Free Thoughts in Captivity (to Zion)
Honourable and highly honoured, venerable and virtuous Mother,
I Wish electing love, sovereign mercy, promised peace, and the abundance of light, life; and comfort; ever to remain with thee and thy highly favoured fraternity.
Some time ago an anonymous pamphlet was sent to me by one of our stewards of the household, affirmed to be written by a Mr. Skinner; with an earnest request that I would publish an answer to the same; upon perusal of which I thought it required one, because the whole contents are levelled against our palaces, walls, towers, and bulwarks. The language of every free thought concerning Zion is, raze it, raze it, even to the foundation. The whole piece contains notions diametrically opposite to the doctrinal articles which he must have sworn to and subscribed, if ever he was licensed; nor has he spoken as the oracles of God; nor do I believe that the contents of this pamphlet are consonant with the confession of faith that he delivered at his ordination; if they are, I am bold to affirm, that the presbytery did not bring his thoughts to the touchstone, nor sufficiently prove the free-thinker, but laid hands too suddenly on him. The person that can swear and subscribe to doctrines which he doth not believe; confess truth with his lips, and hug a lie in his heart; abjure the doctrines of popery with an oath, and then publish a defence of the same; declare that he believes in his conscience the doctrines of the protestant church, and then preach and write the sentiments of the popish, must be hardened to a dreadful degree, and past feeling; and if ever he was licensed, which as an obedient subject he ought to be, then he is the man. If a man takes no heed to himself, nor to his own conscience, he will take none to his doctrine; therefore there is little likelihood of his saving himself, or them that hear him; dissimulation is more worthy the pillory than the pulpit.
The author of this piece gives us to understand by his title, that he is a free-thinker, such as Paul was before he was called by grace; and he has acted with tongue and pen, as Paul did with his authority from the chief priest; who thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus, which he also did, Acts xxvi. 9. And our author thinks he ought to speak and write many things contrary to the doctrines and household of Jesus, which he also hath done.
God, who best knows the heart of man, has declared that the wickedness of man is great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually, Gen. vi. 5. The scriptures intimate that every natural man, or free-thinker, will endeavour to debase his Maker to a level with himself, arraign his conduct at the bar of his reason; the mystery of his sovereign will must comport with the freedom of his, and the thoughts of God must run in the channel of his thoughts: "Thou thoughtest," says God, "that I was altogether such an one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them [thy sins] in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." Between the sovereign will of God, and the free-will of man, there is an infinite discomparison; and as infinite a distance between the good thoughts of God toward his elect, Jer. xxix. 11; and the thoughts of free-thinkers concerning themselves; "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Hence the free-thinker, who so often censures and condemns his Maker's counsel and conduct, is called an unrighteous man, and is commanded to forsake his thoughts before he presumes to approach his Maker; Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, before he return unto the Lord, Isaiah lv. 7: but as this forsaking our free thoughts cannot be performed by free-will, or human power, the gospel furnishes Christ's ministers with weapons which are always attended with a divine power, where any good execution is done, and then this scouting party of free thoughts are taken prisoners, reduced to gospel obedience, and under a divine control they are taught to march in a narrower path, without breaking rank or order: "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. Under this divine power, free thoughts lose their presumptuous liberty, and the tamed sinner becoming tractable will be ashamed, and complain of his thoughts and of their wretched freedom; and, instead of exposing them so freely, will expose his hatred of them; "I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love." Thus the free-thinker's intoxication submits to gospel sobriety: "For I say to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly."
Our author styles himself a friend to all mankind. By the particle, all, I suppose he means not the heirs of promise, but the children of the flesh, which are not the children of God, Rom. ix. 8; for I am sure he is no friend to Zion, nor to the testimony that God has given of her; there is not one of that chosen family, not one of that royal household, if taught of God and made free by the spirit of truth, but what would be sensibly injured and disgusted at such free thoughts as these, which are levelled at the sovereignty of God, the counsel of his will, his eternal purpose in Christ, the foundation of Zion, and her eternal establishment. Take heed that ye offend not one of these little ones which believe in me, Mark ix. 42.
Mr. Skinner is for enlarging the bonds of the covenant; the sounding of his bowels reaches to all the offspring of old Adam; the mercy of God, and the death of Christ must follow wherever his free thoughts lead the van; for he supposes that God is just such an one as himself; the Bible is to speak the imaginations of his heart; the thoughts are his own, the voice of God is only to articulate them. He has nothing to offer in behalf of God's elect; no encouragement for the children of promise; it is the cause of old Adam, and of the children of the flesh, that he has undertaken to plead; and no doubt but the Edomites and Ishmaelites will greatly rejoice to see so nervous a logician step forth as their advocate in the great day, when God appears a swift witness against the workers of iniquity. He has taken care to shun the severe spirit of Paul. He has no notion of leaving the curse where God has fixed it; he would rather bless Moab than Israel; " If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha;" nor does he approve of the apostle's narrowness of spirit, who would endure all things for the elect sake only, that they might obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory, 2 Tim. ii. 10. He informs us that he is an advocate for free inquiry into matters of religion; and we may justly reply, that he does not inquire wisely concerning this matter. For as the Bible reveals a blessing and a curse, and mentions children of God and children of the flesh, heirs of promise and heirs of wrath; while the cunning hunter and the plain dealer, the man of the field and the man of the tent, are struggling together for the birth-right and the blessing, the best way is, not to inquire of free thoughts concerning the mystery of election, but to do as Rebecca did, go and inquire of the Lord; and if the answer be, Two nations are within thy womb; the one, a chosen generation, an holy nation, 1 Peter ii. 9; and the other, a people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever, Mal. 4; if two manner of people are to be separated from her bowels, one being children of the flesh and the other children of the promise; if the elder in old Adam is to serve the younger in the second Adam; if Jacob is beloved, and Esau hated, Gen. xxv. 23; Mal. i. 2, 3: then the blessing is to be applied to the proper heir, according to the mind and will of God, not according to our free thoughts. Isaac was going to err in this point, but God stopped him. Upon mount Zion God has commanded the blessing; not on mount Seir, which is Esau; nor upon mount Sinai, which is Hagar and Ishmael. The inheritance is entailed on Abraham's chosen family, on Isaac's blessed race, and on the Israel of God. This is the nation that God owns for his, the nation that he has blessed: "The counsel of the Lord standeth fast for ever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
For a free-thinker to pretend to entail God's blessing where God has denied it, is no less than daring arrogance; "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his [free] thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help." He is an abomination that justifies the wicked; and he is no better than an abomination who declares that the heirs of promise whom God hath blessed may fall away, and be cursed at last. Balaam, who lost both his life and his soul by attempting to curse them whom God had blessed, never went so far, though the devil helped him; there is no enchantment against Jacob, there is the beloved father; no divination against Israel, there is the elected seed; who can curse Jacob, or defy Israel? "I have received commandment to bless," though we know his free thoughts run in another channel, for he intended to curse; but he is obliged to own God "hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob," our everlasting father; "neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel," who stand complete in him. I would advise our author to act as Salaam did, listen to the voice of God, and consult free thoughts no more about the matter, seeing it cannot be altered: "And when Balaam saw that it pleased God to bless Israel, he went not as at other times to seek for enchantments;" he laid the devil's vain help by, and spoke the truth plainly: "He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion; who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee."
Our author takes the whole Bible as the only code of Christian laws; by which he would give us to understand that he belongs to mount Sinai, the bond-woman in the figure, which is in bond, age with all her children; and it is clear that the old veil is still upon his heart in reading this code of laws. Had he been a child of light, or an heir of promise, he would have found something in the Bible besides a code of laws; it is a strange will and testament that has got nothing but commands in it. However, the Bible is his code of laws; and we know that whatsoever that code said], it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped from boasting, and the whole world become guilty before God instead of innocent.
He is willing that men should enjoy their religious sentiments, however they may differ from his, though he has spent all the free thoughts of his quiver against their sentiments; and he is 'persuaded that right of private judgment, and liberty of conscience, are inseparably connected with a day of retribution, when every one shall give account of himself to God.' Whether this right pleaded for be human or divine we are not informed; but as divinity is the subject, the right ought to have a divine grant from God; spiritual rights and privileges being included among the good and perfect gifts that come from the Father of light. No man by nature has any hereditary right; nor is any man upon earth empowered to grant any right to spiritual things. Private judgment in spiritual matters, as well as public judgment, ought to be according to truth. For want of light to discern; for want of a right granted from God; for want of knowing the scriptures, and the power of God, wrong judgment proceedeth, Hab. i. 4.
'A day of retribution.' A day of repaying what is due to God; a day of giving up accounts to God for every free thought, word, and action; for the doctrines he subscribed to; for the confession he made at his ordination; and for every false doctrine he has advanced; and all this under a code of Christian laws, according to a scheme of free thoughts; God be merciful to such poor blind souls, who darken counsel by words without knowledge, and utter things they understand not. If vindictive Justice makes a demand of Mr. Skinner by law, the retribution, repayment, or recompense, will be scanty enough, God knows. "Will ye render me a recompense? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head." Should this be the case, our author had need to seek for a surety, and adapt the ancient petition, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant," O Lord, "for in thy sight," neither by a code of laws, nor by the free thoughts of man, "shall no man living be justified," Psalm cxliii. 2. But this right of private judgment, and liberty of conscience, so closely connected with a day of retribution, seems not to be a right granted from above, but from beneath; for it follows,
'And it is the felicity of Britons, that they enjoy liberty, not only of private judgment, but of exposing their sentiments to the world.' This liberty was enjoyed by Simon Magus, Arius, and Pelagius, as well as Mr. Skinner, though they were not Britons, and they had the felicity of dragging thousands into the snare of the devil as well as themselves; they sent many proselytes to their wicked works beforehand to judgment, and they left their damnable heresies to entangle others that shall go after them, by which means their felicity will be increased; or, to speak in the language of Milton, they will be supreme in misery.
If a man's liberty and sentiments be from God, he has a divine right to expose them to others; but if a man hates instruction, if he casts God's word behind him, if he hates to be reformed, whatever liberty or felicity he may boast of as a Briton, God has forbidden him to declare his statutes, or take his covenant in his mouth, Psalm 1. 16, 17.
'By exposing my sentiments, error is detected, and truth established, in defence of which these pages are made public.' By error our author means the doctrines of the gospel, which, if he be licensed, he swore to maintain; and by truth he means his own thoughts, or mischievous devices that he has uttered against the counsel of God; we know there are many devices in this man's heart, nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand, Prov. xix. 21.
Our author has no 'sinister ends to serve,' though he writes against the word of God in behalf of the world; 'no party to please; no system that must be supported, because it has long been established by men.' The doctrinal articles of the church of England were not established by men; they were drawn from the word of God, which was established in the secret purpose of God in Christ Jesus from all eternity. The system that our author's free thoughts are offered in defence of, has been long established by man; he is writing against the secret purpose of God, against his absolute choice of his people, and against discriminating grace. And has not this system been long established by man? These were the things that provoked Cain; "God had respect to Abel and to his offering, but to Cain and his offering he had not respect." Cain saw this; and God, who knew his heart, and knew that he was for a free-will establishment, dealt with him accordingly, that is, conditionally, as he has dealt with all his followers ever since: "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? but if not, sin lies at thy door;" and Cain is as sure to do well as the Ethiopian is to change his skin, or the leopard his spots. God left him to his own free-will, and in his own religion; in defence of which, and in rage against the grace of God, he slew his brother. There are but two classes of men in the world, heirs of promise, and heirs of wrath; no more than two foundations, the rock and the sand; the one is mount Zion, which God has founded, the other is Sinai in the figure, the children of the flesh, whose foundation is in the dust, Job iv. 19; whose basis is free agency. This religion was founded by Cain; in the behalf of which human establishment Mr. Skinner's free thoughts are made public. This human establishment has never wanted its advocates; in every age there have been some zealous defenders of it; Ishmael, Esau, false prophets, Judas, false apostles, Pelagius, Van Hermin, and John Child in the puritanic age, stepped forth and published a legion of free thoughts, the same in substance as our author's, but more nervous a great deal. He wrote against the doctrines of grace, and the preachers of them, until the band of God touched him, then he sunk into black despair, where he lay bellowing and cursing his book of free thoughts, till like Judas he hanged himself, The history and writings of John Child are well known in the world. One would have thought. such a visible stroke from God would have been sufficient to have awed every free-thinker in the world; "Every morning doth God bring his judgments to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame."
Our author wishes that his thoughts may be blessed to his readers, and Christ is to have the praise. Will a man speak wickedly for God? will he talk deceitfully for him? Job xiii. 7. Will he contradict his Maker, oppose the word of his grace,. and attempt to secure a tribute of praise by encouraging rebellion? Surely God gets no praise from lying lips, nor from a deceitful tongue, Psal. lii. 3, 4. I shall dismiss the title and the preface, and consider our author's thoughts, and set the revealed thoughts of God against them; and as he has jumbled five or six doctrines together, I shall pick them out, one by one, and quote as little of his work as possible, lest I swell my own too big.
The first doctrine that is to be levelled by free thoughts is the doctrine of election, which is stated in the following manner: First, 'That God, before the foundation of the world, chose from among mankind a certain number of persons by name; and that this number is so determined, that it can be neither augmented nor diminished. For these persons, and for these only, Christ died; and of consequence they must be saved; they are therefore termed the elect.' These are the errors that he is going to detect; this is part of the system that he supposes has been long established by man, whereas these are the doctrines that God has established, these are truths that shall be settled in heaven. First, Their choice: "According as he [God] hath chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love." Secondly, These are chosen from among mankind, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them, I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen," John xiii. 18. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Here is a world that loves his own; here is a number chosen out of the world; a number that are not of the world, and this number the world hates, because they are chosen: "Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Thirdly, These are chosen by name: "And he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem." " Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." "The general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven," Heb. xii. "I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers whose names are in the book of life." These names are written in heaven, in the book of life, and their record is on high, Job xvi. 19.
This number cannot be augmented. "And all that dwell upon earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life, of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire," Rev. xx. 15. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."
This number cannot be diminished. "It is not the will of your Father that one of these little ones should perish." "I give unto them [my sheep], eternal life; anti they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hands. My Father is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." They are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; they shall not. be ashamed nor confounded world without end, Isaiah xlv. 17. They shall be delivered every one that is found written in the book, Dan. xii. They shall return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their head, Isaiah xxxv. 10. "Whom he [God] did foreknow he also did predestinate; and whom he did predestinate them he also called; and whom he called them he also justified; and whom he justified them he also glorified." Whom God predestinated he glorified: it is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? God is for us; who can be against us; who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect; who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
This number can neither be augmented nor diminished. "I know, that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; and God doeth it [not that men should dispute the point of sovereignty with him, but] that men should fear before him." The elect number of God's family is determined, there is no room left for augmentation or "He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: A God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he." In the business of election there is no work that free will or free thoughts, head or tail, branch or rush, may do, Isaiah xix. 15.
Reprobation comes next among this troop of free thoughts: 'The rest of mankind were passed by, or left in the ruins of fallen nature; and as Christ did not die for them, they must perish; these consequently are called reprobate,' Page 2.
