To the Reverend and Learned Author.
SInce I had the honour and satisfaction of seeing your Papers, I have blamed your delay in the publication of them; especially being designed to recall a Romish Proselyte that was gone from the Communion of our Church, they might (in this un∣happy and distracted Juncture) have seasonably help'd to∣wards the recovery of others, whose temporal as well as eternal Interests make them as eager and desirous of sa∣tisfaction. I know that Modesty is a vertue, and Cau∣tion a very commendable thing: but Charity and Love to the Souls of men is much more so. You have lived to see the Church forlorn and desolate, persecuted and seem∣ingly forsaken; and after a little respite and the hopes of settlement, to be again threatned and menac'd with a final overthrow. Down with it,*down with it even to the ground, cry our Modern Edomites. And when the Church did need the Aids of those who loved her, we know she found your Zeal, and Resolution and Courage in her service: And that now you should flag when you are so well arm'd and prepar'd for Combat, or be backward when her Adversaries are pecking at the very foundations with Axes and Hammers, and striving to undermine her by Artifice or Violence; And you a Champion so try'd and experienc'd, and furnish'd to defend her; I cannot imagine, unless you Page [unnumbered] are more tender than formerly, and fear taking of harm by being exposed to the open Air. I think I have heard that the time has been,* when, like Nehemiah's Builders, you wrought with one hand in the Churches service, and with the other you h•ld a weapon for her defence and suc∣cour. You know the Arguments that mov'd you then; and what hinders but they should now prevail? I am, you see, warm in the Churches cause, nor do I believe that you are less concern'd. But if I seem to reproach or lament your remissness in these seasonable Circumstances to send abroad your useful preparations, let me not be thought rude or un∣mannerly, because I hereby not only vindicate you from the common fault of being forward to print, but likewise shew the high value I have for your Person and Papers, and that I believe them to he very useful for the Publick benefit.
As to the Gentleman you design to reduce, I only know him upon this occasion, and therefore can say little of his Learning or Ingenuity, or the Motives that made him de∣part from us: But if after all your endeavours to convict him he still remains hard and untractable, and refuseth to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely, he must be let alone in the obstinacy of the deaf Adder, and to our Prayers to soften him, when your Argu∣ments cannot alter him; but when the World have seen your Papers, and know that he has done so; They'l strain their Charity to suspect, that something else besides the pre∣tended Page [unnumbered] advantage of Infallibility perswaded him to re∣volt; and till he can answer your Arguments, they'l be apt to think, that the exchange of Opinion was not for Faith but Fancy, and that while he dreamed that he left uncertainty, it was to be secure of nothing.
But if you should have that Friendly influence upon him by your pains and endeavours to call him back, hee'l (by that Charity that is more Catholick than the Religion he leaves) be glad, that by his fall so great an advantage has been offer'd to the world, and that others may be reduc'd thereby to the sober enquiry upon what bottom they trust their Salvation, and see upon what slender and fickle grounds their Faith has been fixed; And what those Grounds are, all men will see when they peruse your Tractate. Be∣sides, we have reason to thank such men as you for asserting the Churches cause in these Controversies; For who now that is most freakish in folly and Enthusiasm, has a front to say, That the Sons of our Church are warp'd from what is Primitive and truly Orthodox; or Factors for the Romish Interest; or wish well to the promoting that Cause amongst us, &c. Let us hear no more such outcries against the Church of England, nor against those who are exact and punctual in the decent performance of Gods publick Worship, and the circumstances of Order and Discipline. For the gaudy Su∣perstitions of Rome and Italy are more contemned by such men, than the looser and more careless dress of AmsterdamPage [unnumbered] and Geneva. And you amongst many others have freed our Church from this whining & unjust imputation, in that you have not only shaken, but everted that fundamental Prin∣ciple, upon the fall of which all the superstructure tumbles.
As to your Quotations, they are so proper and peculiarly adapted to every period, that you had very great luck to happen on the choice of them. And for the Translations which your Charity suffer'd to be made of them, for the use of your meaner and more unlearned Reader; they, I perceive, were done by one whose skill in Grammar did exceed his sense in Theologie and Divine Controversies, which may excuse them to the Criticks and men of brisker fancy. However, Tran∣slating is a very tedious task, and so long as they are true and l•teral, they are justifiable enough against the keenest and most snarling Censurers.
I am loth the Messenger should stay, and therefore only wish your Reader may be impartial and considerative, un∣prejudic'd and serious, and that your Papers may convince and confirm him, that they may have their design on the Gentleman you'd recall, and advance the interest of Truth and Goodness amongst all men; that they may help to allay that bitterness, and heal those Animosities and w•ld Conceits that trouble the Christian World, and that all that see them may endeavour after the things that make for Peace. Which is the Prayer of,
Sir, Your faithful Servant.Dec. 2. 1678.
THE MIDDLE WAY OF Predetermination ASSERTED.
Between the DOMINICANS And JESUITES, CALVINISTS And ARMINIANS.
OR, A Scriptural Enquiry into the Influence and Causa∣tion of God, in and unto Humane Acti∣ons; Especially such as are SINFULL.
O Israel, thou hast Destroyed thy self, but in me is thy Help.
LONDON, Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and three Crowns at the lower End of Cheapside. 1679.
THE EPISTLE TO THE READER.
REader, When I had finished an Answer to the Author of the Court of the Gentiles about Predetermi∣nation, this shorter Treatise came to my Hand; On the same Subject, Plain and Easie; not Fettering or Vex∣ing the Reader with School Disputes; Sound and Judiciously done if I may Judge: And I hope none will like it the worse, because the Author is a Non-Conformist, or because he hath gone for an Independent. Think not that we have communi∣cated Notions, because he saith the same that I do, for I am a Stranger to him, and never saw his Face: But I thank God that the Church hath any such, and O that they were more. Blessed are the Peace-makers, for they shall be Cal∣led the Children of God. Seeing it hath pleased God to permit Satan, and some otherwise Honest men, to sow Tares while we slept, and to Hazard the Church and the Soules of Men, by very dangerous Writings of Late, I think you should with Thankfulness receive this Antidote from this Worthy Ser∣vant Page [unnumbered] of Christ. I add this Notice, that he hath a Treatise of Justification new Licensed, Written with the same Healing Spirit and Judgment, Neglect it not because there is so much Written on that Subject; for it tells you more than is ordinarily told you, and there are few things written thereon with equal Judgment and plainly fitted to the Edifying of the meanest Ca∣pacity, if he understand the matter aright, who is
An earnest Desirer of Truth, Love and Concord, Rich. Baxter.Septemb. 19, 1678.
THE MIDDLE WAY OF PREDETERMINATION ASSERTED.
IT's not unknown to Persons soberly Inquisitive into Truth, of what Importance, and Concernment in Religion it is, so far forth as in us lieth, to have a right Understanding, and due Conception in our Mind, touching the Notive Power of Man, in or unto the specifying and determining, of his own Acts or Actions: as also of the Influence and Causality of God, in and unto the determination of the same: What is God's Interest, and what is mans, in the Existence [especially] of those sinful motions and actions of man, which God dehorteth from, and so severely doth prohibit and punish him for. A Misconception therein on the one hand, or the other, may expose us unto the Charging of God foolishly, even whil'st we take our selves to be pleading of his Cause; and may occasion in us unbecomming thoughts of our selves, and hard thoughts of him, unworthy the Revelation that he hath made of himself to us, tending to Expunge out of our Souls all due sense of Sin, and acknowledgment of the Holiness, and of the Equity of Gods Law, and of his Righteousness in his procedure there∣upon with us.
The Thesis or Position which I maintain, in short is this, namely, That God doth not Premove, or by his Transient Influence as the first cause, Predetermine men unto all and every of their Acts or Actions whatso∣ever; not in particular to those which are sinful; such as Blasphemy, Incest, Murder, &c. in specie.
Page 2It's not my Design to enter the Lifts with any one in the way of Dispu∣tat•on; nor shall I at all interest my self in the contests of other men Learned and Pious, engaged in that Controversie about Predetermina∣tion. I shall onely speak the sense of my own Soul nakedly therein, and what hath been the result of my thoughts upon my most Sedulous en∣quiry for some years past into the Question; which bordereth much upon Practice, although controversial, no man but at one time or other will have his Thoughts exercised more or less about it. It's a question wherein, as well the wisest of the Heathen, as of the Christian World have been engaged: as well Papists, as Prot•stants; and that, •qually among themselves, as well as each against other.
And it were earnestly to be wished that Controversies in Religion were managed with more Candour and Moderation, without Animosities, and Personal Reflections, that it might appear that it is the Cause of God singly, not our own that we plead; and that it is the discovery and pro∣motion of Truth alone that we design; which the venting of Humane Passion may hinder, but can never further the intertainment of.
