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FIVE TREATISES, NAMELY, 1. THE OLD MAN AND THE NEW. 2. THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT. 3. DEFENSE OF ELECTION. 4. AGAINST THE FEAR OF DEATH. 5. THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS.
A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE OLD MAN AND THE NEW, ALSO BETWEEN THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL; CONTAINING A SHORT SUM OF ALL THE DIVINITY NECESSARY FOR A CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE.
AMAN that is regenerate and “born of God,” (the which thing , that every one of us be, our baptism, the sacrament of “regeneration,” doth require under pain of damnation; and therefore let every one of us with the virgin Mary say, “Be it unto me, O Lord, according to thy word,” according to thy sacrament of baptism, wherein thou hast declared our adoption; and let us lament the doubting hereof in us, striving against it as we shall be made able in the Lord;) a man, I say, that is regenerate, consisteth of two men (as a man may say), namely of “the old man,” and of “the new man.” “The old man” is like to a mighty giant, such a one as was Goliath; for his birth is now perfect. But “the new man” is like unto a little child, such a one as was David; for his birth is not perfect until the day of his general resurrection. “The old man” therefore is more stronger, lusty, and stirring than is “the new man,” because the birth of “the new man” is but begun now, and “the old man” is perfectly born. And as “the old man” is more stirring, lusty, and stronger than “the new man;” so is the nature of him clean contrary to the nature of “the new man,” as being earthly and corrupt with Satan’s seed; the nature of “the new man” being heavenly, and blessed with the celestial seed of God. So that one man, inasmuch as he is corrupt with the seed of the serpent, is an “old man;” and inasmuch as he is blessed with the seed of God from above, he is a “new man.” And as, inasmuch as he is an “old man,” he is a sinner and an enemy to God; so, inasmuch as he is regenerate, he is righteous and holy and a friend to God, the seed of God preserving him from sin, so that he cannot sin as the seed of the serpent, wherewith he is corrupt even from his conception, inclineth him, yea, enforceth him to sin, and nothing else but to sin: so that the best part in man tofore regeneration, in God’s sight, is not only an enemy, but “enmity” itself.
One man therefore which is regenerate well may be called always just, and always sinful: just in respect of God’s seed and his regeneration; sinful in respect of Satan’s seed and his first birth. Betwixt these two men therefore there is continual conflict and war most deadly; “the flesh and the old man” fighting against “the Spirit and new man,” and “the Spirit and new man” fighting against “the flesh and old man.” Which “old man” by reason of his birth that is perfect doth often for a time prevail against “the new man,” being but as a child in comparison; and that in such sort as not only others, but even the children of God themselves, think that they be nothing else but “old,” and that the Spirit and seed of God is lost and gone away: where yet notwithstanding the truth is otherwise, the Spirit and seed of God at the length appearing again, and dispelling away the clouds which cover “the Sun” of God’s seed from shining, as the clouds in the air do the corporal sun; so that sometime a man cannot tell by any sense that there is any sun, cloud and wind so hiding it from our sight: even so our caecity or blindness and corrupt affections do often shadow the sight of God’s seed in God’s children, as though they were plain reprobates.
Whereof it cometh, that they praying according to their sense, but not according to the truth, desire of God to give them again his Spirit, as though they had lost it, and he had taken it away. Which thing God never doth in deed, although he make us to think so for a time; for always he holdeth his hand under his children in their falls, that they lie not still as other do which are not regenerate. And this is the difference betwixt God’s children which are regenerate and elect before all time in Christ, and the wicked castaways, that the elect lie not still continually in their sin as do the wicked, but at the length do return again by reason of God’s seed, which is in them hid as a sparkle of fire in the ashes; as we may see in Peter, David, Paul, Mary Magdalene, and others.
This our Inheritor and “Husband” Christ Jesus, God with God, ‘Light of Light,’ co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father and with the Holy Ghost, to the end that he might become our “Husband” (because the husband and the wife must become “one body and flesh”), hath taken our nature upon him, communicating with it and by it in his own person, to us all his children, his “divine majesty,” as Peter saith; and so is become “flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones” substantially, as we are become “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones” spiritually; all that ever we have pertaining to him, yea, even our sins, as all that ever he hath pertaineth unto us, even his whole glory. So that if Satan shall summon us to answer for our debts or sins, in that the wife is no suitable person, but the husband, we may well bid him enter his action against our “Husband” Christ, and he will make him a sufficient answer.
For this end (I mean that we might be coupled and married thus to Christ, and so be certain of salvation, and at godly peace with God in our consciences,) God hath given his holy word, which hath two parts, as now the children of God consisteth of two men; one part of God’s word being proper to “the old man,” and the other part of God’s word being proper to “the new man.” The part properly pertaining to “the old man” is the law: the part properly pertaining to “the new man” is the gospel.
The law is a doctrine which commandeth and forbiddeth, requiring doing and avoiding: under it therefore are contained all precepts, inhibitions, threats, promises upon conditions of our doing and avoiding, etc. The gospel is a doctrine which always offereth and giveth, requiring nothing on our behalf as of worthiness or as a cause, but as a certificate unto us: and therefore under it are contained all the free and sweet promises of God, as “I am the Lord thy God,” etc.
In those that be of years of discretion it requireth “faith,” not as a cause, but as an instrument whereby we ourselves may be certain of our good “Husband” Christ and of his glory: and therefore, when the conscience feeleth itself disquieted for fear of God’s judgments against sin, she may in nowise look upon the doctrine pertaining to “the old man,” but to the doctrine only that pertaineth to “the new man;” in it not looking on that which it requireth, that is “faith,” because we never believe as we should; but only on it which it offereth, which it giveth, that is, on God’s grace and eternal mercy and peace in Christ Jesu.
So shall she be in quiet, when she looketh for it altogether out of herself in God’s mercy in Christ Jesu; in whose lap if she lay her head with John, then is she happy, and shall find quietness indeed. When she feeleth herself quiet, then a God’s name let her look on the law, and upon such things as God requireth, thereby to bridle and keep down the old Adam, to slay that Goliath; from whom she must needs keep the sweet promises, being the bed wherein her sweet spouse Christ and she meet and lie together. As the wife will keep her bed only for her husband, although in other things she is contented to have fellowship with her servants and others, as to speak, sit, eat, drink, go, etc.; so our consciences, which are Christ’s wives, must needs keep the bed, that is, God’s sweet promises, alonely for ourselves and for our “Husband,” there to meet together, to embrace together, to laugh together, and to be joyful together. If sin, the law, the devil, or anything, would creep into the bed, and lie there, then complain to thy “Husband” Christ, and forthwith thou shalt see him play Phineas’ part.
THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT. FB67 A DECLARATION HOW THESE WORDS ‘FLESH’ AND ‘SPIRIT’ ARE TO BE UNDERSTAND IN THE SCRIPTURES.
FOR your better understanding of the scriptures, especially of the new Testament; for the forearming you against errors, which, through the ignorance or diverse acception and taking of terms or words used and written of the holy apostles, might happen; and for your consolation in the conflicts you are cumbered with in this present life; I am purposed, my dearly beloved, to write unto you some things (as God shall lend me his grace, the which I ask for his Christ’s sake now and forever) hereabout.
