Chapter 26

Of Arminianism in General, because Mr. Hunt’s Royston friends do at the writing of these papers Justify him from Arminianism in his book, his works having various passages in them against Free-will; as if the whole Work of Arminianism lay there.

It will be needful to premise something briefly in general appertaining to the Remonstrants Arminianism at Dordt, touching the Five Points, from their first grand leader in the Low Countries, Arminius. {Note: Arminius died before the Synod at Dordt began.} These men did openly maintain the Controversies, called the Quinquarticular Points, in the Years 1618 and 1619. After a Synodal Stating and Publishing the matters in Debate with them among the Orthodox, fifteen of the Followers of Arminius remonstrated or pretended to show over again the plausible equity of their Cause, and were from thence called Remonstrants; Episcopius of South-Holland, and Professor of Divinity in the University of Leiden, being their chief speaker; as since Limborch hath been their most strenuous Defender, whose Works keep up the Academical vogue at this Day. The substance of the matter was summed up in Five Articles.

First: The Arminians openly denied the Election of Persons before the Foundation of the world, allowing no Election of persons at all for an Eternal State of blessedness, antecedently to qualifications; or, as they phrase it in their Manifesto, without regard first had to any Obedience or Disobedience according to God’s Good Pleasure. And this all the Fifteen subscribed to as a separate Article.

Secondly: They openly maintained Universal Redemption, or the Redemption of all the individuals of mankind in the world, asserting not only a sufficient Redemption for all and singular, but a Redemption paid down for all and singular, and that none is exempted from it by the Decree of God, or the Death of Christ.

Thirdly: They openly agreed that Man’s Free-will had a Power, by such Common Grace as God had bestowed upon every man, to be saved if he would; the meaning is, that all men now in their fallen state have a power to do all that God requireth of them; and this stock of doings and performances {of what lies in every man’s power to do} they do call at this day the working out of Man’s Salvation.

Fourthly: They openly remonstrated that the Grace of God is never so Prevailing on a man’s heart, without doing violence to the will, but his Free-will may still oppose and frustrate it, if he so pleases.

Fifth: They openly hold the Final Apostasy of the saints, and framed this last Article against the Doctrine of the Final Perseverance of Believers.

These were the Quinquarticular Points which the Arminians remonstrated upon against the others; and the four last they subscribed again with the same number of their names; and the same matters do Arminians, sprinkled up and down everywhere among us in the Reformed Churches, hold at this day.

The Truth is that Arminianism in all its deadly principles is a grand part of the Corruption of man’s nature in all of us, to a man, as we grow up and mature in the way of life; and though even now and then amongst professors of Grace, {oft notionally cultivated and refined,} some would attempt to weed out Arminianism; yet, its dominant roots will prevail and interpose themselves throughout, like chaff amidst wheat, destined to be one day awfully separated. {“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Gal.5:9.} Such cropping off the tops of Arminianism was easier formerly, because the Common opinion of the times in a far greater number of the Reformed Churches favored the suppression of it; but now Human Nature is grown again rampant, and this venomous plant almost Universal, since the weeding’s over. To be sure, as to my own part, till I felt God’s work graciously and most sweetly wrought upon this heart of mine, thereby slaying the enmity, {“because the carnal mind is enmity against God,” Rom.8:7, “that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby,” Eph.2:16,} I found all these points of the Arminians, as naturally growing up with my Pride to stand up on mine own wooden legs, and with the swellings of my heart that then arose against God, as I have found it as easy a thing as to breathe air. This was my old nature; for “can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then, saith the LORD, may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Jer.13:23. Nay, after God had converted me to his Son, I have seen since, upon review, Secret Arminianism, not then discerned by myself, sifted with art and labor into divers of my own Sermons. It is hereupon that the first book I published 13 years ago {“Gospel Feast”} hath had in the Application-part, &c., divers Exceptions of my own, of that nature against it. Besides, most of my Preaching since has been a satisfying and plenteous answer to the errors in that first essay; so that through Renewing Grace and Gospel Light received, I can experience in these matters that to be amiss which all the Arminians experience, and which therein they find not to be amiss. I have experienced at one time or another, what the Arminians experience, only the Arminians cannot experience, while such, {in a state of unregeneracy,} what I have experienced from the Lord. Oh! The Particularity, Efficacy, and Unchangeableness of Grace I have found, since the first Saving work of God the Spirit on my heart! What Power, Life and Communion hath been often felt through God’s Rich and Special Bestowments since! What conveyances in these points have increased unto more Faith and Understanding, through the Riches of his Grace! {“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” “that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Eph.1:7 & 2:7.} When the Holy Ghost speaks of Grace, he means Supernatural Grace, and that Grace is ten thousand times above the Arminians fabricated concept of Common Grace. And as it is in kind, so it is in Operation far above and beyond their Common Grace; for ‘tis Common Grace which they always mean when they talk so much of the Grace of God. Well, I have believed, and therefore have I spoken, II Cor.4:13; and blessed be God, there are thousands in these Nations, {not having to go further,} that have been gifted Grace to experience Supernatural, Effectual, Free, Special and Particular Grace, upon the Foundation of God’s Electing Love, choosing their persons in Christ before the Foundation of the World. {“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Eph.1:4-5.} ‘Tis this same Doctrine in the hands of the Spirit of Grace that hath quickened me to every good word and work, II Thes.2:17; without which Doctrine of Eternal Grace I am nothing, and can do nothing, spiritually good and acceptable, I Tim.2:3, in the Sight of God through Jesus Christ. And this I have testified to the praise of the Glory of God’s Grace, Eph.1:6, against the Flood of Open Arminianism come in upon this poor, perishing nation. Oh! That the Lord would be pleased for his elect’s sake, to pour down his Mighty Spirit, Isa.32:15, from on High upon men of all persuasions, till this unclean spirit is passed out of the Land. “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered; and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.” Zech.13:2.