Nor shall I trace the Schools at all in their Notions and various Exp•ica∣tions of the matter under consideration. It's every Souls concernment to understand it in some measure; and they who cannot Philosophise, may for ought I know, have as due a Conception and found Judgment therein, as to the maine, plainly deduced from the word of God, as the most Learned. Yea I do apprehend, that Philosophical Disputes, in conjuncti∣on with an undue Veneration of some men whom they affect, is that which hath rendered the Truth vailed unto many. For my part, I have chosen rather to study Catechismes, next to the Bible, for my dir•ction herein, than the Dictates of Philosophical men; rather consulted the Conviction of Conscience, and sense of Mankind, than their Scholastical determinations.
But to come to the Matter it self. Some things Preliminary, for the due Stating of the Question, and •or Explication sake, must be insisted on in our way. Let it be noted then,
(1) The question is not touching Gods Science, Prescien•e, or Fore∣knowledge of all futurities, his foresight of all the freest actions of man, one as well as the o•her. For supposing that God will create man, and make him a free agent, yet mutable, and put him under a Law, and sustain him in his opperations. It's granted, that by his own infinite per∣••ction, he might do, and did foresee in Eternity, what he would issue in, as future, Isa. 41, 22, 23. all his actions good and evil, even the sin of them, In concreto & abstracto. Ye• the formale of it, its anomie, or ir∣regularity Page 3 (which some term a non ens) he foreknew, but the modus or the way and manner how God foreseeth all future contingencies, espe∣cially the Fall of man, and of Angels, is to us unknown; at least I sh•ll not for my part enterprise to determine it; No principle of the Ch•i••i∣an Religion rendring it necessary for us to understand. The prescience of God nil ponit in objecto, puts nothing into the creature; it infers no more than a logical necessity of existence in ordine dicendi, a necessity of conse∣quence only, Joh. 12.39. It shall be; not of consequent, or in ordine causandi, nothing of causality, (nor is it concerned at all in the manner of the Subjects determination of it •elf, or of it's operation, (which is the object of his foreknowledge) whether it be a principio dissito, from a from a Principle •xtrinsecal to it; as when a stone moves upwards: or impetu naturali; as when it moves downwards: or sponte; as brutes act void of coaction: or voluntariè & liberè, according to a judgment of Rea∣son, as man, freely, still God foreseeth the even•; but his foresight causeth it not.) Gods foresight, or knowledge, what I shall or will do to morrow, (if I live) hath no influence at all into the determining me there∣un•o; it leaveth me equally free and indetermined, as if he foreknew it not at all. Nor's it more difficult to me to conceive or fathom, how God should in Eternity foresee the fr•est action of his crea•ure, which yet he predetermineth not to, but leaveth still in i•s own nature evitable, and contingent, than it is to me to form any conception of his Eternity, or how he came to be God: wherein I am lost. Ex nihilo nihil fit, that of nothing, nothing is made, is as cogent an argument to me, to prove that the world must needs be Eternal, as any that ever I met with to prove that God cannot foresee, what he doth not decree to eff•ct, or that which he determineth not the creature to. God for•saw that Ananias would not, not that he could not, dispose of the price of his estate as he pretend∣ed to do; that he would not, not that he could not forbear to lie, Act. 5.3, 4. He could not ind•ed make God ignorant; yet he co•ld have done otherwise than he did, for all Go•'s knowledge that he would not so do. Nay, possibly it may prove no less d•fficult to make out what some do so Peremptorily fix upon as the way in which, or manner how God in Eternity foreseeth all things that shall ever come to pass; namely in his own Decree, giving them a futurition in the first place, and thence taking the Idea of them, in his own will: since that in Eternity there is no prius and posterius one thing before an other, it consists in a Point: beside, that the free Act of God will have no necessary connexion with his Being, nor do they by way of emanation result therefrom, Eph. 1.11. Who can make out these things? Can any one define or resolve how Page 4 God himself should fore-see, and fore-appoint things to come, and yet notwithstanding their Futurition, or Shall-be, still we are to conceive of him (wherein he hath not bound himself by express law, or promise to the con∣trary,) as retaining a liberty pro arbitrio, whether this or the other thing shall come to pass or not; unless we will take away and destroy the reason and foundation of Prayer, according to that of the Poet, Desine fata Deûm flecti sperare precando, let us never think by prayer to move God to reverse his determinations, or to alter that which he foresees, and there∣fore will, and must be. We ought not to pray, only, for that it is our duty, and as that which fell also within Gods predetermination; but we are in our addresses to him, suppose under a national calamity, or a par∣ticular distress, to conceive of him, as yet free at his pleasure to prosper, or blast us, in the very instant wherein we pray to him, and accordingly as we shall demean our selves, we may expect from him, though we have no certainty of the event. Jer. 18.7, 9. Jonah 2.9. Zeph. 2.3. Exod. 32.31, 32. 2 Cor. 12.8. And not think that once he could help us, antecedently to his determination, or before the contrary was future; but that now he is not at liberty as before to proceed either way, or to be moved by any Address to him, &c. and yet to form any adequate con∣ception of the consistency of these things, may be to us impossible.
(2) Nor is the question touching Gods preordination, or free decree of all actions, or events, [either efficiendo or permittendo] whether they be good or evil: though I deny that the decree of God did enter into them after the same way and manner. God did from Eternity predesti∣nate, or decree some of fallen man, (fallen I mean, ut in esse cognito, such in the foreknowledge of God) unto salvation, and unto faith and holiness in order thereunto, Rom. 8.29, 30. Eph. 1.4, 5.2 Thes. 2.13. He did decree to cause it so to be; And the same doth and sh•ll come to pass as the Effect of it. But I deny that God did so decree the fall of man (though he did to permit it,) or that he did so predestinate any man unto unbelief, impenitency, and rebellion, the Material of it. Thus the learned Bishop Davenant in his Animadversions against Hoard, mihi p. 105. Predestination is a cause effectual in the producing of all salutiferous actions; But reprobation (or preterition) is no effectu•l cause in the producing of any wicked actions. And, we hold not that God hath d•termined to produce any bad actions in men, as impenitency, or the like, so p. 258. Predetermination in this sense taken, as an imma∣nent act in God, and the same with his decree, precisely in its self; It puts no more into his Subject than his bare Prescience. How the event, Page 5 or things decreed shall be brought about falls within the decree too; But that belongs to the execution, and is de modo; which may be, as well by permitting, or ordering things (so as to ascertain the existence of what is decreed;) as by affective production, or causative determination, and specifying the operation of the creature, in persuance of his decree, and such a difference there is: Gods will giveth Being and Existence to the Object of his love; Not so of his hatred: but presupposeth it only there; and yet both the one and the other, are births lying in the womb of his E∣ternal decree, whether they shall have a true Existence or not. Even touching the evil, projections, and actions of men, God hath predefi∣ned, which of their contrivances shall take effect, and which not; what Weapon shall be improsperous, and what shall prosper, Dan. 8.25. and 11.25, 27. Isa. 54.15, 17. Jer. 47.7. Isa. 44.7. his determinate counsell and purpose is concerned therein, Isa. 46.10. Act. 4.28. Of which more hereafter.
(3) Neither is the question touching the providence of God, either in the sustentation or conservation of the Being of man, or of his concourse to the en•bling him unto the production of his Acts and opera•ions in ge∣neral; nor of his i•fluence and causation as to good actions; (nor yet tou•hing his order and government of the world,) but it is, of his pre∣curse, or transient influence, unto the determination of the Subject, in the exercise and specification of his Acts, antecedently (at least in order of nature) to his own determination, and that in relation to evil actions especially, whereof we are enquiring. Here i•'s granted.
1. That the creature, as to all its actions in general, hath its depen∣dance upon God the first cause, on his manutenency and supportation both in esse & operari, as to his Being and Motion, Psal. 104.30. Neh. 9.6. and consequently that to all actions incommon, whether good, or evil, (so in like manner to all operation of every creature,) such a sus∣tentation and concourse of God there is necessary thereunto, as where∣by he preserveth the order of nature, and enableth every cause to pro∣duce its effect: and, that by his continual energetical operation and in∣flux (which is the same) he doth concurr with the reason and free will of man, at least concomitanter, in its own election and free determination, as that whereupon the Will in acting, the Acts of the will, and its Actions willed, do depend, and without which the Agent could not subsist nor move of himself at all, Act. 17.28. Rom. 13.36. But it hence follow∣eth not but that man hath a self determining power, (that presupposed) as to some acts, or actions, which he hath not lost his capacity unto, 1 Cor. 7.37.
