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certainty in things to be a ground of certainty of knowledge, and to render things capable of being known to be certain.... And this is nothing but the Necessity of the truth known, or its being impossible but that it should be true; or, in other words, the firm and infallible connexion between the subject and predicate of the proposition that contains that truth. All certainty of knowledge consists in the view of the firmness of that connexion. So God's certain Foreknowledge of the future existence of any event, is his view of the firm and indissoluble connexion of the subject and predicate of the proposi. tion that affirms its future existence. The subject is that possible event; the predicate is its future existing : But if future existence be firmly and indissolubly connected with that event, then the future existence of that event is necessaa ry. If God certainly knows the future existence of an event which is wholly contingent, and may possibly never be, then He sees a firm connexion between a subject and predicate that are not firmly connected; which is a contradiction.
I allow what Dr. Whitby says to be true, That mere knowla edge does not affect the thing known, to make it more certain or more future. But yet, I say, it supposes and proves the thing to be already, both future, and certain ; i. e. necessarily future. Knowledge of futurity, supposes futurity; and a certain knowledge of futurity, supposes certain futurity, antecedent to that certain knowledge. But there is no other certain futurity of a thing, antecedent to certainty of knowledge, than a prior impossibility but that the thing should prove true ; or (which is the same thing) the Necessity of the event.
I would observe one thing further concerning this matter ; it is this ; that if it be as those forementioned writers suppose, that God's Foreknowledge is not the cause, but the effect of the existence of the event foreknown; this is so far from shewing that this Foreknowledge doth not infer the Necessity of the existence of that event, that it rather shews the contrary the more plainly. Because it shews the existence of the event to be so settled and firm, that it-is as if it had already been ; inasmuch as in effect it actually exists already ; its future existence has already had actual influence, and efficiency, and has produced an effect, viz. Prescience : The effect exists already; and as the effect supposes the cause, is connected with the cause, and depends entirely upon it, therefore it is as if the future event, which is the cause, had existed already. The effect is as firm as possible, it having already the possession of existence, and made sure of it. But the effect cannot be more firm and stable than its cause, ground and reason. The building cannot be firmer than the foundation.
To illustrate this matter, let us suppose the appearances and images of things in a glass ; for instance, a reflecting telescope to be the real effects of heavenly bodies (at a distance, and out of sight) which they resemble : 1! it be so, then as these images in the telescope have had a past actual exist. ence, and it is become utterly impossible now that it should be otherwise than that they have existed ; so they, being the true effects of the heavenly bodies they resemble, this proves the existing of those heavenly bodies to be as real, infallible, firm and necessary, as the existing of these effects; the one being connected with, and wholly depending on the other. Now let us suppose future existences some way or other to have influence back, to produce effects beforehand, and cause exact and perfect images of themselves in a glass, a thousand years before they exist, yea, in all preceding ages; but yet that these images are real effects of these future existences, perfectly dependent on, and connected with them as their cause ; these effects and images, having already had actual existence, rendering that matter of their existing perfectly firm and stable, and utterly impossible to be otherwise ; this proves in like manner, as in the other instance, that the existence of the things, which are their causes, is also equally sure, firm and necessary ; and that it is alike impossible but that they should be, as if they had been already, as their effects have. And if, instead of images in a glass, we suppose the antecedent effects 'to be perfect ideas of them in the Divine Mind, which have existed there from all eternity, which are as properly effects, as truly and properly connected with their cause, the case is not altered.
Another thing which has been said by some Arminians, to take off the force of what is urged from God's Prescience, against the contingence of the volitions of moral agents, is to this purpose ; “ That when we talk of Foreknowledge in God, there is no strict propriety in our so speaking; and that although it be true, that there is in God the most perfect knowledge of all events from eternity to eternity, yet there is no such thing as before and after in God, but he sees all things by one perfect unchangeable view, without any succession.”...,
To this I answer,.
