The Second LETTER.
§. 3. I received your Letter, and in it your sence of that difficult point, which I cannot ap∣prove of, but on the contrary assure my self, that as Omnipotence is not onely the power of doing all * things that any or all creatures can do, but more then so, the doing all things that imply not a con∣tradiction, (as the same thing at once to be and not to be, the doing of those being as impossible to God, as it is to lye,) so the Omniscience of God is the knowing all things which any creature can know, and not onely so, but the knowing all things which implye not a contradiction to be known, and then that will be extensible to all things that are past, present, or to come, of what sort soever they are; what is past, or present, or being future is decreed by him, or comes to passe by some ne∣cessary cause in nature, which he decrees not to hinder, Gods knowledge of these will not, I sup∣pose, be doubted of. All the question will be of future contingents, which before they are done, * are possible to be, or not to be, but whensoever Page 101 they come to passe, are as determinately in being; as is any thing else, (the most necessary,) that is allready done. Unlesse then, what by being fu∣ture is out of my reach, is also by being future, out of Gods reach, there can be no pretense that any such future contingent should not be objicible to Gods all seeing knowledge.
§. 4. And that nothing that ever shall be, or will come to passe, is thus out of Gods reach, must sure be yeilded to Gods immensity, which relating * to time, as well as place, it will be equally deroga∣tory to it to limit it to the present time, in op∣position to the future, and to the present, (be it whatsoever finite,) place. This therefore I take to be the one thing fit to be considered in this mat∣ter, whether Gods immensity comprehend not a commensuration to all time, and somewhat be∣yond that, as much as infinite is beyond fi∣nite.
§. 5. This I suppose cannot be denyed to the Notion which is due to a Deity, and if so, then God was immense from all eternity, and cannot be im∣agined to advance or arrive to this by any 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, proficiency, or improvement, by continuing or en∣during from the beginning to this time, or to the end of the world, but in every imaginable point of time, even before time was, he was thus immense, and if so, his knowledge being as immense as him∣self, all that he was from eternity present to, (i. e. all things that ever were or shall be,) must needs be objected to his knowledge.
§. 6. Against this, your prime argument is, that it is no more derogatory to his omniscience not to know that which is in nature unintelligible, then to his Omnipotence, not to do things impossible.] This Page 102 is expresly Socinus's grand argument, and to it I * answer. 1. That the phrase, (in nature unintelli∣gible,) may be set to signifie no more then what no naturall, i. e. created power can know, and then there is no truth in the proposition, unlesse pro∣portionably [impossible] signify what no finite naturall created power can do: and if both those phrases be meant so, there is nothing gain'd by it, because a Deity may both do and know more, then any creature can. But then secondly, the phrase [in nature unintelligible] may also signifie that which in the nature of things, whether finite or in∣finite, created or uncreated, is not possible to be understood; And thus I suppose you meane it, and then the interpretation of the phrase must be, that for such a thing to be objicible to any, though infinite, understanding, implyes a contradiction, (for nothing else is simply impossible:) And * this being your meaning, I absolutely deny, that for God to be by his immensity present to all time, (and all that he is present to, he may see,) implyes a contradiction, or hath any appearance, (to him that considers what infinite is,) of so implying. And if you will make tryall and attempt to prove it doth, it must be by proceeding on the known definition of contradictoryes, a repugnance in ter∣minis, as idem eodem respectu esse & non esse, and then you will soon discerne the unquestionable truth of my deniall. For Gods seeing all future con∣tingents, will neither imply God to be, and not to be, to see, and not to see, to see certainly, and not to see certainly, nor the future contingent to be, and not to be, or to be necessarily and not to be necessarily, or to be future, and not to be future. For the thing being future, and contingent now, Page 103 and so continuing till it comes to passe, and when it comes to passe, coming to passe contingently, and so as it might not come to passe also, but when it actually is done, it implying a contradiction, (and so being impossible,) not to be done, and so being necessary necessitate hypotheticâ, i. e. supposing that it is, all this God sees and knowes by the severall acts of his intellect, answerable to the severall noti∣ons of the thing.
§. 7. From all eternity, and so in every point of time, before it comes to passe, God sees it both as future, and as contingent, and so, as that, which till it is, may be or may not be; and when it comes to passe, in ipso fieri, he sees the man that does it, act freely, having power to the contrary, and the thing never necessary, but as being done, and that onely by that necessity, whereof that proposition in logick is to be understood, Omne quod est, eo quod est, necessariò est. All which is very obvious to be conceived, and there is not the least contra∣diction, or shew thereof in it.