In reading the scriptures, and especially Paul’s epistles, we very often do see these words, “flesh” and “spirit.” When therefore this word “flesh” is set against “the spirit” by the way of contrary, as Galatians 5 and almost everywhere, then must we know that it comprehendeth all and every of the natural powers, gifts, and qualities of man: yea, it comprehendeth all that ever is in man, whatsoever it be, (the “sanctification of the Spirit,” which none have but the elect and justified, only excepted:) like as this word “spirit,” when it is opposed or set against as a contrary to the “flesh,” doth signify that which in man the Holy Ghost hath purged from evil and sanctified to righteousness. The which word sometime Paul calleth “the mind,” sometime “the inward man,” sometime “the new man,” and sometime “a new creature;” as the word “flesh,” taken as before I have said, is sometime called “the old man,” sometime “the outward man,” sometime “the body.” All which words do appertain, as to the soul so to the body; that look inasmuch as it (the soul, I mean) is regenerate, it is called “the spirit,” “the mind,” “the new man,” “the inward man,” “a new creature;” inasmuch as it retaineth the natural affections of man, it is called “flesh,” “the old man,” “the outward man,” “the body.” So that you may see in these terms and in every of them is comprehended whole man, both soul and body, to be considered either according to regeneration and to the sanctifying of God’s Spirit, or else according to all that ever he is or hath by nature or otherwise, by any means, inwardly or outwardly.
Whilst we live here, there is a fight and strife in us which are the elect and “children of God;” “the flesh,” outward man, body, and “old man,” striving against “the spirit,” inward man, “new man,” and “new creature:” that is, so much as we are regenerate and endued with God’s Spirit, we do strive and fight against all the powers of our souls and bodies; retaining the natural and corrupt affections we have in us, and shall have so long as we live, to bring them as much as may be into obedience to the Spirit; at the least to bridle them, that they bear not dominion or rule in us.
This battle and strife none have but the elect “children of God:” and they that have it are the elect “children of God” “in Christ before the beginning of the world,” whose salvation is as certain and sure as is God himself; for they are given to Christ, a faithful Shepherd, who hath so prayed for them lest they should perish, that we know his prayer is heard: yea, he promiseth so to keep them that “they shall not perish.” And therefore they ought to rejoice, and herethrough to comfort themselves in their conflicts, which are testimonials, and most true, that they are the elect and dear “children of God;” for else they could not nor should not feel any such strife in them.
But perchance you will say, that the wicked have strife also in themselves, and oft are grieved with themselves because they have done such a sin; and therefore this is no such certain demonstration of election.
To this I answer, that indeed the wicked and reprobate have sometimes, as you say, strifes and conflicts; as in Saul we may see it against David, and in Antiochus. But this strife in them is not a strife or battle betwixt “the spirit and the flesh;” as you shall see if you mark the differences to discern these battles, which now I will give unto you.
When man is displeased with himself for anything done amiss, and striveth thereagainst, in respect that the fault displeaseth God his Father and Lord, in respect of Christ, etc., then is the same strife the strife of a good man, of one elected and that is the dear child of God: and the same man so displeased with himself may assure himself that he hath the “good Spirit” of God, which hath wrought in him that affection. Let him therefore call to God and cry, ‘Abba, dear Father,’ and ask grace and mercy, which assuredly he shall find.
But when one is displeased with himself, and striveth to amend any fault, in respect of civil honesty, of men, shame, beauty, bodily health, profit, hurt, friendship, etc., and not in respect of God’s displeasure and favor; then is the same sorrow after the world, and not after God; then is the same strife or battle a battle between the flesh and the flesh, and not between “the spirit and the flesh.” Such battles have the wicked, as Saul had, in respect of worldly honesty, shame, civil justice, etc. The wicked have not God’s Spirit of sanctification and regeneration to sanctify and regenerate them, though they have it concerning other gifts: and therefore they want the affections of the holy elect “children of God” and regenerated, although they have other affections by the which they are not discerned from the ungodly, or taken for holy in God’s sight.
I pray you, my dearly beloved, to weigh this that I have written: and then, besides that you shall have some candlelight to keep you out of the errors of them which do attribute perfection to some works done by men, and make “flesh and blood” the outward man, “the old man” but only this our body, and not the soul and the powers and affections thereof, so much as it laboreth and lusteth against God’s Spirit and the powers and affections stirred up in man by him; besides this, I say, you shall see that the doctrine of election is not a casting of the bridle in the horse’s neck, or an overstrait curbing of the horse; that is, neither occasioneth licentiousness nor despair, but provoketh to battle against sin; and that not hypocritically, but in God’s sight and for God’s sake, (for they feel not their election that so fight not;) but it comforteth also in the cross and battle most comfortably, with comforts that never can be taken away: for what a comfort is it to see my sorrow and fight to be a demonstration of mine election! Wherein is true rejoicing, as Christ said, “Rejoice in this, that your names are written in the book of life.”
If any man would alter the natural course of any water to run a contrary way, he shall never be able to do it with dams: for a time he may well stop it; but when the dam is full, it will either burst down the dam or overflow it, and so with more rage run than ever it did before. I will not speak of the often weesing out, mauger all the diligence that can be. Therefore the alteration must be from the head, by making other thoroughs \fb70\ and devices. Even so, if any man would have the streams of his nature and will altered, to run after the will and nature of God, the same shall never be able to do it, nor all the world for him, by making of dams; that is, by telling and teaching us by the creatures, works, and word of God, how that we should do, speak, and think otherwise than we do naturally. For a time the streams of our affections may be stopped by telling and teaching, and other corporal exercise; howbeit so yet that they will weesel out now and then, and at length break down all our dams and devices, or else so overflow them that “the latter end will be worse than the beginning.”
But who can do this? The spring itself? Nay, God him[self,] and that alonely and alone, which worketh this in whom, when, and howsoever, it pleaseth him for his own good will’s sake. And they in whom he worketh this are his elect children “before the beginning of the world;” who may and should feel their election by loving the good and hating that which is evil, although in great imperfection: whereas the hypocrites have a thousand parts more shew of holiness, but in deed less love to God and hatred to evil, yea, in deed none at all as it is in God’s sight.
Wherefore let us pray for the daily increase of “regeneration,” which is nothing else but the alteration of our natural streams, that, as from Adam we have received them running naturally contrary to his will, so we may receive from Christ, the second Adam, his “good Spirit” to draw, deduce, and lead us in all things after the throughs and ways of his good will: which he grant to us for his mercy’s sake! For, my dearly beloved, man of himself, tofore his “regeneration,” is so far from helping himself hereunto of himself and of all that ever he hath by his birth, that not only he bringeth nothing hereunto, as he bringeth nothing at all to his first birth; but also he bringeth that letteth and is adversary against this good work: which God work daily in us and in all his children more and more, to our full certainty of his salvation, and joy everlasting, through Christ our Lord! Amen. JOHN BRADFORD. [The ‘Defense of Election’ observes throughout, except where otherwise noted, the text of a MS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, all the parts of which are now first brought together in one publication, and small portions of which have not hitherto been printed; namely the three lines of inscription to Mistress Joyce Hales at p. 307 in the beginning, twenty-three lines at p. 309 in the Dedication, and the numerous marginal notes of Part 2 p. — 30.
The title of that MS. is as follows: ‘A treatise of predestination with an answer to certain enormities calumniously gathered of one to slander God’s truth; by John Bradford. — Romans 11. “Israel hath not obtained that he sought, but the elected have obtained it. The remnant axe blinded, as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of unquietness, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, even unto this day.”’ Part 1 of the ‘Defense,’ p. 310 — 18, was printed (without the Dedication or Part 2) among the ‘Godly Meditations’ of Bradford, Hall 1562, signature O3 to P3; and reappeared in the after editions of that collection, 1578, 1604, 1607, 1614, 1622, and 1633; and in the ‘Fathers of the English Church’ 1810, 6 p. 373 — 83.
