William Twisse

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Divine Election & Reprobation

Now I would easily grant that before Esau had done good or evil, God so hated him, as that he did not communicate to him that fellowship with Christ, which by God's election and donation the members of the body have with him their head in God's account, even before the world was. Neither did God vouchsafe that plentiful communication of his free grace unto him, as might in time by a real actual power draw him to Christ and to live by him. Yea God was pleased to set him in a state further remote, and separate from him then his elect brother; even in the state of a servant to the elect; and instead of communicating free grace, he purposed to deal with him rather according to his works, by a covenant of justice; for both these are implied in God's putting of Esau into the state of a servant. --- For God intending to deprive reprobates of those drawing and effectual helps, without which none can make good use of them, did never intend they should make good use of them, but rather the contrary; inasmuch as He purposed not to show that mercy towards them which He shows towards His elect, but rather to harden them; as the Lord tells Ezekiel: "For they are impudent children and stiff hearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them." {Eze.2:4-5} So that albeit the Lord knew full well what sorry entertainment His Prophets should find, yet would He not give way to any such excuse as this; 'If the Lord had sent His Prophet to admonish us of our wanderings from Him we would soon have turned unto the good way of the Lord.' No, they shall know there hath been a Prophet among them! And as for the ground of this foreknowledge, Isaiah manifests this to be God's purpose to harden them. "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." {Isa.6:9,10} What place is here for such conceits of leaving men without excuse? - You say, 'God leads them to repentance to save them from the pit.' I answer; this leading to repentance, {Romans 2} is only His sparing them in their sins, and admonishing them to repent; and this we say is done to the reprobates, not with any purpose to bring them to repentance; for if God had any such purpose, He would not deprive them of that grace without which none can come to repentance as yourself profess He does; and if He had any such purpose to bring them to repentance and yet does not, it follows that He cannot. And if He has any such purpose, either this purpose must continue still in God, even after their damnation, or otherwise God must be charged with mutability, all which you consider not, much less accommodate any tolerable answer thereto. For the same reason I deny that God has any intention or purpose to save them - how can He; considering that from everlasting He has ordained them to destruction. And of this also you take no notice, much less go about to shape any convenient answer thereunto; carrying the matter all along in such manner, as if God's decree of their condemnation were not conceived, until the 'means of grace' offered are found to be finally despised. Neither do the places alleged by you, give any testimony to these your uncouth assertions, much less evident testimony. Indeed, I blame you not for desiring your reader would take them so, to save your pains of proving it. For you take no pains at all to enforce any place, by logical argumentation to give evidence to such a sense you put upon them, though it stand in manifest opposition to the nature of God, even to the bereaving Him both of His omnipotency and immutability, to make Him to contradict Himself, and strangely to go about to persuade the world that God intends the repentance of those men, to whom He denies that grace, without which none can repent, as yourself also acknowledge. So that we need not to be put to deny the sufficiency of God's Word to those ends whereunto God hath given it, which is to instruct in all points of Faith; and to admonish us to give obedience unto it, and reprove them that do not; and consequently to take away all excuse for want of any of these gracious operations. And thus it is sufficient on God's part, and on man's part too, as for God to admonish thereby, and men to be admonished and instructed. But otherwise to require anything on man's part to add sufficiency to God, is far too absurd! For whether man does yield obedience, the Word is never a whit the more sufficient, or whether he yields not obedience, the Word is never the less sufficient. As for the desire of the repentance and life of reprobates which you attribute unto God, you keep your course I confess in strange expressions, manifestly contradictions to the nature of God, and to yourself. Can you persuade yourself that ever the world will be brought about to believe, or any intelligent or sober man among them, that God desires the repentance and life of them, whom He has determined from everlasting to deprive of that grace without which no man can repent and be saved; yet that He does deprive them hereof, it is your own most express profession in the former section. As for hardening them, does He not harden whom He will; and has He not from everlasting ordained all reprobates unto destruction? As for any desire hereof in God, I account it a very absurd thing, to treat of any will in God under the notion of desire in proper speech. Speak we of the desires of weak men, who cannot effect what they will, but be advised to spare to attribute any desires to God in proper speech; as you would spare to attribute to Him, eyes and ears, and hands, and heart, in proper speech; and though God be pleased in condescension to our capacities to take upon Him our infirmities, let us not recompense His goodness so ill, as to conceive of His nature as obnoxious to the same imperfections whereto our natures are. - I find such giddiness of discourse usually amongst the Arminians; while they satisfy themselves with phrases, never examining particularly the matter and substance of their own expressions. William Twisse {A Treatise of Mr. John Cotton's Concerning Predestination; Together with an Examination Thereof, 1646.}


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and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3:1