“This divine Act of Election was eternal: According as he hath chosen us in him, before the Foundation of the World. From the Beginning, and before the foundation of the world mean the same. And, there never was an instant, wherein the Church was not the object of a gracious choice unto salvation, or the enjoyment of eternal life. A learned Writer hath been pleased to distinguish upon eternity, a parteante, or that duration, which was before the existence of the world, or things created, and speaks of a first, and an after date therein. The first date respects, he says, God’s existence, which was eternal, and had no beginning: The after date refers unto his decrees, or acts within himself relating unto Christ and the Church, which he affirms had beginning: He sums up what he had before more largely, expressed, and pleaded for, in this assertion, viz. God himself was before the conceptions and thoughts which he entertained of his Works: Before, besure in order of nature; but how long before, the Thing neither speaks nor the Word declares.”
“The divine decrees are of the same date with the existence of God. His Being is not of one date, and his purposes of another, a later date. Besides, to suppose, that there was an everlasting, or a duration, before the existence of a creature, that really had a beginning, or commencement, is to imagine, that there was a duration, which was neither eternal, nor temporary; but something between both, which is an highly absurd imagination.”
“If there was a duration before the production of the world, which had commencement, why may there not be a duration, after the dissolution of it, which will have an end? And if the former is called everlasting, tho’ it had beginning, why may not the latter be so called, tho’ it should have an end? As some imagine it will; but both are foolish dreams and alike untrue. Farther, if this Liberty may be taken in interpreting the Scripture… ”
The full sermon is here.