This is brought in again in page 64: 'On this supposition, can the sentiments vindicated do any injury to mankind at large? Whom can they hurt? not the elect, they are secure; not the reprobate, for they are secure also; for on the principles opposed, the elect must be saved, do what they will; and the reprobates must be lost, do what they can.' "If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God." That God has chosen in Christ Jesus a certain number by name is already proved; and a choice implies some left, or not included in the choice; these are chosen from the rest of mankind; they are chosen of God; "And except the Lord had shortened those days [of affliction], no flesh should be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days," Mark xiii. 20. They are chosen in Christ, they are chosen from among them that perish, they shall never perish; they are chosen out of the world, and the world hates God's choice of them, and them on account of the choice. This chosen number is but few when compared to the rest they were chosen from. It will be hard to prove that one half of the human race ever heard the gospel call; and those that really have are a large number when compared to the elect; "Many be called, but few chosen." This chosen number are couched in the promise made to Christ; "A seed shall serve him, it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." This promised generation is well known to God, and to him only, until he makes it known to the seed whom by grace he enables to make their calling and election sure. Who shall declare this generation; Isa. liii. 8. Why Mr. Skinner has; he declares it to be all the offspring of Adam; but the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; and so far from all Adam's offspring being included, all Abraham's seed are not included; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called; "That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed," Rom. ix. 7, 8; which Peter applies to the elect; "But ye are a chosen generation;" to whom in Christ the promise of life was made "My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." These chosen ones are called the faithful seed of Abraham, God's friend; heirs of promise, called in Isaac not in Ishmael: "Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise." They are called the Israel of God, the seed of the spiritual Jacob, whom God hath chosen, Isa. xli. 8; on which account God styles himself the God of Abraham, whom he called alone and blessed; the God of Isaac, in whom the seed was to be called; and the God of Jacob, the father of every subject of mercy, or son of peace: "Peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." This God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, doth not call himself the God of Terah, the God of Ishmael, nor the God of Esau; he is not the God of the dead; not a covenant God to those who were not ordained to eternal life, but the God of those to whom be gave life in Christ Jesus before the world was; not the God of the dead in law, called the bond-woman and her children she is desolate, she is not the married wife; she is Ruhamah, not my wife, saith the Lord, Hosea ii. 1, 2; nor is he the God of the dead in sin, who stand in the first Adam, for in Adam all die; these are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, Rom. ix. 8. The ministry is a savour of death unto death to these; God works a work that they shall in no wise believe, Acts xiii. 41; he is therefore not the God of the dead, but he is the God of the living; namely, of all that he predestinated to the adoption of sons; all that he ordained to eternal life; to these, and to none else, he gives gospel faith; "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
Thus Jehovah is not the God of the dead but of the living; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of Abraham, who is the father of us all, who considered not his own body dead though an hundred years old; he is the God of Sarah the free woman, the mother of us all, whose children we are, at whose deadness Abraham staggered not, but by faith surmounted the deadness of Sarah's womb, on which account the elect are commanded to look to Abraham their father, instead of Adam, and to Sarah that bare them, instead of Eve. And when God styles himself the God of Isaac, Ishmael is excluded; and when he styles himself the God of Jacob, all his seed are not included: "They are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called," Those that are predestinated to the adoption of sons; those that God gave life to in Christ Jesus before the world was, are the heirs of promise, and the promised seed, and no other.
Abraham was typical of Christ, as the everlasting father of the faithful; and Isaac typical of Christ, as the promised seed; "He saith not of seeds as of many, but to thy seed which is Christ," and Jacob was typical of Jesus, as that prince that had power with God and man: "Thou art my servant, O Jacob, in whom I will be glorified." Abraham's seed were those that were ordained to eternal life; these believe as Abraham did; Isaac's seed are the heirs of promise, and Jacob's seed is the spiritual Israel of God, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles; on which account God saith, "Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel whom I have chosen: thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant, and Jeshurun whom I have chosen. One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel." Thus God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the elect are called the children of Abraham, the house of Isaac, and the seed of Jacob, or Israel of God. The elect are never styled the children of Adam, for the promise was made to Christ in their behalf before Adam fell; on which account it is said, the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God. The elect are a seed given to the second Adam, called the children of the promise, which are counted for the seed; nor are they called the children of Cain, who was of that wicked one, to which father the Saviour pointed many of the Jews who laid claim to Abraham, "If ye were the children of Abraham ye would do his works; ye are of your father the devil;" nor are they called the children of Hagar, for the bond-children which are in the flesh are palmed upon her; nor are they called the children of Ishmael, he was born after the flesh, and persecuted him that was by promise, and so it is now; nor are they called the children of Esau, whom God hated, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright; his offspring are to be called the borders of wickedness, against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.
Before universal love, universal grace, and universal redemption can be proved, it will be necessary to point out the promises that were made to the old Adam, to Cain, to Hagar, to Ishmael, and to Esau. Paul says, to Abraham and to his seed were the promises made; he saith not of seeds as of many, but to thy seed which is Christ, to whom a generation is to be accounted; and the children of the promise are counted for the seed. The whole book of God entails the promise and the blessing on Christ and his chosen, called children of the promise; from which promise old Adam as the head and his children after the flesh are excluded; unless Mr. Skinner can produce it from a new bible, of his own making.
I own the doctrine of reprobation is a most tremendous and awful subject; but I am as sure that it is a truth as I am that there is a God in heaven. The first moment that God shone with a divine ray on my soul, that moment the human race were divided into two classes - the one under the law, the other under grace; the commands and the promises were arranged over the head of each class, as is related in my 'Kingdom of Heaven taken by Prayer;' and when Mr. Skinner can give some account of a work of grace upon his own soul, and of his ever being taught of God, I shall give more attention to him. Free thoughts upon the Letter of divine revelation is not sufficient; a divine power is wanted; the kingdom is not in word but in power; the free-thinker doth therefore err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. The Lord created all things, and for his pleasure they are and were created, Rev. iv. 11; and his pleasure will be done: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:'' "I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." "The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea even the wicked for the day of evil." God's chosen sheep shall be sought out of all places whither they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day, Ezek. xxxiv. 12. "I am found of them that sought me not." Others shall seek him and shall not find him, and where he is they cannot come, John vii. 34. "Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified," Isa. lx. 21. "Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in." To the nation that God makes righteous, the gates shall be open, but to none else; others shall strive, but in vain. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
All that shall enjoy the land which is very far off for ever, are branches of the Lord's planting, Mr. Skinner is for a second plantation; but their stock shall not take root; for "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." To the heirs of promise it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to others it is not given. To the elect, who are called babes, and therefore very incapable of receiving them, these things are revealed; and from the wise and prudent, the best capable of instruction, these things are hid; and so it seemeth good in our heavenly Father's sight, though it seems evil in the eyes of Mr. Skinner. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. I will build thee, saith the Lord, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel." To the elect God imputes an everlasting righteousness, Dan. ix. 24; Psal. cxix. 142; and for these righteous ones he has laid an everlasting foundation, Prov. x. 25. Our answer, therefore, to every messenger is, that "The Lord hath founded Zion." Our sovereign Lord is a sanctuary to some, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to others; "And many shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken," Isa. viii. 14, 15. "Many shall be purified and made white, and tried: but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." This is speaking as the oracles of God.
The Lord hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? Isa. xiv. 27. Some are predestinated, called, justified, and glorified. The elect obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory, 2 Tim. ii. 10. These he predestinated according to his purpose; predestinated to the adoption of sons, Ephes. 5; and to glory.
All men are not included in this decree; all the human race are not elected; there is a world that is left out of this choice; "I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." The rest are left to the freedom of their own will, of which they boast; on the basis of free agency they stand; for this bottom they contend; under the law they are, and to the law they cleave, and they have a right so to do; for the law to them will never be dead, therefore they have no right to marry another, Rom. vii. 3.
These bond children hate election, and the elect; they hate an unconditional promise, and the heirs of it; they hate sovereign grace, and the subjects of it. "He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit; even so it is now: nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bond woman and her son, for he shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." So then the elect are not of the bond woman, but of the free.
Cain began the controversy; and as he could not control the will of his Maker, nor gain the point of his brother by the force of argument, he ended it with the fist of wickedness, and the children of the flesh have carried on his cause against the heirs of promise ever since; in behalf of which our present author has thrown his free thoughts into the treasury, that the rising generation may produce their cause, and bring forth his strong reasons, if the King of Jacob should give them a challenge. Cain was of that wicked one; and we are of God, says John; and there are children of God, and children of the devil to this day, notwithstanding all the pains that men and devils have taken to make these two staves called beauty and bands become one staff in the hand of God, Zech. xi. 7-9.
Some have preached a decree of their own, and have brought in a second sort of elect persons, who have chosen God, without his previous choice of them. These have augmented the determinate number of God's elect, just as the devil is said to augment a congregation by a number of hypocrites: "The good seed are the children of the kingdom, but tares are the children of the wicked one: the enemy that sowed them is the devil." But after all this labour and toil, there are some chosen, and some rejected: "Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them;" they will not pass for current coin; their superscription will not do. God shall despise their image. But the chosen part shall be purified as silver is purified, and be tried as gold is tried; "They shall call on my name, and I will hear them; and I will say, It is my people, and they shall say, The Lord is my God," Zech. xiii. 9 These shall pass for current coin; their superscription is good; and God knows their image; "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son."
Who can give a saving knowledge of Christ to them to whom it is not given? Who can reveal these things to the wise and prudent, from whom God has hid them? Who can apply Christ to those that are to seek him and not find him? Who can open the door to those that shall strive to enter in and shall not be able?
Men's free thoughts are not the keys of the kingdom of heaven: they can be of no force against the Lord of life and death, with whom are the keys of the house of David, as well as the keys of death and of hell, Rev. i. 18; who "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?"
Notwithstanding the awfulness of this tremendous subject of reprobation, which has made many a chosen vessel to tremble, and which free-thinkers are so dreadfully disgusted at, there is no set of men under heaven that paddle so much in it, and treat it so irreverently, lightly, and contemptuously as they; which, beside scripture testimony, gives me reason to believe that there certainly is such a doctrine as reprobation, and that there is such a people as reprobates, or else our opponents would never discharge such legions of strong reasons, forcible arguments, and free thoughts against the same. If there be no such strong hold as reprobation to besiege, no such people to defend, why this perpetual calling to arms? Why these warm attacks, and repeated discharges? Men of their wisdom and sense would never so fight as men that beat the air. I am persuaded better things of them; that they have a conviction that there is such a doctrine, and such a people, though they thus speak.
Our author brings in the holiness, wisdom, power, justice, and mercy of God, but takes heed to evade his sovereignty, which I think is wisely done; these attributes of God he styles the first principles which are to be admitted as the standard of all Christian doctrine; then he touches upon the death of Christ, and flies to the universal benevolence of God, whose name is love, and whose tender mercies are over all his works. "God so loved the world," saith our author, "that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life," John iii. I shall endeavour to rescue these things from this labyrinth of free thoughts, and set them in their own proper light; in doing which I shall consider,
God loveth his people with an everlasting love. All that find grace in God's sight are thus loved: "Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness, even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." All that are thus loved, are given to Christ Jesus: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." The objects of this love are drawn to Christ; "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day," John vi. 44. Not one soul, thus loved of God, given to Christ in the decree of election, and by loving kindness drawn to him, shall ever be lost. "I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." "give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand; my Father which gave them me is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one."
These are the elect, who are loved with an everlasting love, to whom God hath given everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, which comforts their hearts, and establishes them in every good word and work, 2 Thess. ii. 16, 17. This love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. This is that charity which never faileth; that charity that abideth for ever; even when faith shall end in open vision, and hope in eternal enjoyment.
Thus are the elect loved with an everlasting love; these find grace in God's sight, are given and drawn to Christ, ordained to salvation, and to the resurrection of eternal life by the will of God; secured from the free thoughts of men, and the gates of hell, by the everlasting arms of God the Father and God the Son, confirmed by the promise of everlasting life, by the witness and seal of the Holy Ghost, and by the inviolable oaths of God, who has sworn to Christ our covenant head, and to the elect, who are the chosen generation, or covenant seed: "I have made a covenant with my chosen; I have sworn unto David my servant," Psal. lxxxix. 3; which is Christ. "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David, his seed shall endure for ever."
Next, the Lord swears to the chosen seed: "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart front thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee." Is this promise and oath made to all the race of Adam? No; "The children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed;" and to these, and these only, is the oath and promise made: "Surely, in blessing I will bless thee" there is the promise. "And because God could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. Wherein God willing more abundantly to shew to the heirs of promise the immutability of his council, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast."
If all the forts of carnal reason in the world were to be opened at one time, assisted with all the floating batteries of free thoughts, and they should continue one perpetual and unremitted storm, even till the archangel's trumpet proclaim the God of armies coming, Zion's foundation, and her chief corner stone, would stand as unshaken as the everlasting hills, the bases of heaven, or the throne of God. Not one lively stone of mercy's building could ever be removed or displaced: The Highest himself hath established her, she shall not be moved, Psal. xlvi. 5. "Mercy shall be built up for ever." "..once more, I shake not the earth only, but also heaven; which signifieth removing of those things that are shaken [free thoughts among the rest], that those things which cannot be shaken may remain: but we have received a kingdom that cannot be moved, Heb. xii.26 - 28
It hath been proved that the heirs of promise are loved with an everlasting love; and that the children of the flesh are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed; that the elect are such as God fore knew; they are the sheep, which the Saviour knows: "I know my sheep, and am known of mine." The others are the children of the flesh, which are not the children of God; are called strangers: he provides for these, and displays his care over them; they are the work of his hands. "He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment." These persons are not foreknown in God's decree; strangers they are called; strangers they will remain; and such they will be esteemed at the great day: "Depart from me, I know you not." "Depart from me, I never knew you." These are not the promised seed of Christ; For they shall all know the Lord, from the least of them to the greatest of them. All Christ's children shall be taught of the Lord. The rest are strangers; he loveth them in executing judgment for them, and giving them food and raiment, and no further.
I come now to consider the mercy of God. "The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." But these works are distinguished from the saints in the next verse; "All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall, bless thee." This goodness and tender mercy that is over all God's works, is extended both to man and beast. God saves them from many dangers. The Lord it is that preserveth both man and beast, Psal. xxxvi. 6. God is kind to the unthankful and to the evil, Luke vi. 35. "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Thus far is the goodness of God extended to the non-elect; but to the small number of God's elect, his goodness is spoken of on this wise, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." But to those excluded from that number he speaketh thus, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight."
I shall now consider the mercy of God more fully. It hath been observed, that God's tender mercies are over all his works. And this is sometimes displayed in a conspicuous manner, as it was to Saul, by making him king, and delivering Israel by his hands. But this is only a temporal mercy, and is conditional, and may therefore be taken away in case of non-performance, because it is not secured by a covenant of grace. Children of wrath may have this. The Lord took hold of the hand of Lot, and of his wife, and of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to them, and bid them escape for their life, and not look back, nor tarry in all the plain. The conduct of Lot's two daughters is well known; and we are commanded by way of caution to remember Lot's wife, who was an unbeliever. God gave the house of Israel a king in his anger, and took him away in his wrath. God calls the gift of the kingdom to Saul a mercy, which afterwards he recalled from him. But the mercy of God to his elect is spiritual and eternal, and eternally secured by a covenant of grace, made with David and his seed, which is Christ, and is sure to all the elect seed which were chosen in him.. "'And when thou [David] shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee," which is Christ, the fruit of David's loins according to the flesh, Acts ii. 30, "He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever." So said Christ, "Upon this rock will I build my church." "And I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house, [which is the household of David, upon which the Spirit of grace and supplication is poured,] and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever," 2 Sam. vii.. 12-16. "God hath fulfilled the promise made to our fathers, in that he hath raised Jesus from the dead;" as it is also written in the second Psalm, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; and as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David," Acts xiii. 33, 34. This mercy is not temporal nor conditional; it is one of the spiritual blessings given us in Christ Jesus. It is the mercy promised to the fathers, which God performed in remembrance of his holy covenant, confirmed by the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, Luke i. 72, 73. This mercy is eternally secured to Christ and his seed by covenant. "I will make him, my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore; and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven."
What is a web of free thoughts, spun out of human brains, polluted both in the warp and in the woof, confusedly jumbled together, in craftiness and hypocrisy, when compared to such a covenant as this? Such webs may serve to entangle a few silly flies, which will stick in every stinking pot of the apothecary's ointment, Ecc. x. 1; rather than fly to the balm in Gilead, or to the great Physician there. But it never can destroy the elect of God; they cannot be deceived. Christ's seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. God has promised to the elect every necessary blessing, even the hearing ear. "In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness." Then the dead in sin, like others, shall both hear and live. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." These are the blessed of the Lord; "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." To these, and to these only, God speaks in new covenant terms. "Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good [namely, strong meat]; and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
To the chosen seed in Christ Jesus, God speaketh on this wise, "And I will make an ever- lasting 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." The covenant blessing promised to these souls in whom God puts his fear, is the sure and everlasting mercies of David, secured by covenant to Christ and his seed "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children." This covenant and covenant mercy shall never fail nor decay. God has said, that mercy shall be built up for ever, Psal. lxxxix. 2. It is secured by the eternal veracity of God, and must be accomplished. "For ever, Lord, thy word is settled in heaven."
Let the free-thinker muster his thoughts, and utter his mischievous device; let the eloquent logician produce his cause, and bring forth his strong reasons, Isa. xli. 21; let the bowels of universal charity sound like an harp for Moab, Isa. xvi. and contend for the conversion of the world; let the whole select band of mumping prophetesses enforce their candour, and bring their repeated appeals to a candid public; we speak as the oracles of God. "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire." "And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?" Job xxiv. 25. Yea, we dare appeal to a candid public of free agents in behalf of our assertions; "for their rock is not as our Rock, our enemies themselves being judges." Their candour is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah. "Their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps," Dent. xxxii. 31-35.
