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did predestinate," &c. (1 Pet. i. 2.) “ Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”
If God did not foreknow the fall of man, nor the redemption by Jesus Christ, nor the Volitions of man since the fall; then he did not foreknow the saints in any sense; neither as particular persons, nor as societies or nations; either by election, or by mere foresight of their virtue or good works; or any foresight of any thing about them relating to their salvation ; or any benefit they have by Christ, or any manner of concern of theirs with a Redeemer.
Arg. III. On the supposition of God's ignorance of the future Volitions of free Agents, it will follow, that God must in many cases truly repent what he has done, so as properly to wish he had done otherwise : by reason that the event of things, in those affairs which are most important, viz. the affairs of his moral kingdom, being uncertain and contingent, often happens quite otherwise than he was before aware of. And there would be reason to understand that, in the most literal sense, (Gen. vi. 6.) “ It repented the Lord, that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart," (and 1 Sam. xv. 11.) contrary to Numb. xxüi. 19.“ God is not the Son of Man, that He should repent :” and I Sam. xv. 15, 29. “ Also the strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent ; for He is not a man that He should repent.” Yea, from this notion it would follow, that God is liable to repent and be grieved at His heart, in a literal sense, continually; and is always exposed to an infinite number of real disappointments in governing the world ; and to manifold, constant, great perplexity and vexation: but this is not very consistent with his title of "God over all, blessed for evermore ;" which represents Him as possessed of perfect, constant, and uninterrupted tranquillity and felicity, as God over the universe, and in his management of the affairs of the world, as supreme and universal ruler. (See Rom. I. 25. ix. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 31. I Tim. vi. 15.)
Arg. IV. It will also follow from this notion, that as God is liable to be continually repenting of what he has done ; so he must be exposed to be constantly changing his mind and intentions, as to bis future conduct ; altering bis measures, relinquishing his old designs, and forming new schemes and projects. For his purposes, even as to the main parts of his scheme, such as belong to the state of his moral kingdom, must be always liable to be broken, through want of foresight; and he must be continually putting his system to rights, as it gets out of order, through the contingence of the actions of moral Agents : He must be a Being, who, instead of being absolutely immutable, must necessarily be the subject of infinitely the most numerous acts of repentance and changes of intention, of any being whatsoever ; for this plain reason, that his vastly extensive charge comprehends an infinitely greater number of those things which are to him contingent and uncertain. In such a situation, he must have little else to do, but to mend broken links as well as he can, and be rectifying 'his disjointed frame and disordered movements, in the best manner the case will allow. The Supreme Lord of all things must needs be under great and miserable disadvantages, in governing the world which he has made, and of which he has the care, through his being utterly unable to find out things of chief importance, which hereafter shall befall his system ; for which, if he did but know, he might make seasonable provision. In many cases, there may be very great necessity that he should make provision, in the manner of his ordering and disposing things, for some great events which are to happen, of vast and extensive influence and endless consequence to the universe ; which he may see afterwards, when it is too late, and may wish in vain that he had known before, that he might have ordered his affairs accordingly. And it is in the power of man, on these principles, by his devices, purposes and actions, thus to disappoint God, break his measures, make him continually change his mind, subject him to vexation, and bring him into confusion.
But how do these things consist with reason, or with the word of God? Which represents, that all God's works, all that he has ever to do, the whole scheme and series of his operations, are from the beginning perfectly in his view ; and declares, that whatever devices and designs are in the hearts of men, “ the counsel of the Lord shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations,” (Prov. xix. 21. Psal. xxxiii
. 10, 11.) And “that which the Lord of hosts hath purposed, none shall disannul,” (Isai. xiv. 27.) And that he cannot be frustrated in one design or thought, (Job, xlii. 2.) And “that which God doth, it shall be for ever, that nothing can be put to it, or taken from it,” (Eccl. iii. 14.) The stability and perpetuity of God's counsels are expressly spoken of as connected with his foreknowledge, (Isai. xlvi. 10.) “ Declaring the end
, from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done ; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”—And how are these things consistent with what the scripture says of God's immutability, which represents him as “ without variableness, or shadow of turning;" and speaks of him, most particularly, as unchangeable with regard to his purposes, (Mal. iii
. 6.) “I am the Lord; I change not ; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." (Exod. ii. 14.) “I AM THAT I Am.” (Job xxiii. 13, 14.)
« Не is in one mind ; and who can turn him? And what his soul desireth, even that he doth : for he performeth the thing that is appointed for me."
ARG. V. If this notion of God's ignorance of future Volitions of moral Agents be thoroughly considered in its consequences, it will appear to follow from it that God, after he had made the world, was liable to be wholly frustrated of his end in the creation of it; and so has been, in like manner, liable to be frustrated of his end in all the great works he had wrought. It is manifest, the moral world is the end of the natural : the rest of the creation is but an house which God hath built, with furniture, for moral Agents: and the good or bad state of the moral world depends on the improvement they make of their natural Agency, and so depends on their Volitions. And therefore, if these cannot be foreseen by God, because they are contingent, and subject to no kind of necessity, then the affairs of the moral world are liable to go wrong to any assignable degree ; yea, liable to be utterly ruined. As on this scheme it may well be supposed to be literally said, when mankind, by the abuse of their moral Agency, became very corrupt before the flood, “ that the Lord repented that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart ;" so, when he made the universe, he did not know but that he might be so disappointed in it, that it might grieve him at his heart that he had made it. It actually proved, that all mankind became sinful, and a very great part of the angels apostatized : and how could God know before that all of them would not? And how could God know but that all mankind, notwithstanding means used to reclaim them, being still left to the freedom of their own will, would continue in their apostacy, and grow worse and worse, as they of the old world before the flood did !
