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Reprobation is said to be "contrary both to the nature and will of God"

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by Alan Gross, Nov 13, 2022.

  1. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    Reprobation.

    The Decree of Reprobation is said to be
    "contrary both to the Nature and Will of God,
    to His Perfections, Attributes, and Glory."

    It must be allowed, that the Nature and Will of God,
    and not the nature and fitness of things, as some say,
    are the rule and measures of Divine Conduct.

    God cannot do anything contrary to His nature
    and the perfections of His Nature;

    as for instance: He cannot do anything contrary to His Justice and Holiness,
    for He is without iniquity;

    nor to His Truth and Faithfulness, for He cannot lie;

    nor indeed, to any other perfection of His Nature, for He cannot deny Himself.

    If therefore the Decree of Reprobation
    is contrary to the Nature and Perfections of God,
    it ought to be rejected as against the Will of God
    for the Nature and Will of God never contradict each other;

    and yet it is certain, that Reprobation is according to the Will of God;
    Whom He will, He hardeneth (Rom. 9:18, 22).

    And, what if God, willing to show His wrath, and make His Power known, etc.

    Besides,
    His making or appointing the wicked for the day of evil (Prov. 16:4),
    is for Himself, for His Own Glory,
    as well as His making or appointing all other things:
    so that Reprobation, or appointing the wicked to destruction,
    as it is not contrary to the Will of God,
    so neither to the Perfections of His Nature and the Glory of them.
     
    #1 Alan Gross, Nov 13, 2022
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2022
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  2. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    I. It is observed, that "God doth immutably and unchangeably,
    and from the necessary perfection of his own nature,
    require that we should love, fear, and obey him.

    —That he cannot but be desirous that all men should imitate his moral
    and imitable perfections of holiness, justice, truth, goodness, and mercy,
    all which is agreeable to the light of nature and revelation;

    and therefore he cannot have decreed,
    that the greatest part of men should be forever left under an incapacity of loving,
    and fearing, and obeying him;

    and seeing he must earnestly desire that all men should be holy, righteous,
    kind, and merciful, he cannot have ordained they should be otherwise,
    for want of anything on his part to make them so;

    much less can he command them under the penalty of his severe displeasure,
    so to be, and yet ‘leave them under an incapacity of being so."

    To which I reply:

    1. It will be granted, that God requires all men,
    and it is their indispensable duty, to love him
    with all their heart, soul, and strength, to fear him always,
    and keep his commandments;

    and that he desires that all men should imitate him in his moral perfections;

    all which the heathen sages were, in some measure acquainted
    with by the light of nature;

    and which God has more clearly discovered as his will to his people,
    under the various revelations he has made:
    but then none of these things contradict the decree of reprobation;

    for they only express God’s will of command and show what is man’s duty to do;

    and which, if done, would be grateful and well-pleasing to God,
    and approved of by him, but not his will, determining what shall be done.

    Now could it be proved, that God has willed,
    that is determined that all men should love, fear, and obey him,
    all men would do so;

    for, who hath resisted his will?

    This, indeed, would contradict a decree of reprobation;

    then a decree to reject or punish any part of mankind could never be supposed.

    But for God to require all men to love, fear, and obey him,
    and to signify that these things are approved of by him,
    are no contradictions to any decree of his, to leave some men to themselves,
    to the freedom of their own wills, or to any determination of his,
    to punish them who do not love, fear, and obey him.

    2. It is certain, that all men, in a state of nature, are in an incapacity to love,
    fear, and obey God;

    the carnal mind is so far from loving, that it is enmity against God;

    there is neither any fear of God in the heart or before the eyes of an unregenerate man;

    nor is he subject to the law of God, or obedient to it;

    neither, indeed, can he be, without the grace of God (Rom. 8:7; 3:17).

    Now this incapacity arises from sin, and the corruption of nature;

    and therefore, as it no way lessens men’s obligations to love, fear, and obey God,
    nor weakens his authority to require these things,
    so it is not to be ascribed to the decree of reprobation.

