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God deny it him this way, but gives it, and
lose the comfort of the divine favour, when his interest in it remains firm and inviolable; yet his loss of comfort does not necessarily cut off his assurance of being a child of God, and of his perseverance to the end; nor has he any reason, upon every fall into sin and condemnation of conscience, for it, to suspect his fall from grace, and the truth of his fincerity: nor does this doctrine of perseverance make men less careful, but more so, to avoid all wilful violations of the law; nor less speedy, but more fo, in their application to the blood of Christ for pardon and cleansing, in the exercise of faith and repentance, and in the performance of every religious duty ; since these are means of their holding out and persevering to the end,
CH A P. VII. Of the Prescience and Providence of God.
N the controversy bețween the Calvinifts and Arminians concerning the decrees of Election
and Reprobation, the Freedom of man's will, and the Specialty of God's grace, iç is observed by the former, that many of the arguments of the latter feem as strongly to conclude against God's foreknowledge of future contingencies
, as against his abfolute decrees; that what is said in favour of the freedom of mens wills, and against the determination of them by a divine influence, weakens che providence of God, and that the case of the heathens being left withouç a revelation, cannot well be reconciled to the doctrines of universal Grace and general Redemption. The learned writer, attended to, proposes, in his fixth Discourse, an answer to these three objections, which he easily faw lay against the doctrines he had asserted in his former discourses, and the arguments by which he endeavoured to con
firm them, which I Thall consider and reply co in this and the following chapter. And,
I. It must be, and is generally allowed, that God had from eternity a prescience or fore-knowledge of all future events; of all future contingencies, even of the free actions of mens wills; of every thing that should be done in time, to the end of the world, and to all eternicy. He fore-knew what all men would do, or would not do; who would believe and repent, and who would not; and who would perilh, and who would be eternally saved: which fore-knowledge is noc conjectural, uncertain, and precarious; buc iş real, certain, and infallible; whence it must follow, that whatsoever arguments are advanced upon çhę attributes of God, his wisdom, justice, holiness, truth, sincerity, goodness and mercy; or upon the methods and dealings of God with the sons of men, against the absolute decrees of God, are as much opposed unto and lię as strongly against the fore-knowledge of God; since that as much requires the certainty, and secures the infallibilicy of the event, as his absolute decrees do; otherwise his foreknowledge would not be knowledge, buc conjecture. The answer to this is y,
y Whitby, p. 495. Ed. 2. 407.
ļ. “ Thaç
1. “ That tho' this argument be offered in favour of the decrees of abfolute Election and Reprobation, yet doch ic plainly overthrow them, or render them superfluous : for be ir, that these decrees were made from eternity ; yet feeing that God's fore-knowledge of the events of all men, was also from eternity, muft he not know what was the condition of all men when he made these decrees? And what need then would there be of a decree for that event, which was infallible by virtue of his foreknowledge, without that decree.” To which I reply, That the fore-knowledge of God is so far from overthrowing or rendering superfluous che decrees of God, that the decrees of God are the foundation of his fore. knowledge of future events; for he forefees and fore-knows all things that come to pass in himself, in his own will, and the decrees of it. The reason why God decrees this or the other thing, is not because he fore-knew they would be whether he decreed them or no; but he fore-knew they would be, because he decreed they thould be. God fore-knows all things possible in his own power, and all things future in his own will, and the determinations of it; he willed things, and then knew what he willed; cho' there is neither first nor last in God, yet we are obliged to consider one thing' after another. God's decrees are not to be
conceived of without his knowledge, nor
2. It is said", That “ this argument is
Whitby, p. 492. Ed. 2. 470, 471.