Is this Mr. Skinner, who told a friend, that he would dispute the point of universal redemption with the whole fraternity of Calvinists? Poor man, he seems never to have been favoured with one glimpse even of the frame of God's covenant. Surely God never sent the halt and the blind to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
I am inclined to think, that the least stripling in Sion's family, if taught by the Spirit of God, is sufficient in the strength of the Lord to go against any man that defies the armies of the living God.
I come, in the third place, to consider the text that is entangled in this web of free thoughts. 'As the scriptures never confine the death of Christ to a few, but frequently assert that he ' died for all mankind; among many others let the following specimen suffice: " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but 'have everlasting life," John iii. 16.' This text, according to the author's free thoughts, is to suffice his readers, without inquiring any further for themselves. This might suffice Esau, who was contented with a mess of pottage; or it might suffice Hagar, the bond-woman, and her son, who went off satisfied with a bottle of water at her back. But Abraham left all that he had to Isaac, and we, as Isaac was, are heirs of promise; and it is well known that Isaac loved savoury meat, and so do his children; nothing else would suffice Isaac; the salt of the covenant of his God must not be lacking, Lev. ii. 13, when he pronounces the covenant blessing of heaven upon the succeeding heirs of promise.
Our author has not quoted this text wisely. The first part, "God so loved the world," is intended to fix, according to free thoughts, the mercy of God and the death of Christ on all the human race; but how he will establish his false doctrine, of final apostasy from grace and redemption, by this text, I know not. The last clause should have been left out of his free-thought system, as that is altogether against his future doctrine of apostasy. "Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life;" then the believer is safe, he is not to perish, he is to have everlasting life.
"God so loved the world;" by which world the Gentiles are meant: "Take no thought what ye shall eat or drink, for after all these things do the Gentiles seek;" which is afterwards explained thus; "For all these things do the nations of the world seek after," Luke xii. 30. The phrase is mentioned to throw down the middle wall of partition; the persons intended by the world are the chosen sheep of Christ among the Gentiles, which he explains thus "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold [not of the Jewish, but of the Gentile fold], them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd." The whole human race are not intended by the world, for the world is not redeemed, but the sheep are redeemed from among them; "No man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth; these were redeemed from among men." The world that these sheep are redeemed from are, not to see Christ, but the sheep redeemed shall see him, and live too; "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me; because I live ye shall live also." "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world;" these, and only these, can ever receive the Holy Ghost. "And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." But why cannot the world receive, know, and see the Spirit of God as well as the elect? Because the Spirit never comes to them; they are not the seed to whom he is promised. The promise, as hath been observed, runs thus: "A seed shall serve him, and it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." "Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." These are called the seed that the Lord hath blessed, Isaiah lxi. 9; the holy seed, Isa. vi. 13.
As the children of the promise are counted for the seed, it will not be amiss to examine what the promises are that this seed are heirs to, and how the promises are fulfilled to these heirs. Christ hath a promise, and so hath the seed; "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days; he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." "I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather them from the west." "I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." Here is the Spirit of God, and the blessing of God, promised as the portion of this seed. "As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever," Isa. lix. 21. We have considered Christ the everlasting Father of this seed, and the promises made to him; we have also considered the seed, and the promises made to them in Christ their head; from which seed, or heirs of promise, the children of the flesh are excluded. These are not the children of God, -whether they descend from Shem or Japheth, from Abraham or Nahor; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called; they shall be heirs of promise as Isaac was. And, for my part, I have no doubt but the promised blessing, the word of promise, and the Spirit of promise, will be applied by Christ, the testator and executor of the testament, to the proper heirs, according to the will of God; for the Saviour came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him, John vi. 38.
This seed is called the blessed of the Lord; and he sent his Son to bless them, Acts iii. 26. This seed is to receive the words that God put into the Saviour's mouth; and so they did: "Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee; for I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I am came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me."
Now let us see what seed this is, whether the whole world be intended or not. "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gayest them me, and they have kept thy word," John. xvii. 6. This seed is a number given to Christ out of the world; these receive the word; and they are to receive the Spirit that was upon Christ also, which is never to depart from him nor his seed, according to the will and promise of God; which will, Christ the testator is to confirm and execute. if the world were included in the promise, they would have the Spirit sent unto them: but they are finally excluded. "The Father shall give you another Comforter; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Thus the blessing of God, the promise of God, and the Spirit of God, are promised to this seed, exclusive of all others. Let us see how these things are applied to this chosen seed, called heirs of promise; and whether free-thinkers are intrusted with the division and application of these promised blessings. Paul tells us the blessing is to believers: "Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are children of Abraham: so then, they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham." The blessing we find is promised to the believer. The next inquiry is, how we come by faith? The answer is, God hath concluded all men in unbelief.
Some inform us, that it is the duty of every man to believe; they must also prove that it is the duty of every man to beget himself to a lively hope with the word of truth; that it is the duty of every man to quicken his own soul, though God declares none can do it; that it his duty to produce a spiritual birth in himself, though man be born again, not of the will of man, nor of the flesh, nor of blood; and that it is the duty of every man to transform himself; for God says, that such as he forms shall show forth his praise: and that it is the duty of every man to create himself anew in Christ Jesus, without the aid of him that sits upon the throne and says, "I create all things new." This is a system that has lately appeared in the world, and agrees in substance with our present system of free thoughts. And surely the man that can do these things is a freethinker indeed, a free agent with a witness: he is his own father, his own maker, the father of his own spirit, the life of his own soul, and the God of his own existence. These men may well say, "We are lords," Jer. ii. 3 1; "Who is lord over us?" Psal. xii. 4. All these things must be done before faith can be produced; faith is the active hand of the new creature: "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." I should like to hear how this motley monster, partly carnal, and partly spiritual, as it has been lately exhibited to the world, I mean a living faith, produced by human power - I should like, I say, to hear such a believer describe the glorious object that he believes in, which the world never saw, and the hidden mystery that he builds his faith on, which none of the princes of this world ever knew: for I am inclined to think, that his description of the Saviour, and of the mystery of the gospel, would be of the same nature as his faith, that is, earthly, sensual, and devilish. And for my part, I should think that if a carnal man, destitute of the grace of God, could be prevailed on by the force of human reason, to give a fleshly assent to the gospel of Christ, according to the command of the same, that he would deceive himself, unless the Spirit of God applied it to him, and endanger his own soul, by his carnal application. No man can call Jesus his Lord but by the Holy Ghost: no man can call God his Father but by the Spirit of adoption, which is the manifestation of the poor sinner's predestination to the adoption of sons, and therefore enables the soul to cry Abba, Father. To call Christ Lord, or God Father, without the Holy Ghost, is no less than presumption; such cannot be upright before God, nor innocent from the great transgression, Psalm xix. 13. The Jews told the Saviour that they had one Father, even God: but he reproved their presumption, and told them they were of their father the devil. I know the gospel is truth: but if all the children of the flesh, or of the bond-woman, in the world were to lay claim to the blessings of it, without they were applied by the Holy Ghost; or to claim Christ as theirs, without that faith that is of the operation of God, they would be no less than presumptuous liars; "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." The elect, and only they, are lions' whelps, the predestinated offspring of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Others may call themselves Jews, but Christ says he knows their blasphemy in so saying, and declares he will make them of the synagogue of Satan. "Every man at his best estate is altogether vanity." And all his thoughts, whether free or limited, are vanity also, Psa. xciv. 11. Then it is vain to place any confidence either in carnal self, or in free thoughts, for both are vain; and God has said, "Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity, for vanity shall be his recompense." If he trusts in himself, self must be his reward; and what can man reap from the flesh but corruption?
If I was to see the whole human race driven by the force of human reason, or by enforcing the legal commands of God, to lay a fleshly claim either on Christ or his gospel, without the Spirit of revelation, supplication, and adoption, I should think it my duty, as a minister of Christ, to dispute such presumptuous Antinominians out of all their false claims. I know fools will rage and be confident. Their excellency may reach unto heaven, and their head touch the clouds, yet such shall perish like their own dung, their confidence shall be rooted out of their tabernacle, and they shall be brought to the king of terrors, Job xx. 6, 7. Job xviii. 14.
Man, fallen, consequential man, notwithstanding all births produced by the will of man, the will of the flesh, or of blood, is but a fleshly conception, and a fleshly birth at best; and the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." Real believers are born of God, they are predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son; these shall bear the image of the heavenly Adam, when the others bear only the image of the earthly. By this image they shall all be known in the great day. Neither the self-begetter nor the free-thinker will ever be able to palm one child of the flesh upon the everlasting Father: "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." But I must return to my subject.
The predestinated heirs of God, who are entitled to the blessing of Abraham, to the promise of Isaac, and to the promised Spirit of God, must undoubtedly receive the same according to the will of God, and according to the testament of Christ. The particular distribution of the Spirit is of God; and the Spirit of God reveals and applies the blessings, who is omniscient, and therefore cannot err. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life;" which eternal life, God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began, Tit. i. This promised life the elect were ordained to; on which account the Holy Ghost works faith in their hearts, which is the gift of God. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed," and none else, Acts xiii. 48. The promise of life, the grace of faith, and the Spirit of God, come altogether to God's elect. "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God; for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." Here we have the blessing, which is life, promised to Abraham, promised likewise to Zion; for there God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Here we have the word that was promised, the word came unto you in power; we have here the promised Spirit also, it came in the Holy Ghost; here we have the gift of faith likewise, it came with much assurance.
Thus, God so loved the world, the Gentiles as well as the Jews, who were to be fellow-heirs of the same promise, Eph. iii. 6; that he gave his only begotten Son, who hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, and hath made both one, Eph. ii. 14; that whosoever believeth on him, as all that were ordained to eternal life have done, and shall do, might not perish, according to this system of free thoughts, but have everlasting life, in spite of men or devils.
Our author's intent, in this pamphlet, is to prove that Christ died for all men. In order to overthrow this arrant lie, and make this speech nothing worth, it will be necessary to consider what the elect are redeemed from, and the absolute promises made to them in Christ.
If the elect are redeemed from under the law, and the curse of it; from all iniquity; from among men; from death, and from hell, with an eternal redemption; it follows, not one of these can be cursed, damned, eternally die, or go into the pit; and if Christ died for all mankind, all mankind are thus redeemed by Christ. But that all are not redeemed from the curse of the law is clear, for many will be sent from the judgment-seat under that sentence, Go ye cursed. Nor are all mankind redeemed from death; for the children of the flesh are the children of old Adam; these are not the children of God, Rom. ix. 8. In Adam all die, 1 Cor. xv. 22. All are not ransomed from the pit; some are in hell already, Ezek. xxxi. 16, 17. And the gate that leads to destruction has many that go in thereat, while there are but few that find the strait gate that leads to life.
The truth of the matter is, Christ laid down his life for his sheep, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hands, John x. 28. But of some he says, "Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you." These are goats, and they will appear so, and I be set at the left hand of the Judge in the great day.
The promise made to the elect, which are the sheep for whom Christ laid down his life, is, that they shall never perish: "The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." By the Holy Ghost they are sealed to the day of redemption; that is, to the day of redemption for the body, when body and soul shall enjoy full and complete redemption. Hence the Holy Spirit of promise, by which the elect are sealed, is called the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, Eph. 14; until the redemption of the purchased church, which God will possess to all eternity, be completed, and they completely glorified, and settled in the heavenly possession, which is the glorious kingdom that the saints of the Most High shall possess for ever, even for ever and ever, Dan. vii.
Thus the redeemed shall never perish; they shall return with songs, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away; they are sealed to the day of redemption, and have got an earnest of the purchased possession in their hearts; they shall possess the kingdom for ever and ever. These were chosen in Christ before the world was, and had life given them in Christ before Adam was formed; they were predestinated to the adoption of sons; and because they are sons, by predestination and pre-adoption, God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 6. They are called sheep before they are called by grace, and sons of peace, before ever they hear any thing about peace: " Into whatsoever house ye enter, say, Peace be to this house; and if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; but if not, it shall turn to you again." To these predestinated heirs of promise were the promises made in Christ; to these God has sworn that he never will be wroth with them, nor forsake them: and when God can be perjured by free thoughts, and made a liar, then shall the elect fall from grace, but not till then. "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things [his promise and oath], in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast."
When our author has done his best, he will find, that those who were chosen in Christ, and given to Christ, were redeemed, and no more. Those that were left out of this choice are in old Adam. They are called the children of the flesh; Adam is their father, and Hagar is their mother, in the allegory; for the seed was not to be called in Ishmael, but in Isaac, who was a child of promise in every sense. Cain and Abel; Shem and Canaan; Ishmael and Isaac; Esau and Jacob; the son that promised to go into the vineyard, and went not, and the other that said that he would not, but went; the elder son displeased at sovereign grace, and the younger, called the prodigal, that was saved by it; are all set forth, to shew the difference between the elect and non-elect; the children of the flesh and the children of the Spirit; the heirs of wrath and the heirs of promise; the children of God and the children of the devil, 1 John iii. 10. And how our author will bring these two families together, I know not. The elect are in no danger of perishing, because they have got better security than our author's free thought; they have the absolute decree of God, the promise of God, and the oath of God, besides the covenant of grace, the atonement of Christ, and the seal of God's Spirit. This is their security, and all these things must become a blank before one elect soul can perish.
Our author goes on to prove universal redemption by the following scriptures. "I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth; for the Mediator gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time," 1 Tim. ii. 1 - 6. The Spirit of supplication never put up one petition in this world for the eternal salvation of all men. Nor did Christ ever pray for all men. "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me out of it," John xvii. 6, 9.
It is true, Christ prayed for some of his murderers "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Yet it is clear, those that he then prayed for were some of them that his Father gave him out of the world, upon whose consciences Peter charged the blood of Christ. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." These Were pricked in their hearts, received the word, and were added to the church; while the children of the bond-woman stood mocking the heirs of promise, as Ishmael their father did before them, saying, "These men are full of new wine," Acts ii. 13.
The apostle's exhortation, that prayers may be made for all men, is with this restriction, for kings, and all that are in authority, that the saints may lead a quiet and peaceable life, 1 Tim. ii. 2; that is, that God might put a stop to the persecution of these Kings and governors, as all hearts are in his hands, and incline them to minister justice unto evil doers, and defend them that do well; that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in godliness and honesty; or that God might convert them, if it were his will; as some kings and queens have been, and are yet to be, nursing fathers and mothers to the church, who are to come to the light and to the brightness of Zion's rising.
Christ gave himself a ransom for all, signifies no more than a ransom for some of all nations, agreeable to the promise made to Abraham, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Some of all ranks, some of all sorts of sinners, agreeable to the oracles of God; some out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, Rev. v. 9. It may have reference to the time coming, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ; which there is little sign of at present.
The word, all, does not mean the whole human. race, ransomed from the curse of the law, the wrath of God, and damnation of hell; this cannot be proved, until it can be proved that the gate that leads to destruction is locked up; which never will be while so many free-willers, free-thinkers, and universal liars, get into pulpits. Before the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of God and of his Christ, the mouths of them that speak lies must be stopped, Psalm lxiii.; and the everlasting gospel must be preached to every nation under heaven, Rev. xiv. 6. When this day appears, free-thinkers shall be discovered by the light of the Lord, and free-agency consumed by the breath of his lips; for it cannot be supposed that the free thoughts of carnal men can be called the everlasting gospel, or that life and immortality should be brought to light by them. If the words, all, and every man, mean the whole human race, our author would make a strange hand of the Bible by his thoughts on the following texts: "They be all adulterers," Jer. ix. 2; "and great grace was upon them all," Acts iv. 33; "that they all might be damned," 2 Thess. ii. 12; "that all should come to repentance," 2 Peter iii. 9; "they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us," 1 John ii. 19; "if one died for all, then were all dead," 2 Cor. 14; "for all seek their own, not the things that are Christ's," Phil. ii. 21; "every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm," Isa. ix. 20; "then shall every man have praise of God," 1 Cor. iv. 5; therefore "every man's heart shall melt," Isa. xiii. 7; "every man in the chambers of his imagery," Ezek. viii. 12; "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith," Rom. xii. 3; "every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts," Prov. xix. 6; "every man was determined to send relief to the brethren," Acts xi. 29; "the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal," 1 Cor. xii. 7; which Spirit "the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him." "I testify to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law." God shall justify the circumcision through faith. "For every man shall bear his own burden." "We preach, that we may present every man perfect in Jesus Christ," Col. i. 28. "Ye shall be slain all of you; as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence." Free Thoughts will make a strange jumble of these universal expressions; but if he draws God's line between the children of God and the children of the devil, they will appear very consistent; they are all right to them that have understanding, there is nothing froward or perverse in them. Our author goes on.