Page 6The Providence of God, whereby he upholdeth all things, Heb. 1.3. and by his general influence doth preserve, and keep alive the power, and operation of the creature, doth differ from Creation: that is the production of something out of nothing simply, or out of the power of Nature, or of any second cause, this is the sustentation of something already in Being, supplying it with strength for the reduction of its Power into Act. It's of the ordinary, and mediate providence of God that I am speaking, in the execution whereof, he cooperateth with the creature, yet so as that the creature hath its immediate influence i•to the specifying the effect, by virtue of its proper Form, and God acteth, but mediantibus suppositis, ac virtutibus causarum secundarum, as Ames expresseth it, mediately according to the law of the Being, or the power and peculiar nature, or virtue of the second cause, already stamp't up∣on it, (specifying the Act or operation of the first cause here, in a sense, unless he will change or turn the course of nature, Jer. 31.35, 36.) Gods influence by his presence and virtue reacheth unto all and every op∣eration of the creature, yet it is according to their nature; he causeth not fire to coole, or the water to burn; It were a miracle if it should. Let but the general influence of the Heavens, reach the Trees, and herbs, and every one will bring forth its own kind; the Effect is alrea∣dy in the Cause; it's no creation.
So for man, of whose essence it is to have dominion over his own actions, or a liberty of specification of his own acts within his sphere, by the Law of his Creation: the Principle is preexistent in the Subject, which we call a power, (ad actum to the act, else its no power) supposing the com∣mon providence and assistance of God, Act. 17.28. (in whose hands our life and breath is, Gen. 2.7. James 4.14, 15.) he can determine him∣self this way, or the other, according to his judgment of reason and dis∣cretion, such as it is; else he is no man, but a meere machine, inferiour to all the rest of the creation of God; to be sure not capable of being the Subject of moral government. In such sense as every species of creatures are said to have their different n•ture, tendency, or law of operation connate to them, suited to their Be•ng, (which providence works,) of their own: so is the •ctuat•on therof consonantly thereun∣to, their own, and essential to them, as well •s the Principle; no crea∣tive Act, but the Law of their creation. What meaneth the plastick virtue given to the earth, and pl•nts, Gen. 1.11. or the prolifick power of other livi•g creatures, p. 22. or the rational faculties or active Powers wherewith God furnished man, p. 26. if they be not a Power unto act so long as their nature abides entire, and is sustained, and no impediment Page 7 be in the way? take away action, and you take away Life and Soul. The Nature of a stone abiding, it will fall downwards, without any premo∣tion extrinsecal to its self; and so will the Fire burn, if it's quality which is essenti•l to it be conserved; and the Beast will follow its insti•ct, so long as its nature remaineth, and determine its self to, or turn to the right hand or the left at the call of its Own•r, according as it is Dis•iplin∣ed; It is within i•s power, if no natural Impediment hinders; and surely the same is not wanting to man suitably unto his Nature, through the aforesaid comm•n Providence of God, (without his b•ing Physically Predetermined therein by him:) a power to sp•cifie his acts according to his own Inclination, in reference to his natural actions, unto which by the Apostacy he is not disabled; and sin•ul actions, to which by it he is vitiously preponderated and disposed. This the Sense of all Mankind doth give in its suffrage to▪ Gods ordi•ary Supportation and Concurse is sufficient, to the flux of an effect, within the limits of the cause, or its power à naturâ inditâ or insitâ, by God given it unto such effect.
2. As to good Actions, savingly such; It's granted, that besides the first Change wrought by God in the Soul rendring Potent, Hab•le, and disposed to such Acts, new-biassing, or invincibly turning, and inclin∣ing it towards God and Holin•ss, unto which it was before Impotent and wickedly averse, Eph. 2.1, 10. and 4.22, 23. there is still ne∣cessary a continued Influx of more than ordinary Divine Assi•tance, to keep alive, and to influence and determine the Soul unto those Acts of true Piety or Holiness which it hath the next power of, or is in an im∣mediate capacity unto; and that, on the account of the remaining dark∣ness of the m•nd, and the prevalent Counter-actings of the Law of Sin, the Reliques whereof are yet ab•ding, Rom. 7. Gal. 5. and the weak∣ness and imperfection of Grace, Rev. 3.2. This is the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the Will and the Deed whereof the Apostle speaks, Phil. 3.13. and Christ Jesus is to that end Constituted to be a Head of vital Influx to them, Col. 2.19. Joh. 15.4. and Supplies are promised of God to them, in waiting upon him for the same, Isa. 40.31. Eph. 3.16. and a•cordingly, so far forth as the Inclinations and Actions of Gods People are regular and gracious, so far its granted to be owing to the Grace of Christ, and the Operation of his Spirit, 2 Cor. 9.15. but so is not the imperfection thereof, not owing to God at all; no more than any other neglect.
A Godly man through the Divine help, 2 Pet. 1.3. may or can act, or he may suspend his Acts in an ordinary way; there is no Saint living that doth all the good which he might or could do; or that hath not cause as well to be Humbled before God, for his Will-no•s, as his Can-nots; Page 8 for his Neglects in what he had grace sufficient for, awaiting him, 2 Pet. 5.8, 9. and he could have helped. And, supposing him Predetermined at any time (after the manner of his first Conversion) in his Gracious ope∣rations, in pursuance of Gods Election; when negligent or relapsing, prevented or recovered, Luk. 22.32. It followeth not that God is the Determiner of him to what is imperfect or sinful, accompanying the Act to the which he is so Premoved, or Determined; not to the materiale of it. Suppose a man, for Instance, to be efficaciously excited by God to give an Alms to a Disciple, (which is good) and withal that he hath an ad∣mixture of Ostentation in his mind accompanying it, (which is sin, Mat. 6.1.) such Thought is of himself, or of the Devils injection, not of God's: and if his Charity were disposed to a Disciple, and not by him designed to be bestowed on him in the name of a Disciple, Mat. 10.42. that Omission was his own, nothing of God's; all that God caused or effected was good; and what was irregular or sinful was de suo of his own, in concreto, both the Act, and Omission; as well the Substrate matter of which the sin is denominated, as the sin its self in its abstract nature adhereing thereunto.
As to the Manner of God's Operation on the Soul in its first Change, I take it to be unto us very far unknown; nor do I think any Article of Re∣ligion to depend on the stating of the same. Some affirm a Physical pre∣determination of God, of all and every the Acts and Operations of man; such Physical precurse, and efficient pre-exciting and determining influ∣ence they assert to accompany, and to be necessary also to the specifica∣tion of any Act whatsoever, whether good or evil, as that without which the Creature could never act or determine its self at all. To me it seems hard to make out, whether there be any such way of Gods determination of man, as that termed Physical in Contradistinction to Moral, though here, as to good I would mo•t readily admit it; (for to evil I do peremp∣torily deny it) I mean to good actions; for it's non-sense to speak of Pre∣determination Physical or Moral either, to ought but the act or action, which is good or evil, upon an account Adventitious, and Extrinsecal to its self, as related to Law. What it is I say that God doth in the Con∣version of a sinner, as to the way of working that first Turn to himself, seems to me difficult to find out, Joh. 3.8. If such a Physical operation there be, terminating on the entity of the Soul, (it must as well reach the body too, the Ministerial and Organical parts; which are also said to be sanctified, 2 Thes. 5.23.) it may consist in the suscitation or elevation of its natural faculties, rendring them capable of taking in a new Impres∣sion, or irradiation, from the Word and Spirit, to which the soul was dis∣abled Page 9 before; which some understand by Vivification or Quickning, 1 Cor. 15.45. Eph. 2.1. and opening the Heart, Act. 16.14. and Understand∣ing, Luk. 24.45. Bending also, and applying the Faculty to the Object, in order to its receiving of the Impress and stamp thereof upon it, Job. 33.16. the Signature of Truth upon the Mind and Heart, all which I deny not; but still, evident it is That God worketh not any Moral Change on the Understanding otherwise than objectively, also by offering Reason to it, or proposing that before it which invincibly bindeth it to an admittance there∣of, Hos. 11.4. and the Gospel is the deepest Reason, and Faith the most solid Understanding, Mat. 13.44, 45. Isa. 1.18. the Word of God is the Seed of the New Birth out of all question, Jam. 1.18. 1 Pet. 1.23. and that as proposed to the mind, 1 Cor. 4.15. and intertained there, Jam. 1.21. Nor doth God work on the Will or Affections, or Execu∣tive power in Conversion, otherwise than Mediante ratione by the inter∣vention, of Reason, 1 Cor. 2.4. not by any Physical attingency immediate∣ly, but by Moral Suasion, and Objective Proposal, by the Mind, the eye of the Soul. God shall perswade Japhet, Gen 9.27. By objective Pro∣posal, and moral Suasion, I do not intend onely, that of God Externally, in his Word Commanding, Perswading, Counselling, &c. or in and by the Ministry of Man; but moreover his Internal application to the Soul in the Ministry of the Word, or otherwise; where yet the Word is the Instrument in the hand of the Spirit, working in a Moral way; efficiently too in a Sense; yet not modo Physico after the manner of a real Impulse, or proper Physical Action or Causation. God knoweth how to reach the Reason, and Elective Faculty, the main Springs of the Soul, and how to fasten a Nail there, Eccl. 12.11. a fit Word, spoken on his Wheeles, Prov. 25.11. how to catch the Soul e're it is aware, Luk. 5.10. to allure and draw, Cant. 1.4. (not motu physico by proper physical determina∣tion I take it, but) by convincing Reason and Teaching, Instructing with a strong hand, Isa. 8.11. Every man that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me, Joh. 6.44, 45. is made Willing, Psal. 110.3. the Stony Heart, all Prepossession and Aversation against God and Godli∣ness, is removed, Ezek. 36.26. and its sense of things is changed, Rom. 8.5. and the new man is put on, viz. in a Moral sense, Eph. 4.24. the propension and inclination of the Subject altered and changed, and become a radicated Principle in the Soul, disposing it unto Holiness.
