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ask a reason, why God allowed and allotted unto these Men the means which he foreknew would bring them to Glory, and settled the end, Glory and eternal Life upon them? And why he permitted any at all to perish, or why these rather than others, when he foreknew their ends would be unhappy through their own fault, when he could have remedied it, and have so disposed things, out of the Treasures of his Wisdom and Knowledge, that these also might have been faved, or others that are saved might have perished? Our answer to this, I say, must be founded on God's Dominion; that it was his high Pleasure to have his severity manifested, as well as his Mercy; his severity in the one, without wrong or injustice to any; his Mercy to the other, in bestowing on them his free and frank Bounty, as Lord of his own things. Thus when God, as the Supreme cause, disposer and ruler of all, was contriving and ordering how all things should be, we see it verified in him, that he hath Mercy on whom he will, and whom he will be hardneth, by his granting to some those means which he knew would be falutary, and resolving to help those no further, whom he found would fail under sufficient help given them.
Here is to be seen that Mass or Lump of Mankind, out of which the great Potter made Vessels to Honour, and to Dishonour; namely, the whole race of Men, from the first Man to the laft, under all circumstances accompanying every particular both on God's part, and also on Man's, known and considered by the natural and simple Understanding of God: for then they were as a lump without determined forms, capable of any change or amendment, according to the great Work-malter's pleasure. For as God by his Sovereign Power maketh of the fame Earth one piece Gold, another Lead, of ba
fer ser stuff; fo of Mankind, he made some to Holi. ness and Honour, some he permitted to be Defiled and come to Dishonour: But with this difference, that there his own hand did all, as working upon dead and senseless matter; here he worketh upon a living and reasonable Creature, whose nature we must suppose to be preserved in God's working upon it. For in Comparisons, as there must be some likeness, fo the differences must be observed, as the nature of things compared do differ, else nothing is more fit to deceive with, than a similitude. Thus much of the nature of God who did Predestinate ; Let us now consider the nature of Man who was Predestinated. It pleased the most wise and omnipotent Creator, amongst other his Glorious works, to conceive one more admirable and excellent than the rest, to subsist of a mixt and compound nature, of Spirit and of Flesh: By the Flesh, infe. rior to the Angels; by the Spirit, superior to beasts, to whom he mighe fay, Be not as the Horse, and as the Mule that have no Understanding ; for he would make him a reasonable Creature, and so a free Creature, not in such a manner free, as to be under no Superior, or to be ablolute, self-sufficient, and independent on any other, for this belongs only to God himself; but so that in such things as he should Will or Nill, the nature of his Will should be free, and at liberty to choose, or refuse this or that, to be Master and owner of his own acts, to be thereby capable of righteousness, or of Sin, of doing Good or Evil, of Obedience or Difobedience; and thence a subject of praise or pu. nishment, of bounty or Justice, which no crea. ture could properly be, that is not free in Will, and loose, and at liberty from all kind of ne. cessity.
This perhaps may be faid to be true of the first Man Adam, in his Creation, but since his Fall.,
that that freedom of Man is to all kind of things decayed, and to things Spiritual utterly lost: which being granted, yet this is to be added, that God who knew and permitted this fall and loss, knew also how to provide, and prepare the Graces of his powerful Spirit, for restoring and supplying what was lost; and how to give a new commandment, or make a new Covenant with Man fallen, fit and propor. tionable to the impotent will of Man, and to those Graces of his Spirit, which he would be ever ready to supply, either preventing Man, or working
as need should require : So that this noble Creature fill might hold and keep the Place and rank of a free Agent. For we may not think that the Wis. dom of God made such an one to thew him to the Angels, and to the World, and ever after to bave banished him out of the World; or to have admitted so notorious a defect in this Universe, that there should not be found in it, the noblest nature of things here below, above a day or two, in the very infancy of the World; and ever after, Men should all either be necessarily Evil, or necessarily Good, as the Manichees supposed: seeing God cre. ated Man to be the Subject of his righteous Judgment. The old saying therefore must be remembered ; If there be no Grace from God, how shall God save the World? If there be not Freewill in Man, how mall God 7udce the World? Grace is to be defended so, as not to subvert the. Freedom of Man's Will, and the Free-will of Man is so to be delended, that we do not evacuate the Grace of God.
To conclude with uniting the consideration of these two natures together, of God and Man, in Qur conceiving the order and manner of Divine Predestination; Seeing the nature of a free Creature is the Subject and Root of most of the contingencies in the World, and the natural knowledge of
and man and Man" of
God, or his simple Understanding, is the infallible foreknower of all future contingencies, even conditional, if God please to create such a free Creature. It followeth from hence, that a just Decree before all time, determining what shall become of every Free-creature in the end of time, cannot possibly be conceived by us to have been made, but as proceding from that infallible Foreknowledge of every Man's works, which is in God; since he will render to every Man according to his works.
And again, because the same Decree doth procede from a Sovereign Lord whose Will is absolute, who will be debtor to none, but will have all debtors to him; it followeth again, that the Foreknowledge out of which the Decree procedeth, can be no other, after the manner of our conception, than that of God's natural, and simple Understanding of things, when they were but as possible before any Decree was made, that they should be Created or come into being. To which knowledge when the omnipotent Will of God adjoined it self, an infallible and unchangeable Decree was made, that things should be such as they are now, necessary or contingent, means or ends, causes or effects, such as foreknowledge had apprehended and understood them: So that the Salvation of every Man who is saved, is from God; and the perdition of every Man that perisheth is from himself. To God only wise, the Gracious and Righteous Lord, be all Honour, Glory, and Dominion for cver, Amen.
Sufficiant qnæ dicta sunt, nec enim oportet, quod dici folet, universum ebibere mare eum qui velit discere, quoniam aqua ejus falfa eft.
Iren. Lib. 2. Cap. 34.
CH A P. XXI.
An Analysis to the Seventeenth Article of
the Church of England.
To make manifest how perfect a consent the fifth
1 Opinion hath with the confeflion of the Church of England in the seventecnth Article, which is of Predestination and Election; and to shew who are worthy to be accounted Heterodox from the Church, I'most humbly crave leave to Analyse and Explicate the faid Article.
In doing whereof I desire the judicious Reader to consider with me three things; First, the Scope and Intent of the Article ; Secondly, the Parts and Paragraphs with their connexion; Thirdly, the Loweft and Particular Terms in every Part, and that in their Literal and Grammatical sense, as we are commanded by his Majesty's Declaration, and according to those places of Scripture, from whence the Terms are taken fo Religiously, that nothing could be better.
The Scope of the Article is; First, to establish an unity of Doctrine in the high point of Predestination and Election, among the Members of the Church; Secondly, to dire&t them in the right use of this Doctrine, and to prevent abuses.
The Parts and Paragraphs distinguished to the Eye in most Editions are two; the first, from the beginning to these words, they attain to Everlasting Felicity. This hath respe& chiefly to the first end, the Establishing of the found Doctrine of Predestination : The Second beginneth at these words, As the Godly consideration, &c. and reacheth to the end: this hath respect chiefly to the second; to