Now as Sin is Sin and Abomination, wherever ‘tis found, so this luxuriant spreading of Sin and Abomination, called Arminianism, ought to be resisted through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which any of us receive, whether the said Arminianism be a remainder of this corrupt nature in ourselves, and so we ought under the workings of Influential Grace to fight against it at home in our own hearts; or, whether it break forth among the Professors of Godliness in word or writings; and if so, we should be zealously affected, Gal.4:18, in a good matter {for God’s Effectual Grace is not a mere Opinion, but our Life} and should fight against Arminianism; not the party, but the Detestable Error, contending earnestly “for the Faith which was once delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3. Again, the more secretly this Poison and Drug of Arminianism is infused into specious labors, and not commonly discerned under the promising Titles of some books, the more conscientiously should it be laid open by such as God hath delivered from those Snares and Dangerous Obstructions of their Ministry, whilst that veil hung upon their minds. I bless God therefore under the sprinklings of the Blood of Jesus Christ, {“elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through Sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” I Pet.1:2,} that I come to the Examination of this book, called, “Christ the Most Excellent,” in the Arminian points thereof, to lay them open and remove them in some farther animadversions. My way will be to reduce them to some One or Other of the five foregoing articles that make up the Face of Arminianism Open and Unmasked.

Accordingly, I do meet with several matters of this nature that must be reduced to the first, second, third and fourth articles thereof. I must begin with some passages that strike at the Doctrine of Election; passages I say that strike; for I verily believe, the man intended not to strike thereat. Poor man! He might be far from knowing what he did, having read very little in these Controversies. To me it seems not much; certainly, not enough to see that every Man is by Nature an Arminian {learning only makes the natural man a polished man} if the books of the Remonstrants be read, and diligently compared with the rotten book of our hearts. {“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor.2:14.} For if nothing be written upon those fleshly tables of our hearts, II Cor.3:3, but what has been written by so-called Common Grace, I am sure, corrupt nature has made such alterations of that Common Grace, published such strange novel editions of it, and subscribed all with names of mankind, to give this Common Grace an Easy Imprimatur, that I dare not believe, or trust one line of it for Life and Happiness; especially when the fair copy of it in the best morality falls infinitely short of the Glorious Original, the Sovereign and Special Grace of God, in the book of the Generation of Jesus Christ. Matt.1:1. It must now be Secret Arminianism got in among ourselves, which I have to do with; for I do not remember he once useth any expression in the Explicate found that bears at all upon the Election-Point; for, he has not so much as the word “election,” nor “elect,” nor “choosing in Christ,” nor “chosen of God,” or any such Scripture-phrase, that I could discern, in all this book. No, not any such phrase for Electing-Grace or against it in so many words. If therefore I prove nevertheless Arminianism against the article of Election, I must discover it to be of the secret and refined Composition. And then every good man not being able to discern it, some or other might be apt to drink in the belief of it, without knowing of any Poison in the Cup. Besides there are men professing godliness, who may read a book with more love to the man than Understanding of the Matter, and that love a good man better than perhaps they love some of God’s Sacred Truth. It is needful therefore to undeceive the honest, thinking, well-minded man, or woman, let the Reader happen to be either.