If the Devil can so far overmatch the Understanding of man, when by God left to his delusions, that an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an effectual working is ascri∣bed to him, 2 Thes. 2 9. (Whom yet all acknowledge to work only mor∣ally and objectively, 1 King. 22.21.) Who can say but that God, who Page 10 is more intimate to man than he is to himself, can so accommodate his Word, and follow it by Internal suggestion, so fit it as a key to the he••t of the sinner fast lo•ked against him, as to shoot aside the bolt, the d•ssenting power, and to overperswade and invincibly determine him to ••••o••osse repudiaere, an mpossi•ility of withstanding any longer the Call of C•rist, or to a free, yet certain entertainment of it, without such a physical influx as some insist so much upon, flecting the will, and prede∣termining 〈◊〉 in its operation, and specification of its Acts, in a way con∣tradisti•ct to that we are speaking of, and wherein it is not concerned. The Natural faculties of the soul, its powers of understanding, reaso∣ning assent•ng, willing; and its affections of loving, hating, &c. are out of doubt à primà causâ, from God as the first cause, who giveth Being to all things; and the exertion of those powers into act in line â phy∣sicâ, is from him; they are dependent Beings, and cannot reduce them∣selves into act or exercise without his influence or assistance; And that in the way of physi•al concurse and cooperat•on, before and after conversi∣on the same Act. 26.22. and moreover, it's with me out of question, that the Lord doth anticipate and prevent the soul in a more than ordinary way, in its first Turn to him, Jer. 31.18. 2 Tim. 2.25. rectifying all the powers of the soul, the mind, will, affections &c. Turning them to their right Object, and d•sposing them to their right Use, and End; that he spe∣cifieth and determineth the souls Acts and operations in conversion, which is their modification, as well as concurreth to their Entity, or enableth to their existence in the general as acts or actions. The question only is, whether this determination of the natural powers of the soul (to a beleiv∣i•g in God, a liking, loving, willing, chusing of the things of God, or of the Spirit, directly opposite to the channel wherein the soul in the egress or exercise of those powers or acts ran before that, whilst it believed the Devil rather than God, liked and preferred the world and the pleasing of the flesh above the pleasing of God, loved sin, and hated strict piety) whe∣ther I say God doth change the course of the soul, and determine its opera∣tions as before, I mean give to will and to do, yea effectually cause so to do by any physical Precurse, or Predetermination, distinct or different from the power which he lendeth to enable the creature to all and every its natu∣ral motions and operations, or which himself evermore exorteth therein; or by a moral agency only: whether he draweth and turneth the soul, as the Fisher doth the Fish when he hath it upon his hook and line, by a physical impulse: or as the Fisher doth the Fish when he hooketh it, or in order to it, by laying the bait before it, where the pleasure of the bait or hopes of •ood presented in the fancie, doth allure and draw it, this way or that, Page 11 till it hath takn it in, or swallowed it; which is an objective drawing, and like to that which is moral in men? (I mean it not in the Arminian sense, so as to leave the soul indifferent, or the Will in suspense, that what ever God doth on the contrary, it still may eventually will, or nill, chuse, or refuse, cast ballance this way, or the other; but) whether Gods actu∣al efficacious and powerfull determination of the Will of the sinner indecli∣nably to Good, many not be effected, and brought about by the way of moral operation, or causation (as well as physical) where the soul specifi∣eth its own Act, in a way more congruous to its nature, and yet can go no other way in its elections without offering an affront to the dictate of its own Reason and Understanding, Psal. 119.36, 8. Luk. 15.17. First recti∣fied by the special Grace and help of God, Col. 3.10. Job. 33.16. Jer. 31.11. Joh. 4.10. (after the same manner) by a divine Inculcation of Truth, and fixation therof upon it, to a saving illumination, Mat. 5.22. Joh. 14.26. and 16.8. But that God doth not either the one way or the other, predetermine men to actions wicked and sinful, I take here for grant, and shall hereafter prove: I mean, neither by external legal Com∣manding, counselling, or perswading; nor by internal moral suasion, or Suggestion, (which is yet more powerfull) tempting, or soliciting effectu∣ally thereunto; much less by any physical Thrust, or premotion of the Will that he should influence it inevitably and insuperably in its election of two objects lying evenly before it; one good the other evil, to chuse and determine it self to that which is most nefariously wicked; which at the same time he dehorteth from, and declareth h•s abhorrency of, and threat∣neth to punish, Dut. 29.20.
Here by the way, let me take occasion to note the disadvantage, which (to my best understa•ding) I conceive the truth of God to have receiv∣ed, in the management thereof in the Point now mentioned, by those who go the way of physical Predetermination, whil'•• sober and wo•thy men of that perswasion, in their popular Sermons, undertaking (as one doth in print) to vindic•te the Sovereignty of the Grace of God in the begin∣ing and carrying on of mans conversion, and salvation, and for the mainte∣nance of the nec•ssi•y of effectual grace therein, sh•ll pitch upon such mediums as these, namely (1) That the denial thereof, disparageth Gods providence; For that •t breaks the essential subordination between the se∣cond cause and the first. (2) It destroys prescience; for how then c•n God infallibly foresee the Motions of the Will, and the Effect• depending on it, the ev•nt being uncertain? (3) It deifies the Will, making it supream and independe•t upon God himself, &c. which do as well prove, and are the main arguments brought for the maintaining of Gods efficacious prede∣termination Page 12 of men in and unto their Unbelief, Rebellion and all the most impious actions whereof the most profligate sinner is guilty; and cuts the throat of the fourth argument; that it abolishes all prayer and thanksgi∣ving: for that, on the former Hypotheses, the meaning of such prayer to God mu•t be only, that he would change his operation, and cease to pre∣move and determine the Will to that, which he had all along before guided and overruled it to; that he would counterwork his own prior determination, and now turn it, and determine the Will to good, as before to evil; which is a strange notion of prayer. Nor can the soul in good earnest thank him for it, when done, if it be indeed really convinced that it might not thank it self that it was done no sooner: or that it may thank God that it so long resisted his Spirit, and walked in the path-way of destruction, in every instance whereof, it was effectually predetermined by a superiour agent, on whom it had its dependence, who foresaw all its motions, who had an absolute supremacy over its Will, and unto whose effic•ent energetical Ope∣ration it could not but be obsequious. If we had no other medium to op∣pose Arminianism by, in the Point of effectual Grace, I should take our case for desperate; and the remedy to be no less dangerous than the dis∣ease. But to proceed,
3. As to the Providence of God in the Government of the World; It's granted, that God doth not carry it as a meer Spectator, but that his Pro∣vidence is positively active in the disposal of all Events under the Sun; even to a sparrow falling to the ground, Mat. 10.29. or to the Lot that is cast into the Lap, Prov. 16.33. All the Issues of Health and Sickness, Po∣verty and Riches, War and Peace, Life and Death, they are in God's h•nd, Eccl. 9.11. Job 14.14. 2 King. 8.11. Jer. 10.23. Prov. 16.9. Eccl. 11.5, 6. nor are sinful men out of the limits of his Supremacy in the order and disposal of their actions; which of their Projections shall take Effect, or see the light, and in what Circumstances, and which not; Psal. 29.10. he hath all wicked men upon his hook, Ezek. 38.4. the Heart of the most Absolute on the Earth, at his Pleasure and Dispose. Prov. 21.1. Isa. 10.5. and 44.28. and 45.7, 9. Psal. 33.15, 16, 17. the Over∣ruling Providence we acknowledge in the order of all Events, whatever betideth us. Yet hath not every Providence the same aspect with it, though Gods hand be in it all. Suppose for i•stance, a man walking in the Streets, the Tyles of a house, he not perceiving any danger, may slip, and fall on him: or he seeing them ready to fall, may yet to save the wetting of h•s foot, chuse to adventure the going under them, rather than to cross the way, and they happen to hit him: Or, one from the Roof of the house wit•ingly throwing them down upon him; and wounding him either way, Page 13 in them all, he must acknowledge, and eye Providence: but in the first instance, though there was a natural cause and reason of their Falling, yet he wholly resolves his Misfortune into the Divine Providence, which could have diverted him from coming at that instant there, but did not; or which ordered things in such a concurrence of Circumstances, as that it should so fall out that he should not avoid the Stroke of them. In the se∣cond, he Notes the Providence, and withal repents him, and befools him∣self for his rashness and oversight that he prevented it not, when it was in his power; God could have turned his thoughts too, and did not; and so might he, had he considered the Danger as he should and could have done. In the third, he acknowledges Providence also, but he blames the Person that did it, and seeks his remedy against him, for his Illegal act. If yet the Person that wounded him should confidently argue with him, that he should rest satisfied in the Dominion of Providence, and not look at him; that he was invincibly or effectually premoved and determined to it; his Re•son and Free-will was in it indeed, but he could not help it: that the Entity of the Action was good, and for the anomie or irregularity, it was a Privation, a non ens, had no efficient cause at all, he had no hand in that, nor yet can tell untill it be plead•d, whether any Law will take cognizance of it or not. I doubt that the party aggrieved would hardly stand to dispute his distinctions; but he would t•ach him better.