    Could it be thought that such a decree puts men into an incapacity to love,
    fear and obey God;

    it would be apparently contrary to his moral perfections, and unworthy of him.

    But reprobation does not, in any view of it,
    render men incapable of these things;


    for, consider the objects of preterition either as fallen or unfallen creatures;

    if as unfallen, it finds and leaves them so, without putting them in an incapacity,
    or supposing them in an incapacity to love, fear, and obey God;

    and therefore neither finds nor leaves them in such an incapacity;

    if as fallen creatures, it finds them in this incapacity;

    and seeing this is owing to themselves,
    it cannot be contrary to his moral perfections to leave them in it,
    or to determine to leave them in it.


    3. Let it be observed, that it is the grace of God only
    that can remove this incapacity, or make men incapable of loving, fearing,
    and obeying him.


    "We love God, because he first loved us;"
    love is a fruit of the Spirit, and the produce of his grace.

    An heart to fear the Lord, is a part of the new covenant;

    in which covenant God has also promised to put his Spirit within his people,
    to cause them to walk in his statutes, and keep his judgments, and do them
    (1 John 4:19; Gal. 5:22; Jer. 32:39, 40; Ezek. 36:27).

    Now the grace of God is his own, and he may do what he will with it,
    bestow it on whom he pleases, and withhold it from whom he thinks fit,
    without any impeachment of his moral perfections
    ;

    wherefore to leave men without his grace,
    and in incapacity of loving, fearing, and obeying him, and to determine to do so,
    even though he determines and approves of these things,
    cannot be contrary to the perfections of his nature.


    For, 4. It is not to be doubted of, that God
    requires the very devils to love, fear, and obey him;

    they are under obligation to these things,
    and it is their sin that they do not do them
    ;

    and should they be done by them would be approved of by God:
    and yet they are not only in an incapacity to do them,
    but are all of them: and that forever, left in this incapacity.


    Now if it will comport with the moral perfections of God,
    to leave the whole body of apostate angels, for ever,
    in an incapacity of loving, fearing, and obeying him;

    though he requires these things of them,
    and they would be grateful to him if done,
    it cannot be contrary to the perfections of his nature,
    to leave, and to determine to leave, even the greatest part of mankind,
    and that forever, in such an incapacity.


    5. It is a misrepresentation of the decree of Reprobation,
    that God has ordained that men should not be holy, righteous, kind, and merciful,
    for want of anything on his part required to make them so.


    Since, though by this decree God has determined to deny them his grace
    to make them so
    ,
    yet he has not by it ordained that they should be unholy, unrighteous,
    unkind, and unmerciful
    ;

    only has determined to leave them to themselves,
    and the freedom of their own wills
    ,
    which issues in their being so, wherefore their being so,
    is not to be ascribed to the denial of his grace,
    much less to his decree to deny it, but to their own wickedness;


    nor is his command, even under the penalty of his severe displeasure,
    that they be holy, righteous, kind, and merciful,
    inconsistent with his leaving them,
    or his determining to leave them in incapacity of being so;

    since, as has been shown, that incapacity is from themselves.
     
