I believe many are saved, who to man seem reprobated; and many are reprobated who in the opinion and sentence of man stand elected. There will appear at the last day strange and unexpected examples, both of His justice and His mercy; and therefore to define either is folly in man, and insolency even in the devils. Those acute and subtle spirits, in all their sagacity, can hardly divine who shall be saved; which if they could prognosticate, their labour were at an end; nor need they compass the earth, seeking whom they may devour. Those who, upon a rigid application of the law, sentence Solomon unto damnation, condemn not only him but themselves, and the whole world; for by the letter, and written word of God, we are, without exception, in the state of death; but there is a prerogative of God, and an arbitrary pleasure above the letter of His own law, by which alone we can pretend unto salvation, and through which Solomon might be as easily saved as those who condemn him.
The number of those who pretend unto salvation, and those infinite swarms who think to pass through the eye of this needle, have much amazed me. That name and compellation of ‘little flock’ doth not comfort but deject my devotion, especially when I reflect upon mine own unworthiness, wherein, according to my humble apprehensions, I am below them all. I believe there shall never be an anarchy in heaven; but as there are hierarchies amongst the angels, so shall there be degrees of priority amongst the saints. Yet it is, I protest, beyond my ambition to aspire unto the first ranks; my desires only are, and I shall be happy therein, to be but the last man, and bring up the rear in heaven.
ON THE REFORMATION
As there were many reformers, so likewise many reformations; every country proceeding in a particular way and method, according as their national interest, together with their constitution and clime inclined them; some angrily, and with extremity; others calmly, and with mediocrity, not rending, but easily dividing the community, and leaving an honest possibility of a reconciliation; which, though peaceable spirits do desire, and may conceive that revolution of time and the mercies of God may effect, yet that judgment that shall consider the present antipathies between the two extremes, their contrarieties in condition, affection, and opinion, may with the same hopes expect a union in the poles of heaven.
It is the promise of Christ to make us all one flock; but how, and when this union shall be, is as obscure to me as the last day.