Gods Providence in the Government of sinful Actions is not in dispute; but the Question is de modo, how God serveth himse•f on sinful men, or de∣termineth them in their sinful actions to serve his Providence? whether by his transient influence upon their Minds and Wills, he pre-exciteth, pre∣moveth, and predetermin•th them unto such Acts or Actions: or some other way he ascertaineth the Event onely? the latter is it which I affirm; and the former, by many asserted, is it which I oppose.
Touching the fir•t Apostacy of Men or Angels, the Scriptures give us no account directly relating either to the Decree of God thereof, or his Agen∣cy therein at all. The Angels that fell had a possibility of attaining Hap∣piness, and a sufficiency of Divine Grace given them to have preserved them from their Rebellion, had they not by a Voluntary Act of their own abused it; so had Adam; no decree of God did hinder him from creating him with a sufficiency of Grace, or with a possibility of St•nding, saith Davenant, Animad. p. 282. Yet that God foreknew their defection, is out of doubt; yea, and that his Governing Providence was highly con∣cerned therein, and served thereby.
For the Providence of God, or its concernment in all the future Acts of Sin, whether of wicked Men or Devils, since the first Apostacy, therein Page 14 the Scripture doth lend us more Light; in which, there is not one instance upon Record, where God is said to Decree, Order, or Determine the Be•ng or existence of such or such evil actions, yea, or to do them, the which (if I be not much mistaken) may not be made out, were it necessar•, to be with•n the reach of Humane Re•son to f•thom, and to assign how he might bring it about most certainly; and that by no other medium but that onely of Permission and Impedition, and objective proposal or Premotion, exc•ting to Cogitations and Actions good, and Materially agreeing to his Law. Which two former, ordinarily insi•ted on at every turn by Divines, to solve the equ•ty of Gods Ju•tice in his procedure with men, notwithstan∣ding his Providence over ruling their sinful actions: the former notion of Physical Predetermination doth wholly deny, a•d overturn: For, if the motus primo primi, the first sigments or thoughts of the Heart, or machi∣n•tions of the M•nd, Isa. 59.4, 5. and Conceptions of the Will, Psal. 11.2. Job. 15.35. be forged by God; if the Will cannot elicit any Act, nor imperate the execution thereof, nor the executive power follow, other∣wise than as the obed•ential capacity of the Subject, or possibility of action contained in the powers, in an indifferency or indetermination, must be first reduced into Act, and also determined by God h•mself as the first cause, then is Permission, and Impedition or hindring, a meer Chimaera; what should he permit, or prevent in others, or what need of that, when he determineth all, and doeth a•l himself; or effi•iently determineth the second cause to it, as is supposed? But that such a thing there is, and that pre∣dica•ed or affirmed of God in Scripture, innumerable Texts do plainly speak; and also accommodate to our present Enquiry. God is said to Suffer the Nations to wa•k in their own ways, Act. 14.16. So Luk 8.32. to Suffer the Devil to enter into the Herd of Swine; and to permit, or to give men up to the Swing, of their own Hearts Lust, Rom. 1, 24. till he s•e what their end shall be, Deut. 32.20. And frequently again to ob∣struct or h•nder what else would certainly be Eff•cted, Gen. 12.6, 7. God withheld, and suffered not Abimelech to touch Abraham's Wife, chap. 20.6. he suffered no man to do them wrong, Psal. 105.14. none shall d•sire their Land, Exod. 34.24. He maketh Diviners mad, and turneth Wise m•n backward, in order to the perform•ng of the Counsel of his Messengers, and all his Pleasure, Isa. 44.25, 28. Disappointing the devices of the Crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enter•rise, Job 5.12. the remainder of wrath shall he restrain, Psal. 76.10. & 106.46. How many wayes c•n God render abortive the Conceptions of men, prevent them, or cause them to miscarry! hence is that Memento of the Apostle James, ch. 4.15. Ye ought to say, if the Lord will we shall live, and do Page 15 this or that. So Job. 19.11. Psal. 64.5, 7. in like manner by exciting to Good, may God cause, that an other evil rather than that projected shall be effected, as Gen. 37.20, compared with v. 26. and that in persuance of sme farther Design, ch. 45.8. Mat. 26.63, 65. or by giving a Diver∣sion only, &c. Wherein God's providential disposal of the Event or order of this, rather than the other to take effect, neither di•poileth the Creature of the liberty of specifying his own Act (in a matter wh•rein he must be ac∣countable to his Judge,) nor doth make God the cause or determiner of it, any more than David• sl••ghter of the Am•l•k••es, 1 Sam. 30.17. lay at the door of the Philistines, ch. 29 7. who would not let him abide a∣ny longer wi•h them: or than my coming by on the Rode, when a Robber is about to set upon a Person, and so preventi•g him thereby, would infer me to be the cause of his next robbery or murder that he commits immedi∣ately i• another place; al•hough I foresaw that it would so prove.