The chief portion of the Dedication, p. 307 — 10, was given with Part l in Bishop Coverdale, (Letters of the martyrs 1564, p. 391 — 401 ;) which were republished in the ‘British Reformers,’ Bradford, 1829, p. 331 — 40, and in the Life of Bradford by Stevens, 1832, p. 80 — 9.
Part 2 p. 318 — 30, was first printed when edited by the late Archbishop Laurence with Part 1 (but without the Dedication), in ‘Authentic Documents,’ etc. on Predestination, Oxford 1819; both parts being taken from the Bodley MS.
The ‘Defense of Election’ here published is, in all probability, the document to which Bradford makes the following reference in a letter addressed to Archbishop Cranmer, Bishop Ridley, and Bishop Latimer, which was signed by Bishop Ferrar, Rowland Taylor, Bradford, and Archdeacon Philpot, and appears from internal evidence to have been written about January 18, 1555: “Herewithal I send unto you a little Treatise which I have made, that you might peruse the same, and not only you but also ye my other most dear and reverend fathers in the Lord for ever, to give to it your approbation as ye may think good. All the prisoners hereabouts in manner have seen it and read it: and as therein they agree with me, nay, rather with the truth, so they are ready and will be to signify it as they shall see you give them example... I have sent you here a writing of Harry Hart’s own hand, whereby ye may see how Christ’s glory and grace is like to lose much light, if that your sheep quondam be not something helped by them which love God, and are able to prove that all good is to be attributed only and wholly to God’s grace and mercy ‘in Christ,’ without other respect of worthiness than Christ’s merits. The effects of salvation they so mingle with the cause, that, if it be not seen to, more hurt will come by them than ever came by the papists; inasmuch as their life commendeth them to the world more than the papists’. God is my witness, that I write not this but because I would God’s glory and the good of his people. In free-will they are plain papists, yea, Pelagians: and ye know that modicum fermenti totam massam corrumpit. They utterly contemn all learning. But hereof shall this bringer [Augustin Bernhere] show you more.” Further information will be obtained from the various letters of Bradford referring to the subject, which will appear in the concluding volume of his Writings; from the letters of Bishop Ridley, Works, Parker Soc. p. 367 — 8, and 379, and suppl. p. — 42; and from the publications and documents referred to below. The ‘Defence of election’ can be compared with the treatise on ‘election and free-will’ and ‘brief sum of election,’ p. 211 — above. See also note G.] DEFENSE OF ELECTION. FB78 [DEDICATION.] To his entirely beloved sister in the Lord, Joyce Hales, John Bradford wisheth “grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father” through our Savior and Mediator, Jesus Christ.
Faith of God’s election (I mean, to believe that we be in very deed “the children of God” through Christ, and shall be forever inheritors of everlasting life through the only grace of God our Father in the same Christ) is of all things which God requireth of us, not only most principal, but also the whole sum: so that “without this faith” there is nothing we do that can “please God.” And therefore, as God first requireth it in saying, “I am the Lord thy God,” etc. that is, ‘I remit thee thy sins, I give thee my holy Spirit, and forever will I keep thee;’ so our Savior would have us to be persuaded when we come to pray, and therefore teacheth, yea, he commandeth us, to call God “our Father:” whose power were not infinite, as we profess in the first article of our belief, when we call him expressly our ‘Almighty Father,’ if we should doubt of his final favor.
And therefore I cannot but much marvel at some men which seem godly, and yet are in this behalf too malicious both to God and man. For what is more seemly to God than mercy? which is most magnified of the elected children of God. And what is more seemly to man than humility? the which is not nor cannot be indeed but in “the elect of God;” for they alone attribute nothing at all to themselves continually but damnation, that in God only and forever may be their whole glory.
But this notwithstanding, there is that have gone about to gather, yea, to set abroad, ‘enormities’ out of the doctrine of God’s most holy and comfortable election and predestination; where the same doctrine hath more commodities than all the whole world can be able to conceive, much less to express. For what destroyeth enormities so much as it doth? It overthroweth the most pestilent papistical poison of doubting of God’s favor, which is the very dungeon of despair and of the contempt of God. It destroyeth the ethnic opinion of fortune. It comforteth most comfortably in the cross, and casteth down all cogitations that would else cover us with sorrow and dolor, in telling that “all things” shall turn to the best. It maketh us modest and putteth away pride in prosperity, by pulling from men meriting or deserving. It enforceth men to love and carefully to travail for their brethren, utterly impugning the contempt of any. It provoketh to piety, and is the greatest enemy to ungodliness that can be, by teaching us of what dignity we be, of what price even our bodies, “temples of the Holy Ghost,” “members of Christ.” It engendereth a true desire of our home in heaven, and so to despise this world, and the things this world hath in estimation. It maketh man wholly and continually to give over himself to be careful, not for himself, but for his brethren and for those things that make to God’s glory. It helpeth very much to the true understanding of the scriptures, and preserveth from errors, by knowing what is to be attributed to the law, the gospel, to the ministry, to the vocal word, to the old testament, to the new covenant, to the sacraments, to faith, to works, to prayer, to penance, to God, to man, etc.; for by the Spirit of election we see and know “Christ, in whom dwelleth all the riches or treasures of knowledge.” It setteth up Christ’s kingdom, and utterly overthroweth the wisdom, power, ableness, and choice of man, that all glory may be given only unto God.
But what go I about to recount the commodities coming out of the doctrine of God’s election, in that they be innumerable? This is a sum, that, where a christian man’s life hath respect to God, to man, and to himself, to “live godly, justly, and soberly,” all is grounded in predestination in Christ.
For who liveth “godly,” but he that believeth? and who believeth but such as are “ordained to eternal life?” Who liveth “justly,” but such as love their neighbors? and whence springeth this love, but of God’s election “before the beginning of the world, that we might be blameless by love?” Who liveth “soberly” but such as be holy? and who are they but only those that be endued with the Spirit of sanctification? which is the “seal” of our election, which by election do believe.
Therefore, as I said, I much marvel to see any man so blinded as one is especially, which is not ashamed to put forth in writing such horrible ‘enormities’ as he maliciously gathereth to proceed out of the doctrine of predestination: as you, my good sister, in this book following shall perceive and see immediately after the true doctrine of election, which I briefly first set forth, and then do particularly answer every part worthy the answering; not leaving out one tittle of every word as he hath put it abroad, so far as the bill that was sent to me from him, I think; for it was subscribed with his name, and the superscription was to me by name as truly written. If I shall seem to you in answering him more sharp than my wont is, you must consider the weightiness of the matter and the horrible slandering of the same cannot but require much more sharp writing than I have written.
Now because I know you are like hereafter to have something to do with some hereabouts in this thing, because by your means I was first brought in talk or debating of this matter; in that I am thus drawn to wade in it, I thought good even to dedicate this, which I have done herein, unto you, as well to be a help to you in this matter, joining to it the explications of the places, (which places and the explications I have sent to you at divers times,) as also to be a pledge of my careful love and hearty desire I have for your continuance in the truth: wherein I trust you stand presently when I shall be dead and burned; as I look for none other so soon as God shall give leave to his enemies for my weal and endless joy in Christ. To whom, as to a most faithful Pastor, I from the bottom of my very heart do commend and bequeath you, my most dearly beloved in the Lord, beseeching him to watch over you both night and day, as over one of his poor lambs, to keep you out of the claws of the lion and mouth of the wolves, to the comfort of his children and good bringing up of your poor babes, specially of the youngest my godson; to whom I wish the blessing of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.