'God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance; for which purpose he commands all men every where to repent; and since he does not require impossibilities, and then punish for non-performance, every man might repent, and consequently be saved; for Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man.' This is the doctrine of free-willers, these are free-agents and free-thinkers: these are them that justify themselves before men; these are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight; these are of those who asked the Saviour "Are we blind also?" these are the sons to whom the Lord said, "Go work to-day in my vineyard; who answered, I go, Sir, but went not." This is the nation that is pure in their own eyes, but was never washed from their filthiness. These are the men that say, We are lords, we will come no more unto God, Jer. ii. 31; "our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?" And such, with respect to Christ, are unanimous in their declaration; for as a sovereign, and as the Christ of God, they will not have him to reign over them, Luke xix. 14.
To such pure, self-sufficient, confidential, and consequential men as these, who call themselves lords, contend for human power, and freedom of will, who think God is just such a one as themselves, who can produce their own cause, and bring forth their strong reasons against the King of Jacob, he deals with in a conditional way, according to the abilities they boast of. If they are, as they say, lords, or Jehovahs, nothing can be impossible to them; hence God sets them a task agreeable to their boasted omnipotence, "Cease to do evil, learn to do well;" there is the command. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil;" this is the lot of them that trust in falsehood.
Men that say, we are lords, who pretend to deity, God sets them a task equal to that divine power they boast of: "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways. Repent and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby you have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" These men are commanded to believe also; which is no hard task, if they be lords according to their own declaration. Mr. Skinner tells us, that God does not require impossibilities; according to his assertions he has power to cease to do evil, to learn to do well, to turn himself to God, to repent, to create a new heart, and a new spirit, and to believe in Jesus; if he can do this, make a new heart and a new spirit, I say he is God; and if he had done this for me, I would have fallen down and worshipped him; for I know the preparation of man's heart and the answer of the tongue is from Jehovah, Prov. xvi. 1; and if Mr. Skinner can make a new heart and a new spirit, he is God. However, the elect that are partakers of the Holy Ghost, they say the way of man is not in himself; it is not in him that walketh to direct his steps; turn thou me and I shall be turned; that repentance is God's grant; "Unto the Gentiles hath God granted repentance unto life;" that it is Christ's gift, who is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel and forgiveness of sins; that a new heart and a new spirit are God's gift and God's work; that faith is the gift of God; that to believe in Jesus Christ is a work that requires an exceeding great and mighty power; that ye may know "what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power." And our author, who supposes that he has ability to do whatsoever God commands, appears to me to be an entire stranger to a new heart, a new spirit, real repentance, a turn to God, and to the faith of God's elect, to this day; if he were not, he could not have sworn and subscribed to doctrines that his soul hates. What can be expected from a man that can publish his own perjury, swear and lie to the Holy Ghost contrary to his thoughts, and then send the wicked thoughts of his heart into the world to contradict his confession, oath, and handwriting? Our author goes on.
'The command to preach the gospel to every creature supposes that Christ died for all, or there can be no gospel for all; and if so, it impeaches the sincerity of Christ in commanding it to be preached to all, and the ministers preach an untruth to the reprobate.' I answer, the gospel is to be preached to every creature, with this promise, that he that believeth shall be saved; and they that were ordained to eternal life believed, and ever will believe, and none else; and if the preachers do preach an untruth in declaring the gospel to the reprobate, it is in obedience to their Lord's will, who by his servants invited many to the supper, though they were not worthy, and commanded them to say, Peace be to this house, though peace was to return to them again if the son of peace was not there. Our author adds,
'Who can justify his [that is, the Saviour's] conduct, who sends a minister to preach a gospel, so called, to myriads of men for whom it was never intended, and then punishes them most severely for having heard it? that is, for having done their duty.' If men, like our author, can perform what God requires, as he declares God does not require impossibilities, that is, he requires nothing but what man, fallen man, can perform; for he says, there is not a damned soul in hell but what if he had done well, as he might have done, had been a glorified saint in heaven,' p. 36. then an ineffectual call is quite enough; for I think, when men talk at this rate, and call themselves lords, it is sufficient to send them an invitation, and so expose their free-agency to contempt for choosing their farms, yokes of oxen, and wives, before the gospel feast. If men can perform what God requires, a command or an invitation is sufficient; God does nothing in vain; and if men, with power to perform, refuse the invitation, and slight the banquet and the Lord of the household, I think it is an act of unparalleled kindness in the Master to send his servants into the streets and lanes of the city, to compel those that cannot help themselves. The Lord tells us when we make a feast not to call the rich, but the poor; and he does the same; he orders his servants to bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind, Luke xiv. 21. The promise of God is not to be made of none effect by free, thinkers nor by work-mongers.
What reasonable man, who might be a glorified saint in heaven if he would, who has power to perform what God requires, and yet rejects the feast and damns his soul; I say, what ground has he to be offended with the Saviour for his free grace and mercy in sending a compulsion to his own elect, who are altogether helpless? Surely the Saviour is more justifiable in helping cripples that cannot help themselves, than he would be in lending his aid to men who are lords, who can make a new heart and a new spirit for themselves. The Saviour is called the hope of Israel, and a Help that is mighty to save; but he will not lend his help to them that need it not. Uzzah was struck dead for lending unwarrantable help, 2 Sam. vi. 6. But the Saviour will not do so. He came to fulfil the promise. " I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment." He makes the proud helpers stoop under him, Job ix. 13. The man that can deck himself with majesty and excellency, is to be saved by his own arm. Job xl. 10-14. The Saviour eyes the blessing, and keeps under it. Blessed is he that respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies, Psal. xl. 4. God rewardeth the simple, and none else, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer, Psal. xxxi. 23; who can make his own heart, and create his own spirit; who stands in no need of help. This our author affirms; for he says, Every man has power sufficient, if used, at one period or other of his life, to believe or obey the gospel.' It will be hard to prove, that every man has heard the gospel, or that one part in ten have ever heard it; and they that have heard it, and perished under it, are more in number than those that were saved by it. Many be called, but few chosen. As for the heathens, I have no doubt but God will judge them with equity. They being without the law, are a law to themselves. For they have all acted as our author used to declare he had; that is, they have done those things that they ought not to have done, and left undone those things that they ought to have done; and there is no more health in them than there is in Mr. Skinner.
Our author tells us, The Saviour's yoke is easy, and his burden is light.' It really is so to the saints. Christ's yoke is a living faith; and that which makes the burden light is the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy- Ghost, which is easy enough to a man that can make a new heart and a new spirit. For if a man can make a spirit, he can easily produce faith and love; for they are only the fruits of it. God does not, he says, demand impossibilities; therefore he takes it for granted, that when God says, The man is become like one of us, that he means, that every man is a God. What an inconsistent being is this free-thinker, who stands fast in himself, and talks of the Saviour's easy yoke and light burden, when he never felt either.
The next thing he handles is universal light. But he never quotes this text, " Behold darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people," Isa. lx. 2. But he goes on. It is not asserted nor supposed that man naturally possesses this power,' though he declares, there is not a soul in hell but might have been a glorified saint in heaven.' Then he contradicts himself, and saith, But, on the contrary, that man is spiritually blind and dead.' If so, his light and free thoughts are little worth. For who can see that is blind? and who can think that is dead? But notwithstanding man's being blind and dead, he says, that experience proves that every man has some knowledge of sin; he feels the reproofs of conscience. Now these must proceed from human nature, Satan, or Deity. But they cannot spring from a soul totally blind and dead;' though before he said they were so. Nor do they spring from Satan, for he blinds the mind of unbelievers.'
To all which I answer, the eye of God upon the Egyptian host, that looked through the cloud, troubled the host, and destroyed them, was the eye of offended justice. And those that lift up their eyes in hell, being in torments, will see the same.
This is divine light, but no more salvation annexed to it than there is to our author's free thoughts, which are nothing but a confusion of darkness.
The accusers of the adulterous woman were convicted by the light of their own conscience, which is a ray from the law. And this will be seen, and felt too, even in hell. He will have light for reflection, though none to salvation. God, as a reconciled Father in covenant, can only be known by his own ray in the gospel, by which he brings life and immortality to ,light. " God who caused the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The scriptures inform us, that Satan is transformed into an angel of light; therefore, it is no marvel if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, 2 Cor. xi. 14, 15. If the devil can do this, he may enlighten some in our days, for aught I know. The Jewish Rabbies said, " Are we blind also?" whom the Saviour answers, " If ye were blind, ye should not have sin; but since you say, We see, therefore your sin remaineth." He tells them, they were of their father the devil, and cautions others to take heed, lest the light that be in you be darkness. If it be, how great is that darkness? Matth. vi. 23. Thus some see whose sin remains; others have light that is nothing but darkness; others see in the rays of justice; others boast of the light of nature, or natural conscience; and others lift up their eyes in hell.
The Saviour doth enlighten every man that cometh into the world. He planted the eye and ear both; he created the seeing as well as the hearing. The light of reason, before man fell, was the candle of the Lord; but it is so dim now that it can only lead a sinner to erect an altar to an unknown God. But to the elect Christ brings life and immortality to light: he is the saints' everlasting light, their God, and their glory, and their sun shall no more go clown, Isa. lx. 19, 20. And if our author was thus enlightened by Christ, he would repent of these his free thoughts in dust and ashes, and curse the day, as John Child did, that ever he sent them into the world, to darken. counsel by words without knowledge.
Our author goes on to illustrate his argument by the parable of the talents, that the servant that hid it was pronounced wicked because he was slothful. It is sometimes objected, this was 'not grace; and by the same authority it may be asserted that the five talents were not grace.' To which I answer, if the one talent was grace, the man would not have been condemned for sloth; for God worketh in his people both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Christ declares to his elect, that without him they can do nothing; and the church owns God hath wrought all her works in her.
If the one talent had been grace, it could not have been hid; for if such hold their peace the very stones would cry out. The more the Saviour charged the objects of mercy to hold their peace the more they spread it abroad. If the one talent had been the grace of the Spirit, he could not have hid it, he must have spoken as the Spirit gave him utterance; for he would have found the word of God, as Jeremiah did, a fire shut up in his bones; the Spirit of God is a springing well, and out of the belly of such flow rivers of living water; they cannot be pent up; they must speak if they die for it. The one talent was a lamp without oil, and surely this cannot be grace; the law is a lamp, and that seems to be all that Mr. Skinner has got at present, God grant he may not find it so to his cost at last. The one talent is what Peter calls a well without water; Jude calls it a cloud without rain. ' God's witnesses are called a cloud; and there is a cloud of false witnesses who have not the waters of life, nor the witnessing Spirit in them. These are instruments without life giving sound; that is, they are preachers that were never quickened by the Spirit of God. Solomon calls it a false gift, from whence Jude took it; "As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him; for he refresheth the soul of his masters. Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift, is like clouds and wind without rain."
Judas had a talent, be had a gift for preaching; hence, saith Peter, " He was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry," Acts i. 17; which was the worst part, a gift to preach and no more, for Jesus called him a devil before he sent him out with the rest to preach the kingdom of God; and surely, if he had been a partaker of grace, the Lord would not have called him a devil, unless it can be proved that devils have grace. I believe Judas was the man that the Saviour struck at in the parable of the talents as he often did, " Ye are clean, but not all," Judas the traitor being there, therefore said he, " Ye are not all clean." " I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil." " Verily I say unto you, one of you shall betray me;" " But wo be to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed." Take the talent from him, and give it to him that has ten talents," that has many gifts and graces; which was to fulfil the prediction, " Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein; and his bishoprick let another take;" and they chose Matthias. But, if I am not mistaken, his talent was given to Paul, who had an abundance of grace and truth, and used his ministerial talent well.
The elect are sons by predestination, pre-adoption, and regeneration; they have grace in Christ, and out of his fullness they receive it at the set time appointed; and if God gives a preaching talent to one of his elect to make him a minister, it is called giving twopence to the host, Luke x. 35; one penny more than a private Christian, who receives a penny a day; such are sons of God, and sons of Christ, as well as servants to his Church;339
'If Christ did not die for the non-elect, their existence is a necessary curse to them. It is undeniable that mankind are brought into existence without their consent; and it is equally certain that existence is a curse to them that perish.' This is the man that produceth the old cause of Cain, and brings forth his strong reasons against the King of Jacob, Isa. xli. 1; and appeals to the world for the equity of his plea. " Wo to the rebellious children." " Wo unto him that striveth with his Maker," Isa. xlv. 9. " Wo unto him that saith to his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?" The Judge of all the earth will find little difficulty in vindicating his proceedings both as a Creator and a Judge in the great day; the wicked will he condemned out of their own mouths. Mr. Skinner has left an all-sufficient and an everlasting verdict against his own soul, should the Judge of quick and dead take the advantage that he has offered. He insists upon it that the damned might have been in heaven if they had done as they might; and that man has power to obey the gospel; that he can perform what God requires; and yet owns that his experience teaches him that he feels the workings of sin, which is discovered by the light that he says is of God. If sin work in him, where is his power? where is the task that he might have performed? and where is his meetness for heaven?
Our author's talent amounts to this, God commands nothing impossible; he with his talent can perform it; there is not a soul in hell but what if he had done as he might have done, had been a glorified saint in heaven.' Upon the old covenant he stands; for his own ability and conditions with his Maker he pleads; and upon those legal terms will God deal with such men? He looks to the work of a servant, but to the heart of a son; but this our author is ignorant of; he stands and triumphs at present upon his old bottom; and if God should push him down from this pinnacle, he would plead as the servant with his one talent did, " thou reapest where thou hast not sown, and gatherest where thou hast not strewed." But this was rebellion; out of his own mouth he was judged; for if his master was so austere a man, be ought to have been the more careful about the341
As for the elect they have not this light and power that free-thinkers are possessed of, they dare not urge their plea against God, nor send out their free thoughts with an appeal to the world in behalf of Cain's cause. They dare not plead for their mother if she is not God's wife, nor he her husband, Hos. ii. 2. If God puts her away by the old covenant, it is no more than what the bond-children desired, and Moses, because of the hardness of their hearts, granted unto them. God adopts the desire of Israel concerning divorce, and uses their own request; " For your transgressions is your mother put away," Isa. I. 1.
To be short: Upon the old covenant the bondwoman and her children stand; and the law says, He that doth these things shall live in them: for this covenant they plead; for the commands, and their own strength to perform the conditions thereof, they contend; and if they perform, as our author affirms they can, then he declares, they may be all glorified saints in heaven. The conditional promise is before them, let them look to it: if they will enter into life, let them keep the commandments; but if they offend in one point, they are guilty of all. This old way is so strait that not one, except Christ, ever entered by it. But our author has power to perform what the Lord commands, therefore he bids fair for the prize.
He will find three difficulties attending this way; the one is, the accusations of Moses against every transgressor; another is, the flaming sword of justice, that keeps the way of the tree of life; and the third is, the city gates, that will open to none that hold a lie in their hands, as Mr. Skinner holds many: " Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation, which keepeth the truth, may enter in." The elect, who make Christ all in all, find the sword sheathed in the Saviour. Moses has nothing to say against faith: and he that has Christ formed in his heart, keeps the truth, and shall enter the gates. But we go on.
'The general resurrection is a consequence of the resurrection of Christ; " For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." To which I answer, The elect were chosen in Christ before the world was, consequently before they were formed in Adam: these are preserved in Christ Jesus, and called; they are justified in him; both Christ and they, the elect head and elect members, were both included in God's decree from everlasting. Hence it is said, " For both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren," Heb. 11. These were joined to the Lord in the eternal decree, and are united in the everlasting covenant, and are of one spirit with the Lord by regeneration: " 11e that is joined to the Lord is one spirit:" and what God hath joined together let not Mr. Skinner put asunder. These put on Christ, walk in Christ, and die in the Lord, and shall be glorified together; they are called a seed that shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation; this is the generation that seeks the face of Jacob; an holy nation, a righteous nation, that keeps the truth, and shall enter the gates of heaven: these are all written in the book, and shall every one be delivered. There is a generation of Adam, that are in him, not in Christ; that are under the law, not under grace; children of the bond-woman, not of the free; servants, not sons; children of the flesh, not children of the promise: these are in the earthly head, and are earthly; others are in the heavenly head, and are heavenly: " The children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." In Adam all die; for they are under the law, which is the ministration of death those that are in Christ shall be made alive; nor can they die any more; for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection, Like xx. 36. These are the heirs of the promise of life, which God, that cannot lie, gave them in Christ Jesus, before the world was. Our author is going to prove universal salvation from Peter,
'False teachers who privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord, that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, 2 Pet. ii. To which I answer, The scriptures often speak of men, as men speak of themselves. The Pharisees justified themselves before men; and Christ calls them righteous: " I came not to call the righteous." There is in our day a class of people who call themselves perfect, and God calls them a nation that are pure in their own eyes, though never washed from their filthiness, Prov. xxx. 12. Those that followed the Saviour for the loaves and the fishes, were called his disciples, but when Christ preached eternal election to them, and enforced eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, they were offended; then these disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Judas is called an apostle, because he was chosen to bear the bag, though he was a devil. Some call themselves lords, as has been proved; and as Mr. Skinner thinks he is, by the power he boasts of, able to perform what God requires, God has set him such a task as none but God can do, to make a new heart and a new spirit; which, if he be a Lord, or a Jehovah, God knows he can do it.