1. It has been already shewn, that all certain knowledge proves the Necessity of the truth known; whether it be before, after, or at the same time.... Though it be true, that there is nở succession in God's knowledge, and the manner of his knowledge, is to us inconceivable, yet thus much we know concerning it, that there is no event, past, present, or to come, that God is ever uncertain of : He never is, never was, and never will be without infallible knowledge of it: He always sees the existence of it to be certain and infallible. And as he always sees things just as they are in truth; hence there never is in reality any thing contingent in such a sense, as that possibly it may happen never to exist. If, strictly speaking, there is no Foreknowledge in God, it is because those things, which are future to us, are as present to God, as if they already had existence : And that is as much as to say, that future events are always in God's view as evident, clear, sure and necessary, as if they already were. If there never is a time wherein the existence of the event is not present with God, then - there never is a time wherein it is not as much impossible for
it to fail of existence, as if its existence were present, and were already come to pass.
God's viewing things so perfectly and unchangeably as that there is no succession in his ideas or judgment does not hinder but that there is properly now, in the mind of God, a certain and perfect knowledge of moral actions of men, which to us are an hundred years hence : Yea the objection supposes this ; and therefore it certainly does not hinder but that, by the foregoing arguments, it is now impossible these moral actions should not come to pass.
We know, that God knows the future voluntary actions of men in such a sense beforehand, as that he is able particularly to declare, and foretell them, and write them, or cause them to be written down in a book, as He often has done ; and that therefore the necessary connexion which there is between God's knowledge and the event known, does as much prove the event to be necessary beforehand, as if the Divine Knowledge were in the same sense before the event, as the prediction or writing is. If the knowledge be infallible, then the expression of it in the written prediction is infallible ; that is, there is an infallible connexion between that written prediction and the event. And if so, then it is impossible it should ever be otherwise, than that that prediction and the event should agree : And this is the same thing as to say, it is impossible but that the event should come to pass : And this is the same as to say that its coming to pass is necessary.....So that it is manifest, that there being no proper succession in God's mind, makes no alteration as to the Necessity of the existence of the events which God knows. Yea,
2. This is so far from weakening the proof, which has been given of the impossibility of the not coming to pass of future events known, as that it establishes that, wherein the strength of the foregoing arguments consists, and shews the clearness of the evidence. For,
(1.) The very reason why God's knowledge is without succession, is because it is absolutely perfect, to the highest possible degree of clearness and certainty : All things, whether past, present, or to come, being viewed with equal evidence and fulness ; future things being seen with as much clearness, as if they were present ; the view is always in absolute perfection ; and absolute constant perfection admits of no alteration, and so no succession; the actual existence of the thing known, does not at all increase, or add to the clearness or certainty of the thing known: God calls the things that are not as though they were ; they are all one to him as as if they had already existed. But herein consists the strength of the .. demonstration before given, of the impossibility of the not existing of those things, whose existence God knows; that it is as impossible they should fail of existence, as if they existed already. This objection, instead of weakening this argument, sets it in the clearest and strongest light; for it supposes it to be so indeed, that the existence of future events is in God's view so much as if it already had been, that when they come actually to exist, it makes not the least alteration or variation in his view or knowledge of them.
(2.) The objection is founded on the immutability of God's knowledge : For it is the immutability of knowledge which makes his knowledge to be without succession. But this most directly and plainly demonstrates the thing I insist on, viz. that it is utterly impossible the known events should fail of existence. For if that were possible, then it would be pose sible for there to be a change in God's knowledge and view of things. For if the known event should fail of existence, and not come into being, as God expected, then God would see it, and so would change his mind, and see his former mistake ; and thus there would be change and succession in his knowledge. But as God is immutable, and so it is utterly impossible that his view should be changed ; so it is, for the same reason, just so impossible that the foreknown event should not exist : And that is to be impossible in the highest degree : And therefore the contrary is necessary. Nothing is more impossible than that the immutable God should be changed, by the succession of time ; who comprehends all things, from eternity to eternity, in one, most perfect, and unalterable view; so that his whole eternal duration is vitæ interminabilis, tota, simul, et perfecta possessio.
On the whole, I need not fear to say, that there is no geometrical theorem or proposition whatsoever, more capable of strict demonstration, than that God's certain prescience of the volitions of moral agents is inconsistent with such a contingence of these events, as is without all Necessity; and so is inconsistent with the Arminian notion of liberty.
Corol. 2. Hence the doctrine of the Calvinists, concern. ing the absolute decrees of God, does not at all infer any more