Discourse Concerning God’s Decrees

Edward Bagshaw

Originally Printed In 1658

Posted On April 6, 2015

A PRACTICAL DISCOURSE CONCERNING GOD’S DECREES IN TWO PARTS. The first concerning man’s unfitness to dispute against the decrees of God, out of Romans 9:20. The second tending to assert and clear God’s Absolute Election of a limited and certain number unto eternal life, out of Acts 13:48.

Edward Bagshaw, 1629-1671, was born at Broughton, Northampton-shire. He was sent to Oxford from Westminster School, having been elected thence a student of Christ Church in May of 1646, at the age of 17. He had a great reputation in the University as a scholar, and was recommended by the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, John Owen, as Second Master of Westminster School. {Perhaps Owen felt that the Master of the School, Richard Busby, was too much of a Royalist, with the result that the scholars were being educated by a man whose principles were in reality contrary to those of the leaders of the University of Oxford.} Busby and Bagshaw did not get on well together and so the latter was forced to leave Westminster and return to Oxford. In 1659 he was ordained by Ralph Brownrigg, Bishop of Exeter, and became Vicar of Ambrosden, in Oxfordshire; but this only lasted for a short time as well. He once declared his alienage to the Articles of the Church of England, in these words, “First, as to my Faith and Judgment in Points of Doctrine, I do in general firmly believe whatever is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; and more particularly, that Collection of Articles, which the Church of England hath made; and so far as by the Act of Queen Elizabeth they are enjoined, I am ready to subscribe my real assent unto them; and accordingly I have already, by several Treatises in Print, declare my utter abhorrence of all Popish, Socinian and Arminian tenents which are expressly condemned in those Articles.” As will appear from the following treatise, Bagshaw was a staunch opponent to any forms of Free Will Conditionalism; and also a chief antagonist to Richard Baxter, who once criticized Bagshaw as “an Anabaptist, Fifth Monarchy Man, and a Separatist.” After the Restoration of King Charles II he was appointed Chaplain to the Earl of Anglesey, but soon after showing himself opposed to the Hierarchy and the Ritualism of the Church of England, he was one of two thousand ministers ejected in 1662 by the Act of Uniformity. Off to Ireland in 1662, he returned to London later that year, at which time he was seized by the High Church Authorities, and was imprisoned for Non-Conformity at the Gatehouse in Westminster, and soon thereafter removed to the infamous Tower of London. According to Calamy, {Nonconformist's Memorial,} Bagshaw being granted an audience with the King {Charles II} said something so offensive that he was immediately tossed into the Tower Dungeon. After a short release he was then sent to Newgate Prison, where it was long believed that Bagshaw died; but it appears that he was allowed out on parole, and died about 22 weeks later in Tothill Street, Westminster, on December of 1671. He was buried in Bunhill Fields, and Dr. John Owen wrote the following inscription for his tombstone. “Here lies interred, the Body of Mr. Edward Bagshaw, minister of the Gospel, who received faith from God to embrace it, courage to defend it, and patience to suffer for it, which is by most despised and by many persecuted; esteeming the advantage of birth, education, and learning as things of worth to be accounted loss for the knowledge of Christ. From the reproaches of pretended friends, and persecutions of professed adversaries, he took sanctuary, by the will of God, in eternal rest, the 28th December 1671. Here the Wicked cease from troubling, and here the Weary be at rest. Here the Prisoners rest together, they hear not the Voice of the Oppressor.”

This book, or rather pamphlet is titled, “A Practical Discourse Concerning God’s Decrees, in two Parts,” and was written by Bagshaw in 1658. Herein, he undertakes to prove from Holy Scripture these two things. “First: That whatever opinion is manifestly revealed in Scripture, {such as I take Absolute Reprobation to be,} to argue against it, and by artifices of the human wit, and eloquence to seek to overthrow and disgrace it, this is nothing else but to dispute against God, and impiously to be wise above what is written. Secondly: That God hath from all eternity designed a particular number unto eternal life, and that this Election is Absolute. From whence it follows, that all those who are not by God in that Eternal Act of Absolute Election appointed to life, they are reprobated, that is, designed for destruction; which decree is Absolute, made by God’s sovereign will, and executed in strict justice.”