Yet such is the order and Dir•ction of God's Providence, such his domi∣nion therein, in every in••ance of that kind, that his d•term•nate counsell may be affirmed to reach the most wicked actions, in a sense, Act. 4.28. Isa. 46.10. when he hath any Design to serve by them, Gen. 50.20. Yea, he is said to bid, and to do them. The Lord hath said unto h•m, curse David, 2 Sam. 16.10. I w•ll do this thing ope•ly, and before the Sun, 2 Sam. 12.12. he moved David against them, to s•y, go number the peo∣ple, ch. 24.1. even when the Devil does it, 1 Chr. 21.1. 1 Thess. 2.11. T•e Lord hath taken, saith Job. ch. 1.21. when the Sabeans had spoiled him; and, God had smitten him he said, or he received that Evil of his Boils, from him, ch. 2.10. when it was the Devil that had done it, by God's permission, v. 1. and would have reached his life too, would he have suffe∣red him, v. 4. without any premo•ion of God's therein, or Predetermi∣nat•on, otherwise, as to the manner, than by a non-impedition of his own motion and Inclination. The Eve•t is indeed in the Di•pose of God, and the Executioner, as the Axe, Rod, or St•ffe, in his hand, Isa. 10.5. Yet so, as that he retaineth a dominion over his own Act therein, (Gods sust•ntation, concurse, and p•rmission presupposed,) he is not a mere machine, or dead engine; nor yet his Reason and free Will carried along after the way and manner of a vital engine, or spontaneous in••rument, yet necess•rily: but is so termed, from his subserviency a• that time to God's special Providence, and instrumental•ty in performing his Design; (though in such a way, as he he may justly and equitably afterwa•ds be called to an account for the same; as well for the fact, Isa. 10.12, as for the circum∣stances of it, v. 7.13.) otherwise than in every other Omission of his, or every Act of Unbelief, Impenitency, Hatred of God, and the like: Page 16 men are not ordinarily styled God's instruments therein, or compared to the Axe or staffe in his hand, or to be conceived of by us as such, with refe∣rence thereunto, Herein I subscribe to the worthy Bishop Davenant; As for the procuring and working the impenitency or infidelity of Reprobates, God doth not (saith he) at all work any vitious dispositions, or defective and sinful actions in such men; wicked habits or dispositions are diseases bred within mens own soules, (and yet they have an entity) not infused in∣to them by the Physician of our souls: wicked and sinful actions are the productions of the•r own corrupted free-Will, and not produced by any divine operation working in them: for it's onely in holy and good actions that God giveth us both the Will and the deed, Animad. p. 120. neither doth God draw any man unto sin, by an unconquerable power, but he permit∣eth some men, by the Devil and their own lusts to be drawn from sin to sin, till at last they perish in them; of whom perditio tua ex•te, thy destruction is of thy self, notwithstanding, is most truly verified p. 121. although the Will of God hath the determining Stroke amongst all possible evil actions or e∣vents, which shall infallibly be, and which not: And God may be said to be the prime cause of the substrate matter or act, in every motion, whether of the soul or body, as in whom we live, and move, and have our Being, as the same learned Author asserteth; Yet doth it not follow, but that man still retaineth his s•lf-determining power quoad speciem actûs, a liberty of specifying his own act; as the same Author maintaineth with St. Au∣gustine, deus it à ordinat omnia ut proprios motus exercere sinat. p. 154. (From whence the formal nature of good or evil resulteth, as the same is conform, or inconform to the Law of God; I mean from its specification, not its Entity in the general.) The Saebeans and Chaldeans for instance, had their power and their actual Exercise thereof from God enabling them to take goods and drive cattel, and to destroy the life of man, or beast; but the specification of that power, in the actual Exercise thereof, or it's modification, (which hath nothing more of Entity, which way soever it's determined) unto the Robbing of men, or slaying of the innocent, was not of God, but of themselves: that they spoiled Job, not another man, and slew his Servants in individuo, and not another mans, was of them∣selves; as and of God too, though in a different sense: of themselves, as the immediate cause of the action; of God, as the prime cause, or foun∣tain of Being and Operation: of themselves, as the specifyers of the act, according to their own free election: of God, in that he permitted it, for the triall of his servant, (when possibly he had hindred them from hun∣dreds of such like exp•oits before, and besides that, overruled its circumstan∣ces so, as that it should infallibly light upon him, and no other man at that Page 17 time. Which I cannot better express than in the words of the aforesaid learned man;
1. That an Aequilibrium or Indetermination is not mans best state. Such a pendulous Susp•nse or Even poyse, and inclination of mind and W•ll, in the Exerci•e and specification of its acts, (consequenter, aft•r the ob∣ject is united with the faculty, and reason ha•h weighed the good and evil, the conveniency and •nconveniency of things in its ballance, and delibera∣ted about it,) is the soules sickne•s or disaster; arising from an insufficient appl•cati•n of the Object, or defect in the Understanding, an inability to judge of the Good or Evil of what lieth before it, which should ponderate it, and cast the Scale in its election, that it hangeth in a Suspense. (which is the freedom which Arminians seem to plead for.) True Freedom con∣sisteth not in a power or libe•ty, after the due exercise of ratioc•nation, be the evidence what it will, to write black for white, or white for black, to judge Evil Good, or Good Evil; or still to be undetermined about it, for fear of forestall•ng the will: or in a power or liberty, in the will, not to follow the liberum arbitrium the free award of Reason, or for the soul in willing not to be confined to its own reason in what it chuseth or avoideth: or pro libitu arbitrarily or at his pleasure to elicit and imperate what it listeth, though against the sentiment of the mind; or at least, that after reason hath issued in a judgment, the Will should still be indetermined to one. Such a dominion over its reason, or li•erty and freedom of will, cannot but be ab∣horrent to the nature of man. All that can be desired is, that the soul hath such a freedom of Will, and dominion ov•r its •wn acts, as that, in what ever it willeth, it acteth as a vital and rational agent, in respect of its pro∣per nature, and internal principle of operation, with such a natural indif∣ferency, Page 18in sensu diviso, before it acteth, (for quicquid est, quando est necessariò est) as whereby Reason proposing to the Elective Faculty di∣verse Objects, that have no natural Connexion with the Will, in deter∣min•ng its self to eit•er, it followeth the dictate of its own judgement of D•scretion, void of all nat•ral Necess••y, such as when the Fire burneth; or of Coaction, as when a man is hal•d or carried without or against his own choice; neither is led by a blind instinct, as the Beast; nor acted like a meer M•chine or E•gine, that ordere•h not its own motion, nor knows its use, or tendency.
Its generally acknowledged, that if the Understanding hath but one Object alone proposed before it, or but one way or means to such an end; or that if the Object be presented in all respects good, as, circa finem, that happiness in General is to be desired; or if any particular Object be pre∣sented as undequáque bonum, having no appear•nce of Evil in one respect, as well as of Good and Eligibleness in another respect, the Will quoad spe∣ciem actûs, if it acts at all, must close with it, and cannot refuse the same; and so, if there be in it omnimoda ratio mal• an appearance of nothing but Evil in all and every respect, it must neccessarily repudiate, or nill it, and cannot otherwise determine its self. Yea and it is affirmed of God himself in Scripture, that he is not at liberty in some things to deter∣mine himself, or to will, or act otherwise than he doth; its impossible for him to lye, Heb. 6.18. or not to do that which is just and right, Gen. 18. 25. the Saints also in Heaven are determined to good, (as was our Savi∣our Christ even on earth, they are invincibly inclined to it; and it is their Perfection, that it's (as well N•turally as Morally) impossible for them to will the contrary, and th•t for reasons unalterably pr•ponderating them that way, keeping the Will Habitually fixed, and indeclinably pointed towards God, and Holiness, wherein all future instances of Worship and acknowledgment, (being included, as the effect in its cause) are Virtually in Act, the faculty being so far forth determined; and it's our un∣happiness that it is otherwise with us now. It's no defect, or want of any desireable Freedom of Will, that a man cannot obtain of himself to cut his own throat, or feel not himself indifferent about it.
To be determined to evil onely, or to be in such state and condition as that, to do good, formally such, every way pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, is impossible, to be sure is a most Deplorable estate; though it be ab intrinseco, from an innate Principle. Neither is it denied, but that such an indetermination as some state the Freedom of mans Will to consist in, were better, and to be preferred before determinate Fixation, in, and insuperable propension of Will unto Sin, Jer. 13.23. 2 Pet. 2.14. But Page 19 still, though lapsed man (till restored by Grace) doth not estimate aright of the things of God, though he nauseateth the things of the Spirit, and declineth God and Holiness: It's not from the Enjoyment, or want of any such Freedom as is essential to Humane nature, (nor can he plead an equitable dismission from his obligation to Obedience; since he is disabled by his own fault:) but from a privation in his mind, laesa facultas, a pec∣cancy or disease therein, as to his discerning and relish of Divine and Spi∣ritual Objects, Eph. 4.18. Rom. 8.5, 7. and a vicious disinclination in his Will and Affections ballancing him another way, Gen. 6.5. Eph. 2.3. Joh. 3.19. Free Will is still retained. What though a m•n cannot turn the course of the Sun in the Firmament? yea, what though many attain∣ments, as well Natural, as Moral, be now impossible to man, which were possible to Adam, and of his concreated perfection, Gen. 2.19? what if he be a lover of pleasures, more than a lover of God, 2 Tim. 3.4. and cannot obtain of himself to do otherwise? Yet is he a man still, a rational and voluntary Agent in all that he doth; and retaineth a Dominion over his own Acts, and a Liberty in their Specification too, of all within his Sphere and Compass.
The Saints in Heaven, notwithstanding that their state is no other than of a determi•ate perfection, (not of Indifferency to Good or Evil,) yet they retain a liberty of Competition, Contrariety, or contradiction in their Acts, with reference to this or that particular Object, within the bounds and limits of God's Will and Law, indel•bly engraven on their heart. The Natural or Unregenerate man in like manner, notwithstanding his impo∣tency to Good, and invincible Propension determining him to Evil in Gene∣ral; yet reraineth the like L•berty and Freedom, to Will or Nill, to Chuse or Refuse, and consequently to Do or not Do this or that, (in the ordinary way of Gods Providence) save in what, by the Apostacy, or by a radicated Habit or Custom in Sinning, he hath Disabled himself, or is left of God. In his Natural and Civil Acts, or in his Sinful Acts, he hath a Self-determining power, (if God permit) he can Specifie his own acts, he can of two Objects before him, chuse one, and refuse the other, as the Cogency of his Reason shall sway him: A wicked man can chuse whe∣ther he will go to this Alehouse, or that, or to neither of them: he can pay a Summe of Money that he hath given Bond for, at the day, if he have it; or he can let it alone: he can Hear, and Read, and Pray, (though not every way as he ought to do) yea were he not deficient to himself, might overcome his Will to it, (possibly he may be wagered, or by pe∣nalties be driven to it) as well as the contrary. Every disaffection is not Invincible, Luk. 11.7, 8. Jeroboam, Baasha, and other the Kings of Israel,Page 20 upon the denunciation of Wrath against them, might and could, for ought we know, (we are sure graceless persons may) have Humbled themselves, and caused their People to Fast, as well as Ahab, or the King of Nineveh did, upon the like Message sent of God to them; but they did not. Jer. 5. 21, 23. Mat. 11.23. & 12.41. Yea and the best Saints, may and can do more Good, and forbear more Evil than they do, as hath been hinted. David might and could have forborn to make Ʋriah Drunk, or Murder him, and he could have done Mephibosheth Right, against that Traitour Ziba, 2. Sam. 19.27, but he did it not. Whose Heart is it that re∣proacheth him not for preventable Miscarriages? In such things it is, (which are within mans power either way) that God is said to Try or Prove men sometimes, Deut. 8.2, 16. Gen. 22.11, 12.2 Sam. 24.12.
