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Of a supposed Inconsistence of these Principles with
Gop's moral Character,
THE things which have been already observed, may be Bufficient to answer most of the objectiuns, and silence the great exclamations of Arminians against the Calvinists, from the supposed inconsistence of Calvinistic principles with the moral perfections of God, as exercised in his government of mankind. The consistence of such a doctrine of necessity as has been maintained, with the fitness and reasonableness of God's commands, promises and threatenings, rewards and punishments, has been particularly considered; the cavils of our opponents, as though our doctrine of necessity made God the author of sin, have been answered ; and also their objec. tion against these principles, as inconsistent with God's sin. cerity, in his counsels, invitations and persuasions, has been already obviated, in what has been observed respecting the Gonsistence of what Calvinists suppose, concerning the secret and revealed Will of God; by that it appears, there is no. 162 pugnance in supposibg it may be the secret Will of God, that his ordination and permission of events should be such, that it shall be a certajo consequence, that a thing never will come to pass; which yet it is man's duty to do, and so God's preceplive Will that he should do ; and this is the same thing as. to say, God may sincerely command and require him to do it. And if he may be sincere in commanding him, he may, for the same reason, be sincere in counselling, inviting and using persuasions with him to do it. Counsels and invitations are manifestations of God's preceptive Will, or of what God loves and what is in itself, and as man's act, agreeable to his heart; and not of his disposing Will, and what he chooses as a part of his own infinite scheme of things. It has been par. ticularly sheyn, Part III. Sect. IV. that such a necessity as
has been maintained, is not inconsistent with the propriety and fitness of divine commands; and for the same reason, not inconsistent with the sincerity of invitations and counsels, in the Corollary at the end of the Section. Yea; it hath been shewn, Part HI. Séct. VIŁ Corok. 1, that this objection of Arminians, concerning the sincerity and use of divine exhortations, invitations and counsels is demonstrabły against themsélves.
Notwithstanding, I would further observe, that the difficul ty, of réconciling the sincerity of counsels, invitations and persuasions with such an antecedent known fixedness of all events, as has been supposed; is not peculiar to this scheme, as distinguishied from that of the generality of Arminians which acknowledges the absolute foreknowledge of God; and therefore, it would be unreasonably brought as an objection against my differing from them. The main, scéming difficultyiry the case is this ; that God, in counselling; inviting and persuading, makes a shew of aiming aty seeking and using endeavors for the thing exhorted and persuaded to ; whereass it is impossible for any intelligent being truly to seek; or use endeavors for a thing, which he at the same time knows, most perfectly, will not come to pass; and that it is absurd to suppose, he makes the obtaining of a thing his end, in his calls and counsels, which he, at the same time, infallibly knows will not be obtained by these means. Now, if God knows this, in the utmost certainty and perfection, the way by which he comesi by this knowledge makes no difference. If he knows it is by the necessity which he sees in things, or by some other means ; it alters not the case. But it is in effect allowed by Arminians themselves, that God's inviting and per: suading men to do things, which he at the same time, certainly knows will not be done, is no evidence of insincerity ; bem cause they allow, that God has a certain foreknowledge of alt men's sinful actions and omissions. And as this is thus implicitly allowed by most Arminians; so all that pretend to own the scriptures to be the word of God, must be constrained to allow it....God commanded and counselled Pharaoh to let his people go, and used arguments and persuasions to induce him
to it; he laid before him arguments taken from his infinite greatness and almighty power, (Exod vii. 16,) and forewarned him of the fatal consequences of his refusal, from time to time. (Chap. viii. 1, 2, 20, 21. Chap. ix. 1....5, 13.... 17, and x. 3, 6.) He commanded Moses, and the elders of Israel, to go and beseech Pharaoh to let the people go ; and at the same time told them, he knew surely that he would not comply with it. Exod. iii. 18, 19. “ And thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and you shall say unto him ; the Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us; and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God; and, I am sure, that the king of Egypt will not let you go." So our blessed Saviour, the evening wherein he was betrayed, knew that Peter would shamefully deny him, before the morn. ing; for he declares it to him with asseverations, to shew the certainty of it; and tells the disciples, that all of them should be offended because of him that night ; Matth. xxvi. 31....35. Luke xxii. 31....34. John xiii. 38. John xvi. 32. And yet it was their duty to avoid these things : They were very sinful things, which God had forbidden, and which it was their duty to watch and pray against ; and they were obliged to do so from the counsels and persuasions Christ used with them, at that very time, so to do ; Matth. xxvi. 41. “ Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." So that whatever difficulty there can be in this matter, it can be ro objection against any principles which have been maintained in opposition to the principles of Arminians ; nor does it any more concern me to remove the difficulty, than it does them, or indeed all, that call themselves Christians, and acknowledge the di. vine authority of the scriplures....Nevertheless, this matter may possibly (God allowing) be more particularly and largely considered, in some future discourse, on the doctrine of predestination.
