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were determined by God, or that they might not have been prevented; for certain it is that he decreed not either the negligence or carelessness, nor yet the malice, of those who through either the one or the other were the authors of such accidents.
If it be said, Yea, but the permission of such accidents as these is good, otherwise God would not permit them to be; and if so, then such a permission may be the object of God's determination and decree; and if God decreeth the permission of a thing, doth not this include or suppose a necessity that it shall, will, or must come to pass? If so, it is as much determined or necessitated by God's permissive decree as if it had been directly and peremptorily decreed by him. To this I answer,
It is indeed the judgment of some learned men,* that the purpose or intent of God to permit or suffer such or such a thing to be done, or such or such an accident to come to pass, supposeth a necessity, at least a syllogistical or consequential necessity, of the coming of it to pass. But that the truth lieth on the other side of the way appears by the light of this consideration. If whatsoever God hath decreed or intendeth to permit to come to pass in any case, upon any terms, or any supposition whatsoever, should by virtue of such an intention or decree necessarily come to pass, then all things possible to be, or at least ten thousand things more than ever shall be, must be, yea, and this necessarily; for, doubtless, God hath decreed, and intendeth, to leave natural causes generally to their natural and proper operations and productions; yea, and voluntary causes also, under a power and at liberty to act ten thousand things more than ever they will do or shall do. For example, God intendeth and hath decreed to permit that fire shall burn what combustible matter soever it shall take hold of, or that shall be cast into it; that one spark of it falling into a barrel of dried gunpowder should suddenly fire it, &c. ; but it doth not follow from hence that therefore every thing that is combustible in the world shall be burnt with fire, or that every barrel of dry gunpowder shall be blown up with sparks of fire falling into them. So, in the instance formerly mentioned, God had decreed to permit the lords of Keilah to deliver up David into Saul's hand, in case he had staid in their city till Saul's coming to demand him: this is evident from the text, 1 Sam. xxiii. 12. But it did not follow from this permissive decree of God that therefore these lords must necessarily deliver up David into Saul's hand; for we know they did it not. So, likewise, God hath decreed to permit any man to destroy the life of another whom he meets with, I mean, in respect of a natural power to do the execution; but it followeth not from hence that therefore every man must necessarily murder or destroy the life of his brother that cometh in his way. So that evident it is, that no decree of God whatsoever which is simply and purely permissive, doth import any necessity at all of the perpetration or coming to pass of the thing
* Dr. Twisse.
+ Vitæ alienæ dominus est, quisquis contemptor est sux.-Sen.
so decreed. God permitted Adam to eat of every tree in the garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil only excepted, Gen. ii. 16, 17, and therefore certainly had decreed or intended this permission; yet was not Adam any ways necessitated by any virtue or influence of this decree upon him to eat of every of these trees; nor is it in the least degree credible that ever he did eat of every of them, nor yet of any of them, but only that which was prohibited unto him, his ejection out of this garden following so suddenly after this patent or permission granted unto him. The reason why no decree of God, that is purely and barely permissive, either induceth or supposeth any necessity of the coming to pass of what is only so decreed, is this: First, because no such decree doth any ways interest God to any manner of interposal either by his wisdom, power, or providence, in what kind soever, towards the effecting or bringing to pass of what is so decreed. So that such events, which are no otherwise decreed by God than thus, are in the same posture of contingency, in the same possibility of being or not being, wherein they would have been had there been no such decree at all concerning them. Secondly, neither doth any such decree in God suppose a futurity of such a concurrence of causes simply requisite and necessary for the bringing of things so decreed to pass which will actually bring them to pass. Though God hath decreed that a spark or coal of fire falling, i. e. in case it shall fall, into a barrel of gunpowder, shall fire it, yet it doth not follow from hence that he hath decreed that any such spark or coal shall fall into it, without which, notwithstanding the ef fect decreed, viz. the firing of this powder, will not come to pass. Or, if it be said that God hath decreed that such a spark or coal shall fall into the said barrel of powder, now is not the decree barely permissive, but operative and assertive, and such which engageth the decreer to interpose effectually for the bringing of the thing decreed to pass. But such decrees as this, in matters of that nature, we deny to be in God.
