Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.—Judges 20.7.


David Dickson's

Truth's Victory Over Error

Chapter. III.

Of God's Eternal Decrees.


"DID God from all eternity, by the most holy and wise counsel of his will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass?"

Yes; Eph. 1.11. Rom. 11.33. Heb. 4.17. Rom. 9.15,18.

Well then, do not the Socinians, Arminians, and Jesuits err, who maintain, The things which come to pass, in time, to fall out, and come to pass, without the decree of God? Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the knowledge of God, whereby, from all eternity, he hath known all things infallibly, which come to pass, or shall be in time, Acts 15.18. John 21.17. Heb. 4.13. But all things which come to pass in time, could not have been infallibly known from eternity, but in the decree of his divine will.

2d, From God's natural way of working in time, 1 Cor. 12.6 Rom. 11.36. Whence it is evident, that God worketh effectually, and immediately, in time all things which are done: But he worketh by his will those things which he will have to be in time, (after that manner, and in that time, how, and when they come to pass) Psalm 115.2. But that act of willing cannot happen to God in time, but hath been in him from all eternity, because God is unchangeable, James 1.17.

3d, By enumerating several instances, concerning which the Scripture affirms particularly, that they have been decreed by God, as the sufferings and death of Christ, Acts 2.23. The glory of those that are to be saved, Eph. 1.4,5. 1 Thes. 5.9. And the fore-ordaining the rest to damnation to be punished for their sin, Jude ver. 4,5. The like may be said of other things which come to pass in time; See Psalm 33.11. and 115.3. Isa. 46.10. Prov. 19.21. That the liberty and freedom of the will, and contingency of events, is consistent with the decree, is clear from Acts 2.23. and 3.17,18. and 4.27.28. Gen. 45.5.

Quest. II. "Is the decree of predestination (namely, the decree of election and reprobation) absolute from the mere good will, and pleasure of God?"


And is it particular concerning a certain number of persons?

Yes; 2 Tim. 2.19. John 13.18.

Well then, do not the Lutherans and Arminians err, who maintain, The decree of predestination to be general and conditional, depending upon persevering faith, (which they affirm depend upon the will of man) and foreseen infidelity, and want of faith?


Do not likewise the Papists and Socinians err, who maintain, The decree of predestination to be general, and to depend upon good and evil works, with perseverance in them?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the apostle Paul, who maketh the good-will and pleasure of God the only cause why this man is chosen, and another, as worthy, rejected, and casten off, Rom. 9.11-15. Where he moves an objection against the justice of God, and answers it.

2d, Because our blessed Saviour assigns it to the good will and pleasure of God, that to some, the mysteries of faith, for their conversion, are revealed, and that they are hid from many others, who are nothing worse, but in some respects better, Mat. 11.25,26.

3d, Because a man of himself hath no good thing in him, whereby he may be differenced from another, but what he hath freely gotten from God, 1 Cor. 4.7.

4th, Because the grace of regeneration, justifying faith, effectual calling, and perseverance to the end, are given to all the elect, and to them only, according to the eternal decree of God: and therefore are effects, not causes, or pre-required conditions of election, Rom. 8.39. Acts 13.48. Mat. 24.24. 2 Tim. 1.9. John 15.16. Eph. 1.3-5, Mat. 13.11. Rom. 9.6,7.

Quest. III. "Hath it pleased God, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain the rest of mankind to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice?"

Yes; Rom. 9.17,18,21,22. Jude ver. 4,5. Matt. 11.25,26, 2 Tim. 2. 19,20.

Well then, do not many of the Quakers, and others err, who maintain, That God never ordained any man to perish eternally?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because Christ thanked his Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because he had hid those things from the wise and prudent, and had revealed them unto babes, Mat. 11.25,26.

2d, Because the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What, if God willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, Rom. 9.17,18,21,22.

3d, Because in a great house, there are some vessels to honour, some to dishonour, 2 Tim. 2.19,20.

4th, Because the apostle Jude says, there are some who of old were ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men. Note, That the cause of this reprobation is not man's sin, but the absolute will and good pleasure of God. Man's sin indeed is the cause why God will punish, but no occasion why he did ordain to pass by, or to punish man. This decree is just, because God has power over man, as the potter hath power over the clay. Neither is the end of this decree the condemnation of the creature, but the manifestation of God's justice. Lastly, Sin is the effect of man's free-will, and condemnation is the effect of justice, but the decree of God is the cause of neither.

Quest. IV. "Are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only?"

No, John 17.9. Rom. 8.28. John 6. 64,65. John 10.26. John 8.47. 1 John 2.19.

Well then, do not the Papists, Quakers, Socinians, and Arminians err, who maintain, That all men, even reprobates, are redeemed by Christ, and that many reprobates are effectually called, justified, and adopted?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the golden chain which cannot be loosed, mentioned by the apostle Paul, Rom. 8.30. Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

2d, Because those, and those only believe, whom God hath ordained to life eternal, Acts 13.48. Titus 1.1.

3d, Because Christ himself says so to the Jews, but ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, John 10.26-28. Ye are not of my sheep, that is, of the elect, which the Father hath given me.

4th, Because Christ would not pray for the world, but for the elect only, John 17.9.

5th, Because the election or elect, have obtained it, and the rest were blinded, namely, who are not elected and effectually called, Rom. 11.7.

6th, Because Christ says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. Such a love he never had to reprobates, whom he professes he never knew, John 15.13. with Mat. 7.23.

7th, Because, according to the Scripture, Christ died only for his own sheep, viz. intentionally, and efficaciously, John 10.15.

8th, Because the Scripture often says that Christ died for many, Mat. 24.28. Mat. 20.28.

9th, Because there are many who lived under the gospel, as well as those who lived under the law, who have not been so much as outwardly called, being nothing worse than others who are called.

10th, Because to all, and every one, the grace of regeneration, which is simply necessary to salvation, is not offered; neither do all, and every one, get remission and pardon of their sins, Eph. 1.7. Col. 1.14. Deut. 29.3. Mat. 11.25,28. with Mat. 11.13.

11th, Because the grace of regeneration is invincible, and of its own nature, always efficacious and powerful, Ezek. 11.19,20. Eph. 2.1,5. Eph. 1.19

12th, Because the grace of regeneration can never be lost, or fall totally or finally, 1 Pet. 1.5. 1 John 3.9. Whosoever are called and justified are also glorified, Rom. 8.30.