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did I say; should they not take it as the surest verity, that it is God, that is not only justifiable, but infinitely amiable and laudable, and that it is worse than brutishness, for such moles to be his accusers?
Quest. 18. Yea, is this accusing God a fit employment for that person, who liveth in a land of mercies: who hath been bred up in mercy, preserved by mercy, yea, differenced by saving mercy from the ungodly, who hath been called from blindness, carnality, and profaneness, and entertained many a time in holy worship with God; who hath been washed in Christ's blood, and justified from so many and grievous sins, and made of an enemy an adopted child, and of a heir of hell a heir of heaven, and all this by the tender mercies of a provoked God, a gracious Redeemer, and a holy Sanctifier?' Shall this person, I say, this, be one that instead of praising God with the raptures of continual joy, shall turn his accuser? O let the guilty that readeth this stop here, and fall down on his knees to God, and melt into tears in the sense of such unkindness.
Quest. 19. “But can a child of God be possibly guilty of so great a sin as this?'
Answ. I speak not now of the malignant atheist; but of the melancholy, tempted persons. Alas, it is the melancholy disease, and the devil, more than he. God pitieth his children's frowardness, especially when necessitated naturally by diseases; and he that pardoned peevish Jonas, that said, "I do well to be angry to the death ;" and complaining Job; and excused his sleepy disciples with “ The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” will not condemn an upright soul, for the effect of a severish deliration, or a melancholy that overcomes his natural power of resistance.
Quest. 20. Would you thus argue or quarrel against God's greatness and wisdom, as you do against his goodness?" You suspect him to be unmerciful, because he cureth not men's sins, and preventeth not their damnation. And have you not the like occasion to argue against his other persections? Do you think he reasoneth soberly that saith, “He that maketh asses when he might have made them men, or maketh idiots, or maketh stones that know nothing; he that is the governor of such a foolish, distracted, confused world as mankind is, is foolish himself, or unskilful in government, or wanteth wisdom.
But God doth thus.' Is he not worse than a fool that will accuse his God of folly? Doth not the admirable harmony of all the world, and his wonderful work in every creature, prove his incomprehensible wisdom? And what would you say to him that should thus reason : He that maketh impotent worms, that suffereth the good to die, that suffereth the tyrants of the earth to persecute his church and cause, is impotent, and not almighty. But so doth God ?
Would you not say, I have the wonderful frame of heaven and earth, the sun and stars, the sea and land, to prove to me that he is Almighty. This therefore is a proved foundation truth, to which all doubts must be reduced? And if you dare not be so impudent as to deny his Omniscience or Omnipotence, when you think there is error or impotency in his works, why will you any more deny his goodness, when you dream that there is badness in bis works? Do you not know, that power, wisdom, and goodness are God's three essential principles of operation, virtues, or properties? And that they are none of them greater or less than other? And that his goodness (though not as to be measured by human interest) is equal to his wisdom and his greatness? And do you not know, that to deny any one of the three, yea, to deny the perfection of any one of them, is to deny that there is any
God? And is he sober that will argue, There are frogs and toads, there are worms and asses, there are fools and miserable sinners, therefore there is no God.' When as there could neither be any of these, nor any world or being, if there were no God?
Quest. 21. Lastly, now consider, 'whether evidently, the root of all this sin be not (besides melancholy and Satan) the power of selfishness, and sensual or fleshly interest.' Alas! poor men, that were made for their God, to rejoice wholly in pleasing him, and to shew forth the lustre of his glory, are fallen to themselves and flesh; and now they that should wholly devote and refer themselves to God, do strive to make God a servant to themselves, and measure his goodness by the standard of their fleshly sense and interest; and God shall be with them no longer good, that is, no longer God, than he will give them their wills, and serve their flesh, and keep them from crosses, and losses, and pains, and govern the world according 10 their fancies; and when they are committing this odious, self-exalung
idolatry, and abasing God, even then will they judge themselves both
And tell me, what if but the wills of all the poor, the pained, the dying, &c. were but reconciled to their suffering state. Would that which pleaseth the will be matter of any complaint? You may see then that it is not God's providence, &c. but the wills and ways of sinners, that are the diseased causes of all their wranglings. And if our wills were cured, and reduced to God's will, we should find no fault with him; if I can but be truly willing of imprisonment, poverty, or death, how can I feel any thing in it to complain of? When even sinners, as aforesaid, do obstinately here take their misery for their happiness, and are contented with it so far as it is voluntary.
By that time these twenty questions are answered, the accusations of God as wanting goodness, will all turn to the accuser's shame.
11. I am next briefly to detect the false opinions which do urdinarily cause these persons' errors.
1. It is false doctrine to affirm that God condemneth the greatest part of his intellectual creatures (as I have shewed) though he condemn never so many of this ungodly world.
