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against any that shall close with him in this attempt, under the name of a “mere Christian,” will not be less just than that of Augustine. For mine own part, I am fully resolved that all the liberty and freedom that, as creatures, we are capable of is eminently consistent with God's absolute decrees and infallible foreknowledge; and if I should hesitate in the apprehension thereof, I had rather ten thousand times deny our wills to be free than God to be omniscient, the sovereign disposer of all men, their actions, and concernments, or say that any thing comes to pass without, against, or contrary to the counsel of his will. But we know, through the goodness of God, that these things have their consistency, and that God may have preserved to him the glory of his infinite perfection, and the will of man not at all be abridged of its due and proper liberty.
These things being premised, the proof and demonstration of the truth proposed lies ready at hand in the ensuing particulars :
1. He who knows all things knows the things that are future, though contingent.' In saying they are things future and contingent, you grant them to be among the number of things, as you do those which you call things past; but that God knows all things hath already been abundantly confirmed out of Scripture. Let the reader look back on some of the many texts and places by which I gave answer to the query about the foreknowledge of God, and he will find abundantly enough for his satisfaction, if he be of those that would be satisfied, and dares not carelessly make bold to trample upon the perfections of God. Take some few of them to a review : 1 John iii. 20,“ God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Even we know things past and present. If God knows only things of the same kind, his knowledge may be greater than ours by many degrees, but you cannot say his understanding is infinite; there is not, on that supposition, an infinite distance between his knowledge and ours, but they stand in some measurable proportion. Heb. iv. 13, “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." "Not that which is to come, not the free actions of men that are future,” saith Mr B. But to distinguish thus when the Scripture doth not distinguish, and that to the great dishonour of God, is not to interpret the word, but to deny it. Acts xv. 18, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." I ask, whether God hath any thing to do in the free actions of men ? For instance, had he any thing to do in the sending of Joseph into Egypt, his exaltation there, and the entertainment of his father's household afterward by him in his greatness and power? all which were brought about by innumerable contingencies and free actions of men. If he had not, why should we any longer depend on him, or regard him in the several transactions and concernments of our lives?
rerum certus est ordo præscienti Deo, quæ fieri non possunt nisi præcedentibus, et efficientibus causis. Si rerum ordo præscienti Deo certus non est, non omnia sic veni. unt, ut ea ventura præscivit. Porro, si non omnia sic eveniunt ut ab illo eventura præscita sunt, non est, inquit in Deo præscientia futurorum. Nos adversus istos sacrilegos ausus, et impios, et Deum dicimus omnia scire antequam fiant; et voluntate nos facere, quicquid a nobis non nisi volentibus fieri sentimus et novimus."-August. de Civit. Dei, lib. v. cap. ix.
?" Causam quare Deus futura contingentia præsciat damus hanc, quod sit infinita ipsius intellectûs perfectio omnia cognoscentis. Et sicut Deus cognoscit præterita Becundum esse quod habuerunt, ita etiam cognoscit futura secundum illud esse quod babitura sunt.”—Dan. Clasen. Theol. Natural. cap. xxii. p. 128.
“ Nullum numen abest,' si sit prudentia : nos te,
Nos facimus, Fortuna, Deam."
If he had to do with it, as Joseph thought he had, when he affirmed plainly that “ God sent him thither, and made him a father to Pharaoh and his house," Gen. xlv. 5–8, then the whole was known to God before, for “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” And if God may know any one free action beforehand, he may know all, for there is the same reason of them all. Their contingency is given as the only cause why they may not be known. Now, every action that is contingent is equally interested therein. “A quatenus ad omne valet argumentum.” That place of the psalm before recited, Ps. cxxxix. 2–6, is express as to the knowledge of God concerning our free actions that are yet future. If any thing in the world may be reckoned amongst our free actions, surely our thoughts may; and such a close reserved treasure are they that Mr B. doth more than insinuate, in the application of the texts of Scripture which he mentioneth, that God knoweth them not when present without search and inquiry. But these, saith the psalmist, "God knoweth afar off,"_before we think them, before they enter into our hearts. And truly I marvel that any man, not wholly given up to a spirit of giddiness, after he had produced this text of Scripture to prove that God knows our thoughts, should instantly subjoin a question leading men to a persuasion that God knows not our free actions that are future; unless it was with a Julian design, to impair the credit of the word of God, by pretending it liable to selfcontradiction, or, with Lucian, to deride God as bearing contrary testimonies concerning himself.
2. God hath, by himself and his holy prophets, which have been from the foundation of the world, foretold many of the free actions of men, what they would do, what they should do, long before they were born who were to do them.” To give a little light to this argument, which of itself will easily overwhelm all that stands before it,
* Some read “ habes." See Juv. Sat. x. 365.-ED.
