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Some have from these passages attempt
VII. ed to deduce the doctrine of abfolute Predestination; that because the Decrees and Purposes of God are unchangeable, therefore Mens Salvation, or Condemnation, does not at all depend on any Works in their own Power. And indeed, were there
such Decree, it could not be denied but it would be unchangeable, and consequently that All Religion were vain. But the Truth is, that the Scripture mentions no such Decree at all; and therefore men need not be concerned about the Unchangeableness of that which has no Being. The Decree of God, is not that This or That particular person shall necessarily be saved or perish ; (For then What Need, or what Use would there be of a day of Judgment? ) But his Decree is, that Faith, and Obedience, in whomfoever it is found, fhall lead to Salvation ; and Disobedience on the contrary, to Destruction : And This Decree, is indeed, like all his other Purposes, absolutely unalterable.
SERM. AGAIN, in his Laws likewise, that is, VII. in the uniform Intention of all his Com
mandments, God is perfectly unchangeable ; because they are always founded on the same immutable reasons, the eternal Differences of Good and Evil, the original nature of Things, and universal Equity ; and they always tend to the same regular End, the Order and Happiness of the whole Creation. Of This, the Law of Nature was the primary Institution ; the Law of Moses, was the typical or figurative Representation; and the Gospel of Christ, its completion or perfect Restoration. And this is the meaning of that passage of the Apostle, Heb. xiii. 8, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. That this is here spoken, not of the Person, ( though in That sense also it is true ; but that it is here spoken, not of the Person ) but of the Law of Christ, appears from the words immediately following, with which it is connected : Be not carried
with divers and strange doctrines; for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever ; his Doctrinc is, eternally and unchangeably,
One and the same. The Gospel, saith the Serm. fame Apostle, Gal. iii. 8, was preached be- VII. fore unto Abraham: which Gospel, the Law that was given four hundred years after, could not disannul; but was added only because of Transgresion, (that is, because of the infirm and childish state of the people of the Jews, ) till the promised Seed should come : till the more explicit declaration of that Faith, by which alone both Abraham and all good men from the beginning of the World were, as all good Christians shall be even unto the End, uniformly justified; that is, by the everlafting Gospel, Rey. xiv. 6. the eternal and unchangeable Law of God.
FURTHER; in his Covenants or Promises ; (such as are not declared to be conditional, and annexed to certain particular Qualifications, ) God is likewise perfectly unchangeable
. The Reason is, because Covenants or Promises of this kind are founded upon such grounds as cannot be altered ; even upon the original, fixt
permanent Designs and Intentions of all-wise Providence. Thus, concerning the Promise made to Abraham; God, faith
Serm.the Apostle, Heb. vi. 13. because he could VII. swear by no greater, sware by bimself ;
--confirming it by an Oath, to show unto the Heirs of Promise the immutability of bis Counsel
. The reason of which unchangeable resolution was, becaufe the giving that land to Abraham and to his Seed after him, included the Promise both of the temporal Jerusalem for an Habitation of the true Worshippers of God bere, and of the beavenly Jerusalem, wherein both Abrabam himself personally and all his spiritual Posterity were to be made happy bereafter. Of the fame Nature is That Declaration concerning all Ifrael, Num. xxiii. 19.
God is not a man, that be fkould lye ; neither the Son of Man, that be should repent : Hath he said, and fall be not do it? or bath he spoken, and shall be not make it good ? Behold, I have received commandment to bless; and be hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it. The reafon of This, is, because it was a declara-. tion of the whole Scheme of Providence in establishing a Standard of true Religion among that People; which was a. matter not to be altered by any mens
future behaviour :' It was one of those Ser M.
VII. things, which God might justly, and without wrong to any man, determine at first by his absolute Supreme Power ; (as in the case of Jacob and Esau, he declared, before either of them was born or had done either good or evil, that the Posterity of the elder should serve that of the younger ; ) and which Design afterwards, in the whole course of his Providence, he might continue to accomplish in the same manner, however different men's behaviour might be under the several periods of That difpensation. And This is the true Meaning of that other difficult Text in St Paul, Rom. xi. 28, 29. As concerning the Gospel, they (the Nation of the Jews ) are Enemies for your fake; bat as touching the election, they are beloved for the Fathers fakes ; For the Gifts (these Gifts ) and Calling of God are without Repentance. Some have applied These words also to the doctrine of Predestination: But their being spoken expressly of whole Nations, and not of fingle persons, evidently demonstrates the contrary; and shows at the same time the reason of the immutability