Now then to this point reductively; for in opening other matters this way is taken. Men who have expounded the Ten Commandments have always used this reductive liberty in their Expositions. Their method hath been to reduce this and that Sin, this and that Duty, to this or that Commandment; though that Sin hath not been explicitly forbidden in the words of the Negative Precept, nor that Duty explicitly commanded in the words of the Positive Law, and it will be fitting enough {and why should any reject an agreeableness} to take the like liberty of drawing up each passage of the Arminian taint, to its own proper head and article in that mixed scheme of Doctrines dispersed throughout this volume. For it is a book wherein the author has made Truth and Error {to grow fast together} both of one piece. The reason is, because in Arminianism men Sin against every one of the Commandments. They Sin against the First Commandment, when they make a divinity of man’s power to use God’s Grace; they deify the creature’s workmanship into a man’s own original choice of himself for happiness, not allowing God’s Sovereignty and Antecedent Choice, before creature obedience or disobedience; and so contrary to the First Commandment “have other gods before him,” to his very Face.

In Arminianism men Sin against the Second Commandment in bowing down to this supreme Idol of man’s power, which they have carved out of their own imaginations, adorned by reason, reading, disputes, corruptions of a man’s own heart and ways, and then set up, using it as a piece of religious adoration that will help a man to set out for Heaven, and if used well will in due time bring him thither, as if it was the very same thing to go to Heaven, as to go to London or Amsterdam! How men bow down to the Grand Idol, Free-will, whilst they use their utmost natural Powers to bring God over to their sides by exalting the creature in those very things where the Lord alone should be exalted; and where by true Saints the Lord alone is exalted at this Day, according to the Promise, without any regard to Free-will. “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day;” “and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” Isa.2:11,17. “The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” ‘Tis twice mentioned, in that day, when? He tells us, verse 11, when the “lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down;” and verse 18, when the LORD utterly shall abolish all idols. I argue therefore, if it must be thus, when he pulled down Pagan Idolatry, Rev.6:15-17; how much more so, when the LORD is pulling down Anti-Christian and Arminian idolatries, as that which “opposeth and exalteth” itself above all that is called god, or that is worshipped, II Thes.2:4, and such who declare in their hearts that they will {by the exercise of their free-will} “ascend into heaven,” and thus exalt their powers above God, in essence declaring that, “I will be like the Most High,” Isa.14:13-14, and thus opening their mouths “in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his Name, and his Tabernacle, and them that dwell in Heaven,” Rev.13:6; but nevertheless, the LORD “that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh;” as it is the LORD himself that hath them in derision.” Psal.2:4. How abominable is the will of man in his encroachments upon the Christian Religion! How much more should men cease from these, and cease to plead for these idolatries in the hearts and spirits of such as profess his Holy Name? Especially, when after hammering in the shop of men’s hearts and thoughts they are set up in the Pulpits and Congregations? ‘Tis as the prophet says, just as the more gross and stupid idols are laid aside, that mow in a more refined sense, the workman melteth a graven image, Isa.40:19, and forms a god, Isa.44:10, “that is profitable for nothing.” The Preacher in the fire of his zeal to promote the Popular Salvation melts the natural affections, and warms the natural hearts of his auditors with something, which naturally on the spot alters the form of many of their common thoughts, as they resolve to be sober and be drunk no more; they resolve and vow to end within themselves, and in everything to mend their evil ways. By this means of the workman they have a graven image of natural Religion just cast in their hearts by new melting; and this natural image of the Religion of Man, be it moral Reformation {which consists altogether in Natural, Common, Old Testament-acts} or let it be any other religious image of Free-will; for in all natural Religion and natural Acts of the Christian Religion too, every man or woman does that which is right in their own eyes, Prov.21:2, in following their natural and common power of acting; and all the while there’s nothing of this set out for Heaven, nor ever reaches thither, even whilst a man’s hands and eyes in blind Devotion, Notional and Dogmatical Faith are lifted up towards Heaven. Now I say, this image of a man’s natural power, new melted into natural acts of devout conformity and sincere compliance to the shell of the Christian Faith is an image that every man by nature is prone to fall down and worship; to make a god and a Christ of this Grand Idol! To fall down before it, and say unto it in a man’s own heart and principles, deliver me, for thou art my god! {“And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image; he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.” Isa.44:17.} Thou art my Saviour! And there is no other God nor Saviour will help, or come nigh me, till thou, Free-will, and my own good endeavors and prayers begin to set in motion my approaches unto the LORD. Oh! If ever I am saved it must be by this doing and working and striving and endeavoring what in me lies; by doing all I can towards my Salvation, and then there’s no doubt but God will have mercy on me, and my Saviour will love me. Thus I have set forth the very heartbeat of Arminianism, and that which every cunning workman now in the Pulpit aims at, the melting of this graven image, and the working it up into popular and universal reception. Well, the prophet {there in Isaiah 40:19} goes on, and “the workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold,” the University-Doctor goes farther and polishes it, as he comes forth in this Day of Linen/Woolen admixtures, Lev.19:19, and helps Arminianism take root. He sets it out in a pretty dress and with refined language, the modes and manners of the time; and he that won’t polish it with gold-leaf and language, does it by laying on gold out of the wedge, and calling all this same image, “Grace,” for this makes it {the venom of Arminianism} go down easy with others, when the embellishing thereof with their natural marks and signs, are called marks of Grace, signs of an interest in Christ, and the very evidences of Salvation; and then who {of the thoughtful people} would not bow down to this grand idol, when they see it covered over with all this gold, through the cunning artifice of our goldsmiths whereby they lie in wait to deceive, Eph.4:14; and, says the prophet, they “spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.” Some of these Arminian Doctors link all the natural doctrine of morality so plausibly with their own natural interests and the times, that he whose silver-chain can’t reach and secure to himself and his idol, profitable advancement, yet can reach the general applause and compliment, even the good word of mankind. {“And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them; and the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man; and immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” Acts 12:21-23.} Others of these Arminian refiners cast their silver chains in another form, and to other ends. They make new and specious contrivances to keep souls in bondage, and in love with their doubts and fears, under the image-way of refined and natural Religion, that they must not seek to get off; and if they do, then presently they are Libertines. Here now are your workmen that first carved out this image more roughly, and did not set Arminianism out, so to advantage to take with all, farther than the affectionate strains of the Preacher went, in the meltings of the image. And here likewise are your goldsmiths, your working polishers, that both by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, Rom.16:18, and make good earnings of it for their bellies. These also, by the most specious colors of Truth and Appearances of it to the eye, in setting out the fair show in the flesh, Gal.6:12, their marks, signs and evidences of Grace, do chain up the hearers in their silver-fetters, till they have wrought in them a sort of delight in and well pleasedness with their own bondage; so as nothing but God’s own mighty Spirit in the soul can enable these men to discern the cheat, and deliver them from thence, who have been thus in the Arminian fetters hampered. Thus in Arminianism men make a graven image, bow down unto it, and therein break the Second Commandment.