In the apostles' days it was common to say, " We are not our own, we are bought with a price;" Christ hath bought us with his own blood; we are redeemed with the precious blood of the Lamb of God. The false apostles adopted the language of the true ones; We are bought with a price; as Balaam imitated the prophets of God, saying, "I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God." It is not very likely that these men should be redeemed from all evil, when they had nothing to prove it by, but the damnable heresies that they brought in; a damnable heresy is but a damnable reason of hope at best. However, they called themselves the purchase of Christ; and then God made it manifest that they were not of his family, by their going out from them, which, if they had been, they would no doubt have continued, says God. However, they went out, after all their boast of redemption; and, in their own language, Peter tells us, .they denied the Lord that bought them, and brought upon themselves destruction, which the redeemed never can: Zion is redeemed with judgment, which was executed upon her. Surety; and it shall never be executed upon her: her converts are redeemed with righteousness; and God is faithful and just to her, to forgive her her sins on the Surety's account, and to cleanse her from all unrighteousness, agreeable to the promise, " I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed:" " The ransomed of the Lord shall return:" the redeemed shall walk in the heavenly Jerusalem: Christ laid down his life for his sheep, they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hands; neither free thoughts nor free will, the snares of death, nor the gates of hell shall ever prevail against them. To talk of souls being redeemed from death, hell, and sin, by the blood of Christ, and ending in swift destruction, is a doctrine that none but a devil dictated, and none but a free-thinker would ever publish. Our author himself contradicts this in the 65th page, where he promises that Christ shall have all the praise for his present and eternal salvation.' If he who is but a free-thinker is saved with an eternal salvation, how come the redeemed of the Lord to end in swift destruction? But for my part I would as soon believe that the pope of Rome is intrusted with the keys of death and of hell, as I would believe that ever Mr. Skinner had the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of, sins; for how can a surety pardon those that can pay their own way? Truth has said, that when they had nothing to pay with, he frankly forgave them all. But our author is going to bring forth another mystery, contrary to his own salvation, for that he says is present and eternal.
For though Christ is the author of initial salvation to all men, he is the author of eternal salvation only to them that obey him.' Our author has taken care to jostle himself out of initial salvation; his own salvation is present and eternal,' though he leads others in the bog where he would not venture himself. But what is initial salvation? A salvation not complete; a salvation not perfect; an introductory salvation; a salvation introduced by free thoughts; a salvation not completed by him that trod the wine-press alone, and finished it upon the cross; a salvation not perfect, till the co-working family of free-thinkers have performed their part? Or does he mean it is a salvation that stands mumping at the gates of free will, to be received or rejected just as the free-thinker pleaseth? and that it is an eternal salvation only to him that puts forth his omnipotent power to complete the same, and bring it in? Surely this salvation has nothing to do with God's elect: the heirs of promise, the seed of Israel, " shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end." The elect shall obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory, 2 Tim. ii. 10. The elect are not appointed unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. v. 9. The heirs of promise are appointed unto this: " But we are bound to give thanks always to God, for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." If the elect are ordained and appointed to it, they shall therefore obey the gospel; the grace of God shall enable them, " by whom we have received grace for obedience to the faith, among all nations for his name," Rom. i. 5. The elect of God are not left to refuse or clause as they please; God deals not with them as with the bond-woman and her children; " As soon as they hear of me they shall obey me," says the Saviour. " Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power," says the Father. " Bring them in; compel them to come in," says the Saviour. " These I must bring," says the shepherd; " There shall be one fold and one shepherd; all that the Father giveth me shall come to me." " I will put my fear within them, they shall not depart from me." The salvation that Christ wrought out, and is the author of; is an eternal salvation, and the elect shall obtain it with eternal glory, and none else; the others, like our author, can save themselves from this untoward generation; they can do what God requires; an initial salvation is all they want; but the poor helpless elect of God are better provided for. Our author goes on.
'It appears therefore, that the sufferings of Christ were something by way of satisfaction, rather than the payment of the proper debt; for otherwise pardon of sin, of which there is such ample proof in the gospel, would be, superseded. Let it be considered, that the sufferings of Christ and those of the sinner who is punished for his own sins differ materially; Christ never felt the stings of a guilty conscience, nor the horrors of despair, which undoubtedly will be a capital part of the torments of hell; it is therefore inferred that Christ did not pay the proper debt for any man.' Is not this uttering vain knowledge, and filling the belly with the east wind? Is not this reasoning with unprofitable talk, and with speeches wherewith a man can do no good? We are informed that the sufferings of Christ were something by way of satisfaction rather than the payment of the proper debt.' How these children of the flesh are obliged to obscure the severity and sovereignty of God, and to pare the edge of the law and diminish the sufferings of Christ, in order to make way for free-thoughts and free-will to act. How a God, who is strictly just and an infinite creditor, against whom the sins of men are committed, whose wickedness is- great, and whose iniquities are infinite, Job xxii. 5; how such a creditor could be satisfied, and a debtor in infinite arrears be honourably discharged, without the satisfaction of full payment, is a mystery to me, but which Mr. Skinner unfolds thus: It is something by way of satisfaction rather than a payment of the proper debt.' The surety compounded with the creditor; the infinite demands of law and justice were compromised with the surety; God the creditor did not exact the full payment, nor did the surety pay the total sum: it was something by way of satisfaction, not a proper payment of the debt.' He that strikes hands and becomes surety for debts, must pay if he loses his bed from under him, Prov. xxii. 26, as our surety did when he said, " The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head." " He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it," which the Saviour did in his body, in his soul, in his reputation, and in his mystical members: there was no compounding in this matter; his threefold petition in the garden put up through the weakness of human nature could not remove the cup; he that is imprisoned in hell for his own debt shall not come out thence till he has paid the very last mite, Luke xii. 59; and he that becomes surety shall pay no less; heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle of the law shall fail of its demands, whether it fall on the debtor or on the surety. " Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfil:" but how an imperfect satisfaction can be called a fulfilling I know not; " till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled," Matt. v. 17, 18. No compounding, no compromising here; God spared not his own son, Rom. viii. 32; the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all; he was oppressed and he was afflicted; the debt was exacted, and he made restitution, Isa. liii. 6, 7. God spared not his Son, the total sum was exacted and paid. The surety complains and says, " They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head; they that would destroy me being mine enemies, wrongfully are mighty; then I restored that which I took not away."
This blasphemous free-thinker tells us that, Christ never felt the stings of a guilty conscience nor the horrors of despair, which are the capital torments of hell.' To which I answer, Christ never died for serpents nor vipers, who cannot escape the damnation of hell; nor did he die for the goats, who shall go into everlasting punishment. Christ never laid down his life for any that are or ever will be damned. " And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, 0 poor of the flock. Three shepherds also I cut off in one month, and my soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me. Then said I, I will not feed you; that that dieth let it die, and that that is to be cut off let it be cut off, and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another." Will any one say that these were redeemed? " So the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that this was the word of the Lord," Zech. xi. 7-11. Christ laid down his life for the sheep which the Father gave him; for these he died; for these he prayed; these as a prophet shall all be taught of him; these as a king he will govern; and to these the Father gives the kingdom, and to none else. Christ died not for the world, he prayed not for the world, he is not the prophet of the world, nor is his kingdom of this world. For the elect and only them he became surety; these shall never perish, though all others will; they have everlasting life, and shall never (lie; Christ and God the Father are stronger than all, and none shall ever pluck them out of their hands, nor shall the gates of destruction or gates of hell ever prevail or unfold to receive one of them. The wicked are a ransom for the righteous, and transgressors for the upright, Prov. xxi. 18; but the elect shall never be a ransom for any, much less a prey for the devil.
Despair, which is a capital part of the sufferings of the damned, is no part of the law's demand; it demands perfect obedience, not despair; despair springs from the dreadful arrest of vindictive justice, when the sentence of the law begins to be executed for disobedience; and although the elect, when the commandment comes with its utmost demands, may well despair of paying the sum, yet the surety who is able to answer the demands of an infinite creditor in behalf of his own brethren, so dearly beloved by him, has no ground of despair. He that is able to save to the uttermost, being equal with God, has no ground to despair of ability to answer the demands of an equal, when himself has equal property. An omnipotent surety, equal to the creditor in deity, perfection, and personal property, can never despair; so far from that, the Saviour had a joy set before him, for which he endured the cross and despised the shame.
The Saviour needed not feel the stings of a guilty conscience that I know of; it was impossible that any bitter reflection could recoil with guilt on the mind of him that never sinned. The debt exacted of us is perfect obedience to the law; in case of failure the curse is incurred, the sword of justice awakened, the wrath of God revealed, sins detained, and a final separation from God threatened. The surety gave to the law a perfect obedience, he was made a curse for us, the sword of justice was awakened against him, our sins were borne in his own body on the tree, and God departed from him; "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He was made sin for us, who knew no sin; he was numbered with the transgressors, though he never transgressed; he made his grave with the wicked, though he had done no violence; and with the rich in his death, being buried in the sepulchre of a rich man, and being heir of all things when he had overcome the world and redeemed the people; as he declares at his resurrection, " All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." But our author goes on.
"The sufferings of Christ were something by way of satisfaction, rather than a payment of the proper debt; for otherwise the pardon of sin would be superseded.' Take notice of this paragraph; the sufferings of Christ were something by way of satisfaction, not a proper payment of the debt; it was a compound, not a proper payment; a compromise between the creditor and the surety; the creditor gave, and the surety took a little, which argues unfaithfulness in the lawgiver, and inability in the law-fulfiller; God did not exact the law's demand, nor did the Saviour pay the proper sum; the just creditor compounded, and the surety paid a part; so that God may demand payment of the redeemed should they get into the business of free-thinking; and the surety may lose his ransomed flock if the creditor should make a second demand on the debtors; and all this, lest the death of Christ should be superseded; lest the death of Christ should be made void, set aside, or made of no force, by superior authority.
Who could have thought that an imperfect satisfaction, short of proper payment, could set aside the demands of a creditor, or secure the debtor from a second arrest? If without an imperfect satisfaction, short of payment, a creditor cannot be satisfied, and without which imperfect satisfaction, a surety's discharge may be made void, set aside, or superseded, then it follows that God must be unfaithful to his law, Justice must warp from his infinite and immutable demands, Truth must yield to a dissembled compoundage, and the surety who came to do the will of a just God, as revealed in-the law and the prophets, only compromises the debt; heaven and earth must stand for ever, and many jots and tittles of the law must fail of their demands, and go unfulfilled, before the poor imprisoned debtor can be finally discharged with honour; for without the above-mentioned yielding terms the death of Christ may be superseded, set aside, or made void by superior power.
I will suppose that Mr. Skinner when he comes to London calls upon me and offers to lend me fifteen guineas; I take it without a word to the contrary; he informs me that in three months he shall call upon me again and insist upon his own without fail; I understand him, and, in the language of his own doctrine, tell him that he does not demand impossibilities, I can pay him. At the end of three months he calls, and as a just man demands his own without fail. I tell him I cannot pay it; he orders me to get a surety to stand in the gap; I reply, I have not a friend on earth that can or that will do it; he sticks to his demand, sends me to the sponging house, and threatens me with a gaol; after this Mr. Skinner, according to his love to all mankind, pities me among the rest, and sets his free thoughts to work on my behalf, and provides me a surety among his own friends, who undertakes to pay my debt and procure my enlargement, which Mr. Skinner approves of. On the day of accounts the surety pays fifteen green peas instead of fifteen guineas, and insists upon my enlargement according to agreement; Mr. Skinner storms, and insists upon the cash; I William Huntington fly to Mr. Skinner's code of laws, called the Statutes of Free Thoughts, published in the reign of George the Third, entitled Some acts for the ease of sureties and release of debtors; according to which something by way of satisfaction is to be given; and so the peas are given, by way of satisfaction, fifteen for fifteen; that is, fifteen green peas instead of fifteen guineas; for should it be otherwise, my final release could not be procured; something must be given by way of satisfaction, not a payment of the proper debt, lest the surety's undertaking for me should be superseded, made void, or set aside, by superior authority, and I be apprehended again and imprisoned for life.
Here is a doctrine! These free thoughts or sentiments are made public to detect and confute error; these are to level and destroy systems established by men. Poor deluded man! If ever Mr. Skinner or any soul living enters the kingdom of God by such a doctrine as this, God's faithfulness and truth must fail for evermore.
When God created Adam he impressed his soul with his own image, which was accompanied with a demand of perfect obedience; and in case of failure in the latter, the former was forfeited, being rather lent than given. Man sinned, the image left him, and he died. God holds his power still to command, though man cannot obey; he insists upon receiving his own with usury whenever he comes; he will demand his own image on the soul, and a perfect obedience to his law. Hence he commands the free-thinker to make him a new heart and a new spirit, such as that in which God's image consisted, and to do that which is lawful and right, which is obedience to the law, which our author says, every man may do if he will; and if God cannot be unjust in demanding it, he that becomes surety for the elect must obey the law perfectly, satisfy justice fully, clear truth honourably, and discharge the debtor eternally, to the infinite satisfaction both of law and justice, and present the debtor before God created anew and renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him at first, Col. iii. 10; which is the new man, that after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. In this image, and in a perfect obedience to the law, must every soul appear that enters heaven; the righteousness of the law must be fulfilled in them, and they be led to walk in the Spirit to heaven, if ever they enter there. Without this divine image and perfect obedience not a soul living shall ever escape the clam-nation of hell; but Christ has magnified the law, and paid a full ransom for his own sheep; the second Adam will present them in his own image; he will restore that which he took not away, and by his knowledge shall he justify many; which is all couched in this text, " he is made of God unto us wisdom," as Adam had before he sinned; " righteousness" which Adam stood in before he fell; " sanctification," or holiness, in which Adam's image chiefly consisted; " and redemption" from that death which reigned from Adam to Moses through his disobedience.
Could all the human race have produced one righteous man, could they have brought forth one person that could make a new heart, a new spirit, and obey the law as Mr. Skinner can do, even then he dared not strike hands and become surety to God for another; he could only deliver his own soul by his righteousness, or enter into life by the new creation of himself; he could deliver neither son nor daughter, friend nor brother; no man can redeem his brother, nor pay a ransom to God for him. God appointed the surety, and set him up from everlasting, and prepared a body for him, Man had no band in this work;. God formed this Jacob to bring the preserved of Israel, and to be for salvation to the ends of the earth: He made him strong for himself, Psal. lxxx. 17. God sent him into the world to do his will; and according to his determinate counsel and foreknowledge he was delivered, and by wicked hands he was crucified and slain; neither free-thinkers nor heirs of promise had any hand in providing this surety, in upholding him in his work, or in treading the wine-press. Many have talked and still do talk of co-workmanship and co-partnership, Of of doing their part, but that is nothing but noise: " I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me. I looked and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold," seeing so many had talked of it; therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury it upheld me." If God the creditor put a surety in with the chosen debtor, as Job desires, which no creditor by law is bound to do, then the surety is the creditor's gift; I will keep thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, Isa. xlii. 6. There is but little difference between a creditor's giving me a surety out of his own bosom to pay my debt, and forgiving me the debt; I neither procured the surety nor paid the debt, therefore am frankly forgiven. God has declared he will have life for life, and blood for blood; if so, I cannot be cleared without the shedding of blood, as God must be true to his word.
In short the language of the Lawgiver is, obey my voice. " I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this thing commanded I them saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people," Jer. vii. 22, 23; this is the command: the threatening is this, " The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Jesus became surety of the better testament; he magnified the law, and died the just for the unjust. He died a temporal death, the soul was separated from the body; he died a legal death, he was made a curse for us; he died a spiritual death, his Father departed from him; and what would this author have more? Is not this a proper payment? Is not this a full satisfaction for God's elect? If the author of free thoughts says nay, then let him shew me what law and justice demanded more; he replies, "The stings of a guilty conscience, and the horrors of despair.' I answer, he never died for one soul that ever was or will be damned; they cannot be ransomed from the pit that go into it, they cannot be redeemed from death that die eternally, Christ bore the sins of men, he endured the curse of the law, the wrath of God, and was tormented with the powers of darkness; as to the stings of a guilty conscience, they could not lay hold of one that was holy, harmless, and undefiled, who had never sinned; nor had he any more room for reflection that recoils with guilt than I should have if I undertook to pay another's debt; I might reflect I upon myself for such an undertaking, but could never blame myself for imprudence in contracting the debt; my undertaking is an act of benevolence, not of imprudent wrong; I serve two persons, the creditor and the debtor, but wrong none except myself; nor did the Saviour, he became surety and smarted for it.
