By: John Bunyan
In my discourse upon this subject I shall study as much brevity as clearness and edification will allow me; not adding words to make the volume swell, but contracting myself within the bounds of a few lines, for the profit and convenience of those that shall take the pains to read my labors And though I might abundantly multiply arguments for the evincing and vindicating this conclusion, yet I shall content myself with some few Scripture demonstrations; the first of which I shall gather out of the ninth of the Romans, from that discourse of the apostle’s touching the children of the flesh and the children of the promise.
1. At the beginning of this chapter we find the apostle grievously lamenting and bemoaning of the Jews at the consideration of their miserable state. "I say the truth in Christ," saith he, "and lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart; for I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh." Poor hearts! (saith he,) they will perish; they are a miserable, sad and helpless people; their eyes are darkened that they may not see, and their back is bowed down alway. Romans 11:10. Wherefore? have they not the means of grace? Yes, verily, and that in goodly measure; first, they are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever, Amen. What then should be the reason? Why, saith he, "though they be the children of Abraham according to the flesh, yet they are the children of Abraham but according to the flesh; for they are not all Israel (in the best sense) that are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called." That is, they that are the children of the flesh, they are not the children of God, but the children of the promise shall be counted for the seed. Then, here you see that they that are only the children of the flesh, (as the greatest part of Israel were,) they are those that are neither counted for the seed, the children of the promise, nor the children of God, but are rejected and of the reprobation. This therefore shall at this time serve for the first Scripture demonstration.
2. Another Scripture you have in the eleventh chapter of this epistle from these words:
"The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Romans 11:7.
These words are shedding words, they sever between men and men; the election, the rest; the chosen, the left.; the embraced, the refused; "the election have obtained it, and the rest were blinded." By rest here must needs be understood those not elect because set one in opposition to the other, and if not elect, what then but reprobate?
3. A third Scripture is that in the Acts of the Apostles: "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." And as many. By these words, as by the former, you may see how the Holy Ghost distinguisheth or divideth between inert and men, the sons and the sons of Adam. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed." If by many here we are to understand every individual, then not only the whole world must at last; believe the Gospel, of which we see the most fall short, but they must be ordained to eternal life, which other Scriptures contradict; for there is the rest, besides the elect; the stubble and chaff, as well as wheat; many therefore must here include but some; "for though Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved."
I might here multiply many other texts, but in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. Let these therefore: for this suffice to prove that there is a reprobation. For this I say, though the children of the flesh, the rest besides the election, and the like, were not mentioned in the word, yet seeing there is such a thing as the children of the promise, the seed, the children of God, and. the like, and that too tinder several other phrases, as predestinated, foreknown, chosen in Christ, and written in the book of life, and appointed unto life, with many others – I say, seeing these things are thus apparent, it is without doubt that there is such a thing as a reprobation also.
Nay, further, from the very word election it followeth unavoidably; for whether you take it as relating to this, of distinguishing between persons as touching the world to come, or with reference to God’s acts of choosing this or that man to this or that office, work, or employment in this world, it still signifieth such a choosing as that but some are therein concerned, and that therefore some are thence excluded. Are all the elect, the seed, the saved, the vessels of mercy, the chosen and peculiar? Are not some (yea the most) the, children of the flesh, the rest, the lost, the vessels of wrath, of dishonor, and the children of perdition?