A post-script to the late letter of the reconcileableness of God's prescience, &c. by John Howe ...

About this Item

A post-script to the late letter of the reconcileableness of God's prescience, &c. by John Howe ...
Howe, John, 1630-1705.
London :: Printed for Brabazon Aylmer ...,

To the extent possible under law, the Text Creation Partnership has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above, according to the terms of the CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/). This waiver does not extend to any page images or other supplementary files associated with this work, which may be protected by copyright or other license restrictions. Please go to http://www.textcreationpartnership.org/ for more information.

Subject terms
Howe, John, 1630-1705. -- Reconcileableness of God's prescience of the sins of men.
God -- Attributes.
God -- Omniscience.
Link to this Item
Cite this Item
"A post-script to the late letter of the reconcileableness of God's prescience, &c. by John Howe ..." In the digital collection Early English Books Online. https://name.umdl.umich.edu/A44686.0001.001. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 24, 2024.


Page [unnumbered]

Page 1

A POST-SCRIPT TO The late Letter of the Reconcileableness of God's Presci∣ence, &c.

FInding that this Discourse of the Reconcileableness of God's Prescience of the sins of Men, with the wisdom and since∣rity of his Counsels, Exhortations, &c. hath been mis-understood and mis-represented; I think it reqisite to say somewhat briefly in reference thereto.

Page 2

I wrote it upon the motion of that honourable Gentleman to whom it is inscribed; who ap∣prehended somewhat of that kind might be of use to render our Religion less-exceptionable to some persons of an enqiring disposition, that might perhaps be too sceptical and pendulous, if not prejudic't.

Having finisht it, I thought it best the Author's Name should pass under some disguise, sup∣posing it might, so, better serve its end. For knowing my Name could not give the cause an ad∣vantage, I was not willing it should be in a possibility of ma∣king it incur any disadvantage. And therefore, as I have observ∣ed some, in such cases, to make use only of the two last Letters, I imitated some other, in the choice

Page 3

of the penultimate. But perceiv∣ing that Discourse now to fall under Animadversion, I reckon it becoming to be no longer con∣cealed.

It was unavoidable to me, if I would, upon reasonable terms, apply my self to the considerati∣on of the matter I had underta∣ken, of shewing the consistency of God's Prescience of the sins of men, with the Preventive methods we find him to have used against them, to express somewhat of my sense of (what I well knew to have been asserted by divers Schoolmen) God's Predetermina∣tive Coucurrence to the sins of men also.

For it had been (any one may see) very idle, and ludicrous trifling, to offer at reconciling those methods with God's Presci∣ence,

Page 4

and have waved that (ma∣nifestly) greater difficulty of re∣conciling them with his Predeter∣minative concourse, if I had thought there had been such a thing. And were a like case, as if a Chirur∣geon, undertaking a wounded person, should apply himself, with a great deal of diligence and address, to the cure of a Finger slightly scratch't; and totally neglect a wound (feared to be mortal) in his Breast.

And whereas I reckon'd God's Prescience of all whatsoever futu∣rities, and, conseqently, of the sins of men, most certain, and de∣monstrable (tho it was not the business of this Discourse to de∣monstrate it, but, supposing it, to shew its reconcileableness with what it seemed not so well to agree) if I had believed his

Page 5

Predeterminative concurrence to the sins of men to be as certain; Per∣fect despair of being able to say any thing to purpose in this case, had made me resolve to say no∣thing in either.

For, to shew how it might stand with the Wisdom and Since∣rity of the Blessed God, to coun∣sel men not to sin, to profess his hatred and detestation of it, to remonstrare to men the great danger they should incur by it; with so great appearance of se∣riousness to exhort, warn, expo∣stulate with them concerning it, express his great displeasure and grief for their sinning, and con∣seqent miseries; and yet all the while act them on thereto, by a secret, but mighty and irresisti∣ble influence, seem'd to me an utterly hopeless and impossible un∣dertaking.

Page 6

The other, without this (supposing, as to this, the case to have been as some have thought it) a very vain one.

