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destroy All religion, and take away all SERM, the natural Attributes of God at once; ) But on the other fide it would follow. that fuch free Actions as Mens are, and without which Rational Creatures could not be Rational Creatures, were not the Objects of the Divine Fore-knowledge. And in fuch cafe, it would be no more a Diminution of God's Omniscience, not to know things impoffible and contradictory to be known; than 'tis a diminution of his Omnipotence, not to be able to do things impoffible and contradictory to be done. But This is not the Cafe: For, these two things beings premifed, we may Now to the Difficulty itself, How Fore-knowledge in God can be confiftent with Liberty of Action in Men, anfwer directly; that they are therefore confiftent, because Fore-knowledge has no Influence at all upon the Things fore-known; and it has therefore no Influence upon them, because Things would be just as they Are, and no otherwife, tho' there was no Fore-knowledge. Fore-knowledge, does not cause things to be; but Things that are to be hereafter, whether neceffarily or freely, are the caufe of its being fore-known that
SERM. they shall fo, whether neceffarily or freeIX. ly, be. The Futurity of free Actions, is exactly the fame, and, in the nature of things themselves, of the like certainty in Event, whether they can, or could not be, fore-known. And as Our knowing a thing to be, when we fee it is; does not hinder an Action from being Free, notwithstanding that it is then certain and cannot but be, when it is: fo God's fore-feeing, that any Action will freely be done; does not at all hinder its being Free, though he knows it certainly; because His fore-feeing things to come, does no more influence or alter the Nature of things, than our feeing them when they are. The Manner of God's knowing future free Actions, must not indeed be, like his Fore-knowledge of things necessary; I fay, it must not be by foreseeing a continued Chain of Caufes; For That would indeed destroy their Freedom: But it must be a Power, quite of another kind: A Power, whereof we can only have an obfcure glimpfe, in fome fuch manner as That which follows. What one man will freely do upon any particular occafion, another man by obfervation and attention,
may in fome measure judge; and the wi-SER M. fer the person be, who makes the obferva- XI. tion, the more probable will his Judgment be, and the feldomer will he be deceived, An Angel, in the like cafe, would make a judgment of the future event, as much nearer to Certainty than that of the wifest man, as the Angelick Nature and Faculties are fuperiour to the Human. In God himself, whose Powers are all in every respect infinitely tranfcending those of the higheft Creatures, This Judgment of future free actions, muft needs be infallible, that is, as truly certain, (though entirely of a different kind,) as That Fore-knowledge which he has of neceffary events by feeing their neceffary chain of caufes. Nor ought it to seem strange, that this divine Fore knowledge of future free Actions, fhould be entirely of a different Nature, from his Fore-knowledge of necessary events. For there is a not unlike diftinction, in fome others alfo of the divine Attributes. The Omniprefence of God, is an Attribute neceffarily belonging to him, by abfolute Neceffity of Nature, and altogether independent of his Will: The Goodness of God is likewise a necessary S 4 Attribute;
SER M. Attribute; yet not in the fame manner as XI. his Omniprefence, by a mere abfolute ne
ceffity of Nature, but by the unalterable Rectitude of his Will; Which is the true reafon, why we properly return him Thanks for being Good, but not for being Omniprefent. Thus Both are neceffary ; and yet by a Neceffity of a totally different fort or kind. In like manner the Fore-knowledge of God, both That of neceffary and that of free Events, is in the iffue of Things, equally certain; Yet in the one cafe This Certainty is entirely of à different nature, from That in the other; It arifing in the cafe of neceffary events, from God's own fore-appointing a neceffary chain of caufes to produce thofe events; but in the cafe of free events, it arifes from, and depends upon, the mere futurity of the things themselves.
To illuftrate this matter by an Example. That Chrift fhould die for the Sins of Men, God not only fore-knew, but fore-appointed it alfo, and fent him into the world on purpose for that End. That Judas did betray our Saviour, God foreknew, but did not fore-appoint it; only he chose on purpose into the number of
his difciples One fuch perfon, the wicked- SER M. hefs of whofe own Heart, he faw would W prompt him to accomplish that Event.
THAT Abab fhould fall at RamothGilead, God forefaw, forewarned him of it; yet God's foreknowledge did not make it neceffary for him to go up and perifh there; but the mere wickedness of his own Will, defpifing the divine admonition, as it was the only Caufe of the Event, fo was it likewife the only ground of the Foreknowledge: And had Abab been difpofed to repent at the Advice of the Prophet, it was in his own Power to have prevented his deftruction; and the Foreknowledge of God, would Then have been accordingly, the Foreknowledge of a contrary Event.
THE fame may be understood in general concerning all exhortations offered to wicked perfons, which God beforehand knows that they will not obey. Concerning which if it be inquired, to what purpose then are they offered at all; the unreasonableness of this objection will appear by confidering, that according to the fame argument, fince God knew beforehand every thing in the whole Creation,