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etc. In the place of Ezekiel (chap. v. 13) mentioned by Mr B., the Lord tells them he will “ cause his fury to rest upon them,” and “accomplish it upon them.” I ask whether he intends this of any passion in him (and if so, how a passion in God can rest upon a man), or the judgments which for their iniquities he did inflict? We say, then, anger is not properly ascribed to God, but metaphorically, denoting partly his vindictive justice, whence all punishments flow, partly the effects of it in the punishments themselves, either threatened or inflicted, in their terror and bitterness, upon the account of what is analogous therein to our proceeding under the power of that passion; and so is to be taken in all the places mentioned by Mr B. For,
3. Properly, in the sense by him pointed to, anger, wrath, etc., are not in God. Anger is defined by the philosopher to be, ő fegis μετά λύπης τιμωρίας φαινομένης, διά φαινομένην ολιγωρίαν,-« desire joined with grief of that which appears to be revenge, for an appearing neglect or contempt.” To this grief, he tells you, there is a kind of pleasure annexed, arising from the vehement fancy which an angry person hath of the revenge he apprehends as future,—which, saith he, "is like the fancy of them that dream,”—and he ascribes this sion mostly to weak, impotent persons. Ascribe this to God, and you leave him nothing else. There is not one property of his nature wherewith it is consistent. If he be properly and literally angry, and furious, and wrathful, he is moved, troubled, perplexed, desires revenge, and is neither blessed nor perfect. But of these things in our general reasons against the propriety of these attributions afterward.
4. Mr. B. hath given us a rule in his preface, that when any thing is ascribed to God in one place which is denied of him in another, then it is not properly ascribed to him. Now, God says expressly that “ fury" or anger “is not in him," Isa. xxvii. 4; and therefore it is not properly ascribed to him.
5. Of all the places where mention is made of God's repentings, or his repentance, there is the same reason. Exod. xxxii. 14, Gen. vi. 6, 7, Judges x. 16, Deut. xxx. 9, are produced by Mr. B. That one place of 1 Sam. xv. 29, where God affirms that he“ knoweth no repentance," casts all the rest under a necessity of an interpretation suitable unto it. Of all the affections or passions which we are obnoxious to, there is none that more eminently proclaims imperfection, weakness, and want in sundry kinds, than this of repentance. If not sins, mistakes, and miscarriages (as for the most part they are), yet disappointment, grief, and trouble, are always included in it. So is it in that expression, Gen. vi. 6, “ It repented the LORD that he had
“ 1 Η ουν τότε έγγινομένη φαντασία ηδονήν ποιεί, ώσπιρ ή των ενυπνίων.– Arist. Rhet. lib. ii. 1 Διό κάμνοντες, φερόμενοι, δρώντες, διψώντες, όλως επιθυμούντες, και μη κατορθoύντες, épzíno sisi.-Id. ubi sup.
made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”? What but his mistake and great disappointment, by a failing of wisdom, foresight, and power, can give propriety to these attributions unto God? The change God was going then to work in his providence on the earth was such or like that which men do when they repent of a thing, being “ grieved at the heart” for what they had formerly done. So are these things spoken of God to denote the kind of the things which he doth, not the nature of God himself; otherwise such expressions as these would suit him, whose frame of spirit and heart is so described: “Had I seen what would have been the issue of making man, I would never have done it.
Would I had never been so overseen as to have engaged in such a business! What have I now got by my rashness ? nothing but sorrow and grief of heart redounds to me." And do these become the infinitely blessed God ?
