It hath ever been the lot of truth (like the Lord of it) to be crucified between right-hand and left-hand thieves. Truth’s enemies, on all hands, are various. While some men consider the Bible to be an imposition on the world, and treat salvation by Christ as mere priestcraft and deception, there are others who tell us they have Christ, and are one with Christ, and yet with audacious effrontery cry down the ordinances of the gospel, and consider the means of grace as too burdensome for a free-born conscience, and too low and carnal for a seraphic spirit. There is as much beyond the truth as on this side of it; as much in outrunning the flock of Christ and the Lamb that leads them, as in straggling and loitering behind. Truth hath evermore observed the golden mean.
The Socinians decry the divinity of Christ and His satisfaction, as if His sufferings were exemplary only, not expiatory. The Roman Catholics turn the true worship of God into will worship, and teach their own traditions for the commandments of God, spoiling God’s institutions with man’s inventions. And the Arminians do call the justice of God to the bar of reason; they dare confidently wade in the deep ocean of divine mysteries, and in stating the decrees of God, where blessed Paul could find no bottom, but cried out “O the depth” etc. (Ro 11:33); they dare undertake to fetch the Apostle from off his nonplus, saying, “God foresaw that Jacob would believe, and that Esau would not believe; therefore, the one was loved and the other hated.” Thus Arminius’ school teacheth deeper divinity than what Paul learned in the third heaven. And they do not only with the Socinians gratify the pride of man’s reason, but also the pride of man’s will, in extenuating and lessening both the guilt and filth of original sin; even as Popery, their elder sister, doth gratify the pride of outward sense.
Hence Dr. Leighton calls Arminianism “the Pope’s Benjamin, the last and greatest monster of the man of sin; the elixir of Anti- Christianism; the mystery of the mystery of iniquity; the Pope’s cabinet; the very quintessence of equivocation.” Alike hereunto Mr. Rous (Master of Eton College) addeth, saying, “Arminianism is the spawn of Popery, which the warmth of favour may easily turn into frogs of the bottomless pit.” And what are the new Arminians but the varnished offspring of the old Pelagians, that makes the grace of God to lackey it at the foot, or rather, the will of man? that makes the sheep to keep the shepherd? that puts God into the same extremity with Darius, who would gladly have saved Daniel but could not (Da 6:14)?
What else can their doctrine signify which they call a prescience or foreknowledge in God, the truth of which depends, not on the decree of God, but on the free-will of the creature? This is to make the creature have no dependence on the Creator, and to fetter Divine Providence. Thus that fatal necessity, which they would lay at our doors, unavoidably remains at theirs, and (according to their scheme) God must say thus to man, “O My poor creature? that fatal fortune which hath harmed you must be endured more than bewailed, for it was from all eternity, before My providence. I could not hinder, I could not but consent to those fatal contingencies; and unavoidable Fate hath, whether I will or not, pronounced the inevitable sentence.” What else is this but to overthrow all those graces of Faith, Hope, etc., to expectorate (to cast off) all vital godliness; and to pull the great Jehovah Himself out of His throne of glory, setting up dame Fortune to be worshipped in His stead?
These and many other great abominations have been discovered in the “chambers of imagery” in our days, and are nothing but measuring supernatural mysteries with the crooked metewand of degenerate reason. “Wisdom is too high for a fool” (Pr 24:7). In these points it was once well said, “Give me a mortified reason,” for, to prescribe to God’s infinite understanding, and to allow Him no reasons to guide His determinations by, but what we are acquainted with, is extremely arrogant. Reason must neither be the rule to measure faith by, nor the judge of it. We may give a reason of our believing, to wit, “because it is written,” but not of all things believed, as why Jacob was loved and Esau hated before they had done either good or evil — this was the counsel of God’s own will. Touching such sublime mysteries our faith stands upon two sure bottoms: the first is, that being, wisdom, and power of God doth infinitely transcend ours; so may reveal matters far above our reach; the second is; that whatsoever God reveals is undoubtedly true, and to be believed, although the bottom of it cannot be sounded by the line of our reason; because man’s reason is not absolute, but variously limited, perplexed with his own frailty, and defective in its own acting.