§. 8. This one would thinke you readily gran∣ted, when you say, God infallibly knowes all that is past, present, or possible to be, (for no man demands any more,) yet you deny it again in these words, [meer contingents which with equall possibility may be, or may not be, have no being in act, and therefore can cast no reflection, or objective being into the mind of God.] To which I reply, First, that you ought to advert. 1. That what may be, or may not be, may be. 2. What may be, is possible, and 3. You your self confesse that God knowes all that is possible. Secondly that the having no being in act, (which seemes to be your stumbling block,) is a phrase proportioned to the thing, and to our Page 104 finite understandings, to which the thing is future onely, and so hath no being yet: but when God is considered as infinite, then whatsoever shall ever be in act, that actuall being of it, is the object of Gods sight, and hath been so from all eternity, and is no more removed from him, then that is removed from me, which is present with me; And if you say, God sees before, what in after time shall hang in the ballance of humane indetermination, i e. what he may do, deliberates, and is free to do, or not to do, but hath not yet done, I demand, why may he not also foresee which end of the ballance doth at length overpoise? (Is not one of these as truly future, as the other, when the man is not yet borne?) And so again, which end doth not overpoise, and never will, although he see it might, if the man should choose so, and that the man may so choose, but still that he doth not. This is it, wherein you say the contradiction is, and now it is visible there is none, nor the least approach towards any.
§. 9. Here you add, (which is your second main objection,) that it is a mistake to call that*possible, which God foresees shall never be, for if God foresees the contrary, (i. e. that it shall never be,) it is indeed impossible. But, 1. I pray, is nothing possible to come to passe, but what actually comes to passe? If so, nothing that is, is contingent. But if some things be possible to come to passe, which yet do not come to passe, why may not God see they will not come to passe? And if he can, then that is no mistake, which you say is. 2. Do but change the word foresight into (which is the same,) seeing from all eternity, and then it is plain, that God from all eternity may see that thing will ne∣ver Page 105 actually be, which yet is free for the agent to do, or not to do, (and God sees that too,) and so is possible every way, save onely ex hypothesi, on supposition that it will never be; And as the bare hypotheticall necessity is no absolute necessity, so the bare hypotheticall impossibility is no absolute impossi∣bility. 3. God sees every thing as it is, and it's being or not being such, is in order of nature an∣tecedent to Gods seeing it; Therefore it infalli∣bly followes, that if it be possible to be, though it shall never be, God sees it is possible to be, and if God sees it possible, it unavoidably followes that it is possible.
§. 10. And it is not fit here to interpose, that though it seem to us possible, in respect of second causes, yet if God foresee the contrary, it is indeed impossi∣ble;] For what I am by God left free to do, or not to do, that, not onely seemes, but is indeed possible, and so it is, though in event I never do it, and being so in it self, God's seeing it will never be, hath no least influence upon it, so as to make the least change in it, (for that is the work of his will, not of his knowledge,) and so it cannot from possible convert it into impossible.
§. 11. When therefore you say, no cause can effect that which God sees shall never be, this is onely true in sensu composito, that, in case it shall never be, and so God sees it shall never be, no cause shall effect it, but in sensu diviso it is most false, for I am truly able to write more lines to you then I shall ever write, or consequently then God foresees I shall write, and even this, that I am thus able, God equally foresees.
§, 12. By this you see how far I am from being convinced, or by any reason forced to grant, that Page 106future determinations of free agents are not foresee∣able, and what the inconvenience is of affirming they are not, even no less then derogating from Gods Immensity, and Infinity, and judging the perceptions of an infinite Creator by our finite, created measures, his more then unfathom'd Oce∣an by my span, and feigning contradictions, where there are none.
§. 13. Now to the Inconveniences which you e∣numerate, * I shall reply also, as oft as I perceive I have not prevented, or answered them already. The first is, that the sight can be no more certain then the things are which are seen, and therefore there cannot be a certain knowledge of those things, which in their causes are uncertain,] I answer that all the certainty of the knowledge of any thing de∣pends upon its being first, and then of its being known to be, and not onely upon the certainty of its causes; I do now as certainly know that I have written nine pages to you, as I know that the fire burns, therefore that may be known certainly, which is not certain in its causes. And as that which is present to me is certainly known by me, so are all things to come from all eternity, present to an im∣mense Creator, be they contingent, or not. And in this case there is not more in the effect then in the cause, for what is contingently come to pass, be∣ing done, is certain, and cannot be undone, and God sees it, as it is, therefore he sees it as done, and so certain, yet as done contingently, and so as that which might not have been, the being, certain, the manner of its coming to act, uncertain. The being then being the cause of the seeing, or in nature an∣tecedent to it, and the seeing the effect or conse∣quent of the being, the certainty of the effect is Page 107 but proportionable to, and exceedeth not the cause.