6. Fear is added, from Deut. xxxii. 26, 27. “Fear," saith the wise man, “ is a betraying of those succours which reason offereth;"2_nature's avoidance of an impendent evil; its contrivance to flee and prevent what it abhors, being in a probability of coming upon it; a turbulent weakness. This God forbids in us, upon the account of his being our God, Isa. xxxv. 4; “Fear not, O worm Jacob,” etc., chap. xli. 14. Everywhere he asserts fear to be unfit for them who depend on him and his help, who is able in a moment to dissipate, scatter, and reduce to nothing, all the causes of their fear. And if there ought to be no fear where such succour is ready at hand, sure there is none in Him who gives it. Doubtless, it were much better to exclude the providence of God out of the world than to assert him afraid properly and directly of future events. The schools say truly, “Quod res sunt futuræ, a voluntate Dei est (effectiva vel permissiva).” How, then, can God be afraid of what he knows will
, and purposeth shall, come to pass ? He doth, he will do, things in some likeness to what we do for the prevention of what we are afraid of. He will not scatter his people, that their adversaries may not have advantage to trample over them. When we so act as to prevent any thing that, unless we did so act, would befall us, it is because we are afraid of the coming of that thing upon us : hence is the reason of that attribution unto God. That properly He should be afraid of what comes
* Theodoret on this place tells us, “ "OÚ Hewy, as Tines Qasiv, etc. Non autem ut fuerunt quidam" (so that Mr B. is not the first that held this opinion), “ ita quadam et poenitentia ductus Deus haec egit: Ταύτα γάρ τοι ανθρώπινα πάθη ή δε θέια φύσις ελευθέρα παθών." And then he adds, “ Tá dýrots soivuu, etc. Quomodo ergo pænitentia cadat in Deum ?” His answer is, “ Our ot, iri oso ustauiasia, etc. Quare pænitentia Dei nihil aliud est, quam mutatio dispensationis ejus. Poenitet me (inquit) quod constituerim Saul regem, pro eo quod est, statui illum deponere. Sic in hoc loco (Gen. vi. 6), Poenitet fecisse me hominem; hoc est, decrevi perdere humanum genus.”—Theod. in Gen. quæst. 50, tom. i.
pp. 41, 42.
1 "Εστω δε φόβος, λύπη τις ή ταραχή εκ φαντασίας, μίλλοντος κακού ή φθαρτικού, ή λυπηρού.
A Arist. Rhet. lib. ii. cap. vi. VOL. XII.
to pass who knows from eternity what will so do, who can with the breath of his mouth destroy all the objects of his dislike, who is infinitely wise, blessed, all-sufficient, and the sovereign disposer of the lives, breath, and ways of all the sons of men, is fit for Mr. B. and no man else to affirm. “All the nations are before him as the drop of the bucket, and the dust of the balance, as vanity, as nothing; he upholdeth them by the word of his power; in him all men live, and move, and have their being,” and can neither live, nor act, nor be without him; their life, and breath, and all their ways, are in his hands; he brings them to destruction, and says, “ Return, ye children of men ;” and must he needs be properly afraid of what they will do to him and against him ?
7. Of God's jealousy and hatred, mentioned from Ps. v. 4, 5, Exod. xx. 5, Deut. xxxii. 21, there is the same reason. Such effects as these things in us produce shall they meet withal who provoke him by their blasphemies and abominations. Of love, mercy, and grace, the condition is something otherwise : principally they denote God's essential goodness and kindness, which is eminent amongst his infinite perfections; and secondarily the effects thereof, in and through Jesus Christ, are denoted by these expressions. To manifest that neither they nor any thing else, as they properly intend any affections or passions of the mind, any commotions of will, are properly attributed to God, unto what hath been spoken already these ensuing considerations may be subjoined:
(1.) Where no cause of stirring up affections or passions can have place or be admitted, there no affections are to be admitted; for to what end should we suppose that whereof there can be no use to eternity? If it be impossible any affection in God should be stirred up or acted, is it not impossible any such should be in him? The causes stirring up all affections are the access of some good desired, whence joy, hope, desire, etc., have their spring; or the approach of some evil to be avoided, which occasions fear, sorrow, anger, repentance, and the like. Now, if no good can be added to God, whence should joy and desire be stirred up in him ? if no evil can befall him, in himself or any of his concernments, whence should he have fear, sorrow, or repentance ? Our goodness extends not to him ; he hath no need of us or our sacrifices, Ps. xvi. 2, l. 8–10; Job xxxv. 6-8. “Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable to himself ? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?" chap. xxii. 2, 3.
(2.) The apostle tells us that God is “blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5; “ He is the blessed and only Potentate," 1 Tim. vi. 15; “God allsufficient,” Gen. xvii. 1. That which is inconsistent with absolute blessedness and all-sufficiency is not to be ascribed to God; to do so casts him down from his excellency. But can he be blessed, is he all-sufficient, who is tossed up and down with hope, joy, fear, sorrow, repentance, anger, and the like? Doth not fear take off from absolute blessedness? Grant that God's fear doth not long abide, yet whilst it doth so, he is less blessed than he was before and than he is after his fear ceaseth. When he hopes, is he not short in happiness of that condition which he attains in the enjoyment of what he hoped for ? and is he not lower when he is disappointed and falls short of his expectation ? Did ever the heathens speak with more contempt of what they worshipped ? Formerly the pride of some men heightened them to fancy themselves to be like God, without passions or affections, Ps. L. 21; being not able to abide in their attempt against their own sense and experience, it is now endeavoured to make God like to us, in having such passions and affections. My aim is brevity, having many heads to speak unto. Those who have written on the attributes of God,—his self-sufficiency and blessedness, simplicity, immutability, etc., --are ready to tender farther satisfaction to them who shall desire it.
