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Some have from these passages attempt- S E R M. ed to deduce the doctrine of absolute Pre- ^J-^j destination- j that because the Decrees and Purposes of God are unchangeable, therefore Mens Salvation, or Condemnation, does not at all depend on any Works in their own Power. And indeed, were there any such Decree, it could not be denied but it would be unchangeable, and consequently that All Religion were vain. But the Truth is, that the Scripture mentions no such Decree at all j and therefore men need not be concerned about the Unchangeableness of that which has no Being. The Decree of God, is not that This or That particular person shall neceflarily be faved or perish; (For then "What Need, or what Use would there be of a day of Judgment? ) But his Decree is, that Faith, and Obedience, in whomsoever it is found, shall lead to Salvation; and Disobedience on the contrary, to Destruction: And This Decree, is indeed, like all his other Purposes, absolutely unalterable.
S-erm. Again, in his Laws likewise, that is, VII. in the uniform Intention of all his Commandmerits, God is perfectly unchangeable; because they are always founded on the fame immutable reasons, the eternal Differences of Good and Evil, the original nature of Things, and univerfal Equity j and they always tend to the fame regular End, the Order and Happiness of the whole Creation. Of This, the Law of Nature was the primary Institution; the Law of Moses, was the typical or figurative Representation j and the Gospel of Christ, its completion or perfect Restoration. And this is the meaning of that pastage of the Apostle, Heb. xiii. 8, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. That this is here spoken, not of the Person, (though in That seme also it is true 5 but that it is here spoken, not of the Person) but of the Law of Christ, appears from the words immediately following, with which it is connected: Be net carried away with divers and strange doctrines; for Jesus Christ is the fame yesterday, and to day, and for ever; his Doctrine is, eternally and unchangeably,
One One and the fame. The Gospel, faith the S E R M. lame Apostle, Gal. iii. 8, was preached be- VII. fore unto Jbraham: which Gospel, the Law that was given four hundred years after, could not disannul; but was added only because of "Transgression, (that is, because of the infirm and childish state of the people of the Jews,) till the promised Seed should come: till the more explicit declaration of that Faith, by which alone both Abraham and all good men from the beginning of the World were, as all good Christians shall be even unto the End, uniformly justified; that is, by the everlasting Gospel, Rev. xiv. 6. the eternal and unchangeable Law os God.
Further; in his Covenants or Promises; (such as are not declared to be conditional, and annexed to certain particular Qualifications,) God is likewise perfectly unchangeable. The Reason is, because Covenants or Promises of this kind are founded upon such grounds as cannot be altered; even upon the original, fixt and permanent Designs and Intentions of all-wife Providence. Thus, concerning tine Promise made to Abraham; God, faith
SErM.the Apostle, Heb.v'u 13. because be could VII. swear by no greater, Jware by himself;
^V*^ confirming it by an Oath, to show
unto the Heirs of Promise the immutability of bis Counsel. The reason of which unchangeable resolution was, because the giving that land to Æraham and to his Seed after him, included the Promise both of the temporal "Jerusalem for an Habitation of the true Worshippers of God here, and of the heavenly Jerusalem, wherein both Abraham himself personally and all his spiritual Posterity were to be made happy hereafter. Of the fame Nature is That Declaration concerning all Israel, Num. xxiii. 19. God is not a man, that he fkoidd lye; neither the Son of Man, that he should repent: Hath he said, and shall be not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall be not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless; and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it. The reason of This, is, because it was a declaration of the whole Scheme of Providence in establishing a Standard of true Religi-; on among that People; which was a matter not to be altered by any mens
future future behaviour: It was one of those S E R M. things, which God might justly, and with- <^!^j out wrong to any man, determine at firfi by his absolute Supreme Power; ( as in the case of "Jacob and Esau, he declared, before either of them was born or had done either good or evil, that the Posterity of the elder should serve that of the younger; ) and which Design afterwards, in the whole course of his Providence, he might continue to accomplish in the feme manner, however different men's behaviour might be under the several periods of That dispensation. And This is the true Meaning of that other difficult Text in St Paul, Rom. xi. 28, 29. As concerning the Gospel, they (the Nation of the Jews) are Enemies for your sake; bit as touching the election, they are beloved for the Fathers fakes; For the Gifts (these Gifts) and Calling of God are without Repentance. Some have applied These words also to the doctrine of Predestination: But their being spoken expreffly of whole Nations, and not of /ingle persons, evidently demonstrates the contrary j and shows at the lame time the reason of the immutability