The 11th of October, anno 1554. [PART 1].
THERE is neither virtue nor vice to be considered according to any outward action, nor according to the will and wisdom of man; but according to the will of God. Whatsoever is conformable thereto, the same is virtue, and the action that springeth thereof is laudable and good, howsoever it appear otherwise to the eyes and reason of man; as was “the lifting up of Abraham’s hands to have slain his son.” Whatsoever is not conformable to the will of God, that same is vice, and the action springing thereof is to be disallowed and taken for evil; and that so much the more and greater evil, by how much it is not consonant and agreeing to God’s will, although it seem far otherwise to man’s wisdom: as was Peter’s wish of “making three tabernacles,” and the request of some which would have had “fire to have come down from heaven” upon a zeal to God, etc.
Now the will of God is not so known as in his word. Therefore according to it must vice and virtue, good and evil, be judged; and not according to the judgment, wisdom, reason, and collection of any man, or of all the whole world, if all the angels in heaven should take their part.
But this word of God, which is written in the canonical books of the Bible, doth plainly set forth unto us, that God hath of his own mercy and good will, and “to the praise of his glory” in Christ, elected some, and not all; whom he hath predestinate unto everlasting life in the same Christ, and in his time “calleth them, justifieth them, and glorifieth them,” so that “they shall never perish” and err to damnation finally.
That God the eternal “Father of mercies,” “before the beginning of the world,” hath of his own mercies and good will, “and to the praise of his grace and glory,” “elected in Christ” some, and not all the posterities of Adam, whom he hath predestinate unto eternal life, and “calleth them” in his time, “justifieth them, and glorifieth them,” so that “they shall never perish” or err to damnation finally; that this proposition is true, and according to God’s plain and manifest word; by the help of his holy Spirit, (which in the name of Jesus Christ I humbly beseech his mercy plentifully to give to me at this present and forever, to the sanctification of his holy name in myself and in many others,) by the help, I say, of his holy Spirit, I trust so evidently to demonstrate, that no man of God shall be able by the word of God ever to impugn it, much less to confute it.
In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians the example saith thus: “Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which hath blessed us with all manner of spiritual blessings in heavenly things by Christ; according as he hath elect (or chosen) us in him before the foundation of the world was laid, that we should be holy and without blame before him through love; and hath predestinate us (or ordained us before) through Jesus Christ to be heirs unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace; wherewith he hath made us accepted in the Beloved: by whom we have received redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; which grace he hath shed on us abundantly in all wisdom and prudence, and hath opened unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in himself to have it declared when the time was full come; that he might gather together all things by (or in) Christ, as well the things that be in heaven as the things that be in earth, even in (or by) him: by (or in) whom we are made heirs, being thereto predestinate according to the purpose of him that worketh all things according to the decree (or counsel) of his own will, that we which hoped before you in Christ should be to the praise of his glory: in whom you also hoped after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; wherein you also believing were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of your inheritance, until the redemption (or full fruition) of the purchased possession, unto the laud of his glory.”
These be the words of Paul, which I have faithfully translated according to the very text in the Greek, as by the judgment of all that be learned I desire herein to be tried: out of the which words of Paul we may well perceive everything affirmed in my proposition, as I will give occasion plainly to them that will to see it.
First, that the cause of God’s election is of his good will, the apostle showeth first in saying that it is “through his love,” whereby we are “holy and without blame;” secondarily in saying that it is “according to the good pleasure of his will;” thirdly in saying, “according to his good pleasure purposed in himself;” fourthly in saying, “according to his purpose, which worketh all the counsel of his own will.”
Secondly, that election was “before the beginning of the world,” the apostle plainly showeth in saying, that we were “chosen before the foundation of the world was laid;” and afterwards in calling it “the mystery of his will purposed with himself, in time to be declared.”
Thirdly, that election is “in Christ,” the apostle doth so flatly and plainly set it forth, that I need not here to repeat it. We, saith he, are “chosen in him”: we are “accepted by him”: we are “gathered together in him,” etc.
Fourthly, that election is of some of Adam’s posterity and not of all, we may plainly see it, if we consider that he maketh the true demonstration of it “believing,” “hoping,” and having “the earnest” of the Spirit. “In whom you hoped,” saith he, “after you heard,” etc.: “in whom you believing were sealed up,” etc. Again, in attributing to the elect forgiveness of sins, holiness, blameless living, being in Christ, etc., “That we should be holy,” saith he, etc.; “we have received forgiveness of sins,” etc. Who seeth not that these are not common to all men? “All men have not faith,” saith Paul elsewhere. None “believed,” saith Luke, but “such as were ordained to eternal life.” None “believe” but such as are “born of God.” None believeth truly but such as have “good hearts,” and keep good seed to “bring forth fruits by patience.”
So that it is plain (faith being a demonstration of God’s election to them that be of years of discretion,) that all men are not elect, because all men believe not; for “he that believeth in the Lord shall be as mount Sion,” that is, he shall “never be removed;” for, if he be removed, that is, finally perish, surely he never truly believed.
But what go I about to light a candle in the clear sunlight, when our Savior plainly saith that all be not chosen, but “few?” “Many be called,” saith he, “but few be chosen.” And in the second chapter following, the apostle plainly saith that the great riches of God’s “mercy through his exceeding great love” hath saved them before their parents and many other gentiles, which were excluded from Christ, and strangers from the promise, hopeless, godless, etc. Wherethrough we may be occasioned to cry, ‘O the depth of the judgments of God, which “is just in all his doings, and holy in all his works,” extending his mercy after his good pleasure and will above all his works!’
Fifthly, that God hath predestinated these thus elect unto everlasting life “in Christ,” the apostle doth also in the words before written declare, in saying, “And hath predestinate us through Jesus Christ to be heirs unto himself.” Again, “By him,” saith he, “you are made heirs and predestinate to the praise of his glory.” So saith the apostle elsewhere, “Them whom he hath predestinate, he hath predestinate them to be like-fashioned unto the shape of his Son.” And Christ therefore saith, “Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.”
Sixthly, that the end of election is “the praise of God’s glory and grace,” the apostle showeth here in saying, We are predestinate to “be holy and without blame before God,” etc.; in saying, We are “predestinate to the glory of his grace;” and in saying also, “To the laud of his glory:” so that nothing can be more manifest.
Seventhly, that predestination is not without vocation in God’s time and justification, the apostle here doth teach it, in bringing us to the consideration of hearing the word of truth, believing and receiving the Holy Spirit, of remission of sins, etc. “In whom,” saith he, “you have hoped, after that you had heard the word of truth,” etc.: again, “by whom you have redemption, that is, remission of sins through the shedding of his blood,” etc.: item, he hath in his full time “declared the mystery of his will,” etc. Unto the Romans the apostle there showeth it most manifestly, in saying, “Whom he hath predestinate, them he calleth; whom he calleth, them he justifieth:” whereby we may see that predestination nor election is not universal of all, for all be not justified.
Eighthly and last of all, that election is so certain that the elect and predestinate to eternal life shall never finally perish or err to damnation finally, the apostle doth here also very plainly show, in saying that they are “predestinate to the praise of God’s grace.” He saith not, to the praise of his justice, to the praise of his wisdom, to the praise of his power, although he might most truly say so; but he saith, “to the praise of his grace:” which were “not grace if there were respect at all of works” on our behalf, for then “were grace no grace.”