But being well assured, that what seem'd the greater difficul∣ty, and to carry most of terrour and affright in the face of it, was only a Chimera. I reckoned the other very superable, and there∣fore directed my Discourse thi∣ther, according to the first de∣sign of it, which was in effect but to justifie God's making such a creature as Man, and governing him agreeably to his Nature.

Now judging it reqisite, that he who should read that Dis∣course concerning this designed Subject, with any advantage, should have the same thoughts of the other, which was waved, that I had; I apprehended it neces∣sary

Page 7

to communicate those thoughts concerning that, as I did. Not operously, and as my business, but only on the By, and as was fit in reference to a thing that was to be waved, and not insisted on.

Now I perceive that some persons, who had formerly en∣tertained that strange opinion of God's Predeterminative concurrence to the wickedest actions, and not purged their minds of it, have been offended with that Letter, for not expressing more respect unto it. And yet offered nothing, themselves (which to me seems exceeding strange) for the solv∣ing of that great difficulty and encumbrance, which it infers up∣on our Religion.

Nor do I much wonder, that this opinion of Predeterminative

Page 8

concourse, to sinful actions, should have some stiff adherents among our selves. For having been en∣tertained by certain Dominicans, that were apprehended, in some things to approach nearer us, than others of the Roman Church; it came to receive favour and countenance from some of our own, of considerable note for piety and learning, whose Name and Authority cannot but be ex∣pected to have much influence, on the minds of many.

But I somewhat wonder, that they who have had no kindness for this Letter, upon the account of its dissent from them, in this particular, should not allow it common justice. For because it hath not said every thing they would have had it say, and that would have been grateful to

Page 9

themselves, they impute to it the having said what it said not, and what they apprehended would be most ungrateful to all pious and sober men.

The sum is, they give out concerning it, that it denies the Providence of God about sin, which all good men ought to abhor from; and insinuate that it falls in with the sentiments of Durandus, which they know ma∣ny think not well of.

All that I intend to do, for the present, upon this occasion, shall be to shew wherein the Letter is mis-represented, and charged with what it hath not in it. To remark what is said against that supposed sense of it, and give the true sense of what it says touch∣ing this matter; with a further account of the Author's mind

Page 10

herein, than it was thought fit to insert into so transient and oc∣casional a Discourse as that part of the Letter was. Whereby it may be seen, wherein he agrees with those of that opposite per∣suasion, and what the very point of difference is. Further than this, I yet intend not to go, till I see further need.

There have two Discourses come to my view that have re∣ferred to that Letter. The one in Manuscript only; which, be∣cause it is uncertain to me, whe∣ther the reputed Author of it will own it or no; and, because it says little or nothing, by way of argument, against the true sense of the Letter, I shall take no fur∣ther present notice of. The other is Printed, and offers at somewhat of argument, which

Page 11

therefore I shall more attentive∣ly consider.

It doth this Letter an honour, whereof its Author never had the least ambition or expectati∣on, to insert the mention of it into the close of a very learned, elaborate Work† 1.1; with which it might, yet, easily be imagined, its simplicity, and remoteness from any pretence to learning, would so ill agree, that a qarrel could not but ensue. It is from one, who having spent a great part of his time in travelling tho∣rough some Regions of literature, and been peaceable, as far as I have understood, in his Travels; it might have been hoped would have let this Pamphlet alone, when, for what I can observe, he finds no fault with it but what he makes; and is fain to accuse

Page 12

it of what is no where to be found in it, lest it should be in∣nocent.

It is an unaccountable pleasure which men of some humours take, in depraving what is done by others, when there is nothing attempted that doth interfere with them; nothing that can, righteously, be understood to cross any good end, which they more openly pretend to, nor the more concealed end (if they have any such) of their own glory.

Common edification seems less designed, when every thing must be thrown down, which is not built by their own hands, or by their own line and mea∣sure.