This author seems to intimate, nay he affirms, it is inferred that Christ did not pay the proper debt for any man.' Then I say, prison doors can never ,be opened, deliverance to captives cannot be preached, nor the acceptable year of the Lord be proclaimed; for God must appear just to his law before he can be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. By this mode of free-thinking this author might infer, that my paying twenty pounds as a surety for another who owes that sum, is not sufficient to procure a gaol delivery for my friend, unless I remain in a gaol myself. Christ' paid the proper debt, and gave a full satisfaction, without either going into hell or rotting in the grave; his soul was made an offering to God for sin: "When Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." His body descended into the prison of the grave, but did not consume there; God suffered not his Holy One to see corruption. God raised him from the grave, and highly exalted him, as a proof that the work was finished, and God was glorified.
The main drift of this author is? to lessen the merits of Christ, that free thoughts may perform their part in discharging the debt; to lessen the pardon of sin, that some ground may be laid for human boasting, and room be left for apostasy from grace, the creditor not having' received his proper demands, and that the main branch of redemption may be left for the sinner to complete, that his free thoughts may make the Saviour's satisfaction void or valid, by the task that he performs or not performs; and by this means all the glory of redemption redounds to the creature; for it is well known that he that completes an undertaking gets the glory. But the surety declared with his dying breath, "It is finished;" if so, the proper debt must be paid; satisfaction and pardon do stand together according to God's law. Let this author look, and he will there find, that a sinner who had sinned, when his sins came to his knowledge, he was to bring a male kid of the goats without blemish, an offering to the Lord; " And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt-offering before the Lord; it is a sin-offering." Then, says this author, how is the doctrine of pardon established, if the goat dies in the sinner's room? The answer is, the goat is God's gift; the law that favours the sinner thus is God's law; therefore atonement is made and forgiveness is established: " And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put t upon the horns of the altar of burnt-offering; and he shall burn all his fat upon the altar; and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
If Mr. Skinner will examine the following texts, he will find redemption and pardon coupled together; which pardon is intended to bring the mean man low, and humble the haughty, that the Lord alone may be exalted. " He [God] hath made us accepted in the beloved; in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Here is redemption and pardon, and both of free grace: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, atonement, or sacrifice, to make satisfaction and reconciliation, that we through faith in his blood might see how God declares his righteousness, or justice, in the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time God's righteousness, or justice; that God might appear just to his law in the eyes of men, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? Rom. iii. 9,5, 26. In short, Jesus was made the surety of a better testament, and as such his perfect life and passive death was what law and justice demanded; and it was a full payment of the proper debt. If the Saviour be viewed as a sacrificing priest, he hath, by his one offering, made an atonement, and perfected for ever them that are sanctified. The elect, for whom he undertook, and for whom he laid down his life, had no hand in procuring the surety, priest, or sacrifice, nor had they any hand in the work which was finished on the cross; therefore redemption and forgiveness, shedding of blood and remission of sins, are both applied to them. But with the children of the bond-woman the matter may be otherwise; they can perform what God requires, God doth not demand impossibilities of them, they may all be glorified saints in heaven if they will; therefore they need neither surety, priest, sacrifice, nor forgiveness; and it is well for them that they have such a stock of power, in hand; and it is well for such helpless sinners as I am, that God hath given us all things in Christ.
This author owns God is a sovereign, and may dispose of men as he pleases, undoubtedly he may, and he certainly does. Israel sought righteousness by the works of the law, and stumbled at Christ; the elect Gentiles sought it not, yet attained to it. Others, as soon as they hear of Christ, shall obey him, and others shall be taken at the gospel's going forth; by day and by night shall it pass over, and be a vexation only to understand the' report. Christ is found of them that sought him not; and others shall seek him and shall not find him. To babes the gospel is revealed, from the wise and prudent it is hid; and what shall we say to these things? But he adds, "This does not prove that he has created any man on purpose to punish him, merely to display his sovereignty. " As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and live: turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die?' Ezek. xxxiii. 11. I answer, God hath created all things, and for his pleasure they are and were created, Rev. iv. 11. " The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." Some are predestinated to life, and some are not; and this we declare, that none but the elect ever was or ever will be saved; " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the fire," Rev. xx. 15. This author mentions a second sort that may augment the number of God's elect by doing what God commands, which according to his account, is easy; but we know that salvation is by grace, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified, and that there is nothing to be added to or taken from God's work of salvation, which is finished. Nor can any be added to or taken from the number of God's elect, which number as well as persons are complete in Christ. Beside, if any of this second sort could, by doing what is supposed to be so easy, enter the kingdom of God, there would be salvation in every free-thinker that performs his task; whereas the scriptures declare, that there is salvation in no other name but in Christ Jesus; and that by grace men are saved through faith, not of themselves; it is the gift of God; not by works, lest any man should boast.
God punishes men for sin, and will display his sovereignty both on the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy; and if Mr. Skinner had never. been guilty of any other acts of rebellion but the publishing of these free thoughts, it contains enough, should God judge him out of his own mouth, to silence and condemn him, if he be the brightest freethinker in the world; and this he will confess if ever he should be brought to see or feel the severity of the law, or have his soul impressed with the truth, holiness, immutability, and justice of God; but, alas! a corpse feels no lash, and the blind see no danger; hence human insensibility and infidelity can wantonly sport, while angels damned believe and tremble, James ii. 19, God punishes men for sin, not merely to display his sovereignty; and it is well if this author has none about him; by the disobedience of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; and as all are born in sin, so all are by nature the children of wrath. But Mr. Skinner quibbles at this; then he must prove the sentence of the judge, of the law, and of his own thoughts and conscience, to be unjust. All men are brought in guilty by the law; condemnation came on all men by Adam's sin, and the old Adam's image God will ever despise, and in that image all the children of the flesh die for they are not the children of God. God will give grace to whom, and withhold grace from whom, he pleaseth: " My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;" " My word. shall accomplish that which I please, and prosper in that whereto I send it;" he hides these things from the wise and prudent, he hath hid them from Mr. Skinner, and he will reveal them unto babes, who are less capable of correcting and instructing their Maker.
In short, there are some called reprobate silver, whom God hath rejected; these are the world which Christ prayed not for; these love their own, but hate the elect because he hath chosen them out of the world; these are not of Christ's flock, they believe not because they are not of his sheep; these are the wise, from whom the mysteries are hid; the wicked that shall not understand; the children of the flesh, which are not the children of God; these do not hear Christ, because they are not of God; these cannot receive the Spirit; for these Christ prayed not; these shall seek him and shall not find him; from among these men the elect are redeemed; these are children of the desolate woman, which are more in number than the children of the married wife; they are the people of God's curse, against whom he hath indignation for ever.
Mr. Skinner declares there is not one of this number but what, if they had done as they might have clone, might have been glorified saints in heaven; but we defy him and all the free-thinkers in the world to prove that any of these, or that any but the elect, with all their doings, ever entered the kingdom of God. All that are with Christ are called chosen, and faithful. Salvation is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; the only qualification for heaven is a new birth, which is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, John i. 13.
The oracles of God inform us that the children of the desolate are more in number than the children of the married wife; that many are called, but few chosen; that many enter the gates that lead to destruction, but that few find the gate of life. According to these scriptures the children of the flesh and of the bond-woman, which are called the children of this world, are by far the greatest host; these have undertaken the cause of Cain; the antediluvians renowned for wickedness, Ishmael Esau, Saul, Ahithophel, Judas, Simon Magus, Arius, Pelagius, and all the bond-children which God hath palmed upon Hagar, who began to vent her spleen at the good old Sarah, have maintained a perpetual controversy with Zion; they have ever encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city. They have counted Zion's towers, marked her bulwarks, and considered her palaces, and to little purpose. They have produced their cause, and brought forth their strong reasons against the king of Jacob; they have defied the armies of the living God from age to age. They have denied the fall of man, reprobated the decrees of God, withstood the counsel of the Most High, contemned imputed righteousness, boasted of light, of freedom of will, of human power, of fleshly perfection, and even of sovereign prerogative; and yet not one of this fleshly family, whether distinguished by the name of heathen, pagan, mahometan, papist, protestant, or dissenter, notwithstanding all their united efforts, superiority of number, power, and policy, though they have maintained a perpetual siege against Zion's bulwarks, and attempted to take the kingdom of heaven and the throne of God by storm for upwards of five thousand years together without the least intermission; yet they cannot to this day, if it were to save their souls from hell, produce one champion among all their formidable host that ever succeeded in the attempt or carried the siege; salvation is not of works, it is not of him that willeth, it is the gift of God; " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the fire."
None but the righteous nation that keepeth the truth have ever entered into the heavenly Jerusalem. No bond-child, no son of the flesh, no Hagarene, no free-willer, no free-thinker, no merit-monger, no fleshly perfectionist, nor nervous logician, could ever say that the banner of everlasting love was ever struck to him; it is displayed to the elect only; nor even to them till they are humbled. The children of lies have never been able to carry away these imperial colours; "Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth." If so, none but those in whose hearts God puts his fear, and who receive the truth in the love of it, can ever unfurl this banner of electing and everlasting love; the others are given up to strong delusions that they might believe a lie; " That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness."
The text that Mr. Skinner has produced from Ezekiel, of God's having no pleasure in the death of the wicked; Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die? is perverted; he is not enlightened to see the meaning of it; he does therefore err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God; it is a political death that is there intended. Israel, removed from the hill of Zion to the plains of Shinar, are compared in their state of captivity to dry bones in a valley, whose hope of return was lost: " Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, our hope is lost, and we are cut off for our parts." Their enlargement and restoration is called a resurrection: " Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, I will open your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel; and I shall place you in your own land, then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it," Ezek. xxxvii. 11-14. They were sent into Babylon for their idolatry, from whence their idol worship came, which was to be restored again and settled in the plains of Shinar on its own base, Zech. v. 11. Babylon seems at that time to have been the fountain or spring head of idolatry; and what Israel received from thence, was to be left behind at their return; and at their restoration, Ephraim, the forwardest tribe for idolatry, was heard to say, What have I to do any more with idols? From these evil ways they were to turn, on account of which they went into captivity; and the king's golden image in the plains of Dura gave them their fill of it, When they must worship the image, which 'was not a God of their own making; if it had it might have done better; but as it was an image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up, and must be worshipped at the expense of the burning fiery furnace, it was an irksome service to them; for although they were dotingly fond of a god of their own making, yet they could not endure to worship one made and set up by another. Some of the captivity might understand the prophet, not of a political but of a spiritual death and resurrection; to these he enforces the making of a new heart and a new spirit, to cease to do evil and learn to do well, as the only qualifications for heaven; but we have no account that any man upon earth ever did this, though many as well as our author have boasted of great power; nor is there any hope of it, seeing they are fools that trust in their own heart, and cursed of God who make flesh their arm; therefore let the children of the flesh perform what they may, they are under the law, and their works can be no more than the works of the flesh; and God declares, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living, be justified.
It is true, God hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, no more than he hath in their life: he is angry with the wicked every day, and what pleasure can God take in the objects of his hatred? He calls them the borders of wickedness, the people against whom he hath indignation for ever, Mal. i. 4. They are called the people of his curse, Isa. xxxiv. 5; his soul loaths them, and their souls also abhor him, Zech. xi. S. When he drives them to darkness and dimness of anguish, they will fret themselves, look upward, and curse both their king and their God, Isa. viii. 21, 22. And what pleasure can God take in such worms, who are the objects of his just indignation, the vessels of his wrath, the people of his curse, and the rivals of his honour; who are rebels to his throne, disputing his sovereignty, opposing his will, resisting his discriminating grace, violating his laws, corrupting his subjects, and exalting flesh and blood in opposition to his tremendous majesty? Instead of God's having pleasure in the death of these, it is called easing himself of his burden: " Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies." He may be eased of these enemies, he may laugh at their calamity and mock when their fear cometh; he may have them in derision, and scatter them in the imagination of their hearts, and his anger may cease in their destruction, Isa. x. 25; but he hath no pleasure in wickedness, nor in the death of the wicked. " The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Mr. Skinner goes on.
Certainty and necessity are very different things; for, if we may credit Milton, God's foreknowledge does not necessitate human actions.'
'If I foreknew, fore-knowledge had no influence on their fault, which had no less proved certain unforeknown.'
To all which I answer, Man is born. With his back upon God, and goes astray as soon as born, speaking lies; if left to the freedom of his own will, he chooses his own way, and delights in his abominations: but God reserves this prerogative to himself; " I also will choose their delusions, and bring their fears upon them." Man, if left to himself, Will turn aside to his crooked Ways; but it is God that will lead him forth with the workers of iniquity, Psal. cxxv. 5. The brutal free-thinker will by natural. aptitude run rusty; but God bridles, him, and holds the reins, checks him at his pleasure, and guides him into those errors that he is to be damned in; " There shalt be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err."
God's predeterminate will concerning the wicked, and rebellious man's natural inclination� which needs no impulse nor influence to evil, but that which comes by natural generation, often run,. agreeable to scripture, in one channel: " Abraham, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years: And also,: -that nation whom they shall serve will; I judge." For some time a divine restraint lay on the hearts. of the Egyptians, and Israel was a welcome guest; but at the time appointed, God turned their hearts to hate his people, and to deal subtly with his servants, Psal. cv. 25; which turn lay in the removal of God's restraining power. Christ -was delivered by the determinate council and foreknowledge of God; and the wicked fulfilled the Scriptures who slew him, and it was done according to the natural bent of their will: " Whom will ye that I release? Not this man, but Barabbas;" they desired a murderer might be granted unto them. Thus God's declaration to Abraham and Egypt's malice, God's determinate council concerning Christ .and Israel's desire of a murderer, run directly in one channel. God declares that the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to devise wicked devices, to destroy the poor and needy with lying words, Isa. xxxii. 6, 7; And it is fulfilled in this book of Mr. Skinner's, agreeable to the word of God; 6o God says, he will work a work in gospel days that men shall behold, and wonder at, and perish, and in no wise believe though a man declare it unto them, Hab. i. 5. Acts xiii. 41; which is fulfilled to a tittle by our free-thinker, who calls the decrees of God a Human system, and his own thoughts a detection of error.
Mr. Skinner may put what difference he pleases between certainty and necessity. What God declares to be certain must of necessity come to pass, If God leaves a sinner to himself, he must of necessity sin, because there is nothing but sill in him; Satan keeps the palace, works in his heart, and takes him captive at his will; but then both the devil and the sinner are awed, checked, turned, and directed, just as the sovereign Saviour pleases: "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." Judas, influenced by the devil, and who was a devil, who stood like a bent bow to his mark, was held by the strong hand of the Saviour. Christ knew that himself was the object he aimed at, but he could not perform his enterprise till he gave command: He laid down his life for his sheep: "No man taketh it from me, I lay it down of myself:" Hence we read that they often attempted to take him, but his hour was not yet come: "Now when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world," the devil was let loose, and Judas was commanded to do his office; the supper being ended, the devil having now put it into the heart of Judas to betray him, Christ gave Judas the sop; and then Satan entered into him; "Then said Jesus, that thou doest do quickly.". So to this day the wicked bend their bows to shoot at the upright in heart, who are the only butt of their envy; but then God overrules them, so that he either permits his elect to be wounded by them, or he delivers them from the arrow that fleeth by day, just as it seemeth him good. Devils arid sinners are both bent in malice against God's elect; but God chooses their delusions, leads them forth, turns their course, and keeps his bridle in their jaws; their free thoughts may stagger some of God's elect, but those that erred shall come to understanding; for the elect shall not be finally deceived. Their thoughts may harden and deceive many, but both the. deceiver and the deceived are the Lord's; it is he that leads them away spoiled, and makes them fools, Job xii. 16, 17; yea, there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people causing them to err.