§. 14. The second Inconvenience is, that of say∣ing*that every thing that happens was certain to be, before it happens] But I say not so, unless by cer∣tain you mean ex hypothesi, certain to be, in case it be; for in case it should not be, God should see it would not be, and then it should be as certainly otherwise.
§. 15. The short is, All Exhortations, Industry, Preaching, &c. are founded in the liberty of our actions, and if they be free till they be actually de∣termined, and then are past freedome, and become necessary, so consequently must Exhortations, &c. be all usefull, till the thing be done, (and then in∣deed, as to the doing, or not doing that, they are not usefull, but their second season of usefulness comes in, in case it were a sin, Exhortation to Re∣pentance, &c.) and that is as much, as can be or need be pretended to, and this is fully competible with Gods seeing certainly from all eternity, what∣soever shall come to pass in time; His seeing it sup∣posing it done, though for the manner of its being done, that were contingent, and if so, then is it not certain to be, before it happens, but it is cer∣tain to be, when it is, and it first is, in order of nature, before it is seen, and its being already seen, before it be done, depends onely on the immensity of Gods presence, and sight, which reacheth out to all that ever shall be; so that that which is fu∣ture to us, he is present to it, and in that sence, though he sees it as future, tis yet present to him.
§. 16. Your third inconvenience is, that, by this, the damnation of such or such men is as fixed and un∣alterable,*as though they were reprobated from allPage 108eternity, and it is as ill in respect of me, if I must inevitably be damned by my own free will, as if I had been sentenced to Hell by Gods decree, and in respect of God worse, for he must be deprived of the free exercise of his omnipotence, (because he cannot make that not to be which he foresees will be) and brought under a Stoicall Fatality, and so be an helpless specta∣tour of what anothers will is pleased to effect.] I an∣swer if by [such and such men] you mean such or such individuall entities, without respect to their qualifications or demeanures, then all your conse∣quence, as it is inconvenient, so it is false, for from Gods seeing ab aeterno, that Judas will be reproba∣ted, it follows not, that he sees he will be reproba∣ted, but for his willfull Treason. But if you mean by such or such men] men so or so qualified, i. e. finally impenitent, then 'tis true, but not inconve∣nient, that finall impenitents, should from all e∣ternity be reprobated. And speaking of these in this sence, 'tis true, which you add, that it is as ill in respect of the person, i. e. finall impenitents, meaning by [as ill] as sad and penal, nay 'tis more sad, and penal to be reprobated for final im∣penitence, which I am guilty of by my own free∣will, then it would be to be onely by Gods decree involved in it, my willful culpable guilt being some addition to my misery, and (as long as God is just) it being expectable that those punishments will be sharper, which I bring on my self, by the exercise of my free will, then what comes on me by a decree grounded no way in my actions. And so still this is no Inconvenience. But if you mean by [as ill] that which hath as little mix∣ture of Gods goodness towards me, then your con∣sequence is false, for to Gods seeing Judas repro∣bated, Page 109 and his seeing it ab aeterno, it is no way con∣sequent, that he gives him no power to escape Damnation, viz. Grace to be able to stand and not fall, or Grace to recover if he will make use of it, but the contrary rather follows; For how can God see him damned for the betraying Christ, and not repenting and returning, unless this were done wil∣fully by him (sins of weakness and ignorance find∣ing mercy, as in the case of Saul, persecuting the Church) and unless he were first a Disciple of Christ, and so were illuminated, and assisted by Christ, and if he were so, then he had this power and Grace, or might have had it, if he were not wanting to himself, and if so, then this was not so ill to him (in this sense, of which now I speak) as to have been irrespectively reprobated, and never vouchsafed this Grace.