2. It is not true that God decreeth to condemn any man but for sin, (for sin, I say, as the cause of his damnation.)
3. God decreeth to condemn none at age (which I add but to exclude foolish cavils) for Adam's sin only; nor for any other sin only that is not conjoined with an obstinate, final impenitency, and rejecting offered mercy, and neglecting means appointed for their salvation.
4. God's decrees do cause no man's sin (nor his damnation any further than as supposing sin), for Dr. Twisse himself still professeth, 1. That reprobation is an immanent act, and nihil ponit in objecto,' putteth nothing at all into the person. 2. And that reprobation inferreth no necessity of sin or misery, but that which is called “necessitas consequentiæ,' and not any necessitas consequentis ;' and Ar
minius and all confess that God's bare foreknowledge causeth or inferreth a 'necessitas consequentiæ,' which truly is but a logical necessity in order of argumentation, when one thing is proved by another; and not by physical necessity in order of causation, as one thing is caused by another.
And whereas they say, Then man might have frustrated God's decree. I ask them whether man can frustrate God's foreknowledge; suppose God to foreknow sin without decreeing it (of which more anon), is not this a good argument, ' All that God foreknoweth will certainly come to pass. But God foreknoweth, e. g. Judas's sin, therefore it will certainly come to pass.' And what of all this? It doth not come to pass, because God foreknoweth it, any more than the sun will rise to-morrow, because you soreknow it.
And if you say, that no power can frustrate God's foreknowledge, I answer, they are delusory words of one that knoweth not what he saith. For it is one thing to have power to make God ignorant, and another thing to have power to do otherwise than that which he foreknoweth you will do. No man hath power to make God ignorant; but all sinners may have power to do otherwise than that which God foreknoweth they will do. For God doth not foreknow that, e. g. Gehezi, shall not have power to forbear a lie; but only that he will not forbear it. Yea, more, God's foreknowledge doth prove that sinners have power to do otherwise ; for that which God foreknoweth will be. But God foreknoweth that men will abuse their power to sin, or will sin when they had power to do otherwise, therefore it will be so in the event.
Now if you will call their power to do otherwise, a power to frustrate God's foreknowledge, you will but speak foolishly. For the power itself is foreknown; and the object of knowledge in esse cognito,' is not after the act of knowledge. And if the person will not actually sin, God could not foreknow that he will sin. So that foreknowledge is here (when it is not causal) but a medium in a syllogism, and inferreth only the necessity of the consequence in arguing, and doth not cause the thing foreknown.
Now when Dr. Twisse saith, that all the schoolmen agree, that no necessity, consequentis,'or of causation, but only "consequentiæ,'
doth follow the decree of reprobation, see how far he and Arminius are in this agreed, (though I know some give another sense of 'necessitas consequentiæ.) But I come closer to the matter yet.
5. God decreeth no man's sin; neither Adam's nor any other’s. He may decree the effect, which sinners accomplish (as the death of Christ,) and he may overrule men in their sin, and bring good out of it, &c. But sin is not a thing that he can will or cause, and so not decree, which signifieth a volition.
6. God cannot be proved to decree, or will the permission of man's sin. For to permit is nothing. It is but not to hinder; which is no act : and to decree and will is a positive act. And if you fain God to have a positive volition or nolition, of every thing, or negative, then he must have positive decrees of every mere possible atom, sand, worm, name, word, thought of man, &c. That such and such a nothing shall never be; whereas, there needeth no more to keep any thing from being in this case) than God's not causing it, not willing it, not decreeing it. The creature's active nature, disposition, objects, and circumstances, are here pre-supposed; and the impedition necessary, is by act, or subtraction of these aforesaid, and God's 'non agere' needs no positive decree. I must tell the learned reader, that this room will not to answer his foreseen objections. But I hope I have done it sufficiently elsewhere.
7. God hath not only decreed to give, but actually given a great deal of mercy to them that perish, which had a natural tendency to their salvation. Christ hath so far died for all, as that none shall perish for want of a sufficiency in the satisfaction made: he hath purchased and given for all a grant or gift of himself, with pardon, justification, adoption and right to glory, on condition of acceptance (where the Gospel cometh.) In a word, so that none of them shall perish, that do not finally refuse the grace and salvation offered them.
8. Men are not impenitent and unbelievers for want of that called natural faculty, or power to choose and refuse aright; but for want of a right disposition of their own wills; and by such a moral impotency, which is indeed their viciousness, and the wickedness of their wills, and doth not excuse, but aggravate the sin. (See Mr. Truman of “ Natural and Moral Impotency.”)