Man in his fallen state, if left to himself, cannot act contrary to his nature any more than water can run up hill, or stones fly to heaven; his, nature is earthly, sensual, and devilish; and unless he be predestinated to life, and free-grace prevent, he will cleave to the earth, gratify his brutal appetite, end in the devil, and be damned for his earthly, brutal, and devilish actions: "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
If we may credit Milton, the devils had some knowledge of this; for he says,
They reasoned high
Providence neither promised nor afforded them perpetual support; To free-will they were left, in free-will they stood, while they stood; With freedom of will and freedom of thought they rebelled, left their own habitation; for which free-will rebellion these aspiring free-thinkers were charged with folly, bound with the chains of their sin, and reserved under darkness to future judgment; but neither free-will nor free thoughts altered fixed fate, which must be resolved into the uncontrollable will of the divine sovereign, as well as in his absolute foreknowledge; prescience preceding fixed fate, according to the Spirit's arrangement by Paul; "Whom he did foreknow, them he did predestinate."
The fall of apostate angels must doubtless alarm those that stood; these readily renounced their free-will standing, and accepted confirmation by Christ: hence their submission is called a reconciliation, Col. i. 20; and Christ is called the head of all, principality and power, Col. ii. 10. The angels' acquiescence with the divine will, and their confirmation by Christ, must both be resolved into the decree of election, for these angels were elected, 1. Tim. v. 21.
One would think the fall of angels and the fall of Adam would be sufficient to bring the doctrine of free-agency into contempt; but this system will never be out of favour nor out of fashion while there is one of old Adam's fleshly race upon earth. Their aspiring in Eden to be as Gods, knowing good and evil, has left such a towering tincture upon their children, that they will ever be soaring aloft, till humbled by grace, or drowned in perdition. Mr. Skinner goes on.
'The plain truth is, God knows what will be and at the same time he knows it might be otherwise; or, in different terms, God knows all things, and man is a free-agent; for if he be not free, he cannot be said to act at all, but is merely passive, or acted upon; and every sensible person knows that a necessary agent implies a contradiction.' Man is a free-agent? I should be glad to know wherein his free-agency consists. He is estranged from the womb, and goes astray as soon as born, speaking lies; he commits sin, and is the servant of sin; the strong man armed keeps possession of the palace; the prince of the power of the air worketh in the children of disobedience. They are in the snare of the devil, and taken captive by him at his will; they are holden with the cords of their sins; they are corrupt trees, and cannot bring forth good fruit; the tree is corrupt and the fruit corrupt; every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is evil, Matt. xv. 19. "How can ye, being evil, speak good things?" If this be true, where is the free-agency of these bond-children? their mother is called the bondwoman, and they are in bondage to the law, to sin, and to Satan; then where is their liberty according to Peter it is only to be found in their words: They speak great swelling words of vanity; but then the lust of the flesh and much wantonness actuates them, for they are said to allure through that; and while they promise others liberty, themselves are the servants of corruption, 2 Peter ii. 18, 19,
It is true, a sinner pursues the lust of the fleshwith freedom of will, because he loves it; but even then the devil is his master, for he works in him or actuates him to disobedience; and if at any time conscience gripes him, and he binds his soul with vows and promises never more to give conscience such a claw against himself, as Mr. Skinner has often done, yet even then the sinner finds the strong man armed to be stronger than all his vows; the devil exerts his power, and drives him contrary, to his inclination, vows, and conscience: this is called captivity, or being taken captive by the devil at his will. How can man be free that has got so many masters? He wars after the flesh, is a servant to sin, and a captive to Satan; and is in a threefold bondage: he is in the strong hold of Satan, the yoke of the law is upon his neck, and he is bound with the chains of guilt; and every transgression adds to the weight. I may here retort upon Mr. Skinner in his own words, every sensible person knows, that a free agent, possessed, ensnared, and led captive by the devil, implies as great a contradiction as a necessary agent.
The most stanch advocates for free-agency are the Atheists, Deists, and Papists, or Arminians. Among the latter class this author intends to cut a figure: he is a free-agent, a free-thinker, and he is not ashamed to call the productions of his pen free thoughts; yet there is a bridle in his jaw causing him to err, notwithstanding his freedom; and I defy him ever to preach the truth or think aright, unless the grace of God bring into captivity all his thoughts to the obedience of Christ. But we go on.
'It is said, that Christ was delivered by the determinate council and fore-knowledge of God; that Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and Israel, were gathered together to do what God's hand and council determined to be done; and it is said they did it with wicked hands; and if so, they were not necessitated to act as they did: for if it be supposed that God's command, Thou shalt do no murder, remains invariably the same, and at the same time that God laid the crucifiers of Christ under an absolute necessity to violate his command, it follows that God approves and disapproves; than which there cannot be a more direct and absolute contradiction.' To which I answer, What God in his council from eternity predetermined to be done, must, according to his will, and the prophecies revealed from thence, be fulfilled in time. The devil, as well as the sinner, goes about continually seeking, not whom he will, but whom he may, by divine permission, devour, Peter v. 8; but the devil and the sinner are both in the ruling hand of God: he knows the carnal mind is enmity against him, not subject to his law, nor can be, and this discovered itself plain enough against Christ in the Jews; and so it does in all the bond-children against his elect to this day; but then there is a restraining power on them, and without God's permission they cannot go on; shall there be evil in a city, and shall not the Lord do somewhat! Amos iii. The Jews despised Christ, and for envy they delivered him to Pilate; but it was God that delivered him into the hands of those sinners, and gave Pilate power against him. They all stood ready for the work, but it must be done at God's appointed hour, and according to his fore-determinate council. Herod sought to slay him as soon as he was born, and killed two thousand infants, to make sure to kill the right: but all in vain, his hour was not yet come; but when it was. come, God gave them up to all the rage of free-agency, but they did not act without the influence of their old master; their free-agency in this matter was under the infernal influence of the devil; the hour was theirs, the actuating power was Satan's: "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." But it is plain that the rage of the Jewish free-willers, the cruelty of Herod, the injustice of Pontius Pilate, and the power of the devil, in hurrying Christ's death, was all appointed, permitted, directed, and overruled by God. God delivered up his own son, he gave the Jews their hour, he let the powers of darkness loose, he limited and superintended all their work; so that it was done according to the determinate council and fore-knowledge of God. "Then saith Pilate, Speakest thou not to me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me except it were given thee from above. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.'" Thus the son of man truly went as it was determined, Luke xxii. 22; and he went as it was written of him, Matt. xxvi. 24; notwithstanding the determination of Pilate, which was, to let him go, Acts iii. 13. In short, the death of Christ was pre-determined and immutably fixed by God; and the free-agents that killed him, with respect to themselves, acted voluntarily in conjunction with the devil; God left them to their free-agency, only overruled it so that it should be done according to his fore-determination, and stopped them when that was done, or else they would have gone a great deal further.
The free-thinkers in Nazareth, when they heard Christ preach the sovereignty of God's grace in calling lepers and widows of the Gentiles, while the lepers and widows of Israel were neglected, were provoked to that degree that they tried to throw him headlong from the brow of the hill. They would have broke his neck then if they might; but he was not to die so, nor was his hour come. The free-agent disciples that crossed the sea of Tiberias after him, when He told them no man could come to him except the Father drew him, were so highly provoked, that they left him with disdain, and walked no more with him; as all other free-thinkers will do, if free grace prevent not. The other sort of disciples stuck to him, and no wonder, when it is affirmed that he had chosen them. When wicked free-agents get the bit in their teeth, and the reins oh their neck, none know where their rage would end; but there is a bridle in their jaws, causing them to err, God holds the rein, directs their course, lets them loose, or pulls them in, as he thinks proper. They would have altered Pilate's title on the cross, but there was a stop: what was written was written. They would have broken the Saviour's legs, but a bone of him was not to be broken. They sealed the stone of his sepulchre, and set a watch, to prevent his being stolen, and that he might corrupt in the grave; but here was another let; Angels removed the stone, and struck the keepers with fear till they became as dead men: God's Holy One was not to see corruption. The Jewish free-thinkers, or Arminians, such I call them (for I defy the world to prove that there was one soul among the murderers of Christ that held the Calvinistic doctrines of the everlasting gospel, or that had the faith of God's elect; these were among the mourners, not among the murderers), acted freely with respect to themselves; yet they were overruled and directed by God: they would have concealed the Saviour's resurrection, and paid large sums of money to the soldiers, promising to persuade the governor and secure them; but twelve witnesses were sent out to proclaim it; and when these were opposed, some were imprisoned, and some killed; the Lord appeared to five hundred more at once, and after that to Paul also; thus the resurrection of Christ got abroad, notwithstanding there was so strong a combination of free-thinkers against it.
The command, Thou shalt do no murder, stands immutably fixed; but that law was given to man: God's command to men given in time, did not overrule his sovereignty with respect to the decree of election settled in eternity: God works all things after the council of his own will. Is the law against the sovereignty of God? God forbid! for if it be, it is against his promise also. Then what becomes of the elect? The law is made for the lawless and disobedient it is binding to all free-thinkers; hence they are called bond-children. God's law will be his rule of judgment in the great day with respect to them, because they will all be found under that covenant. But the elect will be judged by the book of life, in which their names are inrolled, and in which their life is secured. Their salvation, their resurrection to life, and eternal glorification, is according to God's own purpose and grace, who works all things after the council of his own will. It is God's good will toward them, and upon them he intends to display the riches of his free-grace in eternal glory by Christ Jesus. The command of the divine Master to a servant, does not control the sovereign will of the everlasting Father with respect to his regenerated children. Servants are under the law; they are not predestined to the adoption of sons; his command therefore is to them; for the disobedient and lawless it is given, and by that he will judge them according to their works. But God's own children are the objects of his sovereign choice; he has formed them for himself; he views them in his Son, and has appointed them to obtain salvation by him; their names are in the book of life, and he will be their God in covenant, and they shall be the people of his love, with which he will plant the heavens.
To be short: God's law stands binding to the non-elect for ever, and the uncontrollable Jehovah will remain a free-agent for ever. "Thou shalt not kill," stands fast to the children of men, and God's free agency is displayed also. "And him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay." Do not kill, said the Saviour to the Arminian Jews, Mark x. 19. "The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men, and they shall kill him." Yea, and they shall kill many of his saints too, after the gospel has been preached for a witness, and the preachers of it brought before rulers for a testimony against them, Matt. x. 18. "Wherefore, behold I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel."
Mr. Skinner is dreadfully offended at Peter's saying, "They stumbled at Christ, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed."
Let the free-agent take what voluntary course he may, he shall never deviate from the rule, nor exceed the immutable bounds fixed by the uncontrollable and eternal Ruler. God has declared the end from the beginning; his council shall stand, and his pleasure shall be done; nothing shall be added to his work nor taken from it. Nor shall Mr. Skinner ever deceive one of God's elect, though he threaten to preach every Calvinist out of his meeting; and if God leave him to his own thoughts, to deceive many nominal professors, even then he is God's instrument and the deceived are God's fuel, and he will consume them as stubble fully dry; The deceiver and the deceived are the Lord's. Nor shall he, if he be given up of God, ever utter one thought more against the Lord, than what will fill up his measure; Israel wandered in the wilderness, till the iniquity of the Amorites was full. The Jews were to fill up the measure of their fathers, but none shall exceed their measure.
Mr. Skinner adds, 'This passage therefore can only mean, that they were appointed to stumble in consequence of their unbelief.' And how came these free-thinkers to stumble? Because they knew not the Lord of life. But how came they so ignorant? God had hid these things from the wise and prudent. How comes Mr. Skinner to oppose the sovereignty of God, and the doctrine of election? Because the Lord as yet has not given him the faith of God's elect. How came the free-thinking Jews not to believe? " You believe not," saith Christ, " because you are not of my sheep." How came they not to hear God's word? Because they were not of his choosing: " He that is of God, heareth God's word: ye therefore hear it not, because ye are not of God." How comes it that peace came not to all men? Because all men are not sons of peace. How comes it to pass that all those who hear the gospel do not receive the Spirit? Because all are not predestinated to the adoption of sons. They that are sons by predestination and pre-adoption, receive him: "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." How is it, that all these free-agents, possessed of such power, do not come to Christ? Because they are not all given to Christ: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and none shall pluck them out of my hands." Mr. Skinner, with all his abilities, is not come to Christ yet; and I defy him to describe what coming to Christ, laying hold of Christ, and uniting with Christ, is. Every free thought that he has penned, serves only to proclaim him a stranger to Jesus. Free-agency, human power, fleshly boasting, pride, rebellion, and free-thinking, could no more exist in the presence of Christ, than Beelzebub the devil could stand in the regions of eternal felicity. He would find, as Daniel did, if the angel of the covenant was to approach him, that all his comeliness would turn into corruption, and he would retain no strength to do what the law requires. Or, like Job, he would cry out, "I have [only] heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
Mr. Skinner must give up free-thinking, and contention for the world too, before he makes any pretensions to Christ, or else every chosen vessel will be suspecting him to be an impostor: for we all know, that a man must not only abhor the world, hate and forsake his own thoughts, but "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." This is the experience of them that come to Christ: but Christ has taught Mr. Skinner nothing of this. He has power to perform what God requires, and be a glorified saint in heaven if he will. God does not demand impossibilities of him: therefore he cannot be said to be lost, nor to be a debtor that has nothing to pay with. And so far from hating father and mother, he is contending for the redemption of all the world, and styles himself 'A friend to all mankind.' And we know the friendship of the world is enmity with God; "Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God." The world loves his own, and by Mr. Skinner's own account, he is of the world; he is a friend to the world; and no doubt but the world will love him, and the world will hear his preaching. "They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them: we are of God; he that knoweth God, heareth us: he that is not of God, heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."
As Mr. Skinner has contradicted his confession of faith, and denied the articles that he is bound to subscribe and swears to maintain, we must not wonder if he should offer a few thoughts in behalf of Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright, and swore to the bargain. We know, birds of a feather will flock together.
'God chooses and prefers Jacob's posterity to Esau's, in making them his visible church, presenting them with laws, moral, ceremonial, and political. God's purpose before they were born, has no reference to the eternal state of any of them.' Here it may be observed, that God's hatred of Esau, his eternal purpose concerning election in the choice of Jacob, and rejecting him; his profanity in the sale of his birth-right; his finding no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears; and being rejected of God when he would have inherited the blessing, has no reference to the eternal state of any of them; it has reference only to his posterity in a comparative sense. To which I answer: What God says concerning the Edomites, has reference to their eternal state, if the plain sense of words stand for any thing. When God is said to reject a person, that person is excluded from God's purpose of grace; he is not an object of God's choice; he is left out from God's decree; he is a reprobate: "Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them." "And the Lord said unto Samuel, how long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?" "I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath," Hosea xiii. 11. "When he [Esau] would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." If he was rejected from the blessing, he must inherit the curse; if he found no place of repentance, it has reference to his eternal state fixed in hell; "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." What God says concerning Esau's rejected posterity, has reference to their eternal state, as well as his. "Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste, for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished; but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them the border of wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever," Mal. i. 2, 4. "Thus saith the Lord concerning Edom, I have made thee small among the heathen; thou art greatly despised: the pride of thine heart hath deceived thee: though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance; and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them, and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it." The everlasting indignation of God, his calling Edom stubble, fuel for fire, and burning them all up, till none remaineth, has no reference to the eternal state of any of them; according to this freethinker. O, what a vile perverting of scripture is here! Thus the wrath of God against sinners is obscured; rebels are hardened in their sins, and the convincing force of scripture is darkened, and God's meaning explained away, by this blasphemous free-agent, who contradicts his Maker, gives truth the lie, and wrests it, if grace prevent not, to his own destruction. When God says, "Saviours shall come down upon mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau," Obad. 21; "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their hosts shall fall down as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse to judgment," Isa. xxxiv. 4, 5, Will this Arminian say that these awful denunciations have no reference to the eternal state of any of them? Then I should be glad to know what is meant by the hatred of God, the bathed sword of justice, the curse of the law, and the eternal indignation of the Lord; and what the comparative sense of these things is? These things seem to me to be sufficient to sink the strongest free-agent into hell and damnation. And Mr. Skinner's comparative sense, if we compare scripture with scripture, according to its proper meaning, amounts to this, that those whom God loves as he did Jacob, with an everlasting love, must be saved; and those that God hates, as he did Esau, and has an everlasting indignation against, must be damned, if the Bible be true: this is the comparative sense, and is the true sense. And if we compare the elect and reprobate together, the comparison is awful, and is a, tremendous display of mercy and judgment, of goodness and severity.
Nothing can be plainer than the scriptures are concerning the two covenants, that of works and that of grace; the two covenant heads, Adam the first, and Adam the second, are as conspicuous: the children of the flesh, and those of the promise, the curse of the one, and the blessing of the other, appear from one end to the other of divine revelation. And these two families have appeared as conspicuous in the world as in the Bible, ever since men began to multiply in the earth; and there will be the beloved city in the world, and the reprobate host compassing it about, and besieging it, till by the God of heaven the final conflagration raises the siege, blasts the conspiracy, routs the confederates, and drives them into the confines of everlasting darkness.