The Saints in Glory are Immutably determined to to Good; or cannot sin.
The Sinn••, or Unrenewed man or men, they are Invi•cibly de•ermined to Evil, or bent on it in the General; or cannot do Good.
Man in Innocency, he had perfect Good, or spotl•ss Obedience; and also Sin, and Evil, within his power both; being made Mutab•e.
Man Restored, and Manumitted by Grace, hath imperfect Good, (com∣p•red to the Original Law) or Sincere O•edience, within his power; and also Sin and Disobed•ence; being on Earth defectible, or not yet Con∣firmed; though the Decr•e and Efficiency of God shall prevent, that he sinneth not to Death.
Yet may Free-Will be denominated or affirmed of them all. The one act as freely as the other; the worst in sinning, as the best in obey•ng. He acts freely that can act, or not act, what, when, and how he p•easeth, in things which m•y be said to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, i. e. in our power; so doth the s•rvant, at his Masters Beck, Col. 3.23. where note by the way, that to act voluntarily or freely, and yet necessarily are consistent, and may well stand together. The Angels in Heaven they love God, and serve him, Voluntarily and Freely; so shall the S•ints in Glory (and so doth man in his present state, even in what hath a kind of natural Connexion with the Will, determine himself Freely according to the Dictate of his Reason and Judgment.) A Rational, a Voluntary, and a Free Choice, are Converti∣ble Terms. The Will acteth Freely; not Necessarily, as opposed to Vo∣lun•ary, either contrariè, by Coaction or Violence, against its Elicit In∣clination; or negativè, from a meer natural Necessity, without Reason: B•t still it acteth Necessarily in some sense, (as the Will evermore doth, when Reason hath once cast the Scale,) with necessity of Immutability in respect of the Event, which, opponitur possibili non esse, is opposed to a Page 21 Possibility not to be, (God's Supportation and Concurse presupposed) or eventus contrarii, of the contrary Issue or Event, it can do no otherwise, and t•at from the Potency or perfection of the Rational Faculty, and Cog¦nation that it hath with the Obj•ct. And the contrary is as true, of Wicked and Unregenerate men; they Act freely, following the Dictate of their Reason and Judgment, such as it is, though Brutish, Jer. 10.8, 21. & 55.17. thoug• Carnal, •ensual, and Devili•h, Jam. 3.15. Jer. 4.22. vo•d of all natural Necessity or Coaction, in their choice of Sin, and Fl•sh-pleasing, Eph. 2.3. Yet do they Act Necessarily also, so as that they can∣not possibly Will or Do the Contrary, (without renewing grace) Job. 5.44.45. Rom. 2.5. and that ab intriseco, from a Privation in their Mind, Rom. 3.11. Eph. 4.18. and an Impotency, or contraty Propension in their Will and Affections, preponderating them to Evil, (though not sub ratione mali) and to a Disrelish of true Holiness, Rom. 8.5, 7. which is languor & aegritudo animi the Souls sickness, and depravation of its Faculties, the fruit of mans first Apostacy from God, Job. 14.4. though he be still habile subjectum, a Subject capable of the Retrivement of God's Image into his Soul, Col. 3.10. i. e. Man still, with his natural faculties of Reason and Will; and so, Good is yet possible to him in some sense, if God please to adapt him for it, Eph. 2.10.
In and about particular Acts agible, within mans power, and unto which he is not actually or virtually, by a previous invincible Habit, or Propen∣sion of Mind and Will predetermined, lieth the Contingency and Evitabili∣ty of Humane actions. In such actions hath man a liberty of Contrariety, or Contradiction, in the Exercise and Specification of his Acts, or of Indiffe∣rency, accordingly as his Reason doth sway him. He may and can Act, or suspend his Act; his Will containeth within its dominion a power and possi∣bility unto contrary acts and effects; what is future, is yet evitable; and that possible, that is not future. Man (saith the Learned Dave∣nant) hath not onely potentiam in se liberam, a facul•y in its self free, or capable of freedom; but liberum usum potentiae, the free Ʋse or Exercise of it. A wicked Man for instance, can upon other Deliberation, resolve to do otherwise than he doth, which freedom is evident in Adulterers, Thieves, and all manner of Sinners, who being resolved to Commit this or that Sin, when they perceive some great Danger, presently choose to abstain from it till fitter opportunity. Cain, Absalom, Judas, and others, were not under a Necessity of committing those Sins, whereof they are noted to be Guilty; it was out of their free Election, having a power whereby they might have abstained from them. The Angels that fell, notwithstanding the Decree of the Divine Will, had a Possibility of Not-rebelling against Page 22 God, and a Sufficiency of Divine Grace given them to have preserved them, so had Adam, had they not abused it. God's absolute prescience doth not take away the possibility of the contrary Action or Event; no more doth his absolute decree, to think that the decree of absolute Reprobation must leave men under a necessity of committing their several sins, is a false Ima∣gination, as every mans Conscienee is able to witness, so the aforesaid Author, p. 116.199.328.344. whom I have the rather consulted, for that he is instanced in by some, and produced for a maintainer of God's Predetermination of mans will, in the sense by them pleaded for; Which himself termeth, a controversy between the Dominicans and Jesuits; with whose Metaphysical speculations our Protestant Divines love not to torture their brains.
Nor yet do I take all Extrinsick Predetermination to be Inconsistent with humane Freedom in Acting. For it hath been before granted, that such Predetermination of God is necessary unto the Conversion of any Sinner unto him, (though the Sinner is capable of doing something that in the Or∣der of Gods appointment hath a tendency to it, Prov. 2.3, 5. Isa. 64, 7. and it lieth at the Door of any under the call of the Gospel, that they are not converted and healed by God, it's their own fault, Jer. 13.27. Mat. 25.29. and their heart will one day Reproach them for it, Luk. 16.28.) neither do we, when we speak of an Irreversible, Insuperable, Irresisti∣ble Determination, (whether to good or evil Actions,) meane any more than such as cannot, or rather shall not be resisted; such as is efficaciously prevalent, and never fruastrate. Yet is the Liberty and Freedom of Co-op∣eration in the Subject in such case, no more than that of a Rational Spon∣taneity; it containeth in it's own nature nothing of contingency, or possi∣bility of the contrary Event. In Effectual calling, the New Creation, (wherein God worketh something above and besides the Order and Course of second Causes, in order to the new Biassing and Pointing the soul to∣wards himself, Heaven, and Holiness;) whatever the Influence or Effi∣ciency of God be on the soul, or its faculties of Reason and Will, or his manner of Operation; (whether it be by way of objective Proposal, and Fixation on the mind Demonstrating the Object, and Effectually set∣ting home Truth, to an immutation therein, and turn of the Will, 1 Cor. 2.4. Or by way of Physical Precurse and Premotion besides, exciting the natural Powers into Act, and inclining and bowing them in their Operati∣on as the Fountain of Being, and motion, unto a Change or Turn into a new Course, Eph. 2.2.4, 10. of which before,) still, he so intimately by his Presence and Virtue reacheth, and applieth himself to the Active Principle of the second cause, he so congruously accommodateth himself to Page 23 the nature of the subjecy to be wrought upon, as that all the vital Wheels of the soul, the Reason, Elective power, Will and Affections go along with choice and delight in their determination, without the least Rape or Violence offered to the Innate freedom of the soul, though God and Christ be carried into the heart, with a greater weight of Love than any other Object can ballance, to turn the scale of its Predominant Elecion an o∣ther way, and yet it's Invincibly or Irresistibly wrought upon, and a ne∣cessity Induced upon it in a sense. It can will no otherwise, Christ draw∣ing, yet the Will remaineth still free; for voluntary and violent, willing and forced, do implicare; The Will cannot be forced, and for the Will to be determined necessarily or indeclinably to Good, and what may render the soul happy, no man that prayeth to God for grace, or that acknow∣ledgeth God therein, will ever recoil at it, or account himself injured thereby, or concerned to rise up against it: nor is it at all repugnant to the Commands, Counsels, Promises, or Threats laid before men to induce them to a Returnal unto God, Heb. 4.1, 11. For that, the dispensation of this grace is, as to us, contingent, and in the use of means; And the second cause hath its immediate, formal, and proper Efficiency therein. It is man that believeth and repenteth, (not God; yet the Effect of God's power overshadowing the soul, Psal. 110.3.) whose Action is not only the first cause in the presence of such a Creature, (as in the gifts of mira∣cles:) but is specified by the second cause, in the virtue of its proper form suitably to its nature, as a reasonable Creature, 2 Cor. 6.1. Gods Efficiency changeth not the natures of things; though he rectifieth, and healeth the Mind and Will morally, yet he altereth not its proper mo∣tion or manner of operation naturally. It inclineth its self as freely to the Act, and that upon the cogency of reason and judgment, as if there were no such Hyperphysical determination thereof by God at all. Dut. 30.19.