If there should be any condemnation of the elect and predestinate to eternal life, it must needs be because of their sins: but where were “the praise of God’s grace” then, which is the end of God’s election? Shall we not by this means make God’s election without an end, and so without a head, and so no election at all (as some would have) further than they elect themselves? Let such fear they shall not find the benefit of God’s election, because they seek it as the Israelites sought it, and not as the elect, which not only found it but also obtained it. The other are blinded, as it is written, “God hath given them the spirit of unquietness, ears that they should not hear, eyes that they should not see, even unto this day, etc.
Again he showeth the certainty of salvation to them that be elected, in saying that they be “accepted in the Beloved;” once accepted and beloved in Christ, and ever beloved: so whom he loveth, “he loveth to the end,” and “God’s gifts are such that he cannot repent him of them.” And therefore saith Christ, “I know whom I have chosen,” attributing to election the cause of final perseverance. By which thing Judas was seen not to be elected to eternal life, although he was elected to the office of an apostle, as Saul was elected to the office of a king: which kind of election is to be discerned in reading the scriptures from this kind of election I speak of now, that is, from election to eternal life “in Christ.”
Thirdly he showeth the certainty of the salvation of the elected, by calling them “heirs with Christ,” to be both afflicted and glorified with Christ; and therefore saith, “according to the decree of his own will.” Lo, he calleth it a decree or counsel, which shall stand, as Esay saith, “The counsel of the Lord shall stand.”
Fourthly he shoeth this certainty, by saying that they are “elect and predestinate to the praise of God’s glory:” which we should more care for, than for the salvation of all the whole world. This “glory of the Lord” is set forth, as well in them that perish and are reprobates, as in the elect. And therefore St. John, bringing in the place of Esay, speaking of the reprobate, saith that “Esay spake that, when he saw the glory of the Lord.” This “glory of the Lord” to be set forth by us is a great mercy and benefit of God. I am assured, that if the very devils and reprobates did not repine thereat, but were thankful that they might be ministers in any point to set forth God’s glory; I am assured, I say, that they should find no hell nor torments: their hell and torments cometh of the love they have to themselves, and of the malice, envy, and hatred they have against God and his glory.
Let them tremble and shake, that may not away with the glory of the Lord in election and reprobation. Let not their eyes be evil, because God is good, and doth good to whom it pleaseth him: wrong he doth to no man, nor can do; for then were he not righteous, and so no God. He cannot condemn the just, for then were he untrue, because his word is contrary.
Let us therefore labor, study, cry, and pray for repentance and faith; and then cannot we be damned, because we are the “blessed of the Father” before all worlds: and therefore we believe, therefore we repent. This, I say, let us do, and not be too busy-bodies in searching the majesty and glory of God, or in nourishing doubting of salvation: whereto we all are ready enough, and the devil goeth about nothing else so much as that; for by it we are dull to do good to others, we are so careful for ourselves that by it we are more dull to do good to ourselves, because we stand in doubt whether it profiteth us or not. By it we dishonor God, either making him as though he were not true, or else as though our salvation came not only from him and altogether, hanging partly on ourselves. By it the devil will bring men at the length to despair and hatred of God. Doubt once of thy salvation, and continue therein, and surely he then will ask no more. It was the first thing wherewith he tempted Christ: “If thou be the Son of God,” etc. It is the first and principallest shaft he shooteth at “God’s elect.”
But, as he prevailed not against Christ, no more shall he do against any of his members; for they have “the shield of faith, which quencheth his fiery darts.” They “pray to God night and day:” how then should they perish? “The angels of the Lord pitch their tents round about them:” how then should Satan prevail? They are “borne in the hands of the angels, lest they should hurt their foot at any stone:” God hath given commandment to his angels over them: “the angels are ministers unto them.” Their names are “written in the book of life:” and therefore Christ bade them “rejoice,” as Paul doth the Philippians: for “nothing shall separate them from the love wherewith God loved them in Christ Jesu;” who saith that it is impossible for them to err finally to damnation, for he “is their Light” to “illumine their darkness.” They are “given to him” to keep, and he is faithful over all God’s church: he saith, he will keep them so that “they shall never perish.”
After they believe, they are entered into “everlasting life.” Christ hath set them there already: he hath committed them into his Father’s hands by prayer, which we know is sure. And therefore death, hell, devils, nor all power, sins, nor mischief, shall never pull us out of our Head’s hands, whose “members” we are: and therefore “receiving of this Spirit,” as we do, we cannot but “bring forth the fruits thereof,” though now and then the flesh fail us.
But the Lord our Lord be praised, which is “more strong in us than he which is in the world.” He always putteth under his hands, that we lie not still, nor shall do as the reprobate whose piety is “as the morning dew,” soon comen and soon gone; and therefore they cannot continue to the end. Cannot? No, they will not if they could, because they hate God and his glory, and therefore all them that seek it or set it forth: whereas the elect love all men, and seek to do all men good in God, suspending their judgments of others, that they may “stand or fall” to the Lord, and not to them.
Hitherto out of this one place to the Ephesians, if the matter of election and predestination be so fully set forth to God’s glory and to the comfort of his church, how may we suppose is this matter set forth in the whole body and books of the canonical scripture? Whereto I had rather send thee, good reader, with this candle-light I have now given thee, than in a matter so manifest to make more ado than needeth. [PART 2.] Now will I go about to answer a calumnious calumniator which hath whet his teeth against the Lord and his grace set forth in predestination, as appeareth by a certain bill and libel he hath set abroad, entitled, “The enormities proceeding of the opinion, that predestination, calling, and election, is absolute in man as it is in God.” In which his title he declareth his ignorance and malice: ignorance in ordering the cart before the horse; for else would he not have put calling before election, if he knew whereof he spake; but he is one of them, that Paul did prophesy of, that “would be doctors of the law, and yet they knew not whereof they affirm:” malicious[ness] in saying that which never man I think did affirm, namely, that election and predestination, which is in God, should be in man.
But let us look on the enormities that he reciteth. “The first is,” saith he, “that God’s justice is general over all men, but his mercy is not so: and yet the Holy Ghost saith, ‘The Lord is loving to every man, and his mercy over all his works;’ and again by St. John, that Christ is ‘the true Light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world.’” These be the words: wherein a man may easily see he hath not learned his A B C concerning the scriptures, or else his judgment could not be so base.
For either he would have all men saved and none damned, by extending so God’s mercy; or else he must put some degrees in God’s mercy concerning his being, and concerning that he is God’s creature; so that God’s justice is not so general as his mercy, taking justice for that justice wherewith he is just himself, and punisheth that correspondeth not thereto. For this the elect of God feel not finally, because Christ felt it, bare it, and satisfied it, for us; as the devil and damned felt not the mercy and justice of God wherewith he justifieth his children and elect: to whom he “showeth his mercy” because it pleaseth him, and “hardeneth the heart of others whom he will,” as saith Paul. Which “will of God” were good for no creature to call into account.
As for that other text of Christ “lightening all men that cometh into the world,” if he do understand it of the general lightening of men, that is, of so much light as may make men “excuseless,” then it agreeth with Paul; and this all good men affirm: but if he understand it of the peculiar light given only to the elect, then it is against Christ, which “thanketh his Father for hiding it” from many, and telleth his disciples, that “it was given to them and not to others.”