I plead nothing of merit in this little Essay, only I say for

Page 13

it, that I know not what it can be guilty of towards this learned man, that can have occasioned this assault upon it by his Pen. By how much the less it keeps his road, the more I might have thought it out of the way of his notice. I am sure it meant him no harm, nor had any design to pilfer from him any part of his Collections.

But he says, he may not let it pass. Then there is no remedy. But I wonder what he should mean by he may not. It must ei∣ther mean, that he thought it un∣lawful to let it pass, or that he had a mighty strong and irresistible inclination to sqabble a little with it. The former cannot be ima∣gined. For then, for the same reason, he would have attempt∣ed sundry others of former and

Page 14

later days, that have said much to the purpose, which this Letter doth but touch obiter, and on the By; in its way to another de∣sign. But those were Giants, whom it was not so safe to med∣dle with. Therefore he could very wisely let them pass, tho they have wounded his beloved Cause, beyond all that it is in the power of his, (or any) Art to Cure.

Whence it is conseqent, that the whole business must be re∣solved into the latter. And this in∣clination cannot but owe it self to some peculiar aspect and refe∣rence he had to the Author. Whom, tho he was in incognito, yet (as I have been informed) he professes to have discourst with upon the same Subject ma∣ny times. And so, therefore, he

Page 15

might once more before this pub∣lic rancounter, if he had thought sit, and Nature could have been repel'd a while.

It is true, he hath found me not facile to entertain his Senti∣ments in this matter. And in∣deed I have deeply dreaded the portentous imaginations which I found had more lightly tinctur'd his Mind, as to this thing, con∣cerning the Blessed God. Than which, upon deliberation, I do believe, no human Wit can ever devise worse. As I have often freely told divers of my Friends, and 'tis very likely, among them, himself. Tho I do not suspect the contagion to have infected his vitals; By a priviledg, vouch∣saf't to some, that they may pos∣sibly drink some deadly thing that shall not hurt them.

Page 16

But why must an impatiency of this dissent break out into so vindictive an hostility? I will not say I expected more friendly dealing.

For, as I do well know it was very possible such a public con∣test might have been manag'd with that candour and fairnes, as not at all to intrench upon friend∣ship. So, as it is, I need not own so much weaknes, as, upon many years experience, not to be able to distinguish, and understand there are some tempers less ca∣pable of the ingenuities that be∣long to that pleasant relation.

But it was only a charitable errour of which I repent not, that I expected a more righteous dealing.

He pretends to give my sense, in other words. And then grave∣ly

Page 17

falls to combating his own man of straw which he will have represent me, and so I am to be tortured in Effigie.

[It can never be proved, that it implies a contradiction, for God to make a Creature, which should be capable of acting without immediate Concourse.]

This he puts in a different cha∣racter, as if I had said so much.

And why might not my own words be allowed to speak my own sense? But that his under∣standing and eyes, must then have conspired to tell him, that the sense would have been qite an∣other? It is only a [predetermi∣native] concurrence to all actions, even those that are most malignantly wicked, p. 32. And again, Gods concurring, by a [determinative] in∣fluence unto wicked actions, p. 36.

Page 18

Which is the only thing I speak of; as what I cannot reconcile with the Wisdom and Sinceritie, of his Counsels and Exhortations, against such actions.

And if he had designed to serve any common good end, in this undertaking of his, why did he not attempt to reconcile them himself? But the Wisdom and Sin∣ceritie of God are thought fit, (as it would seem) to be sacrificed to the reputation of his more pecu∣liarly admired Schoolmen. If there be such an universal deter∣mination, by an irresistible Di∣vine influence, to all even the wickedest actions (which God forbid!) methinks such a diffi∣culty should not be so easily past over. And surely the reconciling such a determinative influence with the Divine Wisdom and Sinceritie,

Page 19

had been a performance worth all his learned labours besides, and of greater service to the Christian name and honour.

