention, that the counsel of the Lord may prosper, and his word not return empty. But the manner of its operation, — that it requires no human assistance, and is able to overcome all repugnance, — is proper to the being of such an act as wherein it doth consist. Which nature and efficacy of grace, in opposition to an indifferent influence of the Holy Spirit, a metaphorical motion, a working by the way of moral persuasion, only proposing a desirable object, easy to be resisted, and not effectual unless it be helped by an inbred ability of our own (which is the Arminian grace), I will briefly confirm, having premised these few things: —

First, Although God doth not use the wills of men, in their conversion, as malign spirits use the members of men in enthusiasms, by a violent wrested motion, but sweetly and agreeably to their own free nature; yet in the first act of our conversion the will is merely passive, as a capable subject of such a work, not at all concurring cooperatively to our turning. It is not, I say, the cause of the work, but the subject wherein it is wrought, having only a passive capability for the receiving of that supernatural being, which is introduced by grace. The beginning of this “good work” is merely from God, Philippians 1:6. Yea, faith is ascribed unto grace, not by the way of conjunction with, but of opposition unto, our wills: “Not of ourselves; it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves; our sufficiency is of God,” 2 Corinthians 3:5. “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned,” Lamentations 5:21.

Secondly, Though the will of man conferreth nothing to the infusion of the first grace, but a subjective receiving of it, yet in the very first act that is wrought in and by the will, it most freely cooperateth (by the way of subordination) with the grace of God; and the more effectually it is moved by grace, the more freely it worketh with it. Man being converted, converteth himself.

Thirdly, We do not affirm grace to be irresistible, as though it came upon the will with such an overflowing violence as to beat it down before it, and subdue it by compulsion to what it is no way inclinable [unto.] But if that term must be used, it denoteth, in our sense, only such an unconquerable efficacy of grace as always and infallibly produceth its effect; for who is it that can “withstand God?” Acts 11:17. As also, it may be used on the part of the will itself, which will not resist it: “All that the Father giveth unto Christ shall come to him,” John 6:37. The operation of grace is resisted by no hard heart; because it mollifies the heart itself. It doth not so much take away a power of resisting as give a will of obeying, whereby the powerful impotency of resistance is removed.

Fourthly, Concerning grace itself, it is either common or special. Common or general grace consisteth in the external revelation of the will of God by his word, with some illumination of the mind to perceive it, and correction of the affections not too much to contemn it; and this, in some degree or other, to some more, to some less, is common to all that are called. Special grace is the grace of regeneration, comprehending the former, adding more spiritual acts, but especially presupposing the purpose of God, on which its efficacy doth chiefly depend.

Fifthly, This saving grace, whereby the Lord converteth or regenerateth a sinner, translating him from death to life, is either external or internal. External consisteth in the preaching of the word, etc., whose operation is by the way of moral persuasion, when by it we beseech our hearers

“in Christ’s stead that they would be reconciled unto God,” 2 Corinthians 5:20;

and this in our conversion is the instrumental organ thereof, and may be said to be a sufficient cause of our regeneration, inasmuch as no other in the same kind is necessary. It may also be resisted in sensu diviso, abstracting from that consideration wherein it is looked on as the instrument of God for such an end.

Sixthly, Internal grace is by divines distinguished into the first or preventing grace, and the second following cooperating grace. The first is that spiritual vital principle that is infused into us by the Holy Spirit, that new creation and bestowing of new strength, whereby we are made fit and able for the producing of spiritual acts, to believe and yield evangelical obedience:

“For we are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” Ephesians 2:10.

By this God “gives us a new heart, and a new spirit he puts within us;” he “takes the stony heart out of our flesh, and gives us an heart of flesh;” he “puts his Spirit within us, to cause us to walk in his statutes,” Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

Now, this first grace is not properly and formally a vital act, but causaliter only, in being a principle moving to such vital acts within us. It is the habit of faith bestowed upon a man, that he may be able to eliciate and perform the acts thereof, giving new light to the understanding, new inclinations to the will, and new affections unto the heart: for the infallible efficacy of which grace it is that we plead against the Arminians. And amongst those innumerable places of holy Scripture confirming this truth, I shall make use only of a very few, reduced to these three heads: —

First, Our conversion is wrought by a divine, almighty action, which the will of man will not, and therefore cannot resist. The impotency thereof ought not to be opposed to this omnipotent grace, which will certainly effect the work for which it is ordained, being an action not inferior to the greatness of his “mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead,” Ephesians 1:19, 20. And shall not that power which could overcome hell, and loose the bonds of death, be effectual for the raising of a sinner from the death of sin, when by God’s intention it is appointed unto that work? He accomplisheth “the work of faith with power,” 2 Thessalonians 1:11. It is “his divine power that giveth unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” 2 Peter 1:3. Surely a moral, resistible persuasion would not be thus often termed the “power” of God, which denoteth an actual efficacy to which no creature is able to resist.