So that a man may see all blindness and lack of light in him; or else would he have written either more substantially, or else have kept silence till he had been better learned. “The second,” saith he, “is, that the virtue of Christ’s blood doth not, neither can, extend to all people: and yet the Holy Ghost saith, that Christ ‘by the grace of God should taste of death for all men;’ and by St. John he saith, he came ‘not for our sins only, but for the sins of all the world.’ Likewise saith Christ, ‘The bread that I will give for the life of the world;’ and again by St. John, ‘God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.’” These be the words as he hath written, word for word; wherein he hath done untruly to recite St. John’s words, which be that Christ obtained grace “for the sins of the whole world,” and not ‘came for the sins of the world.’ By this his untruth in reciting the word a man may see, that he goeth about to slander the doctrine of God’s election, which crampeth not in Christ’s blood, but extendeth it to the whole “church” and to every “member” thereof: but he would have it to devils also, and to all his bastards; for the devil, being “prince and god of this world,” is one of the world, as the king of a realm is one of the realm. Now I ween he will be ashamed (however he thinketh) to extend the virtue of Christ’s death to the devil, except he will admit the schoolmen’s distinction of ‘sufficiently’ and ‘effectually;’ that is, that Christ’s death is sufficient for all, but effectual to none but to the elect only: which distinction I desire him to admit. For I take “the whole world” there, as St. John the Baptist doth in calling Christ “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world;” and as Paul doth in saying that “God hath reconciled the world in Christ:” which is to be discerned from that “world” for which Christ “prayed not;” for look, for whom he “prayed not,” for them he died not.
This, I trust, is sufficient for the opening of the places in the second enormity he thought to have found out. “The third is,” saith he, “that there is no sin in man; for, if man have no choice, then the evil man doth that which God would have him to do, as well as the good man. But this is very false and ungodly, as the holy scripture doth declare. First, God said unto Cain, before he slew his brother, ‘Why art thou angry, or wrathful, and why is thy countenance changed? Dost thou not know, if thou doest well thou shalt receive it; but if thou doest evil, lieth not the sin in the door? Unto thee pertaineth the lust thereof, that thou rule it, or have the dominion over it, etc.’ Likewise Moses saith, ‘I set before thee life and death, blessing and cursing:’ therefore he saith to the people, ‘Choose ye life, that thou and thy son may live, etc.’” These be the words of his third enormity, wherein he writeth he wotteth not what. For, if the cause why there is no sin in man be want of choice, as he maketh it, then children have no sin: and so this man “returneth to his old vomit,” to deny original sin in very deed, although in words he will seem to say otherwise. Again, he playeth the papist in attributing free-will and choice, which utterly destroyeth the justification by faith only, by God’s own mercy and goodness. Thirdly, he maketh no difference in doing God’s will, howsoever it be done: and therefore saith he, that ‘the wicked man doth that which God will have done as well as the good man.’
But perchance he will say this word ‘as well’ is not comparatively, but by the way of a similitude, spoken. Well, I am content to admit it at his hands; because ignorance maketh him to speak improperly. This would I ask him, whether that David said truth, namely, that “God doeth all things in heaven and earth as pleaseth him.” If this be true, I would advise him to be less curious to know the working of God, farther than he hath given us a light to see the same. God useth the wicked to work his will in working their own, as Nebuchodonosar in destroying Jerusalem, the devils in running “into the herd of swine:” and yet God is not the author and cause of sin. To be the author of any act, is not to be the author of the evil will that doth the act; as the magistrate may be the author that an executor putteth to death one justly condemned: and yet the executor may put the condemned person to death of a desire of vengeance, wherein he sinneth; and the magistrate which causeth the fact is not to be blamed of the sin committed of the executor.
As for the testimonies of the scriptures, which he bringeth for free-will, a child of two years reading in the scriptures may see that they be legal sentences, and prove not that man can do as they require, but telleth man as the law doth, what he ought to do: as when Christ saith, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;” teaching hereby not what man can do, (for then we had no need of Christ,) but what man ought to do; that by this means, in seeing his own penury and inability, he might be desirous of “the grace of God,” and the free promise of God’s gospel offered and given unto him. “The fourth enormity is,” saith he, “that God’s power and omnipotence is thereby denied, in that it is said, that he cannot know first, predestinate, and elect all men in Christ Jesu to salvation, and also to give the choice during this life, as he hath said. And yet, as saith St. John, he is ‘Almighty:’ and Paul saith likewise, he is ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords, which only hath immortality, and dwelleth in light that no man can attain unto,’ etc.: and again to the Romans he saith, ‘O the depth of the abundant wisdom and knowledge of God: how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!’” These be the words he reciteth for ‘the fourth enormity,’ even as he reciteth them; wherein he playeth even as the papists do concerning transubstantiation. For [the] question is there, whether God will transubstantiate the bread into his body, and not whether he can: so here the question is, whether God would elect all men, (where Christ saith, ‘few be but elect,’) or no. But, as the papists say, ‘God can do this, and therefore ye deny God’s power;’ so doth this man reason papistically, as a mongrel papist in heart, that because God could have chosen all in Christ, therefore he did so.
Again he maketh no difference between knowledge, foresight, predestination, and election: and so belike the angels that fell, whose fall God did foresee, were “elect angels;” where Paul seemeth to attribute to the angels not fallen election, as the cause why they fell not. If any will dispute with God, why he would do so to those and not to the other, I will say nothing but as Paul saith, “O man, what art thou that disputest with God?”
Thirdly, in saying God hath given Christ to man, as he hath said, and telleth not where, nor what, a man may perceive the subtle kind of speech smelleth of sophistry and deceitfulness; and therefore his scriptures brought forth they are as hosen for no leg to put them on, making for no purpose except to prove God to be almighty, which no man denieth, except it be himself, as far as I know: except he dream that God knoweth a thing and knoweth it not, seeth a thing and seeth it not, by attributing of the choice to man, whereupon God’s knowledge and sight, God’s election and predestination, doth depend, lest it should come of God’s own good will or be “to the glory of his grace;” and so salvation not to come from God only, yea, to be no God!
O the deepness of man’s foolishness, which will go about to comprehend “God’s unsearchable ways” and wisdom! “The fifth enormity is,” saith he, “that it thus putteth away the covenant between God and man; yea, partly on God’s part, in that Christ is denied to be a general Savior to all men; but wholly and altogether on man’s part; for it taketh all the power and ableness, which God hath before given, from him. Nevertheless the Holy Ghost saith that ‘God called Adam,’ in whom then were all men; and they were then called in him, and came also to God; and he then made the covenant to us, as well as to him, in Christ, and gave him likewise unto us in promise also, saying ‘that the seed of the woman,’ which was Christ, ‘should tread down the head of the serpent.’ And afterwards God renewed the same covenant again to Abraham, saying, ‘In thy seed shall all the generations of the earth be blessed.’ Likewise Paul proveth the same, saying, ‘Not in thy seeds, as in many; but in thy seed, as in one, which is Christ.’ That no man is lost of God, as the Holy Ghost approveth, if they come to destruction wholly and clearly ignorant, the conditional promise made of the Lord to the people by Moses doth declare. Likewise was the covenant made by God to Jeroboam, as to David; and also the parable of the ‘talents’ ‘delivered to the servants to every man after his ability:’ and St. Luke saith that they were bidden to ‘occupy the same, until the Lord come;’ but if there be some that have nothing, etc., small occupying will serve them, and their account will soon be made. But our Savior Christ hath taught, not only before the people, but also before the scribes and Pharisees, that every man should answer for that they have received, and render a just account; and that, by the parable of the lost sheep and the groat, they ought as well to have sought that which was lost, as to save that which was not lost: and by the ‘two sons unto whom the father gave his goods,’ he taught them also, though they judged of themselves to be right, yet they ought to have ‘rejoiced, and to be glad for their brother, which was lost, and is found, was dead, and is alive.’” These be the words which he recited in ‘the fifth enormity,’ whereunto in the margin is put this note, that ‘the dead was made alive, the lost was found;’ whereby he thinketh he toucheth the quick, as though any body doth deny that all that be born of the seed of man are not “dead in sin,” and “conceived in iniquity;” only he excepted, which denieth the original sin otherwise than Adam’s offense simply considered, without any guiltiness in ourselves: and all this is to establish his doctrine of free-will, wherein he fully consenteth with the Jews, Mahomets, and papists.