1 Acts xv. 18; 2 Sam. xxii. 16; Job iv. 9; Ps. xviii. 15; Rom. i. 25; Gen. xvii. 1; Rom. ir. 16-18, etc., xi. 34-36 ; Isa. xl. 15; Heb. i. 3; Ps. xxxiii. 9; Acts xvii. 24-28; Ps. 1 8; Dan. v. 23; Ps. xc. 3; Job xxxiv. 19.
Of God's prescience or foreknowledge. His next attempt is to overthrow and remove the prescience or foreknowledge of God, with what success the farther consideration of the way whereby he endeavours it will manifest. His question (the engine whereby he works) is thus framed :
As for our free actions which are neither past nor present, but may afterward either be or not be, what are the chief passages of Scripture from whence it is wont to be gathered that God knoweth not such actions until they come to pass, yea, that there are such actions :
That we might have had a clearer acquaintance with the intendment of this interrogation, it is desirable Mr Biddle had given us his sense on some particulars, which at first view present themselves to the trouble of every ordinary reader; as,
1. How we may reconcile the words of Scripture given in answer to his preceding query with the design of this. There it is asserted that God “understandeth our thoughts” (which certainly are of our free actions, if any such there are) “afar off;" here, that he knows not our free actions that are future, and not yet wrought or performed.
2 By whom is it “wont to be gathered” from the following scrip.
tures that “God knoweth not our free actions until they come to pass.” Why doth not this “mere Christian,” that is of no sect, name
” his companions and associates in these learned collections from Scripture? Would not his so doing discover him to be so far from a mere Christian, engaged in none of the sects that are now amongst Christians, as to be of that sect which the residue of men so called will scarce allow the name of a Christian unto ?
3. What he intends by the close of his query, “ Yea, that there are such actions.” An advance is evident in the words towards a farther negation of the knowledge of God than what was before expressed. Before, he says, God knows not our actions that are future contingent; bere, he knows not that there are such actions. The sense of this must be, either that God knows not that there are any such actions as may or may not be, which would render him less knowing than Mr B., who hath already told us that such there be,-or else that he knows not such actions when they are, at least without farther inquiring after them, and knowledge obtained beyond what from his own infinite perfections and eternal purpose he is furnished withal. In Mr B.'s next book or catechism, I desire he would answer these questions also.
Now in this endeavour of his Mr B. doth but follow his leaders. Socinus in his Prelections, where the main of his design is to vindicate man's free-will into that latitude and absoluteness as none before him had once aimed at, in his eighth chapter objects to himself this foreknowledge of God as that which seems to abridge and cut short the liberty contended for.". He answers that he grants not the foreknowledge pretended, and proceeds in that and the two following chapters, labouring to answer all the testimonies and arguments which are insisted on for the proof and demonstration of it, giving his own arguments against it, chap. xi. Crellius is something more candid, as he pretends, but indeed infected with the same venom with the other; for after he hath disputed for sundry pages to prove the foreknowledge of God, he concludes at last that for those things that are future contingent, he knows only that they are so, and that possibly they may come to pass, possibly they may not. Of the rest of their associates few have spoken ex
Stegman. Photin. Refut. Disput. 1 q. 2; An Photiniani ullo modo Christiani dici queant; Neg. Martin. Smiglec. Jes. Nova Monstra, novi Ariani. cap. 1; Arianos nullo modo Christianos dici posse.
3." Ut ad rationem istam non minus plene quam plane respondeamus, animadverten. dum est, infallibilem istam Dei prænotionem, quam pro re concessa adversarii sumunt, a nobis non admitti.”—Socin. Prælec. cap. viii. p. 25. “Cum igitur nulla ratio, nullus sacrarum literarum locus sit, ex quo aperte colligi possit, Deum omnia quæ fiunt, scivisse antequam fierent, concludendum est, minime asserendam esse a nobis istam Dei præscientiam: præsertim, cum et rationes non paucæ, et sacra testimonia non desint, unde eam plane negandam esse apparet.” — Idem, cap. xi. p. 38. ..8 " Itaque inconsiderate illi faciunt, qui futura contingentia Deum determinate scire