Yea, but now you object that; God “does seriously exhort even Reprobates themselves to Believe, and Repent, though he has determined to give no Faith, nor Repentance to them. Therefore, if they cannot Believe or Repent of themselves,” (as we affirm), “ God cannot but dissemble with them, because he exhorts them into that, which they of themselves,” (without his aid, since Faith is a special gift), “can never do, and which himself has irrevocably decreed, not to name them to perform.

To this I answer, that if God himself, who knows the Hearts, the Estates of all men, should tell any Reprobate from Heaven, that they are Reprobates, that he had irrevocably decreed, never to work any Faith, or Repentance in them; and yet should come to such in particular, seriously exhorting them to Believe, to Repent, that so they might be saved, there were then some show of mockery, of double dealing in God, and this objection might perchance stand good. But here the case is otherwise. For though God does often times seriously exhort, yea entreat, even such to Believe, to Repent, as he has for ever rejected in his secret purpose, yet here is no delusion, no deceit at all.

First, because God himself, who knows the Hearts, and States of all men, does never speak immediately from Heaven to any Reprobates in particular, no yet invite them to Repentance, but he does it mediately by his Ministers,  who being but frail mortal men, and having no special Revelation, no Commission from Heaven, to inform them who are Reprobates, but only the Revealed Will, and Word of God, which determines not particular men’s estates, can never positively resolve, whether the particular persons to whom they preach be Reprobates, yea or no, so that they tender Grace, and Mercy to them, not as to Reprobates, or castaways, but as to the chosen Saints of God, for ought they know. Secondly, because those Reprobates, to whom this Exhortation, this tender of Grace is made, can never fully satisfy nor resolve themselves, but they are Reprobates, since they were never privy to God’s counsel, so that for ought they know their whole life is a time of Grace to them. Since then it is never revealed to the Ministers that offer Grace, nor yet to those whom this Grace is tendered, that they are Reprobates, or that God has determined to bestow no Grace upon them, neither the Ministers, nor the Reprobates to whom the Gospel is Preached, can truly say that God does Cozen them, because that unto themselves, and all others, there is a possibility, yea a probability, that they may be saved, since they know not, whether they are peremptorily rejected of the Lord or no.

But you will object, “That God himself does certainly know, that these very Reprobates, neither will, nor can Repent, because he has decreed to work no Repentance in them, therefore God must needs delude them, though they cannot discover it.”

To this I answer, that if Reprobates themselves (whose case you ought not to argue before themselves complain, especially against the Lord himself, who is Just and Righteous in all his ways, though we out of the shallowness of or own capacity can not discover him), can never discern that God deludes them, then how can such who prosecute this objection charge the Lord with Cozenage, or equivocation in his dealings, when as men cannot discern it? What are they now translated into gods, that they can thus disclose this hidden, veiled mystery, which all the Saints, and Reprobates in the World cannot espy, since God’s judgments (which is the highest eulogy that men’s pens can yield them), are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out? Doubtless, if there be never a Reprobate in the World, who can truly say that God deals falsely with him, in desiring his conversion, when as he never did intend it, because he could not satisfy himself, whether he were a Reprobate, yea, or no, then those who make this strange objection, must cease to charge God with Collusion, till they are able for to tax him of, or trace him in it, and that in their own cases only, not in other men’s, who rest perchance contended God’s pleasure, and complain of his dealing.

Secondly, though God does certainly know, that Reprobates neither can, nor will Repent, yet he does not Deceive them, by inviting, exhorting, persuading them to Repentance, because as God does not invite them to Faith, or Repentance, as they are Reprobates, so his decree of Reprobation (which only leaves them in that lost estate, wherein it found them at the first, and puts them into no worse condition), is not the immediate cause of of their infidelity, Impenitency, or natural Imbecility, but their own corrupt, and sinful Natures, which God is not bound in Justice for to cure. Indeed, if God himself should purposely bind them hand and foot in the chains of sin, and then should bid them walk, or run on to him in a serious manner, he might now be thought for to delude them, but this God does not, he casts no rubs, no blocks into their way, but what they cast themselves if they come not when he invites them, it is not because God himself does not enable them, but because they have so ensnared themselves in sins, and trespasses, that they have disabled themselves to come unto him as they ought to do, yea and might have done, had they continued in their first estate, so that they must here accuse themselves, not God.

Thirdly, when God does offer Grace to men, he doth not immediately infuse his Grace into their hearts, but he works it in them by the use of means: now Reprobates, when as God tenders Grace unto them do always slight, neglect, and vilify the means by which he offers, and conveys his Grace; so that if they miss of Grace, (as they always doe:) they cannot lay the fault on God, or say, that he intended not to Convert them; but they must take the blame upon themselves alone; because if they had used the means with care, and Conscience as they ought, and done that which was requisite on their parts; God would have wrought effectually by his Spirit in their hearts, for ought they could tell, or think to the contrary.

Fourthly, when God doth seriously invite us to Repentance, and true saving Faith; he doth not always peremptorily promise, much less resolve to work this Faith, and Repentance in our hearts, (for then they should be always wrought effectually in us, because God’s purposed,  God’s resolved Will, is always executed, and cannot be resisted:) but he does only seriously declare, what things he doth approve, and require in us, and what course wee ourselves must take, if we will be saved: A King may seriously wish and desire, that such a Subject of his were a Rich, or Honorable person; and with all inform him of the way and means to purchase Wealth and Honor; but yet he may not purposely resolve to make him such a one; God doth earnestly wish, Command, and desire, that all men should repent, and turn unto him, and that none should offend, or sin against him; but yet he hath not eternally purposed to cause them to repent, or to enable them to convert, and not to sin: for most men go on in sin, without repentance: in many things we offend all; and there is no man that lives; and sins not: God may desire something in his revealed Will, which he hath not decreed to effect in his secret Will: he desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should repent, and live; yet sinners always die in sin, without repentance: He desires, that all men should be saved, and that none should perish; yet we know, that few are saved and that most men perish: Since therefore God may command, desire, and require something in his revealed Will, which he hath not absolutely decreed to effect in his hidden Will; it follows not, that God doth therefore resolve to work effectually by his Grace in Reprobates, when as he offers means of Grace unto them: and so he mocks them not.

William Prynne, God, No Imposter, nor Delvder. Or, An answer to a Popish and Arminian Cavill, in the defence of Free-Will, and vniversall Grace; wherein Gods tender of Grace by the outward Ministry of the Gospell, to Reprobates who neither doe, nor can receive it; is vindicated from those aspersions of equivocation, falsitie, and collusion, which some by way of Objection, cast upon it ([London]: 1630), 4-8. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; marginal side-references not included; italics original; and underlining mine.]

Credit to Tony for the the find.

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