Secondly, That which consisteth in a real efficiency, and is not at all but when and where it actually worketh what it intendeth, cannot without a contradiction be said to be so resisted that it should not work, the whole nature thereof consisting in such a real operation. Now, that the very essence of divine grace consisteth in such a formal act may be proved by all those places of Scripture that affirm God by his grace, or the grace of God, actually to accomplish our conversion: as Deuteronomy 30:6,

“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”

The circumcision of our hearts, that we may love the Lord with all our hearts, and with all our souls, is our conversion, which the Lord affirmeth here that he himself will do; not only enable us to do it, but he himself really and effectually will accomplish it. And again, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts,” Jeremiah 31:33. “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me,” chap. 32:40. He will not offer his fear unto them, but actually put it into them. And most clearly, Ezekiel 36:26, 27:

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.”

Are these expressions of a moral persuasion only? Doth God affirm here he will do what he intends only to persuade us to, and which we may refuse to do if we will? Is it in the power of a stony heart to remove itself? What an active stone is this, in mounting upwards! What doth it at all differ from that heart of flesh that God promiseth? Shall a stony heart be said to have a power to change itself into such a heart of flesh as shall cause us to walk in God’s statutes? Surely, unless men were willfully blind, they must needs here perceive such an action of God denoted, as effectually, solely, and infallibly worketh our conversion; “opening our hearts, that we may attend unto the word,” Acts 16:14; “giving us in the behalf of Christ to believe on him,” Philippians 1:29. Now, these and the like places prove both the nature of God’s grace to consist in a real efficiency, and the operation thereof to be certainly effectual.

Thirdly, Our conversion is a “new creation,” a “resurrection,” a “new birth.” Now, he that createth a man doth not persuade him to create himself, neither can he if he should, nor hath he any power to resist him that will create him, — that is, as we now take it, translate him from something that he is to what he is not. What arguments do you think were sufficient to persuade a dead man to rise? or what great aid can he contribute to his own resurrection? Neither doth a man beget himself; a new real form was never yet introduced into any matter by subtle arguments. These are the terms the Scripture is pleased to use concerning our conversion: — “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,” 2 Corinthians 5:17. The “new man after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Ephesians 4:24. It is our new birth: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” John 3:3. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,” James 1:18. And so we become “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever,” 1 Peter 1:23. It is our vivification and resurrection: “The Son quickeneth whom he will,” John 5:21, even those “dead,” who “hear his voice and live,” verse 25. “When we were dead in sins,” we are “quickened together with Christ by grace,” Ephesians 2:5; for “being buried with him by baptism, we are also risen with him through the faith of the operation of God,” Colossians 2:12. And “blessed and holy is he that hath part in that first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”

Tw/| Qew|/ avristomegi,stw| do,xa.


  1. “Deus statuit salvare credentes per gratiam, id est, lenem ac suavem liberoque ipsorum arbitrio convenientem seu congruam suasionem, non per omnipotentem actionem seu motionem.” — Armin. Antip., p. 211.
  2. Corv. ad Molin. — “His ita expositis ex mente Augustini,” etc. — Armin. Antip. De Elec.
  3. “Fatemur, aliam nobis ad actum fidei eliciendum necessariam gratiam non agnosci quam moralem.” — Rem. Act. Synod. ad Art. 4.
  4. “Annuntiatio doctrinae evangelicae.” — Popp. August. Port. p. 110.
  5. “Operatur in nobis velle quod bonum est, velle quod sanctum est, dum nos terrenis cupiditatibus deditos mutorum more animalium, tantummodo praesentia diligentes, futurae gloriae magnitudine et praemiorum pollicitatione, succendit: alum revelatione sapientiae in desiderium Dei stupentem suscitat voluntatem, dum nobis suadet omne quod bonum est.” — Pelag., ap. Aug. de Grat. Ch. cap. 10.
  6. “Ut autem assensus hic eliciatur in nobis, duo in primis necessaria sunt: — 1. Argumenta talia ex parte Dei, quibus nihil verisimiliter opponi potest cur credibilia non sint. 2. Pia docilitas animique probitas.” — Rem. Declar., cap. 17. sect. 1.
  7. “Ut gratia sit efficax in actu secundo pendet a libera voluntate.” — Rem. Apol., p. 164.
  8. “Imo ut confidentius again, dico effectum gratiae, ordinaria lege, pendere ab actu aliquo arbitrii.” — Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 198.
  9. “Manet semper in potestate Lib. Arbit. gratiam datam rejicere et subsequentem repudiare, quae gratia non est omnipotentis Dei actio, cui resisti a libero hominis arbitrio non possit.” — Armin. Antip., p. 243.