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impossible that a thing should be true, and not true, at the same time.
§ 16. The same kind of infallible certainty, that the thing will come to pass, or impossibility but that it should come to pass, that they object against, must necessarily be inferred another way, whether we hold the thing to be any way decreed or not. For it has been shown before, and I suppose none will deny, that God from all eternity decrees his own actions. Therefore he from all eternity decrees every punishment that he ever has inflicted, or will inflict. So that it is impossible, by their own reasoning, but that the punishment should come to pass. And if it be impossible but that the punishment should come to pass, then it is equally impossible but that the sin should come to pass. For if it be possible that the sin should not come to pass, and yet impossible but that the punishment should come to pass, then it is impossible but that God should punish that sin which may never be.
§ 17. For God certainly to know that a thing will be, that possibly may be, and possibly may not be, implies a contradiction. If possibly it may be otherwise, then how can God know certainly what it will be? If it possibly may be otherwise, then he knows it possibly may be otherwise; and that it is inconsistent with his certainly knowing that it will not be otherwise. If God certainly knows it will be, and yet it may possibly be otherwise, then it may possibly happen to be otherwise than God certainly knows it will be. If so, then it may possibly happen that God may be mistaken in his judgment, when he certainly knows: for it is supposed, that it is possible that it should be otherwise than he judges. For that it should be otherwise than he judges, and that he should be mistaken, are the same thing. How unfair therefore is it in those that hold the foreknowledge of God, to insist upon this objection from human liberty, against the decrees, when their scheme is attended with the same difficulty, exactly in the same
§ 18. Their other objection is, that God's decree make God the author of sin. I answer, that there is no more necessity of supposing God the author of sin, on this scheme, than on the other. For if we suppose, according to my doctrine, that God has determined, from all eternity, the number and persons of those that shall perform the condition of the covenant of in order to support this doctrine, there is no need of maintain. grace; ing any more concerning God's decreeing sin, than this, viz. that God has decreed that he will permit all the sin that ever comes to pass, and that upon his permitting it, it will certainly come to pass. And they hold the same thing. For they hold, that God does determine beforehand to permit all the sin that does come to pass; and that he certainly knows, that if he does per
mit it, it will come to pass. I say, they in their scheme allow both these; they allow that God does permit all the sin to come to pass, that ever does come to pass and those that allow the foreknowledge of God, do also allow the other thing, viz. that he knows, concerning all the sin that ever does really come to pass, that it will come to pass upon his permitting it. So that if this be making God the author of sin, they make him so in the very same way that they charge us with doing it. They own that God does permit sin, and that he knows, with respect to all sin that ever is committed, that upon his permitting it, it will come to pass; and we hold no other. God's permission of sin they allow; and yet it would be a sin in men to permit sin. We ought not to permit, or suffer it, where we have op, portunity to hinder it; and we cannot permit it, without making ourselves in some measure guilty. Yet they allow, that God permitting it does not make him guilty of it.
§ 19. They say that we ought to begin in religion, with the perfections of God, and make these a rule to interpret scripture. Ans. 1. If this be the best rule, I ask, why is it not as good a rule to argue from these perfections of God, his omniscience, infinite happiness, infinite wisdom and power, as his other attributes that they argue from? If it be not as good a rule to argue from these as those, it must be because they are not so certain; or because it is not so certain that he is possessed of these perfections, But this they will not maintain; for his moral perfections are proved no otherwise, than by arguing from his natural perfections; and therefore, the latter must be equally certain with the former. Again, 2dly, they lay it down for a rule, to embrace no doctrine which they, by their own reason, cannot reconcile with the moral perfections of God. But I would show the unreasonableness of this rule. For, if this be a good rule, then it always was so. Let us then see what will follow. We shall then have reason to conclude every thing to be really inconsistent with God's moral perfections, that we cannot reconcile with his moral perfections; for if we have not reason to conclude that it is inconsistent, then we have no reason to conclude that it is not true. But if this be true, that we have reason to conclude every thing is consistent with God's moral perfections, which we cannot reconcile with those perfections, then David had reason to conclude, that some things that he saw take place, in fact, were inconsistent with God's moral perfections; for he could not reconcile them with those perfections, Psalm lxxiii. And Job had cause to come to the same conclusion concerning some events in his day. If it be a good rule, that we must conclude that to be inconsistent with the divine perfections, that we cannot reconcile with, or, which is the same thing, that we cannot see how it is inconsistent with those perfections, then it must be, because
we have reason to conclude that it cannot happen that our reason cannot see how it can be; and then it will follow, that we must reject the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, &c.
The scripture itself supposes, that there are some things in the scripture that men may not be able to reconcile with God's moral perfections. See Rom ix. 19. "Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" And the apostle does not answer the objection, by showing us how to reconcile it with the moral perfections of God, but by representing the arrogancy of quarrelling with revealed doctrines under such a pretence, and not considering the infinite distance between God and us. "Nay, but who art thou, O man, that replies against God?" And God answered Job after the same manner. God rebuked him for darkening counsel by words without knowledge, and answered him only, by declaring and manifesting to him the infinite distance between God and him; so letting him know, that it became him humbly to submit to God, and acknowledge his justice, even in those things that were difficult to his reason; and that without solving his difficulties any other way, than by making him sensible of the weakness of his own understanding.