But let us see his reasons: first see an impudent lie. ‘Christ is denied,’ saith he, ‘to be a general Savior to all men.’ Who denieth this? ‘Marry that do you,’ will he say, ‘because none shall be saved but the elect.’ Ergo you mean by ‘a general Savior’ to have all men saved. I pray you, take the devil also; and then a man shall more plainly perceive what you go about. For, rather than you will have them that be saved to be saved only of “the goodness of God,” “freely of his grace,” without man’s work, you will go about with your generalities to save devils and all: such absurdities must need spring when men be offended at “the grace of God.”
But perchance he will say, that he meaneth by ‘a general Savior’ such a Savior as is able to save “all men,” and “would have all men saved,” so that the cause of damnation is of themselves. If his meaning be this, let him show, if he can, that any man hath spoken otherwise, but that the Lord himself “would have all men saved;” and that damnation cometh of ourselves, as the prophet saith. ‘Why then’ will he say, ‘if God “will have all men saved,” and damnation cometh of ourselves, then God hath not reprobate any or predestinate them to be damned: and where is election then of some, and not of all?’
To this I answer, that if we “have Christ’s Spirit,” we have received it to this end, that we should see what is “given to us of God” in Christ, as saith the apostle, and not what is given to the devil and to the reprobate: “these things,” saith he, “we speak;” wherefore let us do the like. He prayeth for the Ephesians for none other “wisdom and revelation” from God, than whereby they might “know God,” and have “their minds illumined to see what they shall hope by their vocation, and how rich the glory of his inheritance is to his saints.” As for reprobation, and what mercy God offereth to them and their sire Satan, I think is unseemly for us to seek out, until we have sought out how rich God’s goodness is and will be to us his children; the which we can never do, but the more we go thereabouts, and the more we taste his goodness, the more we shall love him, and loath all things that displeaseth him: whereas to dispute of Satan and the reprobate pertaineth nothing unto us, and therefore is to be omitted of us.
Again, how it is that God “would have all men saved,” and yet “whom he will he maketh hard-hearted,” and also “showeth mercy on whom he will,” I will be content to leave it till I shall see it in another life; where no contradiction shall be seen to be in God’s will, which “would have all men saved,” and yet “worketh all that he will both in heaven and in earth.” As no man can “resist his will,” so let no man search it further than he revealeth it: and God is but partly known of man in this life; so is his will in some things but partly known: in some things, I say, out of the which I except election, for the certainty thereof; for there is almost not two leaves in all the Testament, that doth not most sweetly insinuate or plainly show the same. Yea, faith that is not certain of salvation from God, and that forever, but doubteth of it, is either a weak faith, or else but a show of faith. “Lord, increase our faith.” If therefore we cannot tie these two together, that God “would have all men saved,” and yet “his will is done,” and cannot be withstood, but unto reason there must be some contradiction; yet let faith honor God, that his will is “just” and not mutable, (though his works are now and then altered,) how far soever otherwise it seem to “the flesh:” albeit to him that is not curious and contentious, the place how “God would have all men saved,” and how God “will not the death of a sinner,” is and may be well understand of penitent men and sinners; for else they that be impenitent God will damn.
Then now to know whose gift repentance is, I trust the scripture is so plain to show it to be “God’s gift,” that no man will deny it. Again, that this repentance God giveth to whom he will, I need not to declare. Who they be that have this gift, are easily seen to be none others but such as be God’s elect children and sons: as the parable telleth of the “lost son” that returned, not the lost servant; the “lost sheep” was found, not the lost swine; the “lost groat,” wherein was printed the image and inscription of the prince, was found, not the lost plate.
As for the argument which might be gathered of the contraries, ‘If there be not reprobation, ergo there is no election,’ a man of God may see it is not firm. For, though we may well say, and most justly say, that damnation is for our sins; yet can we not say that for our virtue we are saved: even so, because God hath elected some whom it pleaseth him, (as Christ saith, “few be chosen,”) it doth not well follow that therefore he hath reprobated others, but to our reasons, except the scriptures do teach it. And in that the scriptures speak little thereof, (I mean of reprobation,) in that the next cause (that is sin) may well be seen to be the cause of condemnation, and in that also it pertaineth to us to see and speak of that which is given of Christ to us “that be within;” let us labor hereabouts, and leave “them that be without” to the Lord which will “judge them” in his time.
Thus much I thought good to write hereabouts, that all men might see that it is but curiosity that causeth men to travail the sweet doctrine of God’s election; and that men might see how unjustly these ‘enormities’ are gathered of him that gathered them.
God open his eyes according to his pleasure, and send him the same “good Spirit” in Christ I wish to myself! For I am sorry to write so sore against him as I do, if that the matter might suffer to do otherwise.
But to come again to his ‘enormities.’ ‘It putteth away,’ saith he, ‘the covenant of God, partly on God’s part, but wholly on man’s part: on God’s part,’ saith he, ‘because Christ is denied to be a general Savior.’ But here you see he hath spoken, and slandered the doctrine, untruly.
Let us see therefore, secondly, how truly he writeth that election putteth away the covenant on man’s behalf wholly; ‘for it taketh away,’ saith he, ‘the power and holiness, which God hath before given, from him.’ This is the reason he maketh: wherein he is dark in these words ‘from him,’ to whom this ‘him’ is to be referred. Truth is plain and simple, but untruth must be obscured with ambiguous phrases, lest it should be espied.
But to let it pass, let ‘him’ be referred to whom it pleaseth him, God or man. This would I have him to do, namely, to set forth the power man hath now in this state to do God’s will as God would have it done. Paul taketh from man the “thought,” which is the best part of any good work: as for the “consent and deed,” elsewhere he taketh it from man and giveth it to God. But this man will both give and take: I mean, he will both give it to God and to man also. In which doing I purpose to leave him, and to follow Paul, giving all to God, “thought,” “will, and deed,” in all that good is.
But, to confirm his doctrine, he thirdly saith, that ‘as God called in Adam all men, so all men came in Adam unto him, whereupon he made the covenant.’ First, here you must prove that ‘all men came in Adam.’ Yea, I read not that, Adam being called, he himself did come, much less all in him.
Again, God’s covenant, whose ground is his “mercy and truth,” he maketh now our coming: so greatly doth he impugn the mercy and “goodness of God.” I pray God he do it of ignorance, for else greater is his sin.
Moreover he discerneth not between the free promise and covenant; for else he would not call the free promise a ‘covenant,’ but on God’s behalf only. For what is required here on man’s behalf, if he have respect to infants and children which cannot believe? Besides this he confoundeth the covenants, as appeareth by his testimonies and examples. The covenant to David and Jeroboam were not alike, as a child can tell, that readeth the books of the Kings.
As for this that he writeth, that no man is ‘lost’ of God, I think it should be read ‘left’ of God, for else there were no reason in it; as there is little godly reason in it, being so taken, that is, ‘left of God,’ if any man discern between the promise of the law and the promise of the gospel, or if any man doth know wherefore the law is given. Whereof in that he is ignorant the reason, he heapeth up testimony upon testimony without rhyme or reason: and therefore I will do as Solomon willeth me, “not to answer a fool according to his foolishness, lest I should be like him.” For godly wisdom and spiritual eyes would see, that as God’s pure image at the first was given to Adam and in him unto us, so as he was guilty of the loss and corruption of the same, so we are in like manner until we be regenerate: and therefore God is not unjust in calling us all to account even therefor.