Furthermore, in Arminianism men break the Third Commandment; for, speaking so much of Grace, Grace, and denying the Infallible Appointments of God to give Free Grace, they take the Name of the Lord in vain, Exod.20:7, in professing to believe in the Lord, the Father, and at the same time denying the Operations of the Father in Salvation before the creature’s obedience, when yet the very Operations of the Son and Spirit to carry on that Salvation depend upon the Antecedent Operations of the Father, in the same Matters of Salvation. They also take the Name of the Lord in vain, in professing their belief of Universal Redemption wrought by the Lord, the Son of God, whilst withal they make that Redemption to be universally doubtful to every soul under Heaven, and will not allow it to be absolutely certain to any man on earth, under a pretense of violencing the will of Man; and so rather choose to take the Name of the Lord in vain, every time they call him a Redeemer, than risk to bring the name of their idol-self, free-will, into reproach. Again, they take the Name of the Lord their God, Creator, in vain, whilst they profess to believe Sanctification, the work of God the Spirit, and talk of his Operations in the Grace of God, and yet mean all the while Common Grace, Ineffectual Grace, a spurious notion of grace that the lusts of men shall be too strong for. Grace which hath not a Supreme Power, but a concurring power, an assisting power to sanctify man’s nature; and therein slighting or denying Effectual Grace altogether, they take the Name of the Lord our God in vain. Besides, when they pray for such and such spiritual mercies, they will allow no Efficacy to the LORD to whom they pray to, to work the petitions Supremely they desire of him; and to work the request Effectually in their hearts they put up unto him. If God the Spirit will work under them, after them, or together with them, they’ll own him, but not until then; and so if the Lord works out of their due time, and beside their way, they will have nothing to do with Him. Thus, they do but flatter the LORD with their lips, lie unto him with their tongues, Psal.78:36, and take his Name in vain continuously.

