Perkins: The Decree of Reprobation

The decree of reprobation is a work of Gods providence, whereby he hath decreed to passe by certain men, in regard of supernatural grace for the manifestation of his justice and wrath in their due destruction: or, it is his will, whereby he suffreth some men to fall into sin, and inflicteth the punishment of condemnation for sin.

It hath in like manner two acts.
The first is the purpose to forsake some men, and to make known his justice in them. This act hath a final cause, but no impulsive cause out of God. For it ariseth of Gods mere good pleasure, no respect had of good or evil in the creature. For the will of God is the cause of causes: therefore we must make our stand in it, and out of or beyond it no reason must be sought for: yea indeed there is nothing beyond it.

Moreover every man (as Paul averreth) is unto God, as a lump of clay in the potters hand: and therefore God according to his supreme authority doth make vessels of wrath, he doth not find them made. But he should not make them, but find them made, if we say that God willed in his eternal counsel, to passe by men only as they are sinners, and not as they are men for causes most just, though unknown to us.

Thirdly, if God did reject men, because he foresaw that they would reject him, reprobation should not depend upon God, but upon men themselves. And this is all one, as if a man should say, that God foresaw that some would choose him, and others refuse him. And the contempt of the Gospel doth not befall infants, which die out of the covenant of the Gospel.

Fourthly, Paul, who was a most skillful defender of Gods justice, doth exclude all works in the first place, out of this wonderful election of one from another, made in the counsel of God: Not by work, saith he; and therefore excludeth all respect of sin; then afterwards being ravished with admiration, he quieteth himself in the alone will of God, Who hath resisted his will? But, O man, who art thou which pleadest against God? Again, O the deepness of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God: how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! To conclude if it be demanded why God created this world and no more, we must have recourse the mere will of God: and why must we not do so, if it be demanded why God electeth this man, and forsaketh that man or another? Author de vec gent A part of mankind is redeemed, a part perisheth. But who can tell, why God doth not pity them, and pitieth these? the reason of the distinction is unknown, but the distinction or separation it self is not known.

The second act is the ordaining of them to punishment or due destruction. This ordination in respect of the diverse consideration thereof, may be distinguished: and so it is either simple or comparative. The simple ordination is that, whereby this man, suppose Peter or John, is ordained to punishment. And this ordination is of the most just will of God, yet not without respect of original and actual sin. For as men are actually damned for sin: so God hath decreed to damn them for the same sin. Yet notwithstanding sin is not the cause of the decree of reprobation, but in regard of order it goeth before in Gods fore-knowledge, not that former, but this latter act. The ordination which stands in comparison is that, whereby one man and not another, and this man rather then that being in the like condition, is ordained to punishment.

This serveth to shew the liberty of Gods will, in the dispensation of supernatural benefits. For in that God chooseth this man and not that, it declareth the liberty and very great perfection of God: and therefore under the name of an householder, he challengeth the same unto himself, when he saith: May I not do with my own what I list? And verily though God destroy and condemn all those whom he doth forsake, yet should he not be unjust. For we our selves in the daily killing and slaughtering of beasts will not be counted unjust, neither indeed are we: and yet in comparison of God we are not so much worth, as a fly is in respect of us. If it be lawful for thee to receive in, or to thrust out any out of thine house, because thou wilt; it were a point of desperate boldness to take the same right from God in his house.

Perkins, William. A Christian and Plain Treatise of the Manner and Order of Predestination, Pg. 24-28.

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