Re: Sum of saving knowledge question...
- Dear GMW,
I think you have understood the statement correctly. Perhaps the word
"dispensed" might lead to some confusion, as if what was referred to
was the dispensing of means by the Church, whereas the context makes
fairly clear that what is meant is the appointment of ordinances by
God, whose wisdom in the design thereof far excels the wisdom of the
ministry in the actual dispensing of those ordinances.
So in our day especially the reprobate might seem to have more excuse
for stumbling given the general unfaithfulness of the ministry; but in
point of fact the "general unfaithfulness of the ministry" is also to
be (in part) blamed on them. Yet still, the ordinances and means of
salvation appointed by God are in themselves such as give none
occasion to stumble or turn from God. The reprobate themselves are
given all of the same reasons as the elect to repent, to believe, to
turn unto the Lord.
This point is well maintained in Beza's work on Predestination:
And Samuel Rutherford, in his Trial and Triumph of Faith, also notes
an important distinction related to the discussion, so as to avoid
confusion between the indiscriminating nature of the Gospel's address
to sinners (elect and reprobate) on the one hand, and the perfectly
discriminating nature of God's purpose in providentially bringing the
Gospel to sinners (elect and reprobate), some of whom are intended to
be saved thereby, while others he justly intends to harden.
See in sermon #12: "He offereth, in the gospel, life to all, so they
believe; and God mindeth to work faith, and intendeth to bestow life
on a few only; like a king's son coming to a prison of condemned men,
with offered pardons to all, upon condition they accept of them; but
yet he singleth out some, and persuadeth them to lay hold on the
Father's grace; and by the head taketh them out, and leaveth all the
rest to justice. Yet is it no greater mystery than this, "Many are
called, but few are chosen." So Christ's sending with his commission,
cometh under a two-fold notion: one is, in the intention of the
Evangel; the other is, in the intention of him who proposeth the
Evangel to men,I mean, God's intention to give faith and effectual
A precious subject for humbling spiritual meditation.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "gmw"
> Under head 3, in the Sum of Saving Knowledge, it reads...
> "I. The outward means and ordinances, for making men partakers of
> the covenant of grace, are so wisely dispensed, as that the elect
> shall be infallibly converted and saved by them; and the reprobate,
> among whom they are, not to be justly stumbled."
> I think that "not to be justly stumbled" means that the reprobate
> that stumble over the ordinances cannot blame the ordinances for
> their stumbling, but any help to understand this phrase would be
> much appreciated.