§. 17. So when you say It is worse in respect of God, and prove that because he must be deprived of the free exercise of his omnipotence] there is no truth in that consequence, or the reason of it. For Gods omnipotence consists not in being able to make both parts of a contradiction true, that were in the very attempt a departing from veracity, a falseness, a sin, and so the greatest impotence, and so most con∣trary to omnipotence. And such is that, which alone your consequence, and the reason of that supposes, making that not to be, which he foresees will be, for by the latter part of that expression you mean that wch from eternity he sees to be done, and then to be done and not to be done, is in terminis contradictory. And this impotence or not being able to cause the same thing at once to be and not to be, is far from all notions of Stoical fatality, that I ever heard of (els sure all rationall creatures must be Stoicks, for Page 110 they all resolve that what is, cannot not be) and as far from making God an idle helpless spectator of what anothers will is pleased to effect: for his provi∣dence, and assistence, and efficacy belong to other things, not to the making that not to be, when it is, but to the preventing it before it came, giving Grace sufficient, preventing, restraining, exciting, &c. ordering it and disposing of it to his own wise ends, when it is done, and punishing the doer just∣ly, if he repent not, to which he is also ready to give Grace, if he humbly ask, and seek and knock for it: All this is supposed to be done by God, and so God is no helpless spectator, and all this is re∣concileable with the effects being wrought by our free will, as long as Gods grace works not irresi∣stibly.
§. 18. Here I remember that of S. Augustin. de Civ. l. 5. c. 10. Nullo modo cogimur, aut retenta praescientia Dei, tollere voluntat is arbitrium, aut re∣tento voluntatis arbitrio, Deum, quod nefas est, ne∣gare praescium futurorum, (this is expresly contra∣ry both to the Calvinists pretension on one side, and the Socinians on the other.)
§. 19. Your fourth inconvenience is, that then God never purposed to save all mankind.] If by pur∣posing * you mean decreeing, and by saving, actually bestowing heaven upon them, then that conse∣quence is true, but not in the least wise inconvenient, for God never decreed to save final impenitents, and such are many of mankind, after the giving of Christ, but on the contrary, hath sworn such shall not enter into his rest. The saving of mankind which God decreed is the redeeming them, and giving them Christ, and Grace, and making them salvable, and being deficient in nothing toward Page 111 that end to those, that will make use of it. As for the other notion of Salvation, it is no where said that God purposed that in the notion of decreeing, but onely that he so will'd as to desire it, and to give sufficient means of effecting it, but those means proportioned to rational agents, and so not vio∣lent or irresistible, or such as should, by being con∣trary to freedome, exclude rewardableness. So when you say, Christ could not have an intention to dye for them, who he foresees would be nothing ad∣vantaged by it] if by dying for them] you mean so dying, that they should actually be saved, so 'tis true, he intended not to dye for those that are fi∣nally impenitent, and so are not advantaged by it, for sure it is no part of his Covenant or intention in dying, to save such: but if by dying for them you mean purchasing pardon, upon supposition of re∣pentance, then that he intended thus to dye for them, that make not this advantage of it, (and so he sees make it not) appears evidently by many texts, which tell us of his redeeming those that deny him, that perish, &c. and is intimated by the very style you use of their being nothing advantaged by it, for if he did not purchase those advantages for them, why is that phrase used?
§. 20. Your fifth Inconvenience is, that on this*supposition, God could not seriously call upon such, whom his prescience points out for Damnation, to re∣pent, more then I could bid him take heed that he fall not, whom by tumbling down I saw mortally bruised already.] I answer, 1. that if you mean any more by that phrase [his praescience points out to Damnation] then [he sees ab aeterno, that they will not repent, but dye in their sins,] I reject the phrase, as not belonging to the question, my hy∣pothesisPage 112 being far from yielding, that praesci∣ence doth any other way, but this, or in any o∣ther sense, point out any to damnation. And there∣fore changing that obscurer for this other more perspicuous phrase, I say that Gods praescience of mens not making use of his call, is very reconcile∣able with the seriousness of his call, which I inferr from Gods own words, and oath, as I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of him that dyes, turn you, turn you, for why will you dye? what can be more serious then this speech, directed to those that dye, and he sees, obstinately will dye. But this differs widely from my warning him to take heed of falling, whom I see actually fall'n, because whenso∣ever God thus calls not to fall, the man is not fall'n: when he calls him to arise again, being fall'n, he is not irreversibly fall'n, and therefore accordingly he calls him (not, not to fall, but) to rise again. And what God thus doth in time, God ab aeterno de∣creed to do, and his foreseeing it would not pro∣duce the desired effect, was in order of nature af∣ter the decree of doing it, and therefore is in no reason to have any influence on (so as to change) the decree, and if not so, then the decree standing still in force, it is most necessary that it should be performed, and so that God should in time call thus seriously to repentance.
§. 21. And indeed, for God to foresee (as he doth, or els would not punish for it,) that his most serious call will be rejected, and yet not to suppose his call is most serious, is an absolute contradicti∣on, and so cannot possibly be supposed or ima∣gined.
