CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.
Part 2 Chapter 1
Section 5óRevelation 13:8.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him; whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, stair, from the foundation of the world.
With 2 Corinthians 4:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Romans 9:18. The learned writer attended to, observes, that Dr. Twiss confesseth that the Scriptures speak fully of election, sparingly of reprobation, in most places; yet, some passages we have, saith he, which give light and evidence to both alike. The passages referred to are, for the one, Acts 2:47; Matthew 24:24; Acts 13:48; Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23. For the other, 2 Corinthians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Romans 9:18; Revelation 13:8, and Revelation 17:8. Now, to all these citations, most of which are said to be palpably impertinent, (though whether they are or no, will be seen hereafter) this is the general answer, "That they signify no more than those words of Christ (Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3-5); and of the Baptist (John 3:36). The stun of which is, that he that believes and repents, shall be saved; and he that does not believe and repent, shall be damned. Which is a considerable mistake; seeing the words of Christ and of the Baptist regard only the revealed will of God, in the external ministry of the word; and the passages cited, the secret will of God, in giving grace to some, and denying it to others. The main thing to be attended to is, how it comes to pass,that some men have faith and repentance, and so are saved; whilst others have neither, and so are damned. Some men have faith and repentance: how come they by them? God freely gives these graces to them, and implants them in them; and why does he do so? Because of his sovereign good pleasure he has, from all eternity, willed and determined to do so; widen is a considerable branch of election. On the other band, some men have neither faith nor repentance; what is the reason of it? Because, being by nature in a state of infidelity and impenitence, God does not give them that grace which only can deliver them from it. And why does he not give them that grace? Because, of his sovereign will and pleasure, he has determined not to give it them; which is a considerable branch of reprobation. To some of these citations our author thinks fit to reply, by saying, that "those that are lost (2 Cor. 4:3), are those that believe not (v. 4). And those who perish (2 Thess. 2:10), are those who believe not the truth (v. 12). And they who perish (1 Cor. 1:18), are the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles. And they who are hardened (Rom. 9:18), are the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction,by their own wickedness, completed by their infidelity, or want of faith." But still the question returns. How come these persons to want faith, to be unbelievers, not to believe in Christ, or the truth, whilst others do? It is not because they are left to their natural infidelity, and given up to judicial blindness, and hardness of heart? And why are they thus left? Or, why does God deny them that grace which only can cure them of all this? but, because it is his will, and he has determined to deny them it? Now, this is one part of reprobation we contend for. From these this celebrated writer proceeds to those places, which may seem to require a more particular notice. And,
1st. Begins with the phrase of being written in the book of life,(Rev. 13:8; 17:8). Which,
1. He says, is Jewish, and doth not stratify the absolute election of any person to eternal life, but only the present right of the just person to life; and therefore it is called the book of life written for the just,Targum on Ezekiel 13:9. And, the book of the just,Targ. Jori on Exodus 32:8-2. To which I answer, that the book spoken of in the Scriptures under consideration, is not called the book of the just,nor the book of life written for the just,but the book of life for the Lamb,a phrase never to be met with in Jewish writings. But, admitting an allusion to these phrases used by the Jews, let it be observed, that just or righteous persons are particular ones: all men are not righteous; only such from God from all eternity willed to be righteous through the righteousness of his Son. Now, as many as are written in the book of life God willed to be righteous, through the righteousness of his Son; and, as many as he willed to be righteous, through the righteousness of his Son, he wrote their names in the book of life. Hence the same individual particular persons, who are said to be written in heaven (Heb. 12:23), are called just men made perfect that is,through the righteousness of Christ imputed to them; which gives them not only a present,but a future continued right to eternal life, which can never be lost. For, whom God did predestinate,them he called;and whom he called,he justified,and whom he justified,them he glorified (Rom. 8:30).