    #2 Alan Gross, Nov 13, 2022
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2022
  3. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    II. The Decree of Reprobation is represented as "contrary to the mercy of God, and as charging him with cruelty and want of compassion to the greatest part of mankind." The mercy of God is either general or special. The general mercy of God reaches to all his creatures; his tender mercies are over all his works (Ps. 114:9). From a share in this, the decree of reprobation does not exclude any man; reprobates may have a larger share of providential mercies and goodness than others; wherefore the decree of reprobation is not contrary to the mercy of God in general. The special mercy of God, as it is guided by the sovereign will of God; for he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth (Rom. 9:18); so it is, indeed, limited to the elect, who are styled vessels of mercy, in distinction from the non-elect, who are called vessels of wrath. This mercy, which lies in pardoning sin, in regenerating men’s hearts, in their final perseverance and complete salvation, the decree of reprobation denies to the objects of it; with such a mercy dispensing these blessings of grace to all men, the decree of reprobation cannot stand, we freely own: but then it does not appear to us that there is any such mercy in God, dispensing, pardoning, regenerating, and persevering grace, to all men, for there are some, that he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favor (Isa. 27:11); could it be proved that there is such a mercy in God, preparing for. And giving the special blessings of grace to all men the decree of reprobation must at once be exploded. But though this decree is opposite to any such mercy in God towards those who are included in it,, yet it is no ways contrary to the mercy of God shown to the elect; wherefore we cannot but conclude, that our doctrine represents God as merciful, yea, more merciful than that which is opposite to it; since, according to our doctrine, God, of his abundant grace and mercy, has determined to give pardoning, regenerating, and persevering grace, to a certain number of men, whereby they shall be infallibly saved, when he denies it to others; whereas, according to the contrary scheme, God has not absolutely chosen one single person to salvation; but his choice proceeds upon their faith, repentance, and perseverance; which also are left to the power and will of man; so that at most, the salvation of every man is precarious and uncertain, nay, I will venture to say, entirely impossible.

    I proceed to consider the particular instances of the cruelty and unmercifulness of the decree of reprobation.

    1. The Supralapsarian scheme is greatly found fault with; and it is asked, What can be supposed more cruelly of God, than that he should, of his mere will and pleasure, appoint men nondum consideratos ut condendos, not yet considered as to be created, much less as sinners, to the everlasting torments of hell?" "I observe, that this learned writer greatly mistakes the Supralapsarian scheme: which considers the objects of election and reprobation as men either already created, but not fallen, or to be created, and in the pure mass of creatureship, but not as men not yet considered, whether they should be created or no. Besides, he confounds, as these men usually do, the decree of negative with positive reprobation, or the decree of preterition with that of damnation; whereas the Supralapsarians, though they think men were not considered as sinners in the act of preterition, or passing by some, when others were chosen; yet they always suppose men to be considered as sinners in the decree of damnation, and that God appointed none but sinners, and no man but for sin, to everlasting torments; and where is the cruelty of this doctrine?
     