§. 22. To my argument of Judas's sin being foreseen, and foretold by God, from whence I con∣clude *Page 113 that that is foreseen which is not caused by God, or to which the man is not determined by any act of Gods will) which you say is very pres∣sing, you answer by referring to my judgement 1. whether the Prophecies could not have been full∣filled, had Judas never been born: 2. whether by listning to his Master he could not have repented, &c.] * To the first I answer, that the prophecy, as it was terminated in him, could not possibly have been fullfilled, had he never been born, and that the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or utmost completion of the prophecy Psal. 41. 9. was terminated in him, the holy Ghost by S. Peter tells us, Act. 1. To the second, that I doubt not but by listning to Christ, he might have repent∣ed, and then God foresaw that he might, yet fore∣saw he would not do what he might, and so fore∣told this; whereas if he would have done other∣wise, it is as undoubted, that God should have foreseen that, and might, if he had pleased, have foretold it also, as Christ did not onely his trea∣son, but also S. Peters denyall, and repentance al∣so. As for that which you suggest, that the pro∣phecy of him might be like that of Jonah, conditional] 1, there is little probability for it, when the event hath so much otherwise interpreted it, which if it had not done, I should not have resisted your sug∣gestion, as far as concerned his perishing. But then 2. you know my Argument was founded in Gods foreseeing his sin (and no his perishing) and to that his conditional foresight, exemplified in Jo∣nas to Nineveh, is not applyable,
§. 23. That which you cite from Chrysostome, who gives for a reason why Christ admitted Judas*to the Sacrament, that nothing might be omitted that might conduce to his amendment] belongs not to Page 114 your first, but second question, and so I allowed of it, as you see, and am not prejudiced by it. For to your concluding question I answer expresly, Christ look'd on Judas's not sinning, or repenting, as possible, till by his repudiating all the means of Grace, and his measure of iniquity fill'd up, he withdrew his Grace from him, which whether he did before, or not till his death, I have no means of desining. Onely this I resolve, that Christs fore∣seeing what he would do, had no least influence on the effect, any more then the effect hath on the cause, or the sense on the object, Gods foresight being in nature consequent to, and caused by his doing it, not the cause of it. And when you say, that if it were possible, then the contrary was not certain, I grant it was not certain, till it was done, and when you inferr, then it could not be foreseen, I deny the consequence, for those things which are not certain, till they are done, may by an im∣mense Deity be ab aeterno seen to come to passe in time, and so that sight or foresight be as certain, as a foresight of what is most necessary in its causes: and the reason is clear, because of that which is done, it is as certain that it is done, as of that which is in causis, it is certain, that it is in causis, and being so, it may cast a reflexion on the under∣standing of him that is present to it, and so is God to futures, as well as to the present.
§ 24, And when you say in your Postscript, that it is a contradiction to say that things past or future are present, and therefore all things are not, nay cannot be present to God;] I answer, 1. that you use not the right definition of a Contradiction, in saying thus, for future doth not contradict present, but present and not present is a contradiction, and so Page 115future and not future; 2. although it be granted of any finite thing, that it cannot be both present and future, yet God being immense, may and must be present to that which is future, or els he is boun∣ded and limited. Yet this doth not inferr God to see what is future as present (which you say is to be deceived) but to see what is future as future, which though indeed it be future, yet he by his im∣mensity may be present to it. And none of the in∣conveniences, which you add, follow on this; one∣ly let me tell you (on strength of that Proposition, Quicquid est necessario est id quod est) that as God cannot change what is past, so he cannot change that which is present, so as to make it, when it is present, not present, and then no more can he change that which is future, so as to make it not future. All that can be done is, either 1. to make that which is contingent (and so may be or may not be) to become necessary, by decreeing it; or 2. to come to pass really, though but contingently, or els 3. not to come to pass, or finally to leave it still free, yet to foresee what will freely be done, as much as what will necessarily be done.
§. 25. So that you see the maxime which you mislike, is not so much, that all things are present to God, i. e. represented to him sub ratione prae∣sentis, as this, that God by his immensity is present to all things, and his sight being as infinite as his being, this is as easie to be understood, as the other, or as any infinite is comprehensible by our finite understandings, which you call duller apprehensions, for so sure are all ours, when we imploy them up∣on infinites. You see into what a length I am run, indeed much above mine own intentions, but shall not repent of it, if it contribute to the disabusing Page 116 you, and shewing you the way out of this intri∣cacy.
§. 26. This second Letter having some enforce∣ments of the old, and addition of new scruples, re∣turned to it, by the same hand, which I accounted it my duty to answer at Large, by a third letter, (which I suppose will conclude this controversy,) I shall here also subjoin it. It was as follow∣eth.