But I would here observe, that however the defenders of that notion of liberty of Will, which I have opposed, exclaim against the doctrine of Calvinists, as tending to bring men: into doubts concerning the moral perfections of God; it is
their scheme, and not the scheme of Calvinists, that indeed is justly chargeable with this. For it is one of the most fundamental points of their scheme of things, that a freedom of Will, consisting in selfdetermination, without all necessity, is essential to moral agency. This is the same thing as to say, that such a determination of the will, without all necessity, must be in all intelligent beings, in those things, wherein they are inoral agents, or in their moral acts; and from this it will follow, that God's Will is not necessarily determined, in any thing he does, as a moral agent, or in any of his acts that are of a moral nature. So that in all things, wherein he acts holily, justly and truly, he does not act necessarily; o!' his Will is not necessarily determined, to act holily and just. ly ; because, if it were necessarily determined, he would not be a moral agent in thus acting. His Will would be attend. ed with necessity, which, they say, is inconsistent with moral agency. “He can act no otherwise : He is at no liberty in the affair : He is determined by unavoidable, invincible necessity; therefore such agency is no moral agency, yea, no agency at all, properly speaking. A necessary agent is no agent; he being passive, and subject to necessity, what he does is no act of his, but an effect of a necessity prior to any act of his.
This is agreeable to their manner of arguing. Now then what is become of all our proof of the moral perfections of God ? How can we prove, that God certainly will, in any one instance, do that which is just and holy; seeing his Will is determined in the matter by no necessity ? We have no other way of proving that any thing certainly will be, but only by the necessity of the event. Where we can see no necessity but that the thing may be, or may not be, there we are unavoidably left at a loss. We have no other way properly and truly to demonstrate the moral perfections of God, but the way that Mr. Chubb proves them in p. 252, 261, 262, 263, of his Tracts, viz. that God must necessarily perfectly know, what is most worthy and valuable in itself, which, in the nature of things, is best and fittest to be done. And as this is most eligible in itself, He, being omniscient, must see it to be
so ; and being both omuiscient and selfsufficient, cannot have any temptation to reject it, and so must necessarily will that which is best. And thus, by this necessity of the determination of God's Will to what is good aud best, we demonstrably establish God's moral character,
COROL. From things which have been observed, it apo pears that most of the arguments from Scripture which Arminians make use of to support their sebeme, are no other than begging the question. For in these arguments, they determine in the first place, that without sueh a freedom of Will as they hold, men cannot be proper morał agents, nor the subjects of command, counsel, persuasiony invitationy promises, threatenings, expostulations, rewards and punishments; and that without such freedom it is to no purpose for men to take any care, or use any diligence, endeavors of means, in order to their avoiding sin, or becoming holy, escaping punishment of obtaining happiness; and having supposed these things, which are grand things in question in the debate, then they heap up Scriptures, containing commands, counsels, calls, warnings, persuasions, expostulations promises and threatenings-; (as doubtless they may find enough such ; the Bible is confessedly full of them, from the beginning to the end) and then they glory, how full the Scripture is on their side, how many more texts there are that evidently favor their scheme, than such as seem to favor the contra- * sy. But let them first make manifest the things in question, which they suppose and take for granted, and skew them to be consistent with themselves, and produce clear evidence of their truth, and they have gained their point,, as: all-will-confess, without bringing one Scripture. For none denies that there are commands, counsels, promises, threatenings, &Co in the Bible. But unless they do these things, their multi-plying such texts of Scripture is insignificant and vain:
It may further be observed that such Scriptures as they bring are really against them; and not for them. As it has-been demonstrated, that it is their scheme, and not ours, that is, inconsistent with the use of motives and persuasivesor