But it seems the denying con∣currence by such predetermining in∣fluence, is the denying of all imme∣diate concurrence. And I am sent to the Thomists, Scotists, Jesuites, and Suarez, more especially to be taught otherwise. As if all these were for determinative con∣course. Which is very pleasant, When the very Heads of the two first-mentioned Sects were against it, as we shall see further anon, the third generally, and Suarez par∣ticularly, whom he names, have so industriously and strongly op∣posed it. Yea and because I as∣sent not to the Doctrine of pre∣determinative concourse, I am re∣presented (which was the last

Page 20

spite that was to be done me) as a favourer of the Hypothesis of Durandus. And he might, as tru∣ly, have said of Henry Nicholas, but not so prudently, because he knowes whose opinions have a nearer alliance to that Family.

Now I heartily wish I had a ground for so much charity to∣wards him, as to suppose him ignorant that immediate concourse, and determinative, are not wont to be used by the Schoolmen, in this controversie, as terms of the same signification. If he do, him∣self, think them to be all one, what warrant is that to him to give the same for my sense? When 'tis so well known they are not commonly so taken, and that de∣terminative concourse is so volu∣minously written against, where immediate is expresly asserted. Let

Page 21

him but soberly tell me, what his design was, to dash out the word [determining] from what he recites Of that Letter, and put in [immediate]. Which he knowes is not to be found in any of the places he refers to in it. Or what was the spring of that confidence that made him intimate the Sco∣tists, Thomists, The Jesuites, and particularly Suarez, to be against what is said in the Letter, in this thing? If he could procure all the Books in the World to be burnt, besides those in his own Library, he would yet have an hard task to make it be believed in the next Age, that all these were for God's efficacious determi∣nation of the Wills of men unto wicked actions.

I need not, after all this, con∣cern my self, as to what he saies

Page 22

about the No Medium between the extreams of his disjunctive proposition. Either the human will must depend upon the Divine indepen∣dent Will of God, &c. (as he phra∣ses it in the excess of his caution, lest any should think the Will of God was not a Divine Will) Or God must depend on the human will, &c. Unles he can shew that the hu∣man will cannot be said to de∣pend on the Divine, as being en∣abled by it, except it be also deter∣mined and impelled by it, to every wicked action. A created Being that was entirely from God, with all the powers and faculties which belong to it; That hath its continual subsistence in him, and all those powers continued, and maintained by his influence every moment; That hath those powers made habile, and apt for

Page 23

whatsoever its most natural mo∣tions and operations, by a sutable influence, whensoever it moves or operates. Can this creature be said not to depend, as to all its motions and operations, unles it be also unavoidably impelled to do every thing to which it is thus sufficiently enabled?

I again say, Was it impossible to God to make such a creature that can, in this case, act or not act? It is here odly enough said, that the Author gives no demonstra∣tion hereof. Of what? Why that it can never be proved (as the refe∣rence to the foregoing word shewes) that it implies a contradi∣ction, &c. It seems it was expect∣ed that Authour should have pro∣ved by demonstration, that it can never be proved, that it implies a contradiction, for God to make a Crea∣ture,

Page 24

which should be capable of act∣ing (as he feigns him to have said) without immediate concourse. By what rule of reasoning was he obliged to do so? But if the pro∣ving there is such a creature, as, in the case before expressed, can act without determinative concourse, will serve turn to prove, that it cannot be proved, it implies a contradiction there should be such a One: I may think the thing was done. And may think it sufficiently proved, that there is such a creature; If it appear (whereof there is too much proof) that there are such acti∣ons done by creatures, as, for the reasons that were before alledg∣ed, it could not stand with the Nature of God to determine them unto.

And was nothing said tending

Page 25

to prove this, that it could not consist with the Nature of God, to determine men unto all the wicked actions they commit? It seems unles it were put into mood and figure, 'tis no proof. Nor was it the design of those Papers to insist upon that sub∣ject; but there are things sug∣gested in transitu, as such a dis∣course could admit, that (whe∣ther they are demonstrative or no) would puzzle a considering person. That God should have as much influence, and concurrence to the worst actions, as to the best. As much, or more than the sinner or the temp∣ter. That the matter of his Lawes to Adam, and his posterity, should be a natural impossibilitie. And I now add, the irreconcileablenes of that determination, with God's Wisdom and Sinceritie, &c. These I shall

Page 26

reckon demonstrations, till I see them well answered.