  4. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    2. The Sublapsarians are represented as thinking unworthily of God; who, knowing that all the lapsed sons of Adam were equally the objects of his pity and compassion equally capable of his mercy, and equally his off-spring, and so no more unworthy of it than the rest, believe that his decrees of governing and disposing of them are wholly founded on such an absolute will, as no rational or wise man acts by; so that he determines of the everlasting fate of the souls he daily doth create, after the fall of Adam, without respect to any good or evil done by them, and so without respect to any reason why he puts this difference, or any condition on their parts; and yet afterwards, in all his revelations, made in order to the regulating of their lives, suspends their everlasting state upon conditions." I reply, that all the lapsed sons of Adam are equally the offspring of God, as men, and equally capable of his mercy, as being miserable; and equally unworthy of it, as having sinned against him; and therefore the reason why he shows mercy to one, and not to another, can be no other than his sovereign will and pleasure; who hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. But then it is intimated, that "this is to believe, that God’s decrees of governing and disposing of men, (by which I suppose is meant, his decrees of showing mercy to some, and withholding it from others,) are wholly founded on such as absolute will, as no rational or wise man acts by." But it should be observed, that neither the mercy nor the will of God are to be compared with the mercy and wilt of man. The mercy of God is not to be considered, quoad affectum, as an affection moved by the misery of a creature, as it is in man, but quoad affectum, as an effect guided by the sovereign will of God, to whatsoever object he thinks fit; nor is the will of God to be judged of by the will of man, since he does according to his will in heaven and in earth, and is accountable to none of his creatures; there is a ba>qov, a depth in the riches of his wisdom and knowledge, that is unfathomable, his judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out (Dan. 4:35; Job 33:13; Rom. 11:33). Besides, wise and rational men, whose wills are the most absolute, as kings and princes, when their subjects have rebelled against them, and have fallen into their hands, have thought it most advisable to show both their clemency and justice, by pardoning some, and not others, who were equally their subjects, equally objects of their pity and compassion, equally capable of mercy, and no more unworthy of it than the rest; so that such a method in justified by the conduct of the wisest and most rational men. But the most cruel part seems to be thought to lie in "determining the everlasting fate of the souls he daily doth create after the fall of Adam, without respect to any good or evil done by them." By determining the everlasting fate of souls, I apprehend is meant, God appointing them either to salvation or damnation. Now, God’s appointment of men to salvation, that is, to eternal glory, is not without respect to any good firing done by them, but with respect to their faith, repentance, and perseverance: for God chooses to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth; though not with respect to these, as causes of his decree, but as means unto the end, or as graces which he prepares, determines to bestow, and does bestow upon them, in order to bring them to glory: so that their everlasting fate is not determined without respect to any good done by them, nor without any reason on the part of God, though without conditions on their parts. So the determining the everlasting fate of souls, or the appointing of them to damnation, is not without respect to evil done by them: though this is to be considered, not as the cause of God’s decree, which is his own sovereign pleasure, but as the cause or reason of the thing decreed: so that this is not without reason on the part of God, nor without cause on their parts. And hence the entrance of each of these persons upon their everlasting state, so determined, though not the determination of it, is suspended until these several things take place. And where is the injustice or unmercifulness of such a procedure? But, perhaps the cruelty lies here, that "God determines of the everlasting fate of the souls he daily doth create after the fall of Adam;" the meaning of which is, either that God has determined the everlasting fate of souls, and appointed them to damnation after the fall of Adam, which is what we deny; since no decree or determination of God is temporal, but eternal: or that God has appointed men to damnation for the sin of Adam, in consideration of his fall, and their concern in it a doctrine, by no means to be rejected, since death hath passed upon all men: for that, or in him, that s, Adam, all have sinned (Rom. 5:12, 18); and by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; it can never be unworthy of God, or contrary either to his justice or mercy, to determine the everlasting fate of men, considered as fallen in Adam, by resolving to punish some and spare others. Though none, as I know of, affirm, that God has appointed such wire live to riper years, to damnation purely for the sin of Adam, but for their own actual transgressions; and as for such who die in infancy, God’s determinations about them are a secret to us; and if they perish, it is for, and in the corruption of nature in which they are born. Or the meaning is, that "it must be a piece of cruelty in God, daily to create souls after the fall of Adam, whose everlasting fate was before determined, without any respect to good or evil, done by them." Now, though God’s decree or determination concerning the final state of man, was before they had done either good or evil, nor was good or evil the cause of his decree; yet neither salvation nor damnation were decreed without respect to good or evil, as has been shown; and, therefore, it could not be unworthy of God to bring creatures into being, whose everlasting fate he had before determined, no, not after the fall of Adam; since the souls he has since created, and daily does create, are not made sinful by him, nor are they created by him for misery, but for his own glory.
     
  5. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    3. This decree is represented as unworthy of the God of love and mercy, since it "leaves men incapable of salvation; and then God not only bids them save themselves, invites, encourages, sends messengers to entreat them to be reconciled, knowing he doth all this in vain, when he does no more; and then eternally torments them for neglecting that salvation; though he knows they never call do otherwise, without that grace which he hath absolutely purposed for ever to deny to, or withhold from them." I answer: negative reprobation, or the act of preterition, in the Supralapsarian way, neither finds nor leaves men incapable of salvation; but as it finds so it leaves them, in the pure, unfallen, and uncorrupted mass. The decree of damnation finds and leaves men sinners; yet not the decree, but final impenitence and infidelity, leave them incapable of salvation; for the gospel declaration is indefinitely made, Whosoever believeth shall be saved (Mark 16:16): but though the Gospel is preached or published to all men, yet God no where bills all men to save themselves; nor does he anywhere invite, encourage, or, by his messengers, entreat all men to he reconciled to him. Peter, (Acts 2:40), indeed, exhorted and encouraged the three thousand converts to sure themselves from that untoward generation, among whom they lived, by separating from them, and professing the name of Christ: and the apostle Paul entreated (2 Cor. 5:20) the members of the church at Corinth, to be reconciled to God neither of which were ever thought to be placed under any absolute decree of reprobation. And though no man, without the gram of God, can savingly and cordially embrace the Gospel, and that salvation which it publishes; which grace God is not obliged to give, and which he may determine to deny to and withhold from men, without any impeachment of his perfections; yet it is not the denial of his grace, nor his purpose to deny and withhold it, that is the cause of their neglecting and despising the Gospel of salvation, but their own iniquity, for which they are justly punished. Besides, though this is an aggravation of condemnation (John 3:19), that the light of the Gospel, and the good news of salvation by Christ, are come into the world, and men love the darkness of sin, error, and infidelity, rather than these; yet God does not eternally torment them merely for the contempt of the Gospel and their unbelief, but for their many sins and transgressions against his law.

