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them to resist. For it were absurd to say, that
Thus both the mercy and justice of God are established, and the will and strength of man are brought down and rejected; his condemnation is made to be of himself, and his falvation only to depend upon God. Also by these positions two great objections, which often are brought against
this doctrine, are well solved. Object,
The first is deduced from those places of scripture, wherein God seems precisely to have decreed and predestinated some to salvation; and for that end, to have ordained certain means, which fall not out to others; as in the calling of Abraham, David, and others, and in the conversion of Paul; for these being numbered among such to whom this prevalency is given, the objection is easily loosed.
The second is drawn from those places, wherein God seems to have ordained some wicked persons
to destruction; and therefore to have obdured their Predeftinahearts to force them unto great sins, and to have time to hold raised them up, that he might shew in them his pre-ordinapower, who, if they be numbered amongst those tion to de men whose day of visitation is passed over, that answered. objection is also folved; as will more evidently appear to any one that will make a particular application of those things, which I at this time, for brevity's sake, thought meet to pass over.
§. XIX. Having thus clearly and evidently stated the question, and opened our mind and judgment in this matter, as divers objections are hereby prevented, so will it make our proof both the easier and the shorter.
The first thing to be proved is, That God hath Prop. I. given to every man a day or time of visitation, where- Proved. in it is possible for bim to be saved. If we can prove that there is a day and time given, in which those might have been saved that actually perish, the matter is done: for none deny but those that are saved have a day of visitation. This then appears by Proof I. the regrets and complaints which the Spirit of God throughout the whole scriptures makes, even to those that did perish ; sharply reproving them, those that for that they did not accept of, nor close with God's perilh had visitation and offer of mercy to them. Thus the mercy of Lord expresses himself then first of all to Cain, fered them. Gen. iv. 6, 7. And the Lord said unto Cain, W by Instances, art thou wroth ? and why is thy countenance fallen? 1. Cain. If thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted? If thou doft not well, fin lieth at the door. This was said to Cain before he New his brother Abel, when the evil seed began to tempt him, and work in his heart; we see how God gave warning to Cain in feason, and in the day of his visitation towards him, acceptance and remiffion if he did well ; for this interrogation, Shalt thou not be accepted ? imports an affirmative, Thou shalt be accepted, if thou doft well. So that if we may trust God Almighty, the
fountain of all truth and equicy, it was possible in a day, even for Cain to be accepted. Neither could God have proposed the doing of good as a condition, if he had not given Cain sufficient strength, whereby he was capable to do good.
This the Lord himself also shews, even that he 2. The old gave a day of visitation to the old world, Gen. vi. 3.
And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive in man; for so it ought to be translated. This manifestly implies, that his Spirit did strive with man, and doth strive with him for a season; which season expiring, God ceaseth to strive with him, in order to save him : for the Spirit of God cannot be said to strive with man after the day of his visitation is expired; seeing it naturally, and without any resistance, works its effect then, to wit, continually to judge and condemn him. From
this day of visitation, that God hath given to every God is long- one; is it that he is said to wait to be gracious, fuffering, Ifa. xxx. 18. and to be long-suffering, Exod. xxxiv.
6. Numb. xiv. 18. Pfal. lxxxvi. 15. Jer. xv. 15. waiting to be gracious Here the prophet Jeremy, in his prayer, lays hold
upon the long-suffering of God; and in his expoftulating with God, he shuts out the objection of our adversaries in the 18th verse; Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? Wilt' tbou altogether be unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? Whereas, according to our adversaries opinion, the pain of the most part of men is perpetual, and their wound altogether incurable ; yea, the offer of the gospel, and of salvation unto them, is as a lie, and as waters that fail, being never intended to be of any effect unto them. The apoitle Peter fays exprelly, that this long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah for those of the old world, 1 Pet. iii. 20. which, being compared with that of Gen. vi. . 3. before-mentioned, doth sufficiently hold forth our propofition. And that none may object that this
- long-suffering or ftriving of the Lord was not in order - In order
to save them, the saine apostle saith expresy, 2 Pet. to save iii. 15. That the long-suffering of God is to be accounted salvation; and with this long-suffering, a little before in the gth verse, he couples, That God is not willing that any should perish. Where, taking him to be his own interpreter (as he is most fit) he holdeth forth, That those to whom the Lord is longsuffering, (which he declareth he was to the wicked of the old world, and is now to all, not willing that any foould perijb) they are to account this longsuffering of God to them salvation. Now how or in what respect can they account it falvation, if there be not so much as a possibility of salvation conveyed to them therein ? For it were not salvation to them, if they could not be saved by it. In this matter Peter further refers to the writings of Paul, holding forth this to have been the universal doctrine. Where it is observable what he adds upon this occasion, how there are some things in Paul's epiftles Somethings bard to be understood, which the unstable and un
epistles hard learned wrest to their own destruction ; insinuating to be underplainly this of those expressions in Paul's epistles, ftood. as Rom. ix. &c. which fome, unlearned in fpiritual things, did make to contradict the truth of God's long-suffering towards all, in which he willeth not any of them should perish, and in which they all may be saved. Would to God many had taken more heed than they have done to this advertisement! That place of the apostle Paul, which Peter feems here most particularly to hint at, doth much contribute also to clear the matter, Rom. ii. 4. DeSpiseft thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee. to repentance ? Paul speaketh here to the unregenerate, and to the wicked, who (in the following verfe he faith). Treasure up wrath unto the day of wrath; and to such he commends the riches of the forbearance and long-suffering of God;
Thewing that the tendency of God's goodness leadeth to repentance. How could it necessarily tend to lead them to repentance, how could it be called riches or goodness to them, if there were not a time wherein they might repent by it, and come to be sharers of the riches exhibited in it? From all
which I thus argue. Arg. If God plead with the wicked, from the possibiGod's Spirit lity of their being accepted; if God's Spirit strive the wicked. in them for a season, in order to save them, who
afterwards perilh ; if he wait to be gracious unto them; if he be long-suffering towards them; and if this long-suffering be salvation to them while it endureth, during which time God willeth them not to perish, but exhibiteth to them the riches of his goodness and forbearance to lead them to repentance, then there is a day of visitation wherein such might have been, or some such now may be saved, who have perished; and may perish, if they repent not:
But the first is true; therefore also the last. Pr. II.
§. XX. Secondly, This appeareth from the pro
phet Isaiah, v.4. What could I have done more to my The vine. vineyard? For in verse 2. he saith; He bad fenced yard planted it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it forth wilch with the choicest vine ; and yet (faith he) when I look
ed it should have brought forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes. Wherefore he calleth the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, to judge betwixt him and his vineyard, saying; What could I bave done more to my vineyard, than I have done in it? and yet (as is said) it brought forth wild grapes: which was applied to many in Israel who refused God's mercy. The same example is used by Christ, Mat. xxi. 33. Mark xii. 1. Luke xx. 9. where Jesus shews, how to some a vineyard was planted, and all things given necessary for them, to get them fruit to pay or restore to their master; and how the master many times waited to be merciful to them,