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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.'!
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 presupposeth 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 coming 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 necessity 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.''
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 decrce 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 foreknown 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 notive in Judas's con* Archb. Bramhall, Note Ref. 229, 230. * Matt. xxvi. 24. Mark xiv. 21. Luke xxii. 22. Acts i. 16.
duct: it neither interfered with his free agency, nor diminished the degree of his criminality. And the case is similar with all others who are left to follow their own sinful inclinations; and“ to stum“ ble at the word being disobedient, whereunto “ also they were appointed.”
The case of the watchman is not indeed an apposite illustration. His report is not in any sense prediction. He does not foretell that the company will actually come to the place where he is ; but merely testifies that he sees a company approaching. The existence and motion of the company are all that he reports as seen and known ; not any thing which is not seen and known. In fact, the concessions to our principles made by the Archbishop greatly overbalance any thing which may seem to militate against them.
“Freedom of will and liberty of action are the essential qualities of men, as moral responsible beings.''
The Jews “could not believe" because of their own prejudices and lusts, and not because it was 'so decreed; for a decree of this kind would not
only have been inconsistent with their free agency, * but irreconcilable also with many passages of 'scripture, and particularly with our Saviour's exhortations recorded in the same chapter,“ Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon * you: while ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light."? There was
therefore no divine decree, which prevented the * Jews from walking according to the doctrine of 'Ref. 229. See Book I. chap. ii, sect. 1, On Free Will.
? John xii. 35, 36.
' Christ, and embracing his religion, since we cannot suppose that our Saviour would call upon the Jews to do that which God had made impossible.''
The divine decree, not being known to the Jews, or thought of by them, was in no measure the motive of their conduct; but they were kept from believing' by their own prejudices and lusts.' Neither did the divine decree compel them to act as they did, or render them unable to believe. They were not destitute of natural ability; their moral inability was foreseen as the effect of their depraved hearts; and God only decreed to “ give them up “ to their own hearts' lust, and they walked in their “ own counsels.”? He knew what the effect of his thus leaving them would be ; and, having decreed, he also predicted, it. The divine decree and prediction did not prevent the Jews from walking 'according to the doctrine of Christ, and embrac'ing his religion ;' but it shewed the Lord's righteous determination, not to give them that disposition of which they were wholly destitute : 'and
consequently they had not the ability to do what ' in the sight of God was good.'3 Thus it became impossible that they should obey the call of the gospel; “ for the scripture cannot be broken." Yet this decree was not in any respect 'inconsistent
with their free agency, or with our Saviour's ex'hortations. He shewed the people in general their duty and interest, and exhorted them to attend to them ; but he knew (whether it were deereed or not,) that many of them would refuse to comply with his counsel ; yet nothing but pride, prejudice, and worldly affections' prevented their
Ref. 231. ? Ps. Ixxxi. 12. : 'Ref. 61.