If it be yet further objected, Yea, but all events, and whatsoever cometh to pass at any time, in any place, or with relation to any person whatsoever, are foreseen and foreknown by God; and if so, then is there an absolute and unavoidable necessity of their coming to pass, otherwise the foreknowledge of God shall be but conjectural, obnoxious to error and mistake, not certain or infallible. To this I answer,
1. By concession, viz., that the knowledge of God (for foreknowledge, if we speak properly, is not compatible to him)* is all light, and there is no darkness in it at all: all possibility of error or mistake are ten thousand times farther from it than the heavens are from the earth. But,
2. I answer further, by way of exception, that notwithstanding
Quia ea, quæ nobis futura sunt, videt, quæ tamen ipsi semper præsto sunt, præscius dicítur, quamvis nequaquam futurum prævideat, quod præsens videt.-Greg. Mor, 1. ii. c. 23.
the certainty of the knowledge of God concerning things that daily and hourly come to pass, and that will come to pass hereafter, yet there is no more, no other necessity of their coming to pass, in respect of such his knowledge, than there would or should have been, in case no such knowledge were, or had been in him. For certain it is, that no knowledge, as such, hath any influence at all upon the object or thing known, to cause it to be, or not to be.*
If it be replied, Yea, but if God knows that such and such things will come to pass, is there not a necessity of their coming to pass; or otherwise, must not the knowledge of God prove abortive, and be accompanied with error.
I answer, no; if the events supposed to be known by God before their coming to pass, be contingent, or, at least, such in the production whereof the wills of men must some ways or other interpose, if ever they be produced, (of which kind of events only we now speak,) the certainty of the knowledge of God may be salved, and yet no absolute necessity of the coming to pass of such events be supposed. The reason is, because at the same time when God seeth or knoweth that they will come to pass, he seeth and knoweth also, that there is no necessity they should come to pass, but that they may well be prevented. In which respect, in case they should not come to pass, the knowledge of God should suffer no defeature or disparagement.†
If yet it be said, Yea, but when it is supposed that God knoweth that such or such an event will come to pass, if it should be supposed withal that he knoweth it may not come to pass, or that it may come to pass otherwise, than according to this knowledge, doth not this suppose or imply a consciousness in God of the weakness or deficiency of his knowledge?
I answer, no; but rather the contrary; viz., a consciousness in him of the strength and perfection of his knowledge. For he that knoweth not that contingent and free-working causes, which way soever they shall act in order to any particular event, might yet act otherwise, or suspend their actings, is certainly defective in knowledge. And if God did not as well know that there is a possibility of the non-futurity, or of the not coming to pass of such contingent events, which he knoweth will come to pass, as well as he certainly knoweth that they will come to pass, he should be defective in his knowledge concerning the nature and property of contingent and free-working causes, inasmuch as this is their nature and property, (as hath been said,) to be at liberty in reference to particular actings, to act one way as well as another, or else to suspend their action. Indeed, if it should be said or thought, that any event will
Non ideo peccavit Adam, quia Deus hoc futurum noverat; sed præscivit Deus, quasi Deus, quod ille erat propria voluntate facturus.-Hieronym. Dial. 3. contra Pelag. Deus præscientia sua non cogit facienda, quæ futura sunt.-Aug. de Lib. Arbit. 1. iii. c. 4.
Futura contingentia, etiam ut subsunt divinæ scientiæ, non sunt simpliciter necessaria. -Rada. Contr. 30, Art. 5.
Scientia Dei non tollit contingentiam ab eo, quod est scitum.-Ibid.
not, or shall not, come to pass, which God knoweth beforehand will come to pass, this would import an obnoxiousness unto error in the knowledge or foreknowledge of God. But to say, or think, that such an event, whose future coming to pass God knoweth, may, notwithstanding this knowledge of his, not come to pass, reflects no dishonour or disparagement at all upon his knowledge, but rather gives an honourable and high testimony of excellency and perfection unto it. For he that certainly knows what contingent and free-working causes will do, notwithstanding their freedom and liberty either to do, or not to do, or to do otherwise, must needs be excellent in knowledge indeed, and one who needeth not count it robbery to be equal with God.