However if mine were a bad opinion, why was it not as con∣futable without the mention of Durandus? But that was, with him, an odious name; and fit, therefore, to impress the brand, which he desired I should wear for his sake. This is a likely way to clear the truth. Yet if it serve not one design, it will another, he thinks, upon which he was more intent.

Are all for Durandus's way that are against a predeterminative influence to wicked actions? I could tell him who have shewn more strength in arguing against Durandus, than I find in all his Arguments; who yet have writ∣ten, too, against determinative con∣course to such actions, more than

Page 27

ever he will be able to answer, or any man.

The truth is, when I wrote that Letter, I had never seen Du∣randus. Nor indeed did I consult any Book for the writing of it, (as I had not opportunity, if I had been so inclined) except, up∣on some occasions, the Bible. Not apprehending it necessary, to number votes, and consider how many mens thoughts were one way, and of how many the other, before I would adventure to think any of my own: But, I have this day, upon the view of his Animadversions, taken a view of Durandus too. And, re∣ally, cannot yet guess, what should tempt him to parallel my conceptions with Durandus's, but that he took his, for somewhat

Page 28

an ill-favoured name.* 1.2 Duran∣dus, flatly, in several places de∣nies God's immediate concourse to the actions of the Creatures. Which I never said nor thought. But do really believe his imme∣diate concourse, to all actions of his Creatures (both immediatione virtutis, and suppositi, that I may more comply with his Scholastic humour, in the use of such terms, than gratifie my own) Yet not determinative unto wicked actions.

Again, Durandus denies imme∣diate concourse, universally, and upon such a ground, as where∣upon, the denial must eqally ex∣tend to good actions as to bad;* 1.3 viz. That 'tis impossible the same numerical action should be from two or more Agents immediately and per∣fectly, except the same numerical

Page 29

vertue should be in each. But (he saies) the same numerical vertue cannot be in God and in the Creature, &c. Whereas he well knowes the concourse or influence (for I here affect not the curiosity to di∣stinguish these two termes, as some do) which I deny not to be immediate to any actions, I only deny to be determinative, as to those which are wicked.

Yea and the Authours he qotes (§. 11.) Aqinas and Scotus, tho every body may know they are against what was the notion of Durandus, yet are as much against himself, if he will directly oppose that Letter, and assert determina∣tive concourse to wicked actions. They held immediate concourse, not determinative. The former, tho he supposes Divine help in reference to the elections of the human

Page 30

will, yet asserts the elections themselves to be in mans own power, and only saies that in the executi∣ons of those elections men can be hin∣dered. That (whatsoever influ∣ence he asserts of the first cause) men still,* 1.4 habent se indifferentèr ad benè vel malè eligendum. The other, tho he also excludes not the im∣mediate efficiency of God in refe∣rence to the actions of men, yet is so far from making it determi∣native, that the reason he gives why, in evil actions, man sins, and God doth not, is, that the former of these Causes, posset re∣ctitudinem dare actui qam tenetur eam dare, tamen, qantum est ex se, daret, si voluntas creata cooperare∣tur; in the very place which himself refers to. Wherein they differ from this Authour toto Coelo; and from me, in that they make

Page 31

not determinative influence ne∣cessary in reference to good acti∣ons, which I expresly do.

Thus far it may be seen what pretence or colour he had to make my Opinion the same with Durandus's, or, his own, the same with that of Thomas and Scotus.

But if he knew in what esteem I have the Schoolmen, he would hardly believe me likely to step one foot out of my way, either to gain the reputation of any of their names, or avoid the disre∣putation.

He, notwithstanding, suppo∣sed his own reputation to be so good (and I know no reason why he might not suppose so) as to make it be believed I was any thing he pleased to call me, by such as had not opportunity to be otherwise informed.

