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Calvinists, and with the very feelings of the most humble and spiritual among them. This might lead them to the adoption of our sentiments, but that they contemplate their dear relatives and friends, and indeed their fellow creatures at large, in connexion with this subject, and with an inadequate recollection of the infinite wisdom, justice, and mercy of God; till their hearts, being filled with anguish at the reflection, they turn away from it with horror: and because (though they are conscious, in their own case, that, while they ascribe all the glory to God and his grace, they are more and more stimulated to live to his glory,) they cannot be convinced that this is the general tendency of the doctrine, rightly understood, and'its invariable effect when truly believed. Indeed this humble, thankful ascription of all the glory to God, is the grand excellence of our principles; and, as to the rest, I should be little disposed to dispute on the subject, were not many ready to make another and a contrary use of anticalvinistic doctrines.
'There are many passages in the gospels simi'lar to this, and we are not to understand by 'them, that the events took place merely for the 'purpose that the sayings of the ancient prophets 'might be fulfilled; or that God, by hardening 'the hearts, and blinding the understanding . of 'the Jews, made it impossible for them to believe. 'God foresaw that a very large proportion of the 'Jews would reject the gospel; and he was pleased
* to foretel this among other events relative to
• the advent and ministry of Christ. It was de'signed that the fulfilment of these various pre'dictions should form a part of the evidence of 'the divine authority of the gospel. What the 'prophets had predicted, was certain to come to 'pass; but this certainty by no means caused the 'events to be the decrees of God. They did not 'happen because they were foretold, but they were 'for the wisest purpose foretold, because it was 'foreseen they would happen.'1
I suppose that no man, since the beginning of the world, ever thought that the certainty, either of the predictions or of the things predicted, 'caused the events to be the decrees of God.' But the certainty that the predictions would be fulfilled arose from this, that they were the decrees of God. He not only foresaw them, but decreed them, and revealed them as decreed; and therefore they could not but be accomplished.—' The 'events did not take place merely for the purpose 'that the sayings of the ancient prophets might 'be fulfilled.' True; but these were the sayings of the ancient prophets, because they were the determination of Him " who worketh all things "according to the counsel of his own will." The persons concerned did not fulfil them, as intending to accomplish the purpose of God, of which they knew and thought nothing; but to gratify their own selfish passions: and the decree of God, to leave them to be thus blinded and hardened, created no other impossibility to their believing, than that which arose from determined depravity and enmity to God. Indeed the conclusion of the quotation gives nearly the same view of the subject. 1 Ref. 228, 2'29. .
'The prescience of God is to be considered as 'perfectly distinct from his will. He foresees all 'the actions of men, both those which are con'formable, and those which are contrary to his 'will: but this prescience of God does not affect 'the free agency of man.'l
The prescience of God is perfectly distinct from his commandments, which exclusively are the rule of our conduct. But surely his prescience cannot be distinct from'his providential will.' That is, he cannot foresee one thing, and providentially effect another thing. Whatever may be thought of decrees, God, undoubtedly, accomplishes by his providence what he foresaw would come to pass: for how could he foresee any event which never would take place?
'As the decree of God is eternal, so is his know'ledge. And therefore, to speak truly and properly, 'there is neither foreknowledge nor after-know'ledge in him. The knowledge of God compre'hends all times in a point, by reason of the. 'eminence and virtue of its infinite perfection. 'And yet I confess this is called foreknowledge in 'respect of us. But this foreknowledge doth pro'duce no absolute necessity. Things are not 'therefore, because they are foreknown: but 'therefore they are foreknown, because they shall 'come to pass. If any thing should come to pass 'otherwise than it doth, yet God's knowledge 'could not be irritated (frustrated) by it, for then 'he did not know that it should come to pass as 'now it doth. Because every knowledge of vision 'necessarily prcsupposeth its object. God did 'know that Judas should betray Christ: but Judas 'was not necessitated to be a traitor by God's 'knowledge. If Judas had not betrayed Christ, 'then God had not foreknown that Judas should 'betray him. The case is this; a watchman 'standing on the steeple's top (as is the use in 'Germany,) gives notice to them below, who see 'no such things, that company are coming, and 'how many. His prediction is most certain, for 'he sees them. What a vain collection were it
* for one below to say, What if they do not come;
* then a certain prediction may fail? It may be 'urged that there is a difference in the two cases: 'in this case the coming is present to the watch'man; but that which God foreknows is future. 'God knows what shall be; the watchman only 'knows what is. I answer, that this makes no 'difference at all in the case, by reason of that 'disparity which is between God's knowledge and 'ours: as that coining is present to the watchman, 'which is future to them who are below, so all 'those things, which are future to us, are present 'to God, because his infinite and eternal know'ledge doth reach to the future being of all ages 'and events. Thus much is plainly acknowledged 'by T. H. (Thomas Hobbes,) that foreknowledge 'is knowledge; and knowledge depends on the
* existence of the things known, and not they on 'it.—To conclude, the prescience of God doth not 'make things more necessary, than the production 'of the things themselves. But if the agents were 'free agents, the production of the things doth 'not make the events to be absolutely necessary,
* but only upon supposition that the causes were 'so determined. God's prescience proveth a ne'cessity of infallibility; but not of antecedent 'extrinsical determination to one. If any event 'should not come to pass, God did never foreknow 'that it would come to pass: for any knowledge 'necessarily presupposeth its object.'l
There is a measure of obscurity and intricacy in this quotation; but, on a careful examination of it, nothing seems to be materially contrary to the Calvinistical doctrine. The writer says, 'As 'the decree of God is eternal, so is his knowledge.' 'God's prescience proveth a necessity of infalli'bility, but not of antecedent extrinsical deter'mination to one.' He quotes Hobbes as con'ceding that 'foreknowledge is knowledge; and 'knowledge depends on the existence of the things 'known, not they on it.' 'God did know that Judas 'should betray Christ: but Judas was not necessi'tated to be a traitor by God's knowledge. If Judas 'had not betrayed Christ, then God had not fore'known that he should betray him.' This can mean no more than that the event would have proved that God had not foreknown that Judas would be a traitor. But it was both predetermined and predicted that Judas would betray Christ.2 This was 'a 'necessity of infallibility :' yet Judas was not necessitated to be 'a traitor by God's foreknow'ledge.' It was not a necessity 'of antecedent ex'trinsical determination :' it did not constrain him to act in this matter against his will; but merely implied that he should be judicially given up to the lusts of his own heart. The decree or prediction was not so much as a motive in Judas's con
• Archb. Bramhall, NoteRef. 229,230.
* Matt. xxvi. 24. Mark xiv. 21. Luke xxii. 22. Acts i. 16.