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According to the scheme I am endeavoring to confute, neitha er the fall of men or angels, could be foreseen, and God must be greatly disappointed in these events ; and so the grand scheme and 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, and contrivances of his to mend and patch 'ip, as well as he could, his system, which originally was all very good, and perfectly beautiful ; but was marred, broken and confounded by the free Will of angels and men. And still he must be liable to be totally 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 apostasy 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 apostasy? And which way could He tell beforehand 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 apostasy, 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 infalli. bly obtain his end in the creation, and in all his works; that as ' all things are of Him, so 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. xx. 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
being so liable to be disappointed in all his works, nor indeed with his failing of his end in any thing that He has undertaken, or done.
God's certain foreknowledge of the future volitions
of moral agents, inconsistent with such a Contin gence of those volitions, as is without all Neces
HAVING proved, that Gohas a certain and infallible prescience of the acts of the Will of moral agents, I come how, in the second place, to shew the consequence ; to shew how it follows from hence, that these events are necessary, with a Necessity of connexion or consequence.
The chief Arminian divines, so far as I have had opporo tunity 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 matter may be particularly and thoroughly inquired into. I cannot but think, that on particular and full consideration, it may be perfectly determined, whether it be indeed só, or not.
In order to a proper consideration of this matter, I would observe the following things.
1. It is very evident, with regard to a thing whose exista ence 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,
}. I observed before, in explaining the nature of Necessi. ty, 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 that: 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 existo ence ; and so, now its existence is necessary ; it is now ututterly 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 connexion was indissoluble, and yet was not so, but might be broken. If that, whose existence is indissolubly connected with something, whose existence is now necessary, is itself not necessary, then it may possibly not exist, notwithstanding that indissoluble connexion 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 connexion 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 connexion of the event with that Foreknowledge is not indissoluble, but dissoluble and fallible is very absurd. To affirm it, would be the same thing as lo affirm, that there is no necessary connexion between a proposition's 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. But how absurd is that, on the supposition that there is now an infallible knowledge (i. e. knowledge which it is impossible should fail) that it is true. There is this absurdity in it that it is not impossible, but that there now should be no truth in that proposi. tion, 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 other. wise, implies a contradiction : Because for a thing to be cer, tainly known to any understanding, is for it to be evident to that understanding ; and for a thing to be evident to any understanding is the same thing, as for that understanding to see evidence of it: But no understanding, created or uncreated, can see evidence where there is none : For that is the same thing, as to see that to be, which is not. And therefore, if there be any truth which is absolutely without evidence, that truth is absolutely unknowable, insomuch that it implies a contradiction to suppose that it is known.
But if there be any future event, whose existence is con, tingent, without all Necessity, the future existence of that event is absolutely without evidence. If there be any evidence of it, it must be one of these two sorts, either selfevidence, or proof; for there can be no other sort of evidence, but one of these two; an evident thing must be either evident in itself, or evident in something else ; that is evident by connexion with something else. But a future thing, whose existence is without all Necessity, can have neither of these sorts of evidence. It cannot be selfevident : For if it be, it may be now known, by what is now to be seen in the thing itself; either its present existence, or the Necessity of its nature : But both these are contrary to the supposition. It is supposed, both that the thing has no present existence to be seen; and also that it is not of such a nature as to be necessarily existent for the future : So that its future existence is. not selfevident. And, secondly, neither is there any proof, or evidence in any thing else, or evidence of connexion with something else that is evident; for this is also con
trary to the supposition. It is supposed, that there is now nothing existent with which the future existence of the cone tingent event is connected. For such a connexion destroys its contingence, and supposes Necessity. Thus it is demon strated, that there is in the nature of things absolutely no ev. idence at all of the future existence of that event, which is con-, tingent, without all Necessity (if any such event there be), neither selfevidence nor proof. And therefore the thing "; in reality is not evident; and so cannot be seen to be evident, pr, which is the same thing, cannot be known.
Let us consider this in an example. Suppose that five thousand seven hundred and sixty years ago, there was no other being but the Divine Being ; and then this world, or some particular body or spirit, all at once starts out of nothing into being, and takes on itself a particular nature and form ; all in absolute contingence, without any concern of God, or any other cause, in the matter ; without any manner of ground or reason of its existence; or any dependence upon, or con, nexion at all with any thing foregoing : I say, that if this be supposed, there was no evidence of that event beforehand. There was no evidence of it to be seen in the thing itself ; for the thing itself as yet, was not. And there was no evidence of it to be seen in any thing else ; for evidence in something else, is connexion with something else : But such connexion is contrary to the supposition..... There was no evidence before, that this thing would happen; for by the supposition, there was no reason why it should happen, rather than something else, or rather than nothing. And if so, then all things before were exactly equal, and the same, with respect to that and other possible things ; there was no preponderation, no superior weight or value ; and therefore, nothing that could be of any weight or value ; to determine any un. derstanding. The thing was absolutely without evidence, and absolutely unknowable. An increase of understand, ing, or of the capacity of discerning, has no tendency, and makes no advance, to a discerning any signs or ev. idence of it, let it be increased ever so much ; yea, if it be increased infinitely. The increase of the strength of sight