Page 32

And thus I would take leave of him, And permit him to use his own reflections upon his usage of me, at his own leisure. But that civility bids me (since he is pleased to be at the pains of ca∣techising me) first to give some answer to the Qestions wherein he thus expostulates with me.

Q. 1.* 1.5 Whether there be any acti∣on of Man on earth so good, which hath not some mixture of Sin in it? And if God concur to the substrate matter of it as good, must he not ne∣cessarily concur to the substrate mat∣ter as sinful? For is not the sub∣strate matter of the act, both as good and sinful the same?

A. 1.* 1.6 It seems then, that God doth concur to the matter of an action as sinful. Which is honest∣ly acknowledged, since by his Principles, it cannot be denied;

Page 33

tho most, of his way, mince the business, and say the concurrence is only to the action which is sin∣ful, not as sinful.

2. This I am to consider as an argument for God's predetermi∣native concurrence to wicked acti∣ons. And thus it must be concei∣ved. That if God concur by de∣terminative influence to the imper∣fectly good actions of Faith, Re∣pentance, Love to himself, Prayer: Therefore to the acts of enmity against himself, Cursing, Idolatry, Blasshemy, &c. And is it not a mighty conseqence? If to acti∣ons that are good qoad substantiam, therefore to such as are in the sub∣stance of them evil? We our selves can, in a remoter kind, concur to the actions of others: Because you may afford, your self, your leading concurrence to actions imperfectly

Page 34

good, therefore may you to them that are down-right evil? be∣cause to Praier, therefore to Cur∣sing and Swearing? and then ruin men for the actions you induc't them to? You'l say God may rather, but sure he can much less do so than you. How could you be serious in the Proposal of this qestion?

We are at a loss how it should consist with the Divine Wisdom, Justice, Goodnes, and Truth to design the punishing Man, yet innocent, with everlasting tor∣ments, for actions which God, himself, would irresistibly move him to; Whereas his making a Covenant with Adam in reference to himself and his posterity, im∣plied there was a possibility it might be kept; at least that he would not make the keeping of

Page 35

it, by his own positive influence, impossible. And you say, If he might concur to the substrate matter of an action as good, (which tends to man's Salvation and Blessed¦ness) he must necessarily conc•••••• (and that by an irresistible determi∣native influence, else you say nothing to me) to the substrate matter of all their evil actions, as evil, which tend to their ruine and misery, brought upon them by the acti∣ons which God makes them do. I suppose S. Luk. 6. 9. with Hos. 13. 9. shew a difference. If you therefore ask me, Why I should not admit this conseqence? I say it needs no other answer, than that I take Wisdom, Righteous∣nes, Goodnes, and Truth, to be∣long more to the Idaea of God, than their contraries.

Page 36

Q. 2.* 1.7 Is there any action so sin∣ful that hath not some natural good as the substrate matter thereof?

A.* 1.8 True. And what shall be infer'd? That therefore God must by a determinative influence produce every such action what∣soever reason there be against it? You might better argue thence the necessity of his producing, every hour, a new World; in which there would be a great deal more of positive Entity, and natural goodnes. Certainly the na∣tural goodnes that is in the Enti∣ty of an action, is no such invi∣tation to the Holy God by deter∣minative influence to produce it, as that he should offer violence to his own Nature, and stain the Justice and Honour of his Go∣vernment, by making it be done,

Page 37

and then punish it being done.

Q. 3.* 1.9 Do we not cut off the most illustrious part of Divine Provi∣dence in governing the lower World, &c.

A.* 1.10 What? by denying that 'tis the stated way of God's Go∣vernment, to urge Men, irre∣sistibly, to all that wickednes, for which he will afterwards punish them with everlasting torments? I should least of all, ever have expected such a qestion to this purpose, and am ashamed further to answer it. Only name any act of Providence, I hereby deny, if you can.

