And the worst part is he doesn't even get to directly trashing Christmas until the end of this thing. So it's going to take me a few more days.
Of interest in this section is Mather's defending the concept of predestination - something I blogged about a couple of years ago. And which inspired me to write a play about a crack ho vs. a Calvinist.
Mather addresses the inevitable helplessness that comes from the doctrine of predestination. In item 1, below, he explains that although God has chosen who will get to go to heaven "before the Foundation of the World" that still doesn't mean you can be a sinner even if you're predestined for heaven.
To those who might question why God would pick who gets salvation even before they are born Mather says:
Why are Some Taken, to be Redeemed, Converted, Saved, when Others are not so! Tis, because, I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, saith the Infinite GOD, who gives none Account of His Matters.In other words, because God says so and he doesn't have to explain himself. So shut up.
And in item 2 he addresses the very logical point raised, that if Jesus died on the cross to redeem Mankind, why do we have to worry about sin? What was the point of redeeming us if we could end up in Hell anyway?
To which Mather replies, basically, you should be so grateful to Jesus for dying for you that you will want to avoid sin.
The doctrine of predestination, especially, ruins the social function of religion to make people behave well through the usual carrot and the stick. But Mather wants to have it both ways - you get chosen and you still have to be good anyway. Or else.
Mainly though Mather just screams Grace! Grace! to get through to you sinful morons.
It must be remembered that this is the Cotton Mather who fully supported the Salem witch trials, and even wrote a tract justifying his actions. That tract has the fantastically hallucinogenic title of "The Wonders of the Invisible World" and unlike the tract I am currently transcribing, has already been committed to the Internet.
And speaking of currently transcribing... to take up from yesterday's post...
But you must now attend unto a DOCTRINE, that calls for a very Serious Attention with you.
To turn the Grace of God into Wantoness, and Wantonly to Abuse the Grace of God, is the Common Custome, and the Certain Symptom, of Ungodliness.
There is a great Number of Criminals, who are to Stand this day Indited before the Bar of the Glorious GOD. I shall have Time to do little more, than just call over their Names, and let them know, That they have not the Fear of God before our Eyes.
I am now to Enquire,
Who are the Ungodly Ones, by whom the Grace of God is turned into Wantoness?
In brief, All they that are not by the Favour of God, brought the more to Love so Gracious a God, by whom they are so favourably dealt withal. In Sum, All they that are the Worse because they have so Good a God for to deal withal: These are they, to every One of whom it may be said, Thou art the Man!
- Ungodly Men they are, who from the Decree of God, Encourage themselves in the Neglect of their Duty to GOD. WE believe a, Predestination to Life, wherein God with an Everlasting Purpose, has decreed by His Counsel, to bring those whom he hath Chosen in Christ out of Mankind, unto Everlasting Salvation. We can Subscribe this Article, [The Seventeenth of the Church of Englands famous XXXIX,] because we find the Sacred Epistles to the Romans and the Ephesians, Expressly affirming it, And when we have Subscribed it, we shall not then Deny it, then Decry it, then Oppose it; We should Look on it, as a very Scandalous Treachery to do so. This Election of Some to Everlasting Life, which unavoidably implies a Rejection of Others, 'tis called, Rom. XI. 5 The Election of Grace. Oh! Sovereign Grace! Why has our God, Chosen us in Christ before the Foundation of the World, and predestinated us unto the Adoption of Children! The Praise of the Glory of His Grace, is design'd in it; is display'd in it. Why are Some Taken, to be Redeemed, Converted, Saved, when Others are not so! Tis, because, I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, saith the Infinite GOD, who gives none Account of His Matters. Tis all from Unaccountable Grace. Tis, Even so, Father, because it pleases thee. Now, See what Ungodly Men will do! They will be at No Pains to Turn unto God, No Pains to get the Chains of Death Knock'd off their Souls; No Pains to lay hold on Eternal Life. Why so? Why, - Si Salvabor, Salvabor, If it be Decreed that I shall be saved, say they, I shall be so, Let me do nothing at all about it, I shall yet be Saved, if it be Decreed, I Shall. And so they'l do nothing! Thus they turn the Grace of God into Wantoness, and Idleness, These Idle Words, a Severe Account must be given of them in the Judgement of God. But, O though Slothful and Wicked Servant, It is Untrue what thou sayest. Thou shalt not be Saved, if thou dost not Work about thy own Salvation. We are directed 2. Pet. I. 101 to Give all Diligence to make you, calling your election sure. God has Decreed the End and the Means together. One Decreed for Life, will strive to enter the Strait Gate, and be in Agony lest he fall short of Entering into Life, the Man who will not give all Diligence to make his Calling Sure, and in that way his Election so, can not Inherit Eternal Life. There is no Decree of God, that will carry Such an One into His Kingdom. Oh! Do not go on in a sleepy Impertinence, Lest you be found foreordained unto - What is to be trembled at - A Damnation that Slumbers not.
- Who but Ungodly Men are they, who from the Contrivance of their Salvation, Encourage themselves, as if it gave them an Allowance for their Sinfulness. That we have Such a SAVIOUR as our IMMANUEL, Oh! the Riches of Grace discovered in it! Oh! the the Unspeakable Gift! We may and must cry out, God SO Loved the World, and he has been So gracious to us! The Motto to be written upon all that is done for us, in and by our Saviour, is in those golden Letters, Eph 11 5 By GRACE YE ARE SAVED. But what is the Use that Some do make of this Grace Because there was a Saviour, I will Venture to be a Sinner, This is the Language, how foaming, and how Shameful! of Ungodliness! The New Covenant is a Covenant of Grace. There is a shout of, Grace! Grace! to be made upon every stroke But you shall see how this Grace is plaid upon. In this Covenant, we Merit nothing by doing any thing. Then sayes the Sluggard, I will do nothing. Self is to be Annihilated in this Covenant, the Perpetual Projection of it is, CHRIST is All! CHRIST is All. Then sayes the Sluggard, I have myself nothing to do. Tis not by our Own Works that we attain to Righteousness, but in our Saviour we have our Fortifying Righteousness. Then sayes the Sluggish Sinner, Tis no Matter, tho' I be careless about the works of Reighteouseness. We can do nothing to any Good Purpose, except our Saviour do Quicken us, do Assist us, do Strengthen us Then, sayes the Door upon its Hinges, I will stand still, I will never try to stir, Tis to no purpose at all for me to do any thing. Our Faithful Saviour, who is Able to keep us from Falling has engaged for the Preservation of the Saints, that they shall be Kept by His Mighty Power; that None Shall Pluck them out of His Hand. Then sayes one of them that would be at Ease in Zion, Let me fold my Hands to Sleep - what need I to keep a Strong Guard, and a Strict Watch upon my self? Ungodly Men, You stand in the way of a dreadful Thunderbolt, It comes down upon you, from, Rom VI 1, 2. What Shall we say then? Shall we continue in Sin, that Grace may abound? GOD FORBID. At this Rebuke, O Else from your Slothfulness, At the Voice of this Thunder, O Haste away from your Ungodliness. Let the Spirit of the New Covenant come upon you, and then Your Habitual, Your continual Inclination will be this, A Glorious CHRIST is He who does all for me. Oh! Let me then Love Him, and Seek him, and Glorify Him unto the Uttermost, and he always afraid of disobliging Him.