By J O H N.B U N Y A N of Bedford,
A Lover of Peace and Truth.
L O N D O N,
Printed for G. L., and are to be sold in
Turn-stile-alley, in Holbourn, 1674. (Year approximate.)
Published two years after John Bunyan's twelve year incarceration.
hether any under Eternal Reprobation have just cause to quarrel with God for not electing of them?
That the answer to this question may be to edification, recall again what I have before asserted; to wit, That for a man to be left out of God's election, and to be made a sinner, is two things; and again, For a man to be not elect, and to be condemned to hell-fire, is two things also. Now I say, if non-election makes no man a sinner, and if it appoints no man to condemnation neither, then what ground hath any reprobate to quarrel with God for not electing of him? Nay, further, reprobation considereth him upright, leaveth him upright, and so turneth him into the world; what wrong doth God do him, though he hath not elected him? What reason hath he that is left in this case to quarrel against his Maker?
If thou say, because God hath not chosen them, as well as chosen others: I answer, 'Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?' (Rom 9:20). 'Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel,' saith the Lord God (Jer 18:6). So then, if I should say no more but that God is the only Lord and Creator, and that by his sovereignty he hath power to dispose of them according to his pleasure, either to choose or to refuse, according to the counsel of his own will, who could object against him and be guiltless? 'He giveth not account of any of his matters' (Job 33:13). 'And what his soul desireth, even that he doeth' (Job 23:13).
Again, God is wiser than man, and therefore can shew a reason for what he acts and does, both when and where at present thou seest none. Shall God the only wise, be arraigned at the bar of thy blind reason, and there be judged and condemned for his acts done in eternity? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, 'or who hath been his counsellor?' (Rom 11:34). Do you not know that he is far more above us, than we are above our horse or mule that is without understanding? 'Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend' (Job 37:5). 'Great things and unsearchable, marvellous things without number' (Job 5:9).
But, I say, should we take it well if our beast should call us to account for this and the other righteous act, and judge us unrighteous, and our acts ridiculous, and all because it sees no reason for our so doing? Why, we are as beasts before God (Psa 73:22).
But again, to come yet more close to the point: the reprobate quarrels with God, because he hath not elected him; well, but is not God the master of his own love? And is not his will the only rule of his mercy? And may he not, without he give offence to thee, lay hold by electing love and mercy on whom himself pleaseth? Must thy reason, nay, thy lust, be the ruler, orderer, and disposer of his grace? 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?' saith he, 'Is thine eye evil, because I am good?' (Matt 20:15).
Further, What harm doth God to any reprobate, by not electing of him; he was, as hath been said, considered upright, so formed in the act of creation, and so turned into the world: indeed he was not elected, but hath that taken anything from him? No, verily, but leaveth him in good condition: there is good, and better, and best of all; he that is in a good estate, though others through free grace are in a far better, hath not any cause to murmur either with him that gave him such a place, or at him that is placed above him. In a word, reprobation maketh no man personally a sinner, neither doth election make any man personally righteous. It is the consenting to sin that makes a man a sinner; and the imputation of grace and righteousness that makes [men] gospelly and personally just and holy.
But again, seeing it is God's act to leave some out of the bounds of his election, it must needs be, therefore, positively good: Is that then which is good in itself made sin unto thee? God forbid: God doth not evil by leaving this or that man out of his electing grace, though he choose others to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Wherefore there is not a reprobate that hath any cause, and therefore no just cause, to quarrel with his Maker, for not electing of him.
And that, besides what hath been spoken, if you consider,
1. For God to elect, is an act of sovereign grace; but to pass by, or to refuse so to do, is an act of sovereign power, not of injustice.
2. God might therefore have chosen whether he would have elected any, or so many or few; and also which and where he would.
3. Seeing then that all things are at his dispose, he may fasten electing mercy where he pleaseth; and other mercy, if he will, to whom and when he will.
4. Seeing also that the least of mercies are not deserved by the best of sinners; men, instead of quarrelling against the God of grace, because they have not what they list, should acknowledge they are unworthy of their breath; and also should confess that God may give mercy where he pleaseth, and that too, both which or what, as also to whom, and when he will; and yet be good, and just, and very gracious still: Nay, Job saith, 'He taketh away, who can hinder him? Who will say unto him, What doest thou?' (Job 9:12).
The will of God is the rule of all righteousness, neither knoweth he any other way by which he governeth and ordereth any of his actions. Whatsoever God doth, it is good because he doth it; whether it be to give grace, or to detain it; whether in choosing or refusing. The consideration of this, made the holy men of old ascribe righteousness to their Maker, even then when yet they could not see the reason of his actions. They would rather stand amazed, and wonder at the heights and depths of his unsearchable judgments, than quarrel at the strange and most obscure of them (Job 34:10-12, 36:3, 37:23; Jer 12:1; Rom 11:33).
God did not intend that all that ever he would do, should be known to every man, no nor yet to the wise and prudent. It is as much a duty sometimes to stay ourselves and wonder, and to confess our ignorance in many things of God, as it is to do other things that are duty without dispute. So then, let poor dust and ashes forbear to condemn the Lord, because he goeth beyond them; and also they should beware they speak not wickedly for him, though it be, as they think, to justify his actions. 'The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works' (Psa 145:17; Matt 11:25; 1 Cor 2:8; Job 13:6-8).