In the next place, That my sense may appear, in my own words; And that I may shew how far I am of the same mind

Page 38

with those that apprehend me at so vast a distance from them; and where, if they go further, our parting point must be; I shall set down the particulars of my agreement with them, and do it in no other heads than they might have collected, if they had pleased, out of that Letter, As

1. That God exerciseth an universal Providence about all his Creatures, both in sustaining and governing them.

2. That, more particularly, he exerciseth such a Providence a∣bout Man.

3. That this Providence about Man extends to all the actions of all men.

4. That it consists not alone in beholding the actions of men,

Page 39

as if he were a meer spectatour of them only, but is positively active about them.

5. That this active Provi∣dence of God about all the acti∣ens of men consists not meerly in giving them the natural pow∣ers, whereby they can work of themselves, but in a real influence upon those powers.

6. That this influence is in reference to holy and spiritual actions (whereto since the Apo∣stacie, the nature of Man is be∣come viciously dis-inclined) ne∣cessary to be efficaciously determi∣native; such as shall overcome that dis-inclination, and reduce those powers into act.

Page 40

7. That the Ordinary, appointed way for the communication of this determinative influence, is by our intervening consideration of the inducements which God re∣presents to us in his Word, viz. the Precepts, Promises, and Com∣minations, which are the moral instruments of his Government. No doubt but he may (as is in∣timated in the Letter, p. 141.) extraordinarily act Men, in some rarer cases, by inward impulse, without the help of such exter∣nal means, (as he did Prophets or inspired persons) And when he hath done so, we were not to think he treated them unagree∣ably to their natures, Or so as their natures could not, without violence, admit. But it hath been the care and designment of

Page 41

the Divine Wisdom, so to order the way of dispensation towards the several sorts of Creatures, as not only not, ordinarily, to im∣pose upon them, what they could not conveniently be patient of, but so as that their powers and faculties might be put upon the exercises whereof they were ca∣pable, and to provide that nei∣ther their passive capacity should be overcharged, nor their active be unemployed.

And whereas the reasonable nature of Man renders him not only susceptible of unexpected in∣ternal impressions, but also capable of being Governed by Laws, which reqires the use of his own endea∣vour to understand & obey them; And whereas we also find such Lawes are actually made for him,

Page 42

and propounded to him with their proper enforcements. If it should be the fixed course of God's Government over him, only to guide him by inward impulses, This (as is said, p. 142) would render those Lawes and their Sanctions impertinencies, His faculties whereby he is ca∣pable of Moral Government so far, and to this purpose, useless and vain. And would be an occa∣sion, which the depraved Nature of Men, would be very apt to abuse into a temptation to them, never to bend their powers to the endeavour of doing any thing that were of an holy and spiri∣tual tendency (from which their aversion would be alwaies prompting them to devise excu∣ses) more than a meer machine

Page 43

would apply it self to the uses which it was made for, and doth not understand.

Therefore, lest any should be so unreasonable, as to expect God should only surprize them, while they resolvedly sit still and sleep; he hath, in his infinite Wisdom, withheld from them the occasion hereof; And left them destitute of any encouragement (whatso∣ever his extraordinary dealings may have been with some) to expect his influences, in the neg∣lect of his Ordinary Methods, as is discoursed p. 90. and at large in the following Pages. And which is the plain sense of that admoni∣tion, Phil. 2. 12, 13. Yea and tho there be never so many in∣stances of merciful surprisals, pre∣ventive

Page 44

of all our own conside∣ration and care, Yet those are still to be accounted the Ordinary Methods which are so de jure, which would actually be so, if Men did their duty, and which God hath obliged us to observe and attend unto as such.

8. That in reference to all other actions which are not sin∣ful, tho there be not a sinful dis∣inclination to them, yet because there may be a sluggishnes, and ineptitude to some purposes God intends to serve by them, This influence is also alwaies determi∣native thereunto; whensoever to the immense Wisdom of God shall seem meet, and condu∣cing to his own great and holy ends.

Page 45

9. That, in reference to sin∣ful actions; by this influence God doth not only sustain men who do them, and continue to them their natural faculties and pow∣ers, whereby they are done, but also, as the first Mover, so far excite and actuate those powers, as that they are apt and habile for any congenerous action, to which they have a natural de∣signation; and whereto they are not sinfully dis-inclined.