Howbeit, who is he that in this life hath not, yea, daily doth not receive great gifts of God? For the which all shall render an account but such as shall not come into judgment, even true believers in Christ: which only are the ‘lost and dead children found again,’ through God’s own mercy “in Christ.” “The sixth enormity is this,” saith he, “that it colorably denieth excommunication to be had and used in the congregation of Christ; for such as they call good they say are predestinate, and those that they call evil may (some say of them) be called: now how they be, nor when they shall be called, say they, that it cannot be known.
For, although they say that predestination is absolute as well towards man, as it is in God himself, which indeed is not true; yet it is not known to any other, but only to them that can so think, or rather imagine: which indeed is called a strong faith in many; but, when the inward eyes of them are truly opened, it will appear either here, or in another place, where it will not be so easy to help a very vain and naughty opinion.”
These be the words of the last ‘enormity,’ which words are so either ignorantly or untruly written, or both, (for I have written them word for word after the copy delivered to me, as God knoweth I lie not,) that the sentences hang not together, or else there wanteth words to make sentences.
Howbeit, this is easy to be seen, that as before, so now, the truth is belied; for predestination denieth not ‘excommunication,’ or hindereth the good use thereof. Yea, this withal I say, that no man can use more godly discipline towards themselves, and to the correcting and chastening of “the old man,” than those do which have truly tasted of the Spirit of God’s election: for to such the corruption of our nature is felt a more horrible thing than hypocrites are able to think; and therefore they are more rough and severe to others which are fallen, than the elect be, who have “put on them bowels of mercies,” and cannot but take other men’s faults to heart as their own. And therefore, so soon as any lively sign of repentance ensueth, they seek with Paul that “charity” might prevail, where hypocrites are haut and contemn the poor publicans, as did the proud Pharisee.
Again, indeed we say, that none is good but such as be predestinate; and also we say, that of those which be now in our sight evil many may be called hereafter, and as God’s dear elect declare themselves to the world and wicked, if they would see it.
As for who be the elect and who be not, because it is God’s privilege to know who be his, God’s people are not curious in others: but, as in themselves they feel “the earnest” of the Lord, and have God’s Spirit in possession by faith, (I speak of those which be of years of discretion;) so do they judge of others by their works, and not further do they enter with God’s office.
Moreover where he saith, ‘predestination is not absolute,’ if he meaneth it is not infallible, or it is not so certain but it may alter, then when he hath proved it by scripture, a man may something be moved to mark better his words: but till that time, which will never be, I will say that, if God predestinate any to life, they shall never be undone.
As for his surmised imagination of election in the elect, whereby he taunts their faith, I will speak nothing but, God increase his and all our faith, and open our eyes to see what true faith is! Whereof for my part I acknowledge a great weakness, and much more imagination than true faith: but yet, be it never so little, I hope the Lord alloweth it and will increase it for his name’s sake, which I humbly crave at his hands ‘for the love of our only blessed Savior Jesus Christ,’ “the Light of the world:” who “lighten all our darkness” to see his “true light,” and inflame our hearts and wills to approve and love the same unfeignedly! Amen.
Then will taunting not tarry, but charitable admonition and sorrowful sighing to see any professing God with us, entangled with such errors as nourish such ‘enormities,’ as here he maketh this most comfortable and profitable doctrine of God’s holy election: for the which God’s holy name be praised and magnified forever, through Jesus Christ our blessed Lord and Savior. Amen.
Now, to conclude, he writeth this: “Whether these be good matters to be had, taught, and holden of such as think themselves not only true and right Christians, and the very ‘sons of God,’ but also to be masters and teachers in the church of Christ; I appeal to the judgment of the Spirit of God, and to all men that have true judgment.”
These words I will not otherwise traverse, but that all men may see that every ‘enormity’ gathered by this man is of “a zeal not according to knowledge,” (I will say no worse;) as thou mayest well perceive, if thou wilt mark well what I have written briefly concerning the doctrine of God’s election, by the scriptures: to the which (the scriptures, I mean) I with, Christ and his apostles do appeal, and not anabaptistically to the Spirit without the scriptures, as he doth.
By the scriptures, I say, there I have briefly and sufficiently so proved the doctrine of election taught and holden by me, that doing right to God’s word he cannot be able to improve it, if he shall take to help him herein the Jew’s talmud, the Mahomet’s alcoran, and the papist’s decretals to help him, (for with them he plainly agreeth in this matter of election and freewill,) after that he hath put his name to his libel: which I suppress yet, because I have hope he shall see his own ignorance and blind zeal and arrogancy. Which God grant for his mercies sake!
There is one which hath written this that followeth: “Other some would be satisfied, how that God’s elect people are so ‘elected from the beginning’ in Christ that they cannot utterly fall away, and yet all men, they say, fell to damnation in Adam; and how that his mercy in saving his, and his justice in condemning his, could be at one instant with God.”
These words first show curious heads, as you may perceive by their ‘hows:’ secondly they show ignorant persons, as may appear by their style and words improperly placed: therefore I stand in a doubt whether they understand what they demand. For they make variety of time with God, and will have instants with him, with whom there is no time but eternity.
Again, they follow not God’s word, but will look upon that first which hath his occasion of that which followeth: that is to say, they will look upon election before they look on Adam’s fall: and yet God did not open it to us but sithen the fall. Which order we should follow, and be no more offended therewith than we are at Christ, which was, and is called, “the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world,” and tofore Adam’s fall; and yet he had not died but in respect of the fall.
But they, because they cannot by their curious reason see how election should be before with God, and yet follow Adam’s fall to us, therefore they come with their witless, unreasonable, arrogant, and very detestable ‘hows.’ I marvel they ask not how God did before he had any creature: else would they leave their witless, unreasonable, arrogant, and very detestable ‘hows,’ and come to know that the scripture descendeth to our capacities as much as may be in many things, that we might rest by faith to the consideration and admiration of God his power, wisdom, and glory.
Which he make us all careful for, as his dear children, and to live accordingly now and forever. Amen. J.B. [The Treatise ‘Against the fear of death’ observes the text of the Meditations, etc. of Bradford, Seres 1567, except where otherwise noted.
It is to be found also in MS. Bodl. 53. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; with which the printed edition of 1567 has been collated throughout: but the variations are only noted where a deviation from 1567 is followed.
It would seem likely from the words at the third line of this Treatise, p. 332, ‘at whose door [that is, of death] though I have stand a great while, yet never so near (to man’s judgment) as I do now;’ that Bradford wrote it shortly after his condemnation, which took place January 31, 1555; after which his martyrdom was daily expected. The actual date of his death was July 1, 1555. A Latin translation of this Treatise exists in MS. (119. article 14.) in the Lansdown collection in the British Museum. It is entitled, Institutio divina et vere consolatoria contra vim mortis, Jobanne Bradfordo Anglo authore, ex vernacula lingua in Latinum sermonem conversa. This MS. formerly belonged to the churchhistorian, Strype, who supposed that the ‘Treatise on death’ was rendered into Latin by some of the English divines when abroad, during the reign of Mary, for their use and comfort. Portions of this Latin version are supplied in the Appendix to this volume.] A FRUITFUL TREATISE, AND FULL OF HEAVENLY CONSOLATION,