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(4.) The fourth proposition, That God by the free actions of men (some whereof he foretelleth) doth fulfil his own counsel as to judgments and mercies, rewards and punishments, needs no farther proof or confirmation but what will arise from a mere review of the things before mentioned, by God so foretold, as was to be proved. They were things of the greatest import in the world, as to the good or evil of the inhabitants thereof, and in whose accomplishment as much of the wisdom, power, righteousness, and mercy of God was manifest, as in any of the works of his providence whatever. Those things which be hath (so] disposed of as to be subservient to so great ends, certainly he knew that they would be. The selling of Joseph, the crucifying of his Son, the destruction of antichrist, are things of greater concernment than that God should only conjecture at their event. And, indeed, the taking away of God's foreknowledge of things contingent renders his providence useless as to the government of the world. To what end should any rely upon him, seek unto him, commit themselves to his care through the course of their lives, when he knows not what will or may befall them the next day? How shall he judge or rule the world who every moment is surprised with new emergencies which he foresaw not, which must necessitate him to new counsels and determinations? On the consideration of this argument doth Episcopius conclude for the prescience of God, Ep. ii., “ ad Beverovicium de termino vitæ," which he had allowed to be questioned in his private Theological Disputations, though in his public afterward he pleads for it. The sum of the argument insisted on amounts to this:
Those things which God foretells that they shall certainly and infallibly come to pass before they so do, those he certainly and infallibly knoweth whilst they are future, and that they will come to pass; but God foretells, and hath foretold, all manner of future contingencies and free actions of men, good and evil, duties and sins: therefore he certainly and infallibly knows them whilst they are yet future.
The proposition stands or falls unto the honour of God's truth, veracity, and power.
The assumption is proved by the former and sundry other instances that may be given.
He foretold that the Egyptians should afflict his people four hun
"Speciem et pondus videtur habere hæc objectio; nec pauci sunt, qui ejus vi adeo moventur, ut divinam futurorum contingentium præscientiam negare, et quæ pro ea facere videntur loca, atque argumenta, magno conatu torquere malint, et flectere in sensus, non minus periculosos quam difficiles. Ad me quod attinet, ego hactenus sive religione quadam animi, sive divinæ majestatis reverentia, non potui prorsus in animum meum inducere, rationem istam allegatam tanti esse, ut propter eam Deo futurorum contingentium præscientia detrahenda sit; maxime cum vix videam, quomodo alioquin divinarum prædictionum veritas salvari possit, sine aliqua aut incertitudinis macula, aut falsi possibilis suspicione."-Sim. Episcop. Respons. ad 2 Ep. Johan. Beverovic.
• Episcop. Instit. Theol. lib. iv. cap. xvii. xviii. ; Episcop. Disput. de Deo, thes. 10.
dred years, that in so doing they would sin, and that for it he would
, punish them, Gen. xv. 13, 14; and surely the Egyptians' sinning therein was their own free action. The incredulity of the Jews, treachery of Judas, calling of the Gentiles, all that happened to Christ in the days of his flesh, the coming of antichrist, the rise of false teachers, were all foretold, and did all of them purely depend on the free actions of men ; which was to be demonstrated.
3. To omit many other arguments, and to close this discourse: all perfections are to be ascribed to God; they are all in him. To know is an excellency; he that knows any thing is therein better than he that knows it not. The more any one knows, the more excellent is he. To know all things is an absolute perfection in the good of knowledge; to know them in and by himself who so knows them, and not from any discourses made to him from without, is an absolute perfection in itself, and is required where there is infinite wisdom and understanding. This we ascribe to God, as worthy of him, and as by himself ascribed to himself. To affirm, on the other side, -(1.) That God hath his knowledge from things without him, and so is taught wisdom and understanding, as we are, from the event of things, for the more any one knows the wiser he is; (2.) That he hath, as we have, a successive knowledge of things, knowing that one day which he knew not another, and that thereupon there is (3.) A daily and hourly change and alteration in him, as, from the increasing of his knowledge there must actually and formally be; and, (4.) That he sits conjecturing at events;—to assert, I say, these and the like monstrous figments concerning God and his knowledge, is, as much as in them lieth who so assert them, to shut his providence out of the world, and to divest him of all his blessedness, selfsufficiency, and infinite perfections. And, indeed, if Mr B. believe his own principles, and would speak out, he must assert these things, how desperate soever; for having granted the premises, it is stupidity to stick at the conclusion. And therefore some of those whom Mr B. is pleased to follow in these wild vagaries speak out, and say (though with as much blasphemy as confidence) that God doth only conjecture and guess at future contingents; for when this argument is brought, Gen. xviii. 19, “I know,' saith God, ‘Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him,' etc., therefore future contingents may be certainly known of him,” they deny the consequence; or, granting that he may be said to know them, yet say it is only by guess and conjecture, as we do. And for the present vindication of the attributes of God this may suffice.
· Anonymus ad v. cap. priora Matth., p. 28. “Nego consequentiam: Deus dicere potuit se scire quid facturus erat Abraham, etsi id certo non prænoverit, sed probabiliter. Inducitur enim Deus sæpius humano more loquens. Solent autem homines affirmare se scire ea futura, quæ verisimiliter futura sunt," etc.
Before I close this discourse, it may not be impertinent to divert a little to that which alone seems to be of any difficulty lying in our way in the assertion of this prescience of God, though no occasion of its consideration be administered to us by him with whom we have to do.
