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that no man, since the beginning of the world, ever thought, that the certainty of the predictions 'caused • the events to be the decrees of God.' But the certain. ty 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:' but they 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, but that which arose from determined depravity and enmity to God. Indeed the conclusion of the quotation gives nearly the same view of the subject.
P. ccxxix. 1. 7. • The prescience, &c.'* 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
thing, and providentially effect another thing. Whatever may be thought of decrees, God, undoubtedly accomplishes by his providence, what he foresaw would
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.'
. "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 conformable, and those which are contrary, to his will; but this prescience of God does put affect tbe free agency of man.'
come to pass: for how could he foresee any event, which never would take place?
P. ccxxix. Note, from Bp. Bramhall, 1. 5, from bot, tom. * God did, &c.'* • Judas was not necessitated : to betray Christ:' that is, he was not forced, but acted voluntarily: yet how could God foreknow, that Judas would betray Christ, unless it were certainly to take place? Could he foreknow, and foretel, as infallibly certain, (" and the Scripture cannot be broken,”) an event which might or might not take place? Could the cer. tain foreknowledge and prediction of God, (to say nothing of his purpose and decree,) be frustrated? If Judas, had understood the prediction; he might, as Herod did, in almost similar circumstances, t have deliberately set himself to defeat it: yet even then compulsion would not have been necessary; for God has many methods of accomplishing his purposes, without interfering with man's free agency.
“ The Son of man goeth as it was “ determined: but woe to that man by whom the Son " of man is betrayed!”! It was determined; it could not be otherwise; yet this did not interfere with Judas's free agency; nor excuse his guilt, nor lessen his punishment. Surely it is a vain speculation, to reason about what might possibly have been done, if Judas had set himself resolutely against betraying Christ; when God had predicted that he would betray him, and had deter. mined the event; and when Judas, being left to himself, and his own covetousness, and to Satan's temptations, was sure to betray Christ,and actually did betray him. « Thus it was written and thus it must be." No doubt “ his mouth is stopped,” and he is “silent in “ darkness.”—The illustration of a watchman's conjectural predictions, as put upon a par with the infallible prescience and predictions of God, is not so much le. velled against Clvinism, as against the divine Om. niscience; and is suited to reduce the divine foreknowledge to a mere probable conjecture: and such an argument neither needs, nor deserves, an answer.
• • God did know that Judas should betray Christ; but Judas was not ne. cessitated to be a traitor by God's knowledge. If Judas had not betrayed « Christ, then God had not foreknown that Judas should betray him.' † Matt. ii. 1-18.
* Luke xxii. 22.
P. ccxxix. I. 12. 'Freedom, &c.'* This passage coincides with the views of Calvinists in general. The term, free-agency, would indeed gnenerally be preferred by them, to 'freedom of will,' as less liable to misconstruction: but they mean entirely the same thing.
P. ccxxxi. 1. 10. The Jews, &c.'t 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 preju
dices 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
• Freedom of will and liberty of action are the essential qualities of men, • as moral responsible beings; but to foresee how every individual of the bu*man race will, upon every occasion, determine and act, is the incomprehen
sible attribute of the Deity. That such an attribute does belong to God, . is placed beyond all doubt by the accurate accomplishment of numerous
prophecies; and the free-agency of man is proclaimed in every page of • Scripture, and confirmed by the experience of every moment. These sub
lime and important truths are to be treated as fundamental and incontro'vertible principles; and no interpretation of Scripture is to be admitted in contradiction to them.' t'The Jews “could not believe” because of their own prejudices and Justs, 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 es. hortations 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 de* cree, which prevented the Jews from walking according to the doctrine of Christ, and embracing his religion, since we cannot suppose that our Sarioer would call upon the Jews to do that which God had made impossible.'
# John xii. 35, 36.
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 embracing his religion:' but it showed his 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.'t 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 showed the people in general their duty and interest, and exhorted them to attend to them; but he knew, (whether it were decreed or no,) that many of them would refuse to comply with his coun. sel: yet nothing but pride, prejudice, and worldly affections prevented their compliance. In reality, the certain foreknowledge of God, and every express prophecy may, exactly on the same ground, be said to be inconsistent with commands and exhortations, and with man's free-agency: for if the event, foreknown and foretold, cannot fail to take place; it is morally impossi. ble, that any creature should act so, as to defeat it. The exhortations were addressed to the people in general, and many individuals complied with them; though a greater number did not. There was among them "a remnant according to the election of grace.” This
• Ps. lxxxi. 12.
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"election obtained it,” (the blessing,) " and the rest
were blinded."* In like manner, before the Babylonish captivity, after that event had been most decided. ly and repeatedly predicted, the prophets used similar exhortations: not that compliance with these exhortations was expected from the nation at large; so as to falsify the express predictions given; but that indivi. duals, repenting and turning unto God, might escape final ruin, and be, even in the captivity, a holy seed, and the progenitors of a holy race, to whom God would af. terwards return in mercy.
P. ccxxxii. l. 6. Heret &c.'! No doubt the Jews wilfully closed their own eyes;' and so do all others, who perish in their sins. The question is, Whether all others would not do the same, if left to themselves, without the special grace of God; and whether God might not justly so leave them. God is not, and cannot be, the Author of sin: and if any speak of God, in language implying this, he is a blasphemer. I feel not the least repugnancy at associating, in other respects, with many decided, yet moek and humble Ar. minians, (as to the doctrine of divine decrees,) but a man called a Calvinist, and maintaining that God is, in any sense, the Author of sin, I regard as Judas, and would have no communion with him. I say, meek and humble Arminians: for such as are eager and fierce, often run into as direct blasphemy, in another way.
But may not the Judge of all the earth, when a rebellious creature, from enmity against him, and love of that which God abhors, has closed his own eyes,
. Rom. xi. 5-10. † * Here it is expressly said, that they closed their own eyes; and in other places we find their unbelief and rejection of the gospel attributed to their ?uwn obstinacy and wickedness.?
Matt. xiij. 14, 15.