According to the scheme I am endeavouring to confute, the fall of neither men nor angels could be foreseen, and God must be greatly disappointed in these events; and so the grand contrivance for our redemption, and destroying the works of the devil, by the Messiah, and all the great things God has done in the prosecution of these designs, must be only the fruits of his own disappointment ; contrivances to mend, as well as he could, his system, which originally was all very good, and perfectly beautiful ; but was broken and confounded by the free will of angels and men. And still he must be liable to be to. tally disappointed a second time: He could not know that he should have his desired success, in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of his only begotten Son, and other great works accomplished to restore the state of things : he could not know, after all, whether there would actually be any tolerable measure of restoration; for this depended on the free will of man. There has been a general great apostacy of almost all the Christian world, to that which was worse than heathenism ; which continued for many ages. And how could
God, without foreseeing men's Volitions, know whether ever Christendom would return from this apostacy? And which way would he foretell how soon it would begin? The apostle says, it began to work in his time, and how could it be known how far it would proceed in that age? Yea, how could it be known that the gospel which was not effectual for the reformation of the Jews, would ever be effectual for the turning of the heathen nations from their heathen apostacy, which they had been confirmed in for so many ages ?
It is represented often in scripture, that God, who made the world for himself, and created it for his pleasure, would infallibly obtain his end in the creation, and in all his works ; that as all things are of him, so they would all be to him ; and that in the final issue of things, it would appear that he is “the first, and the last.” (Rev. xxi. 6.) “ And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." But these things are not consistent with God's liability to be disappointed in all his works, nor indeed with his failing of his end in any thing that he has undertaken.
God's certain Foreknowledge of the future volitions of moral
agents, inconsistent with such a Contingence of those volitions, as is without all Necessity.
Having proved that GOD has a certain and infallible Prescience of the voluntary acts of moral agents, I come now, in the second place, to shew the consequence; how it follows from hence, that these events are necessary, with a necessity of connection or consequence.
The chief Arminian divines, so far as I have had opportunity to observe, deny this consequence; and affirm, that if such Foreknowledge be allowed, it is no evidence of any Necessity of the event foreknown. Now I desire, that this matte may be particularly and thoroughly enquired into. I cannot but think, that on particular and full consideration, it may be perfectly determined, whether it be indeed so or not.
In order to a proper consideration of this matter, I would observe the following things.
I. It is very evident, that with regard to a thing whose existence is infallibly and indissolubly connected with something which already hath, or has had existence, the existence of that thing is necessary. Here may be noted the following particulars :
1. I observed before, in explaining the nature of Necessity, that in things which are past, their past existence is now necessary: having already made sure of existence, it is too late for any possibility of alteration in that respect; it is now impossible that it should be otherwise than true, that the thing has existed.
2. If there be any such thing as a divine Foreknowledge of the volitions of free agents, that Foreknowledge, by the supposition, is a thing which already has, and long ago had existence; and so, now its existence is necessary; it is now utterly impossible to be otherwise, than that this Foreknowledge should be or should have been.
3. It is also very manifest, that those things which are indissolubly connected with other things that are necessary, are themselves necessary. As that proposition whose truth is necessarily connected with another proposition, which is necessarily true, is itself necessarily true. To say otherwise would be a contradiction : it would be in effect to say, that the connection was indissoluble, and yet was not so, but might be broken. If that, the existence of which is indissolubly connected with something whose existence is now ne. cessary, is itself not necessary, then it may possibly not exist, notwithstanding that indissoluble connection of its existence. -Whether the absurdity be not glaring, let the reader judge.
4. It is no less evident, that if there be a full, certain, and infallible Foreknowledge of the future existence of the volitions of moral agents, then there is a certain, infallible and indissoluble connection between those events and that Foreknowledge; and that therefore, by the preceding observations, those events are necessary events; being infallibly and indissolubly connected with that, whose existence already is, and so is now necessary, and cannot but have been.
To say the Foreknowledge is certain and infallible, and yet the connection of the event with that foreknowledge is dissoluble and fallible, is very absurd. To affirm it, would be the same thing as to affirm, that there is no necessary connection between a proposition being infallibly known to be true, and its being true indeed. So that it is perfectly demonstrable, that if there be any infallible knowledge of future volitions, the event is necessary; or, in other words, that it is impossible but the event should come to pass. For if it be not impossible but that it may be otherwise, then it is not impossible but that the proposition which affirms its future coming to pass, may not now be true. There is this absurdity in it, that it is not impossible, but that there now should be no truth in that proposition, which is now infallibly known to be true.
II. That no future event can be certainly foreknown, whose existence is contingent, and without all Necessity, may be proved thus ; it is impossible for a thing to be certainly known to any intellect without evidence. To suppose