“ That future contingents have not in themselves a determinate truth, and therefore cannot be determinately known," is the great plea of those who oppose God's certain foreknowledge of them; "and therefore,” say they, “doth the philosopher affirm that propositions concerning them are neither true nor false." But,
1. That there is, or may be, that there hath been, a certain prediction of future contingents hath been demonstrated; and therefore they must on some account or other (and what that account is hath been declared) have a determinate truth. And I had much rather conclude that there are certain predictions of future contingents in the Scripture, and therefore they have a determinate truth, than, on the contrary, they have no determinate truth, therefore there are no certain predictions of them. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”
2. As to the falsity of that pretended axiom, this proposition, “Such a soldier shall pierce the side of Christ with a spear, or he shall not pierce him," is determinately true and necessary on the one side or the other, the parts of it being contradictory, which cannot lie together. Therefore, if a man before the flood had used this proposition in the affirmative, it had been certainly and determinately true; for that proposition which was once not true cannot be true afterward
the same account. 3. If no affirmative proposition about future contingents be determinately true, then every such affirmative proposition is determinately false; for from hence, that a thing is or is not, is a proposition determinately true or false. And therefore if any one shall say that that is determinately future which is absolutely indifferent, his affirmation is false; which is contrary to Aristotle, whom in this they rely upon, who affirms that such propositions are neither true nor false. The truth is, of propositions that they are true or false is certain. Truth or falseness are their proper and necessary affections, as even and odd of numbers; nor can any proposition be given wherein there is a contradiction, whereof one part is true and the other false.
4. This proposition, “ Petrus orat," is determinately true de præsenti, when Peter doth actually pray (for "quicquid est, dum est, determinate est”); therefore this proposition de futuro, “ Petrus orabit," is determinately true. The former is the measure and rule
· Arist. lib. i. de Interp. cap. viii.
? Alphons. de Mendoza. Con. Theol. Scholast. q. 1, p. 534; Vasquez. in 1 Tho. disp. 16; Ruvio in 1, Interpret. cap. vi. q. unica, etc.
by which we judge of the latter. So that because it is true de presenti, "Petrus orat;” ergo this, de futuro, " Petrus orabit," was ab æterno true (ex parte rei). And then (ex parte modi) because this proposition, “Petrus orat,” is determinately true de præsenti; ergo this, “Petrus orabit,” was determinately true from all eternity. But enough of this.
Mr B. having made a sad complaint of the ignorance and darkness that men were bred up in by being led from the Scripture, and imposing himself upon them for “ a guide of the blind, a light of them
a which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, and a teacher of babes," doth, in pursuit of his great undertaking, in this chapter instruct them what the Scripture speaks concerning the being, nature, and properties of God. Of his goodness, wisdom, power, truth, righteousness, faithfulness, mercy, independency, sovereignty, infiniteness, men had before been informed by books, tracts, and catechisms, “composed according to the fancies and interests of men, the Scripture being utterly justled out of the way.” Alas! of these things the Scripture speaks not at all; but the description wherein that abounds of God, and which is necessary that men should know (whatever become of those other inconsiderable things wherewith other poor catechisms are stuffed), is, that he is finite, limited, and obnoxious to passions, etc. “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacri
Of the creation, and condition of man before and after the fall.
MR BIDDLE'S THIRD CHAPTER.
Ques. Were the heaven and earth from all eternity, or created at a certain time? and by whom?
Ans. Gen. i. 1.
Q. What doth Moses infer from her being made a woman, and brought unto the man?
A. Gen. ii. 24.
· Vid. Rod. de Arriaga. disp. Log. xiv. sect. 5, subsect. 3, p. 205; Suarez. in Opus. Lib. i. de Præscientia Dei, cap. ii.; Vasquez. 1, Part. disp. 66, cap. ii. ; Pet. Hurtado de Mend. disp. 9, de Anima. sect. 6.
Q. What commandment gave he to the man when he put him into the garden
Q. Did the sin of our first parents in eating of the forbidden fruit bring both upon them and their posterity the guilt of hell-fire, deface the image of God in them, darken their understanding, enslave their will, deprive them of power to do good, and cause mortality? If not, what are the true penalties that God denounced against them for the said offence ?
A. Gen. 16-19.
EXAMINATION. Having delivered his thoughts concerning God himself, his nature and properties, in the foregoing chapters, in this our catechist proceeds to the consideration of his works, ascribing to God the creation of all things, especially insisting on the making of man. Now, although many questions might be proposed from which Mr B. would, I suppose, be scarcely able to extricate himself, relating to the impossibility of the proceeding of such a work as the creation of all things from such an agent as he hath described God to be, so limited both in his essence and properties, yet it being no part of my business to dispute or perplex any thing that is simply in itself true and unquestionable, with the attendancies of it from other corrupt notions of him or them by whom it is received and proposed, I shall wholly omit all considerations of that nature, and apply myself merely to what is by him expressed. That he who is limited and finite in essence, and consequently in properties, should by his power, without the help of any intervening instrument, out of nothing, produce, at such a vast distance from him as his hands can by no means reach unto, such mighty effects as the earth itself and the fulness thereof, is not of an easy proof or resolution. But on these things at present I shall not insist. Certain it is that, on this apprehension of God, the Epicureans disputed for the impossibility of the creation of the world.
His first question, then, is, “ Were the heaven and earth from all eternity, or created at a certain time? and by whom?" To which he answers with Gen. i. 1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
1« Quibus enim oculis animi intueri potuit vester Plato fabricam illam tanti operis, qua construi a Deo atque ædificari mundum facit ? Quæ molitio? Quæ ferramenta ! Qui vectes ? Quæ machinæ ? Qui ministri tanti muneris fuerunt ? Quemadmodum autem obedire et parere voluntati architecti aer, ignis, aqua, terra, potuerunt ?"Velleius apud Cicer. de Nat. Deor. lib. i. 8.