10. That, if men do then employ them to the doing of any sinful action; by that same influence, he doth, as to him seems meet, limit, moderate, and, against the inclination and design of the sinful Agent, over∣rule and dispose it to good.

Page 46

But now, if, besides all this, they will also assert; That God doth, by an efficacious influence, move and determine men to wicked acti∣ons. This is that which I most re∣solvedly deny.

That is, in this I shall differ with them, that I do not suppose God to have, by internal influ∣ence, as far, an hand, in the worst and wickedest actions, as in the best.

I assert more to be necessary to actions, to which men are wickedly dis-inclin'd; but that less will suffice for their doing of actions, to which they have in∣clination more than enough. I reckon it sufficient to the produ∣ction of this latter sort of acti∣ons, that their powers be actu∣ally

Page 47

habile, and apt for any such action, in the general, as is con∣natural to them; supposing there be not a peccant aversion, as there is to all those actions that are Holy and Spiritual; which eversion a more potent (even a determinative) influence is necessary to overcome. I explain my self by instance.

A man hath from God the powers belonging to his nature, by which he is capable of loving or hating an apprehended good or evil. These powers, being, by a present Divine influence, rendred habile, and apt for acti∣on: He can now love a good name, health, ease, life, and hate disgrace, sicknes, pain, death. But he doth also by these pow∣ers thus habilitated for action,

Page 48

love wickednes, and hate God. I say, now, that to those former acts God should over and besides determine him, is not absolutely and alwaies necessary; and, to the latter, is impossible. But that, to hate wickednes univer∣sally, and as such, and to love God, the depravednes of his na∣ture, by the Apostacie, hath made the determinative influence of efficacious grace necessary. Which, therefore, he hath in∣dispensable obligation (nor is destitute of encouragement) earnestly to implore and pray for.

My meaning is now plain to such as have a mind to under∣stand it.

Having thus given an account

Page 49

wherein I agree with them, And wherein, if they please, I must differ. It may perhaps be ex∣pected I should add further Rea∣sons of that difference on my part. But I shall for the present forbear to do it.

I know it may be alledged, that some very Pious (as well as Learned) Men have been of their opinion. And I seriously believe it. But that signifies nothing to the goodnes of the opinion. Nor doth the badnes of it extin∣guish my Charity, nor reverence towards the men. For I consi∣der, that as many hold the most important truths, and which most directly tend to impress the Image of God upon their Soules, that yet are never stamped with any such impression thereby; so,

Page 50

it is not impossible some may have held very dangerous opi∣nions, with a notional judgment, the pernicious influence where∣of hath never distilled upon their hearts.

Neither shall I be willing without necessity to detect other mens infirmities. Yet if I find my self any way obliged further to intermeddle in this matter, I reckon the time I have to spend in this World, can never be spent to better purpose, than in disco∣vering the fearful conseqences of that rejected opinion, the vani∣ty of the subterfuges whereby its assertours think to hide the ma∣lignity of it; and the inefficacie of the Arguments brought for it.

Especially those two which the Letter takes notice of.

Page 51

For as so ill-coloured an opi∣nion ought never to be admitted without the most apparent ne∣cessity, So do I think it most ap∣parent there is no necessity it should be admitted upon those grounds or any other. And doubt not but that both the Governing Providence of God in reference to all events whatsoever; and his most certain foreknowledg of them all, may be defended, against all opposers, without it.

But I had rather my prepara∣tions to these purposes, should be buried in dust and silence; than I should ever see the occa∣sion which should carry the sig∣nification with it of their being at all needful.

And I shall take it for a just and most deplorable occasion, if

Page 52

I shall find any to assert against me the contradictory to this Pro∣position,

That God doth not by an Efficacious Influence Vniver∣sally move and determine men to all their Actions; even those that are most wicked.

Which is the only true, and plain meaning, of what was said, about this busines, in the before mentioned Letter.


Page [unnumbered]


Do you have questions about this content? Need to report a problem? Please contact us.