Again, in Arminianism men break the Fourth Commandment, whilst they teach the Doctrine of Non-Perseverance; for their Doctrine of the Non-Perseverance of Divine Grace unto the saints suits with the notion of a non-continuance of the Day of Sacred Rest among them; and so propagates their notion of abrogating the Sabbath with the legal types, and denying us any particular Lord’s Day, {being a textbook similitude of a believer’s rest in Christ; that is, in ceasing from his own works by a vital recognition that the whole of our Salvation resides in Christ.} In Arminianism men break the Fifth Commandment, further than it has any relation to the fathers, &c., of our flesh, for ‘tis plain they honor not God their Creation-Father, who hath entitled himself under this relation to be the Father of spirits, Heb.12:9, in that they will not allow this Father the Glory of his Divine Operations to adopt or beget his own children spiritually, in any antecedency to their own filial duty and obedience; nor will they honor him who, in Isaiah 54:5, is called the Husband-Maker, in allowing him to choose his own spouse antecedently to her own choice of Him. {“For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.” Isa.54:5.}

In Arminianism men break the Sixth Commandment; for, they murder souls in taking away their eternal life from the true Foundation. ‘Tis true, God raises and saves his own elect, even after such soul murder, but this does not excuse them, as they break the Sixth Commandment nevertheless. And whereas, I know they’ll reply, no ‘tis the Doctrine, {say they,} of Reprobation that is the soul-murdering doctrine that denies eternal life to mankind in general. Hence I answer, that’s a thoughtless mistake, for, as men may kill beasts without murder, when they may not kill men in the superior image; so the reprobate, or such as the Lord hath purposed to destroy by leaving them under their Free-will, are not to be considered in the sense of the Holy Scripture, as men, but as beasts, serpents, dogs, swine, though absolutely such, in their kind, are known only to God, not to us. They are all the time “we and they” in this world, as our countrymen, neighbors, kindred, &c., but now, as it is lawful to kill what we know to be beasts, vermin, &c., so ‘tis lawful to hold a Doctrine that will damn what God knows are beasts, serpents, dogs and swine, and save only such whom God foreknew and appointed to be his own children.

Likewise, in Arminianism men break the Seventh Commandment, for, they depart from God’s will alone in Grace, and commit Adultery with the work of their own hands. In Arminianism they likewise break the Eighth Commandment, when they steal from God, and bestow it on the creature, robbing God, to enrich themselves and empower man. They rob God of his Sovereignty; they rob him of the Precedency, or at least of the Antecedency of his Grace to and before any works of nature. They rob him of the Co-equality of Glory belonging to his Person, in depending more upon One Person in God for Salvation than on Another. They rob God of his Glory in the works of application, shutting out the Operations of the Holy Ghost, and introducing a creature-free-will in his room; insisting altogether upon natural acts and withholding that Glory that is due unto God, Psal.29:2, by a non-discriminating of his own Spiritual Operations, before, in, under and beyond all natural acts; to sanctify and elevate them into a new species, or distinct sort of acts, peculiar only to the New-Born. In Arminianism men break the Ninth Commandment, as they bear false witness against God, and say that his Sovereignty is cruelty, and his Particular Mercy, Injustice. They bear false witness against their neighbor, and say that all the Supernatural Religion of God’s children is delusion, cant, enthusiasm, fanaticism, libertinism and damnable doctrines that these hold. Lastly, in Arminianism men break the Tenth Commandment of the Law of God, for they covet to have God’s Prerogative in their own hands; and many of them covet their neighbor’s gifts, their neighbor’s excellencies, their neighbor’s peace upon their own principles. They covet their neighbor’s serenity and Assurance of Salvation in the high-road of nature, and would fain go to Heaven with their backs turned upon it; I don’t say, in the broad way, Matt.7:13, of profaneness which is men’s broad way in the Interpretation, but in the broad way of Religion, going both to Church and Meetings, which is God’s broad way in the text. They covet their neighbor’s Inheritance and Interest in God and Christ when they come to die, without any desires of interest in and participation of their neighbor’s principles, through any special Gift of God unto them.

Thus, I have briefly gone over some account of the State of Arminianism in general, or semi-Pelagianism, that is Pelagius half over, against whom Augustine in his day defended the Grace of God. And I have had mine eye upon Arminianism, as the universal image and drug of Profession, in all the Christian parties of the world, as such, devoid of the Powerful and Healing Principles of the Gospel through the Operation of Father, Son and Spirit. And now having hinted this in general, I must next address myself, under the Lord’s further help, to lay open Mr. John Hunt’s several passages of Arminianism under distinct heads, reducible to the foregoing articles in the Dordrechtan or Dordt-System.