    4. It is observed "that sorely he thinks more worthily of the God of love and mercy, who looks upon him as an universal lover of the souls of men, who therefore would have all men to be saved, and gives them all things necessary unto life and godliness; draws them to him with the cords of a man, the cords of love, and by the most alluring promises, and by the strivings of his holy Spirit; swears to them, that he would not they should perish; warns them of, and conjures them to avoid the things which tend to their eternal ruin; directs them to the means by which they may certainly escape it; rejoiceth more at the conversion of one sinner, that at the righteousness of ninety-nine persons who need no repentance: and when all the methods of his grace are lost upon them, breaks forth into compassionate and melting wishes, that they had known the things which belong to their eternal peace!" But it unhappily falls out for this author, that not one part of this pathetic harangue can be applied to all the individuals of mankind, as it should, to prove that the God of mercy and love is an universal lover of the souls of men, respecting their everlasting salvation. It is not the determining will of God, that every individual of human nature should be saved: for then every one of them would be saved; besides, whom he wills should be saved, he wills that they should come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4): whereas, to multitudes, he does not so much as afford the means of knowledge. Nor does he give to all men all things necessary to life and godliness, only to those whom he calls to glory and virtue, to whom are given exceeding great and precious promises, and who are made partakers, of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3, 4). Nothing is more untrue, than that God draws all men with the cords of love; for as none can come to Christ, and believe in him, but whom the Father draws, so all that he draws in this manner come to him, and are saved by him. The persons he swears he would not that they should perish, or die, but live, were not all mankind, but the house of Israel, and respects not their eternal but temporal ruin; as the compassionate, melting wishes of Christ, regard not the eternal, but temporal peace of Jerusalem. To conclude: where is the mercifulness of this universal scheme, and how unworthy is it of the God of love, that after all the kind things spoken of to men, all the methods of his grace should be lost upon them, be it even through their own wickedness; when it lay in the power of his hands, had it been in his heart, notwithstanding all their wickedness, to have made them effectual?
     
  6. Brightfame52

    Brightfame52 Well-Known Member

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    Reprobation, the Decree of God

    Robert Purnell (1606-1666)

    Reprobation is the wise, just, and absolute decree of God, passing by and leaving some men unto themselves, to suffer them to fall, and to inflict upon them eternal punishment deserved by their sins, for the praise of His unspeakable great justice (Rom 9:11, 13, 22; Jude 4; Jer 6:30).

    The causes of this decree are the absolute will and good pleasure of God (Mat 11:26; Rom 9:13).

    The end of this decree is not the condemnation of the creature, but the manifestation of God’s justice (Rom 9:22). Yet election and reprobation, in a sense, are not the causes of salvation and damnation: Christ is the proper and meritorious cause of salvation; sin [is] the proper and meritorious cause of damnation. Election and reprobation are but precedent43 acts or decrees, and the causes of salvation and damnation come in between the causes and the execution thereof. It is the fore appointment of certain angels and men unto everlasting dishonor: God of His own free will determining to pass them by, refuse, or cast off, and for sin to condemn and punish them with everlasting death (Pro 16:4; Exo 9:16; Rom 9:17; 2Ti 2:20; Mat 25:41).
     
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