2. It is observed, that, in this book, The apostolical institutions (constitutions,I suppose, it should be,) say, we come to be written th> hJmetera eujnoi>a kai< spoudh~ , by our good affection and industry."What these constitutions say will not meet with much credit; since, not only they appear to be a spurious work, and not the genuine writings of the apostles,but also, we find nothing in the sacred writings to confirm such an assertion; and, indeed, how is it possible that any should come to be written in this book, through their good affection and industry, when the book was written, from the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:8), and so before men had done either good or evil?
3. It is said, that, "from this book, men, as they may be written in it, when they are converted from vice to virtue, so may they be blotted out, when they backslide from virtue to iniquity, according to Psalm 17:28, Revelation 22:19, and Exodus 32:33." To which I reply, that, as men are not first written in this book when they are converted, since this book was written from the foundation of the world, before men had a being, and consequently before they were converted, so neither may they or can they be blotted out when they backslide; for God not only heals the backsliders of his people, and still loves them freely (Hosea 14:4; Rev. 3:5), but he has promised to him that overcometh,as all his elect do and shall, that he will not blot out his name out of the book of life.Nor do the passages alleged prove that they may or shall be blotted out; not Psalm 69:28, which is a petition concerning wicked men, either that they may die, theft memory perish, never be mentioned with the righteous, nor appearing among them at the last day; or that they might be excluded from the visible church, the congregation of saints, and appear to be what they really were, none of God's elect; and, supposing the book of the living intends the book of election, blotting out of it is no more, as is evident from the text itself, than not writing them in it; nor Revelation 22:19, for taking away the man's part out of the book of life is only taking away that which he seemed to have and not what he really had, agreeable to Luke 8:18. And as for Exodus 32:33, it is not there said, Whoso yet hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of the book of life, as this writer inadvertently cites the words, but out of the book which I have written,that is, either out of the book of the law, according to R. Sol. Jarchi; his name shall not be mentioned there; or, of it this temporal life, he shall die and not live.
4. "This book is said to be written from the foundation of the world, God having Adam and others, who are styled the sons of God; and not to have a name written in it, is not to be owned as God's sons and faithful servants; when therefore St. John saith, that they whose names were not in this book of life writ from the foundation of the world, worshipped the beast;he means they, and they only did so, who never were by God esteemed, or registered in the number of good Christians. But if this book was written from the foundation of the world, it must be written before these sons of God had a being, and before they knew, or were known by others, that they were the sons of God. And if none but such whom God owns and esteems as his sons were written in it, then none but such who are really so, or such who were predestinated to the adoption of sons, are written in it. And if none but these: are written in it, then those whose names are not written in it are such who are passed by and rejected of God, which is what we contend for, and this passage of Scripture is brought to prove.
2ndly "The passage cited from the Thessalonians is said only to concern the Jews, who rejected the gospel of our Lord and their Messiah, confirmed by the strongest evidence of innumerable miracles; and so believed not the truth at all, or else revolted from it after they had embraced it." Though it rather seems to concern the followers of Antichrist, and the worshippers of the man of sin, when he should be revealed, to whom God would send strong delusions, that they should believe a lie, and be damned.But, let it concern who it will, it is certain it respects such persons who would be left of God to their infidelity, and given up to the power of Satan, and to judicial blindness of mind; and are distinguished from the elect of God that should be saved (vv. 13,14).
3rdly "The passages cited from Romans 9, it is said, can do nothing to the purpose; that chapter having no regard to God's absolute decrees, concerning the final and external state of mankind in general, or of any particular persons, but his providential dealings in rejecting the Jews, and receiving the Gentiles." But I hope to make it appear, in a subsequent section, that that chapter is designed to illustrate personal election and reprobation. Nor does the apostle's recapitulation (v. 30), contradict this; since the Jews not attaining to the law of righteousness, was owing to their stumbling at that stumbling-stone to which they were appointed; and the Gentiles attaining to righteousness, was in consequence of their being vessels of mercy, afore prepared to glory; and both to be understood of particular per-reasons. Nor does the apostle's prayer, chapter 1, contradict the decree of reprobation concerning the Jews, or his knowledge of; since this might be the effect of natural affection to them, as his countrymen, and not rise from the exercise of faith and spiritual knowledge.