William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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Election


by Christopher Love


The last doctrine I drew from these words was this: Christians
should put forth a great deal of diligence to make sure to their
souls that they are eternally elected by God to life and glory. In
the prosecution of this I have gone over some questions. There are
four difficulties or questions I am farther to insist upon in this
point.

First, is this election universal or not?

Second, may a man who is once elected by God to salvation come to be
damned, yes or no?

Third, when God elects a man to life and glory, does He do it out of
any foresight of faith, or any other grace He sees in man?
Fourth, does this doctrine of election, that God in His own counsel
has determined who shall be damned and who shall be saved, not take
men off from any endeavors after their own salvation? Does it not
make them desperate and cause them to neglect the use of means, so
that they shall say, If I shall be damned, I shall be damned; and
if saved, I shall be saved, let me live as I will? Will this
doctrine favor this desperate conclusion, yes or no?

QUESTION 1. Is election universal or not? This is what the Arminians
and papists mightily drive at. And here they lay down this
conclusion, which they make unquestionable: there is such a thing as
a certain universal election of God, without limitation or
restraint of persons, whereby God determined to save all mankind by
Christ who were fallen in Adam. This opinion was first drawn from
Origen, who held that all creatures should be saved. And the papists
and Arminians, mincing the matter to make it a little more plausible
than did Origen, say that God in His purpose intended to save all
mankind by Jesus Christ; but man fell away and walked contrary to
these principles, so that the defect lies in them that they are not
saved. And this divines call universal redemption.

ANSWER. Now against this, I shall lay down several Scriptures, and
then take off the objections that seem to strengthen the opinion.
In Jude 4, you read of some that were of old ordained to
condemnation. Therefore all could not be saved. 1 Thessalonians
5:9: Some men are appointed to wrath, but we to obtain salvation
through Jesus Christ. Therefore all men could not be within the
purpose of God's first intention to save. Matthew 22:14: Many are
called, but few are chosen. Also Romans 11:7: The Jews did not
obtain what they sought for, but the elect obtained it, and the rest
were hardened. 2 Timothy 2:20: There are vessels of honor, and
vessels of dishonor. The Scripture makes it a discriminating act
of God that some He chose to life, and others from eternity in His
counsel He chose to wrath and condemnation. And these Scriptures
will fully overthrow this opinion. And indeed the very word
choosing constitutes it, which intimates a taking of some with an
overlooking of others.

But now let us view a little the arguments or Scriptures they abuse
to strengthen this unsound opinion of theirs.

One is 1 Corinthians 15:22: As in Adam all died , even so in Christ
shall all be made alive. Now, say they, every man died in Adam;
every mother's child by Adam's fall became subject to death; even so
in Christ shall every man be made alive. The Lord intended that
every man should have benefit by Jesus Christ.

Now, I shall answer it in showing you the true intent and scope of
this Scripture. This universal phrase of making alive does not have
reference to the saving of the soul, but to the resurrection of the
body. And so the sense is this: in Adam, by virtue of his sin, every
man came to die a natural death- so in Christ shall all be made
alive; that is, so by Christ's power shall every man rise from the
dead. And if you ask how I make that appear to be the intention of
the text, I answer, the words themselves will make it plain. Verse
21 says, By man came death, by man also came the resurrection from
the dead; that is, as by the man Adam came death, so by the man
Christ shall come the resurrection from the dead: for as in Adam
all died. So that here you see this is brought in as a proof of the
2lst verse, intimating that this being made alive has no reference
to the life of the soul, but only to the resurrection of the body,
that as Adam by his sin brought death to all men, so Christ by His
power shall raise all men from the dead, every man in his own
order. However, should it be granted that this making alive has
reference to the life of the soul, it would bear no more but that
all who are damned are damned as in Adam's loins, and all who are
saved shall be saved as in the loins of Jesus Christ. And so this
does nothing at all to prove what they call universal election.
Another scripture (undeniable, they think) is Romans 11:32 where it
is said, God hath concluded all men under unbelief, that He might
have mercy upon all. Now, say they, if God did an act to make men
see their unbelief, and intended by this action to have mercy upon
all, then God in His counsel intended to save all.

Now to this, that He might have mercy upon all, I answer, this
phrase (all) is not to be taken in an unlimited sense, as if He
would have mercy upon all mankind; but it is to be taken in a
restrained sense, that God shut up all men in unbelief, that is,
God made all believers see their own misery that He might have mercy
on all those who believe. And if you ask how I prove this to be the
meaning of the text, I answer, the Scripture makes it clear in
Galatians 3:22: The Scripture hath concluded all men under sin.
(The very words forequoted.) But what's the limitation? Shall all
men be saved? No, for mark the next words: The Scripture hath
concluded all men under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus
Christ should be given to them that believe. Now though Paul does
not say thus to the Romans, yet, the words being the same, the
restriction holds good in both places. So that it is clear that He
might save all, or have mercy upon all. It does not mean all
universally; but all, with the limitation of Paul here, all them
that believe.

