Of God’s Eternal Decree.
I. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass:(a) yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,(b) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.(c)
II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions,(d) yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.(e)
III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels(f) are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.(g)
IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.(h)
(h) II Tim. 2:19; John 13:18 .
V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory,(i) out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto:(k) and all to the praise of His glorious grace.(l)
VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, fore-ordained all the means thereunto.(m) Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,(n) are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,(o) and kept by His power through faith, unto salvation.(p) Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.(q)
(m) I Pet. 1:2; Eph. 1:4 , 5; Eph. 2:10 ; II Thess. 2:13.
(n) I Thess. 5:9, 10; Titus 2:14 .
(o) Rom. 8:30 ; Eph. 1:5 ; II Thess. 2:13.
(p) I Pet. 1:5.
(q) John 17:9 ; Rom. 8:28 to the end; John 6:64 , 65; John 10:26 ; John 8:47 ; IJohn 2:19 .
VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath, for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.(r)
VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,(s) that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.(t) So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God,(u) and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.(w)
I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,(a) for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness,(b) in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.(c)
II. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female,(d) with reasonable and immortal souls,(e) endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image;(f) having the law of God written in their hearts,(g) and power to fulfil it:(h) and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.(i) Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God,(k) and had dominion over the creatures.(l)
(d) Gen. 1:27.
(e) Gen. 2:7 with Eccles. 12:7 & Luke 23:43 and Matt. 10:28 .
(f) Gen. 1:26; Col. 3:10 ; Eph. 4:24 .
(g) Rom. 2:14 , 15.
(h) Eccles. 7:29.
(i) Gen. 3:6; Eccles. 7:29.
(k) Gen. 2:17; Gen. 3:8, 9, 10, 11, 23.
(l) Gen. 1:26, 28.
I. God the great Creator of all things doth uphold,(a) direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things,(b) from the greatest even to the least,(c) by His most wise and holy providence,(d) according to His infallible fore-knowledge,(e) and the free and immutable counsel of His own will,(f) to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.(g)
(a) Heb. 1:3 .
(b) Dan. 4:34 , 35; Ps. 135:6; Acts 17:25 , 26, 28; Job 38 to 41 chapters.
(c) Matt. 10:29 , 30, 31.
(d) Prov. 15:3 ; Ps. 104:24; Ps. 145:17.
(e) Acts 15:18 ; Ps. 94:8, 9, 10, 11.
(f) Eph. 1:11 ; Ps. 33:10, 11.
(g) Isa. 63:14 ; Eph. 3:10 ; Rom. 9:17 ; Gen. 45:7; Ps. 145:7.
II. Although, in relation to the fore-knowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly:(h) yet, by the same providence, He ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.(i)
III. God in His ordinary providence maketh use of means,(k) yet is free to work without,(l) above,(m) and against them at His pleasure.(n)
IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men;(o) and that not by a bare permission,(p) but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding,(q) and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends;(r) yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is, nor can be, the author or approver of sin.(s)
(o) Rom. 11:32 , 33, 34; II Sam. 24:1 with I Chron. 21:1; I Kings 22:22, 23; I Chron. 10:4, 13, 14; II Sam. 16:10; Acts 2:23 ; Acts 4:27 , 28.
(p) Acts 14:16 .
(q) Ps. 76:10; II Kings 19:28.
(r) Gen. 50:20; Isa. 10:6 , 7, 12.
(s) James 1:13 , 14, 17; I John 2:16 ; Ps. 50:21.
V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption, and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled;(t) and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.(u)
VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden,(w) from them He not only withholdeth His grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts;(x) but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had,(y) and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasions of sin;(z) and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan:(a) whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.(b)
(w) Rom. 1:24 , 26, 28; Rom. 11:7 , 8.
(x) Deut. 29:4 .
(y) Matt. 13:12 ; Matt. 25:29 .
(z) Deut. 2:30 ; II Kings 8:12, 13.
(a) Ps. 81:11, 12; II Thess. 2:10, 11, 12.
(b) Exod. 7:3 with Exod. 8:15 , 32; II Cor. 2:15, 16; Isa. 8:14 ; I Pet. 2:7, 8; Isa. 6:9, 10 with Acts 28:26 , 27.
VII. As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a most special manner, it taketh care of His Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.(c)
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof.
I. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit.(a) This their sin God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.(b)
(a) Gen. 3:13; II Cor. 11:3.
(b) Rom. 11:32 .
II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God,(c) and so became dead in sin,(d) and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.(e)
III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed,(f) and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.(g)
IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good,(h) and wholly inclined to all evil,(i) do proceed all actual transgressions.(k)
V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated;(l) and although it be, through Christ, pardoned and mortified, yet both itself and all the motions thereof are truly and properly sin.(m)
VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto,(n) doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner;(o) whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God,(p) and curse of the law,(q) and so made subject to death,(r) with all miseries spiritual,(s) temporal,(t) and eternal.(u)