§ 20. If there be no election, then it is not God that makes men to differ, expressly contrary to scripture. Some of the ill consequences of the Arminian doctrine are, that it robs God of the greater part of the glory of his grace, and takes away a principal motive to love and praise him, and exalts man to God's room, and ascribes that glory to self, which belongs to God alone.
§21. That election is not from a foresight of works, as depending on the condition of man's will, is evident by 2 Tim. i. 9. "Who hath saved us, and called us, with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." Philip. ii. 13. "For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure." Rom. ix. 15, 16. "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.-So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." Men's labours and endeavours themselves are from God. 1 Cor. xv. 10. "But by the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain: but I laboured more abundantly than they all. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
§ 22. They say, as God's power extends only to all things possible, so God's knowledge only extends to all things knowable. Ans. Things impossible, or contradictions, are not
things; but events that come to pass, are things. God's power does extend to all things, otherwise it would not be infinite. -So neither is the knowledge of God infinite, unless God knows all things. To suppose that God cannot do things impossible, does not suppose that God's power can be increased. But to suppose that God does not know men's free actions, does suppose that God's knowledge may be increased.
§ 23. If God absolutely determined that Christ's death should have success in gathering a church to him, it will follow, that there was a number absolutely elected, or that God had determined some should surely be saved. If God determined that some should surely be saved, that implies that he had determined that some should perform the conditions of salvation, and be saved; or, which is the same thing, that he would cause that they should be surely saved. But this cannot .be, without fixing on the persons beforehand. For the cause is before the effect. There is no such thing as God's resolving absolutely beforehand that he would save some, and yet not determining who they should be, before they were actually saved: or that there should be in a number the requisites of salvation, and yet not determine who, till they actually have the requisites of salvation. But God had absolutely determined that some should be saved, yea a great number after Christ's death; and had determined it beforehand. Because he had absolutely promised it; Isa. xlix. 6. and liii. 10. See in Psalm Ixxii. and other places in the Psalms, and Tit. i 14. God having absolutely purposed this before Christ's death, must either have then determined the persons, or resolved that he would hereafter determine the persons; at least, if he saw there was need of it, and saw that they did not come in of themselves. But this latter supposition, if we allow it, overthrows the Arminian scheme. It shows, that such a predetermination, or absolute election, is not inconsistent with God's perfections, or the nature of the gospel constitution, or God's government of the world, and his promise of reward to the believing and obedient, and the design of gospel offers and commands, as the Arminians suppose. If God has absolutely determined to save some certain persons, then, doubtless, he has in like manner determined concerning all that are to be saved. God's promising supposes not only that the thing is future, but that God will do it. If it be left to chance, or man's contingent will, and the event happen right, God is never the truer. He performs not his promise; he takes no effectual care about it; it is not he who promised, that performs. That thing, or rather no-thing, called fortune, orders all.-Concerning the absurdity of supposing that it was not absolutely determined beforehand, what success there should be of Christ's death; sce Polhill's Spec. Thelog. in Christo, p. 165–171.
§ 24. It is pretended, that the antecedent certainty of any sin being committed, seeing that it is attended with necessity, takes away all liberty, and makes warnings and exhortations to avoid sin, a mere illusion. To this I would bring the instance of Peter. Christ told him, that he should surely deny him thrice that night before the cock should crow twice. And yet, after that, Christ exhorted all his disciples to watch and pray, that they might not fall into temptation.-" God's decree does not at all take off the use of our endeavours. For in the use of means, the very decrce itself is to receive its accomplishment. Let me refer you to a scripture story for the illustration and proof of this. When the apostle Paul was in imminent danger of shipwreck, in his voyage to Rome, he encouraged the company, by assuring them, there should not be the loss of any man's life, but only of the vessel. For, says he, there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Cæsar; and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.' Acts xxvii. 23, 24. Yet when the shipmen were by and by going to flee out of the ship, to save themselves by the boat, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved which did not at all weaken the assurance he had just before given them from God, that they should all be saved; for God, who had appointed the end, that they should be saved; had also appointed the means, that they should be saved by the help of these shipmen. So, though God has ordained the salvation of those that shall be saved, he has ordained it in the way of faith and holiness, and a working out their own salvation with fear and trembling." COOPER on Predestination unto Life, p. 58, 59.
§ 25. It follows from the infinite perfection of God, that he equally determines within himself all his own works at once. God cannot but be capable of this by his knowledge of all possibilitics, and wisdom to judge, at one view, which of them were fittest to be carried into existence through boundless ages. And is it not the wisdom of every agent, before he sets about a work of any compass, to fix in his design, as far as he can, all things that any way relate to it? Now, all God's works, from the beginning of the creation to the consummation of all things, are one whole and entire grand scheme, whose ultimate end lies at a vast distance from the beginning, and all the intermediate operations, as so many parts, conspire to it in a regular connexion. How, then, can it be consistent with his most perfect wisdom, to leave any of them to an after-thought, when he had forethought sufficient to provide for all alike? And, since he would not knowingly suffer any thing utterly incon