After the expulsion from Paradise, Adam stood with all the human race, elect and reprobate, in his loins; he had a promise to build his own hopes upon; but there were two seeds mentioned, the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman; and enmity was put by God between them; by the seed of the woman, Christ and his mystical body are intended; this is the bruised party, whose heels have ever been trampled upon, but God heals her that halteth; the other party is the old serpent the devil and his seed, which Christ calleth serpents, and a generation of vipers, and are said to be of their father the devil. This is the bruising party.
When Adam became the father of two sons; the two seeds, and the enmity God had put between them, appeared. Abel obtains the grace of faith, and witness that he was righteous: God testifying of his gifts. Cain appeared to be of that wicked one, the devil. God's sovereign respect to Abel, and disrespect to Cain and his offering, stirred up the enmity of his heart, and he slew his brother, because his works were righteous. Here began the religion of free-thinking, free-agency, justification by works, and free-will sovereignty, which was displayed in the slaughter of Abel. Cain was the founder of this human system, and it was founded in blood; he was cursed from the earth, banished from the church, and from the presence of God with a falling countenance - the visible mark of a reprobate. Adam, as an heir of promise, with Eve, now stood alone, until God raised up another seed; and after that, men began to call on the name of the Lord; and God continued the covenant line down to the days of Noah, and distinguished them all the way by the name of sons of God, opposed to the daughters of men, until the flood came; before which he took the righteous from that evil to come, deluged the fraternity of Cain, with other reprobates, and preserved righteous Noah and the whole militant church circumscribed within the family of that just man. After the deluge, not only Noah but Shem appears a visible heir of promise, and a future enlargement is predicted to Japheth; then Ham, the father of the Egyptians, seems to step forward, with his son Canaan, as one of the reprobate, to inherit the curse of Cain: "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be." It is well known that God smote time chief of their strength in the tabernacle of Ham; and that he destroyed the seven nations of Canaan when their iniquity was full.
In the family of Abraham, Isaac appears an heir of promise; and Ishmael, that child of the flesh, that wild man, whose hand was to be against every man, stepped forth in the old enmity, mocking Isaac; or, as Paul says, persecuting him that was by promise, till by the command of God both he and his mother were banished from the church; and by his marriage with a woman of Egypt, he became, by affinity, one of the tabernacles of Ham. In Isaac's family Jacob appears an heir of promise; and Esau, the cunning hunter, the man of the field, steps forth in the shoes of Cain, and the old enmity works afresh till murder was conceived: "And Esau hated Jacob, because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him; and Esau said, in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob." These chosen sons and rejected servants the Saviour found in his days: "The servant abideth not in the house ever, but the son abideth ever."
The reprobate part of the house of Levi, upon whose self-will, fierce anger, and cruel wrath, Jacob left the curse on his death bed; who slew a man, and digged down a wall, for which he divided them in Jacob, and scattered them in Israel, Gen. xlix. 5, 6, 7; appeared in Christ's days in the image and enmity of Cain; the priests bought his blood, and killed the Lord of life; and by their appearing in Cain's cause, all the blood shed from the blood of righteous Abel, is to be required of that generation; and it is plain the judgment of God began to be executed first at the sanctuary; for from the priests prophaneness had gone out into all the land; and the rest of them, with the other reprobated Jews, are left desolate, in bondage with their children, with the blood of Abel, and, according to their request, the blood of Christ upon them and their children; and will remain so, until the time comes that they shall look at him whom they have pierced, and mourn, and be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn, Zech. xii. 10; which time certainly will come: but as yet they remain, as the Saviour calls them, the synagogue of Satan. For the elect's sake they were spared at the destruction of Jerusalem; and when those heirs of promise that are yet in their loins shall appear, then their fathers will fall in this wilderness, and leave their children to inherit the land of Canaan.
Thus it appears that there ever has been, now is, and ever will be, two seeds in the world, and an implacable enmity between them; and though we know not the one from the other, the Lord does, and will make manifest the children of God and the children of the devil. The old enmity is discovered by their hatred to the saints, and to the sovereign grace of God; and we shall never be at a loss to find some of either of these seeds while there are so many authors of free thoughts, and so many honourable testimonies for sovereign grace, pregnant with becoming zeal and just indignation against the blasted system of free-agency. It is the controversy of Zion, and it must be carried on, till the Judge of quick and dead bring the year of revenges on, and decide it, by fixing the blessing and the curse; and as a just Judge, send the devil and his children to their own place; and, as the everlasting Father, fix his own family as heirs of God in the enjoyment of the promised inheritance. Mr. Skinner, who is no friend to the elect, but a friend to all mankind, or, in the prophet's language, who hates the good and loves the evil, makes nothing of plucking the fleece from the Lord's sheep; he will flay their skin from off them, Micah iii. 2, 3, but what he will get a plaster for the reprobate. He is coming now with a searcloth for Pharaoh king of Egypt.
'The scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up; it is not said that God raised him up for damnation.' To which I answer, If he did not raise him up for damnation, he threw him into damnation when he knocked him down: "I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell, with them that descend into the pit. Thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that be slain by the sword: This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord God." God as the sovereign of the universe told Abraham, that his seed should be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years: And that nation whom they shall serve will I judge: But in the fourth generation, his seed shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. The destruction of the Egyptians and the salvation of Israel was shewed to Abraham in vision, by the smoking furnace and the burning lamp, Gen. xv. 13-17. At the time appointed and predicted, Pharaoh was raised up with many more; God turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants, Psal. cv. 25; and whether he raised them up for damnation or not, it is said, "He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath and indignation and trouble, by sending evil angels among them;" and these things are no tokens for good, nor can they be called the things that accompany salvation. Fierce anger, wrath, indignation, trouble, and evil angels, are things that accompany damnation; and so the Egyptians found it, after they had uttered the thoughts of their hearts against the Lord, and displayed their free-agency in their rebellious pursuit. "I will pursue, I will overtake, I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them;" till God blew with his wind; then free thoughts and free-agency all sunk together.
He tells us, 'God delighteth in mercy, but judgment is his strange work.' But this strange work seems to me to consist in giving the reprobate up to his free-agency, to trust in his bed of carnal security, to spurn at the gospel of Christ, and to ripen for damnation under the sound of it, until his covenant with death and hell, in which he promised himself safety, are broken by the terrors of God, and he falls into both: I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation, and he that believes shall not make haste. Judgment will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, which when uttered are free thoughts, and the waters of wrath, shall overflow the hiding-place of falsehood: Your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement, or confederacy with hell, or the inheritance of it, shall not stand, for your security; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it, into death and hell, notwithstanding your covenant with both. From the time, that the news of this sure foundation, and precious corner stone goeth forth, it shall take you as in a trap: For morning by morning shall it pass over, in the preached sound of it; by day and by night shall free-agents spurn at it, and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report, or the doctrine reported: For the bed of carnal security, is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering, that is not of God's Spirit, is narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. Then what shall be the end of these free-agents? Why, The Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, when the five kings of the Amorites and their hosts fled before Israel, and were going to Bethoron, when the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them, and they died; they were more which died with hail stones, than they whom Israel slew with the sword; meanwhile the sun stood still upon Mount Gibeon, Joshua x. 10-12. This is called God's strange work, because this battle and the sun standing still was done but once. But here the prophet tells us it shall be acted over again; hail shall sweep away the refuges of lies. The Sun of Righteousness shall stand, and shine on the spiritual armies of Zion, while these shall be taken by it, and vexed at the report of it: For the Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his Work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act; which is making the bands of a mocker strong by the report of Zion's foundation; this is the Lord of Hosts' consumption that is even determined upon the whole earth, Isa. xxviii. 16-22.
The next thing taken in hand is, the sovereignty of the potter over the clay, from the 18th chapter of Jeremiah; the literal meaning of which is mentioned thus: "At what time I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy; if that nation against whom I have pronounced turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them," To all which I answer, God's language here is to the bond children; it is the language of the law; it is all conditional; there is not a word of divine grace nor eternal salvation in it. The conditions are, to turn from evil, if they will escape evil, and to perform obedience to the law, called obeying God's voice; or else he will repent of the good wherewith he said he would benefit them. But alas! they have all failed of the conditions; and therefore forfeited all right, even to these temporal mercies; "The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to his law nor can be;" "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,". Mr. Skinner and all; and though the mouth of free-thinkers is not stopped, yet the whole world is become guilty before God; and by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified; for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; these are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God. Let them do what they will, they can do nothing but sin; when the Ethiopian can change his skin, and the leopard his spots, then may these agents do good that are accustomed to do evil, Jer. 23; "They that are in the flesh cannot please God;" neither can Mr. Skinner, nor even please his own conscience; for conscience flogs him all the day long, though he is too stiff and proud to own it.
When God speaks to Christ and his own elect concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, he speaks in new covenant terms, without a single condition "I will be his father and he shall be my son; and I will not take my mercy away from him [for it is not conditional] as I took it from him that was before thee; but I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever; and his throne shall be established for evermore." We are not afraid of being plucked up; it is our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom; we have received a kingdom that cannot be moved. "The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever," Dan. vii. 18. When God speaks to his elect concerning plucking up and destroying a kingdom, he speaketh on this wise: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people [not to the children of the flesh, for these are not the children of God], but it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever:" This shall be done by the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, Dan. ii. 44, 45; which Christ explains thus: "But on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder."
In the spiritual meaning of the potter, the sovereignty of God is displayed: the day is the whole human race; the vessels to dishonour are those that are excluded from the decree of election; from whom the mystery of the gospel is hid; to whom God is determined not to give grace: they are said to be before of old ordained to this condemnation; they are left to their own free thinking, until they are fitted for destruction, under the long-suffering of God, which he endures; while these free-agents oppose his sovereignty, ridicule his counsel, contradict his truth, and plague his saints: these are called vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, Rom. ix. 22.
The elect shall know the riches of glory; for they are vessels of mercy which God before prepared unto glory: God forms them for himself, and says they shall shew forth his praise. He creates them anew in Christ Jesus: hence they are called vessels to honour; for God hath not appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. v. 9.
Now Free Thoughts starts again, and free-grace goes after him. ' The rejection of the Jews was not in consequence of an unconditional decree, but unbelief; because they sought it not by faith, namely, justification.' The reason the Jews were rejected was, because it was not God's pleasure to choose them. The reason they did not believe was because God was not pleased to give them faith. And the reason he did not give them faith was, because they were not ordained to eternal life. The reason the Jews did not attain to justification was, because they were not predestinated to glory. The elect obtained justification; they were heirs of promise, and the Spirit of promise was sent to them, to work faith in them: these were ordained to eternal life, and therefore believed and obtained justification, being predestinated to it. "Whom God did foreknow, them he did predestinate; and whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." The faith of the saints is in consequence of an unconditional decree; and the reason others do not believe, is in consequence of their being excluded from the promise of life in that decree: they were not chosen in Christ, nor given to the good shepherd: "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you."
'The Jews were blinded by their own sins and prejudices, which might have been removed in the day of visitation.' To which I answer, Their blindness and prejudice might have been removed, if the Lord had been pleased to do it. But it pleased him to hide these things from the wise and prudent and to reveal them unto babes; for so it seemed good in his sight. Yea, the Lord poured upon them the spirit of deep sleep, and closed their eyes, Isa. xxix. 10. And the Saviour acquiesced with the sovereign will of his father herein: and instead of removing their blindness in the day of visitation, he made them more blind by his wonderful rays: " And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world: that they which see not, might see; and that they which see might be made blind."
As for the bond-children working out their own salvation with fear and trembling,' is nothing but talk: their works are like Mr. Skinner's, wind and confusion: the wicked worketh a deceitful work: all their thoughts are evil, free or not free: they are in the flesh, and cannot please God: they are without faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. The works of the flesh are nothing but corruption: the tree is corrupt, and cannot bring forth good fruit; no grapes from these thorns, nor figs from such thistles. And as for their fear and trembling, it is of the same sample as their works: it is the fear and trembling of a criminal in the chains of his guilt, when God's wrath begins to blast his free-agency. "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isa. xxxiii. 14.
As for talking of 'obedience to the law of Christ, summarily comprehended in the term faith, in order to final salvation; and comparing the scriptures which maintain the doctrines of grace, with those which assert the necessity of gospel obedience,' is a confused jumble of nonsense, like all the rest of it: and only serves to expose the foolishness of the author, God hath chosen Israel for his peculiar treasure: and "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: they shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end." God's election of them is both the cause of their sanctification and belief. Knowing, brethren, beloved, your, election of God; for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."
To make a difference between grace and obedience is making a difference where there is none. They that are in the flesh cannot please God. Without faith it is impossible to please him. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Where is their obedience then? The elect receive grace for obedience to the faith, Rom. i. 5. The grace of God that bringeth salvation from sin, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Tit. ii. 11, 12. God works in the elect to will and to do of his own good pleasure. There is no obedience without grace, no fruits without the Spirit, no good works without faith, no honest labours without love. The obedience of bond-children is like this author's book, nothing but the pride and arrogance of a fleshly mind, vainly puffed up: spurting his free thoughts at his Maker's sovereign decree, and exalting his own free-agency; talking about grace, while he is veiled under the law; boasting of doing what God requires, while destitute of the Spirit; cannot think a good thought, and is an utter stranger to the plague of his own heart; contending for the redemption of the world, while his conscience is gasping for the atonement; confess one doctrine, and preach another; talk of preaching the elect out of their own meeting, and styling himself a friend to all mankind. Does grace teach any thing like this? Is this duty? Is this gospel obedience?
Grace and duty, promise and precept, are inseparably connected in the salvation of God's elect: the Spirit is given, and the promise too; and they shall remain in the saints for ever. The law is written upon the tables of their heart by the Spirit of the living God. God puts his fear within them, causes them to walk in his statutes, to keep his judgments and do them. But as for men that are given up to trust in their free-agency, and to mutter their evil thoughts against the Lord; they are strangers to the covenant of promise; they are under the law, and know nothing but of the conditional promises thereof, which secures nothing to their souls but pride and boasting: "The strength of sin is the law." Such men break the commandments all the day long: they hate the elect. Christ says, his people shall be hated of all men for his name's sake. Such are murderers, John says; and if they offend in one point, they are guilty of all: they nurse that enmity that God" has put between them and the saints.
We know 'God's attributes are never opposed ' in his word:' they are revealed there: they harmonize in the Saviour as revealed there; and they shine there: and that of divine sovereignty appears first, and shines in all the rest; which this free-thinker has taken care to leave out of his assemblage, in order that poor, depraved, ensnared, captivated, and fettered free-agency may shine in all her brilliant lustre, and in all the dazzling rays of an insignificant glow-worm.
If it be granted, that 'some imagine they are elected, while they indulge sin, and deceive themselves,' they are then on as good a footing as Mr. Skinner. To trust in election, while destitute of the faith of God's elect, is nearly the same as trusting in universal redemption, while a stranger to the application of the atonement: both trust in vanity; one in a false heart, and the other in a false doctrine: the scriptures call the former a fool, Prov. xxviii. 26; and the latter a liar, Rev. ii 2.
Mr. Skinner concludes his Pamphlet with a flourish: To the mercy of God in Christ this free-agent is indebted and to whom he hopes to attribute all the praise of his salvation, when the mists of error, which now shade the universe, shall be dispersed by the refulgent beams of endless day. I answer: Indebted to sparing mercy he is, because he is yet alive; therefore God has not dealt with him according to his sinful thoughts. All the universe is not shaded with the mists of error, though free-agency has blinded his eyes. As for salvation, he knows nothing about it by the forgiveness of his sins; because out of his heart proceed evil thoughts.
I shall conclude also; and submit this answer to the decision of the great day: when all hearts shall be open, and their deepest recesses known: when the mystery of iniquity shall be revealed, free-agency shall be wounded out of the house of the wicked, and their sandy foundation be discovered even to the neck: when the self-justifier shall be unmasked, and placed at the rear of publicans and harlots: when the mean man shall be brought low, the haughty humbled, and the mouth of them that speak lies be stopped: when freethinkers shall be holden with the cords of their sins; the universalists be condemned with the world; the proud helper stoop to the iron rod; the able performer shall be unable to deliver his soul, or the false prophet to say, there is not a lie in my right hand: Then shall mystical Babel be razed, and her builders be confounded, routed, and ruined: Then - then shall the elect, gathered from all winds, shine forth as the sun, see as they are seen, and know as they are known. They shall blaze in electing love, exult in divine joys, shine in everlasting light, solace in endless pleasure, and hymn particular redemption, till self-existing divinity can fail, and eternity find a period.