Concerning the acts of the wills of men, which are called, I know not how properly, supernatural, I mean such which have an essential connexion with their eternal happiness and glory, how, or how far, they are determined by God, and how, and how far not, we shall be better fitted with an opportunity to demonstrate in the process of our discourse.
In the meantime, the reason why the great commander and Lord of nature leaveth his whole militia ordinarily to move and act according to their native properties and inclinations respectively, without countermanding them, or turning them out of their way, are these, with their fellows: First, nature with all her train and retinue of particular causes, together with all their furniture of principles for motion and action, being the workmanship of his own hand, if he should ordinarily or frequently interpose to change her laws, or innovate her course, he should seem to pull down that which himself hath built up, and to dislike that portraiture and resemblance of himself, which he hath drawn with admirable and unimitable art and skill in the regular and standing progress of nature and second causes. Secondly, being conscious to himself, with what excellency of wisdom, goodness, and power, the great body of nature with all the parts and members of it, was at first raised, built, framed, and tempered by himself, he knows there is no need for him either to add to, or to take from, or to alter any thing ordinarily in her course. He hath sufficient security that his handmaid left unto herself (only with his ordinary and regular concurrence, without which she can neither move nor be) will no ways misbehave herself in order to his ends, and those concernments of his glory wherewith she is intrusted. So that for him to check, or control her in her way, would be but a kind of condemning the innocent, which is, when practised amongst men, an abomination to him. Thirdly, and lastly, if he should customarily, and of course overrule nature or second causes in their regular proceedings, he should overlay his own market for miracles and works of wonder,
Cum ista, Antichristus erit, stat hæc, Antichristus potest non fore.-Rada. Contr. 30, Art. 6. Et paulo post; non pugnat igitur quod Deus sciat, Petrum esse peccaturum, et tamen quod ipse possit non peccare, vel possit non esse peccaturus.
and bring down the price of the glory and esteem of them to a very low rate. In the days of Solomon, silver was but as stones, nothing esteemed, 1 Kings x. 21-27, by reason of the abundance and commonness of it. Miracles are the rarities of heaven, and the reserve of nature when her testimony concerning the glory and power of her Lord and Master is despised by men.
Concerning the foreknowledge and knowledge of God; and the difference between these, and his desires, purposes, intentions, and decrees: and how these also are distinguished the one from the other.
It is not to be denied, but that the Scriptures do attribute poyνwas, or foreknowledge unto God in several places, as Acts ii. 23; Rom. viii. 29; xi. 2; 1 Pet. i. 2, &c. Though evident it is that in some, if not in all of these places, the word rather imports a preapprobation than a simple prescience or foreknowledge, according to the known signification of the simple word yvos, which, though properly it signifieth knowledge, yet in Scripture language, according to that idiom of speech, wherein the consequent is put for the antecedent, not unusual in the Scriptures, frequently imports approbation, as Matt. vii. 23; Rom. xi. 2; 2 Tim. ii. 19. But as many other things are oft in Scripture attributed unto God, which, according to the proper and ordinary signification of the words, are no ways competible to him, as hands, eyes, ears, grief, repentance, &c.; so is prescience or foreknowledge also. Notwithstanding as there is a ground in reason, one or more, for all those other metaphorical and improper attributions, which are in any kind made unto God, so is there for this of prescience also; only care and caution must be taken that our table proves not a snare unto us; my meaning is, lest those things which are metaphorically spoken of God for the accommodation of our understandings, and to enrich us with such conceptions, apprehensions, and knowledge of him, as we are well capable of, according to the truth of his nature and being, be not so interpreted or understood by us, as to occasion any such fancies or imaginations in us, which are unworthy of him, and inconsistent with the truth of his being.
That prescience or foreknowledge are not formally or properly in God, is the constant assertion, both of ancient and modern divinity. The learned assertors of the protestant cause are at perfect agreement with their adversaries the schoolmen, and papists, in this. Nor is it any wonder at all that there should be peace, and a concurrence of judgment about such a point as this, even between those who have many irons of contention otherwise in the fire, considering how obvious and near at hand the truth herein is. For, Firstly,