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Whether the right to the eternal inheritance be applied to the Elect at their first nativity, or at their regeneration. And whether God imputes no more in point of guilt to an Elect person when living in exessive lasciviousness, than when he is perfected in the heavens.
I. There is no actual difference between the reprobate and the elect before regeneration. II. Except that according to the counsel of grace, the means of salvation are granted to the latter, which in its time shall be effectual to regeneration. III. In which indeed the actual application of salvation doth consist. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. The order of saving application. IX. The elect before their regeneration are in a condemned state.
1. CONCERNING the application of the
salvation purchased by Christ, the following things are controverted, 1. Whether the right to the eternal inheritance be applied to is no actual the elect at their first nativity: and the date of difference application is to be fixed at their natural gene- the reproration, whereby they become men, not at their bate and the elect, supernatural generation, whereby they become before re Christians. 2. Whether God imputes no generation. more in point of guilt to the elect, even when living in all the excess of wickedness and lasciviousness, than when after they are truly sanctified, yea, also perfected and received into hea3. Whether the elect are united to Christ
CHAP. before faith. 4. Whether not only the fruits of Christ's righteousness, but also the righteousness itself, be imputed to them, so that by that imputation they become no less righteous and holy, than Christ himself.
II. Except, that
II. And I trust that these controversies, according however great they may seem at first sight,
counsel of may be decided by the
simple and the plain
grace, the declaration of the truth.
As to the first, what
to the lat
shall be effectual to
if we conceive of the matter thus? After Christ are granted satisfied Divine justice, God also declared in ter, which general that he would never demand satisfacin its time tion from any of the elect in their own person, and so a right of immunity was purchased for all the elect at once. But that universal right of all the elect profiteth none in particular, till it be applied unto him. No application is made by election as such. For it is an immanent act of God, the proper effect of which is the certainty of the event. It is the nature of all the Divine decrees, that by themselves they make no change in the subject; but all the actual existence of the thing arises from the omnipotent execution of the decree. The execution of the decree is the production of the thing decreed: which is effectuated by virtue of that eternal will, whereby God commanded that the thing should exist in that moment of time, the eternal will then only going out into that act, whereby the thing exists. Therefore, from election to grace and glory, it only follows, that the person so elected is admitted at the appointed time to
the participation of both. Before the fulness CHAP.
III. In which on
ly the action of tual appli
III. Now the execution of election be may considered two ways. First, in respect of certain external actions, which, from the nature of the thing indeed, have no certain con- salvation nexion with salvation, and therefore are ex- sist. ercised sometimes even upon the reprobates; yet by the appointment of God, they are directed as to this person in particular, to promote the work of grace gradually in him. For since God embraces the elect with a love
CHAP. of singular good will, to issue at last in a love of complacency, he grants them the means of salvation, and causes them to hear the preaching of the gospel, dissuasives from vice, exhortations to the duties of virtue, instruction concerning saving truths, which being somehow perceived by their natural understanding, they fix them in their memory to be profitable afterwards for sanctification: there being added, in the mean time, some inward illumination of the mind, and an exciting of the will to good, although both are evanid, and not yet saving: but all this with the intention, that in their time they may be effectually converted by these means. Since all these things proceed from the counsel of grace, they are likewise justly referred to the execution of election: and since they are the fruits of Christ's merits, they somehow belong to the application of purchased grace; and are as it were, some of his attempts who begins to claim to himself what is his own; although they are nothing but some small beginnings of application,. whereby the elect are not yet ingrafted into Christ.
IV. Then there follows a more perfect execution of the election unto grace, and a more solid application of the grace purchased by Christ, in that moment wherein the elect, being effectually called, are born again of the incorruptible seed of the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever, the Spirit of life co-operating; are endued with a principle of
new and spiritual life; are actually united un-
V. The order of this internal and truly sav ing application, arising from its first beginning by many steps to perfect happiness in the adult, of whom only we now speak, is generally represented to us in this manner by the scriptures. As soon as comes the hour of gracious visitation, prefixed in the unchangeable purpose of God, for every one of the elect, all of a sudden, into the elect person living under the administration of the gospel, there is infused a principle of spiritual life, by the application or influence of the Spirit of Christ, mystically uniting the soul to himself; the activity of which begins first to exert itself in the understanding illuminated with unusual light. For as in the old creation, so also in this second, the beginning is with light. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the
face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6.
VI. As soon as the elect person opens these VI. enlightened eyes of his mind, he begins to discern in general, the truth of evangelic doce trines; but at the same time, reflecting more particularly upon himself, he finds that great is the filthiness and the atrocity of his innumerable sins, great the rigour of Divine jus