? « Præscientia Dei tot habet testes, quot fecit prophetas.”—Tertul. lib. ii. contra Marcionem,
I shall handle it under these propositions :-(1.) That God hath so foretold the free actions of men. (2.) That so he could not do unless he knew them, and that they would be, then when he foretold them. (3.) That he proves himself to be God by these his predictions. (4.) That he foretells them as the means of executing many of his judgments which he hath purposed and threatened, and the accomplishment of many mercies which he hath promised, so that the denial of his foresight of them so exempts them from under his providence as to infer that he rules not in the world by punishments and rewards
For the first :-(1.) There needs no great search or inquiry after witnesses to confirm the truth of it; the Scripture is full of such predictions from one end to the other. Some few instances shall suffice: Gen. xviii. 18, 19, “Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him; for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Scarce a word but is expressive of some future contingent thing, if the free actions of men be so before they are wrought. That “Abraham should become a mighty nation,” that “all the nations of the earth should be blessed in him," that he would “command his children and his household after hi to keep the ways of the LORD,” it was all to be brought about by the free actions of Abraham and of others; and all this “I know," saith the Lord, and accordingly declares it. By the way, if the Lord knew all this before, his following trial of Abraham was not to satisfy himself whether he feared him or no, as is pretended.
So also Gen. xv. 13, 14, “ And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance." The Egyptians' affliction on the Israelites was by their free actions, if any be free. It was their sin to do it; they sinned in all that they did for the effecting of it. And, doubtless, if any men's sinful actions are free, yet doth God here foretell “They shall afflict them."
Deut. xxxi. 16-18, you have an instance beyond all possible exception: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon
us, because our God is not among us?” etc. The sum of a good part of what is recorded in the Book of Judges is here foretold by God. The people's going a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, their forsaking of God, their breaking his covenant, the thoughts of their hearts and their expressions upon the consideration of the evils and afflictions that should befall them, were of their free actions; but now all these doth God here foretell, and thereby engages the honour of his truth unto the certainty of their coming to pass.
1 Kings xiii. 2 is signal to the same purpose: “O altar, altar, behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.” This prediction is given out three hundred years before the birth of Josiah. The accomplishment of it you have in the story, 2 Kings xxiii. 17. Did Josiah act freely? was his proceeding at Bethel by free actions, or no? If not, how shall we know what actions of men are free, what not? If it was, his free actions are here foretold, and therefore, I think, foreseen.
1 Kings xxii. 28, the prophet Micaiah, in the name of the Lord, having foretold a thing that was contingent, and which was accomplished by a man acting at a venture, lays the credit of his prophecy (and therein his life, for if he had proved false as to the event he was to have suffered death by the law) at stake, before all the people, upon the certainty of the issue foretold: “And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, 0 people, every one of you."
Of these predictions the Scripture is full. The prophecies of Cyrus in Isaiah, of the issue of the Babylonish war and kingdom of Judah in Jeremiah, of the several great alterations and changes in the empires of the world in Daniel, of the kingdom of Christ in them all, are too long to be insisted on. The reader may also consult Matt. xxiv. 5; Mark
. xiii. 6, xiv. 30; Acts xx. 29; 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4, etc.; 1 Tim. iv. 1 ; 2 Tim. iii. 1; 2 Pet. ii. 1; and the Revelation almost throughout. Our first proposition, then, is undeniably evident, That God, by himself and by his prophets, hath foretold things future, even the free actions of men.
(2.) The second proposition mentioned is manifest and evident in its own light : What God foretelleth, that he perfectly foreknows, The honour and repute of his veracity and truth, yea, of his being, depend on the certain accomplishment of what he absolutely foretells. If his predictions of things future are not bottomed on his certain prescience of them, they are all but like Satan's oracles, conjectures and guesses of what may be accomplished or not,-a supposition whereof is as high a pitch of blasphemy as any creature in this world can possibly arrive unto.
(3.) By this prerogative of certain predictions in reference to things to come, God vindicates his own deity; and from the want of it evinces the vanity of the idols of the Gentiles, and the falseness of the prophets that pretend to speak in his name: Isa. xli. 21-24, “Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods. Behold, ye are of nothing.” The Lord calling forth the idols of the Gentiles, devils, stocks, and stones, to plead for themselves, before the denunciation of the solemn sentence ensuing, verse 24, he puts them to the plea of foreknowledge for the proof of their deity. If they can foretell things to come certainly and infallibly, on the account of their own knowledge of them, gods they are, and gods they shall be esteemed. If not, saith he, “Ye are nothing, worse than nothing, and your work of nought; an abomination is he that chooseth you.” And it may particularly be remarked, that the idols of whom he speaketh are in especial those of the Chaldeans, whose worshippers pretended above all men in the world to divination and predictions. Now, this issue doth the Lord drive things to betwixt himself and the idols of the world: If they can foretell things to come, that is, not this or that thing (for so, by conjecture, upon consideration of second causes and the general dispositions of things, they may do, and the devil hath done), but any thing or every thing, they shall go free; that is, “Is there nothing hid from you that is yet for to be?” Being not able to stand before this interrogation, they perish before the judgment mentioned. But now, if it may be replied to the living God himself that this is a most unequal way of proceeding, to lay that burden upon the shoulders of others which himself will not bear, bring others to that trial which himself cannot undergo, for he himself cannot foretell the free actions of men, because he doth not foreknow them, would not his plea render him like to the idols whom he adjudgeth to shame and confusion? God himself there, concluding that they are “vanity and nothing” who are pretended to be gods but are not able to foretell the things that are for to come, asserts his own deity, upon the account of his infinite understanding and knowledge of all things, on the account whereof he can foreshow all things whatever that are as yet future. In like manner doth he proceed to evince what is from himself, what not, in the predictions of any, from the certainty of the event: Deut. xviii. 21, 22, “If thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”