Another objection, or Scripture, they abuse is 1 Timothy 2:4: Who
will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the
truth. Origen grossly abuses this text, holding that it is the
intention and will of God that all men should be saved. Now to
take off this objection, we must first distinguish God's will, and
then address this phrase all, Who will have all men to be saved.

First, God's will. The schoolmen give this distinction: there is a
will of God's good pleasure and there is God's signifying will. Now
the will of God's good pleasure is that real purpose in God to save
a man. And there is no man that in this sense God wills to be saved
but he must be saved, but in this sense God does not will all men to
be saved.

But, second, there is God's significative will, that is, whereby in
Scripture God tender salvation to every man who will lay hold upon
Jesus Christ. And so God signifying will excludes no man from
salvation. But the ministers, if they preach to ten thousand
people, must tender Christ universally to them all because they know
not which of them are elect and which reprobate; which of them shall
be saved and which shall be damned. That is God's signifying will,
and though God by this will tells you what ministers must do to
tender Christ and salvation to all, yet it in no way follows that
the determinate will of God's good pleasure is involved under this,
as if all men should be saved. Perkins, in his writings, has this
distinction: There is God's absolute will and so He does not will
all men to be saved-and God's conditional will, that if every man
believed they should be saved, for God envies no man's salvation.
There is grace enough in God, and willingness enough in God, to save
every man in the world.

But there may be a more distinct answer given to this place. God
will have all men to be saved. All is taken sometimes in a
distributive sense, and sometimes in a collective sense. In a
distributive sense, for every man under heaven; and so God does not
will all men to be saved. But sometimes in a collective sense, for
all sorts and degrees of men, and so God intends to save all-that
is, some of all sorts, and of all degrees of men in the world. And
this appears if you mark the context. He will have all men to be
saved, that is, some of all sorts. Some kings and some great men,
some rich and some poor, some princes and some beggars. And
therefore the Apostle bids them pray for all men in 1 Timothy 2:14:
Pray for kings and for them in authority: for God will have all men
to be saved. As much as if he should say, Pray for kings, because
God of His grace may save kings, as well as poorer men who have
fewer encumbrances, fewer employments in the world, and fewer
withdrawings in their own soul than they have. God will save all;
salvation shall come to all sorts of men, and therefore you may
lawfully pray for them. And so Calvin judiciously expounds that
God will have all sorts of men to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ;
but it is not to be extended universally, as if every individual man
and woman should be saved.

These words are to be taken with these that follow after, God will
have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the
truth. Now that God will be willing to save those who come to the
knowledge of the truth is unquestionable: all who repent, Acts
17:30; all as opposed to God's practice during the time of the Old
Testament, Romans 16:25.

USE. Now, is this true, that election is not universal, but that
some men are elect and others reprobate? Then, to wrap up this
query in a short use, this should teach you all who are in the land
of the living not to deceive yourselves. Lull not yourselves to
sleep in security, for maybe you are in God's counsel to save, maybe
not. Peradventure you may be in God's thoughts for salvation;
peradventure you may be in His counsel for damnation. And this
should put you upon the work my text calls upon you for, to endeavor
to make your calling and election sure.

Christopher Love, pages 289-290, Effectual Calling and Election, A
third delusion where men are deceived by the devil to think they are
elected when they are not is this: If they cannot plead their
education and moral manner of living, or if they cannot plead their
vocation, their last plea is the mercy of God. They hope God is a
merciful God, and God did not make them just to damn them. They are
God's creatures, made by Him, and the God who made them will save
them. And hereupon they fasten their hopes that they are in the
number of God's elect ones. This is a strong delusion, especially
among ignorant people. And to this I shall answer in two
particulars.

First, men say that God is a merciful God; therefore they hope they
are elect. I answer, it is true, God is a merciful God, yet God is
as just as He is merciful. He is mercifully just and justly
merciful. His mercy cannot encroach upon His justice, nor shall His
justice encroach upon His mercy. One attribute shall not clash with
another. He is no more merciful than He is just, nor is He more just
than He is merciful.

Second, though God is a merciful God, yet God's saving mercy is not
so large as to extend to all creatures that live whom He has made.
You read in Isaiah 27:11: This is a people of no understanding,
therefore He that made them will not have mercy upon them, and He
that formed them will show them no favor. Here you see, the prophet
tells them, that the God who made them will damn them, and the God
who formed them will show them no favor. So that God's mercy
extends not so far as to reach to all the works of His hands; for,
if so, the devils might claim salvation as well as man. For God
made them when they were glorious angels as well as man; and,
therefore, if all the works of God's hands should plead for
salvation, they might as well come within the compass of Gods
election as wicked men do.


 

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