3. But as to evil or sinful actions, whereof our question is, such Pre∣determination is destructive to the Creature, and inconfident with God's moral Government over him: albeit that God's decrees are infrustrable, yet doth not God premove their Wills Insuperably in and unto the Con∣ception and Production at such Act: more were it for the honour of God, (if sin dishonoureth him,) and the good of man his Creature, that such Acts ar Operations of his should for ever abide in their bare Potentiality, or that his Will should remain in an Everlasting Indetermination, (which it's said that it must, if God determine it not,) than that it's p•ssibility, should be educed into an Actual invasion of the Government of God, and affront of his holy Majestie; and then the creature be damned for the same, (though he could, but sees it not meet to prevent it.) here it's necessary, Page 24 not only that the Subject hath no Violence offered to it, but that it be not made free nor willing, which is far the worse. If any man should violent∣ly snatch me out of ha•mes way, when I was not aware of it, or rescue me from the Pit; I should have no cause to complain of him: but in case any one could reach my Elective power, and in•atuate and befool my Reason, (suppose it by fascination,) and should determine me to the Contrivance and Execution of some horrid Treason, to my destruction; He should do me more Mischief and Injury than if he had violently or by force ass•ssinated me, and taken away my Life with h•s own hands; as is obvious to every Understanding; m•re of Evil would cleave to me; and if he were my Judge in such In•tance, I know what I could not but say. God himself •ath declared it a thing to him condecent and just, that in the matter of Of∣fence and Punishment, his Act should be (if I may so speak) at the Beck and determin•tion of the Creature. Legisl•tion belongs to God alone; and Deliverance after forfeiture belongs to his Prerogative: but that any one becomes an Object of his rectoral Ju•tice and Wrath, God is not the first cause of th•t; or the Predeterminer to those Act•ons which in∣volve men under Guilt. The Judge or King is and must be at the Dispose of the Subject in a sense, in the Execution of the penalty of the Law; not to hang whom he please; nor yet to make them culpable. Such a Supre∣macy over all Persons, and in all Cases, God abhorreth from, Isa. 50.1. The Position directly contrary hereunto, is that which by some is maintain∣ed; namely, That God in Eternity did Predefine or decree all the sin•ul Actions of Angels and Men. That by his Efficiency, which is but the Execution of his Decree and adequate to it, foregoing the Operation of the second cause, he doth in time, by his transient physical Influence, pre∣determine the Creature to all such Actions; th•t the necessary dependence of the second cause, or the first, and its Essential subordination to it, doth so require, that the Habit or fir•t Act, and the Operation or second Act, is the Product and Effect of such Influence of God the first cause, as secun∣dary and subordinate to it, and is ascertained by it; or that otherwise the Decree might suffer disappointment. More particularly; that the Fall of our first Parents was fore-dec•eed of God; and that in Execution thereof, substrahendo, by withdraw•ng, or suspending that Light and Assistance, without which it was imp•ssible for th•m eventually to stand: or efficiendo, by his Physical precurse, he determ•ned them thereunto. They affi•m not only the concurse of God enabling them to and in the Acts of Appeti∣tion, of Mastication, Manducation &c. in eating of the fruit; but that the disorde•ly Modification of the Act was primarily from God; that by his Influence and Causation, himself did cast the Scale of their Will, to de∣sire, Page 25 and to eat of that Tree prohibited (in which, was ye disorder) ra∣ther than any other, (before free and indifferent, till determined the••un∣to, by that Energy of his, wh•ch cou•d not but produce the Effect▪) yet so, as that no straining or compassion can be dreamed of t•erein; though in sensu composito considered, as in subordination to the Immutable Decr•e and Efficiency of God, they co•ld do no o•herwise than they did. So for all other the wickedest Actions of men; that all the ine•cations of the flesh, the motus primo primi, all the first machinations of the Mind or Thoughts, and conceptions of the Will, are forged by him, (as to the sub•rate mat∣ter,) that unto all the hatred of himself, all the Lying, Cursing, Rap•ne, Blood, Cruelty and Confusion in the World, he is the first •over, the reducer of it out of its bare potentiality into Act, its Specifier, and Pre∣determiner, as to its Existence, and mode of Being; not only the Assy∣rians spoiling and taking the Prey, Isa. 10.6. but all his evil meaning, 20.7. and his saying, that by his Strength and Wisdom he had done it, v. 13. both Habit and Act: all that had any thing of Entity in it, that n•t only the Power of Herod, and the exercise thereof unto the taking of a Wife was from God; But in specie and individuo, that he took his Bro∣ther Philip's Wife, rather than an other Woman he was indeclinably pre∣moved of God, and Efficien•ly Predetermined by him; and so in all instan∣ces of natural Action. This is it which I oppose, and the which now com∣meth more directly to be Considered and Argued.
1. The First Argument which I shall insist on, for the confut•tion of the Doctrine aforesaid, and in maintainance of the Position by me before laid down, which is diametrically opposite to it, is this. It maketh God to be the Efficient cause, or the Author of sin; (not a sinner; for that he is above Law, say some, but) of all that is so in man. The consequence I know is denied by them whom I oppose, yea and the thing disowned; they will not affirm, nor grant God to be the Author of sin, nor do think, that from what they assert, it will unavoidably follow; whatever odious Con∣sequences we fasten upon an opinion in the way of Argumentation, we take for grant the contrary. Namely, that they who do hold that Opi∣nion, do not hold that which we connect with it, or, that which we tell them will follow thereupon. When I endeavour to convince a man of his errour, by reducing him ad incommodum or absurdum, to an inconve∣niency, or absurdity: I take it for Grant that himself accounteth it an ab∣surdity which I would fasten upon him; Or my Argument is to him lost. If he agreeth not with me in that which I make Use of a• my medium to con∣vince him, (and there is no man so perfect, but he holdeth contradictions, though he seeth it not;) or if he doth not with me more firmly adhere to Page 26 the Tru•h which I take to be contradictory to his Errour, my Argument, (which procedeth ex concessis) will not pinch him at all.
Here therefore they distinguish of the Physical Action, and the Morality of it; the Acti•n they say is of God, and its Existence; He it is that pre∣moveth, and by his transient Physical influence causeth, and efficiently pre∣determineth men in and unto all their sinful Actions; (and is the first cause, and determiner in all their Omissions) that he specifieth, and giveth its particular Individuation to every such numerical Action: but for the anomie or a•axie of it, it's Irregularity (wherein the formal nature of Sin consist∣eth, its inco•formity to Law) that is a privation, it's a non ens, or nihil, it h•th no Author or Efficient cause at all, (only a deficient cause, or sub∣ject rather,) nor is caused. The Action they say, the substrate matter of Sin, God causeth or effecteth; not the Obliquity of it; the Act, not the sinful∣ness; the former, i. e. the Act, they say is ens, it hath an Entity or Being, and ens & bonum convertuntur, it must necessarily therefore be good, and have God for its Authour, who is so of all that is good, &c. But surely ens, & bonum morale, are not convertible terms: every thing that is, is not morally good; and of Metaphysicks we are not disputing.
Laying aside therefore all Philosophical and Scholastical subtilties, let us attend to the Scriptures, and see whether we can find out what is Sin; and whether it may be said to have any Author of it, or no; and if so, what it is that denominateth any one such in the Language of the Holy-Ghost.
Sin is either Orginal, or Actual. Original, is either that of Adam, or of all mankind in him, Rom. 5.12. which was Origo, the first beginning, and Spring-head of all sin: Or the immediate Product thereof, that which though it be not the first S•n or Transgression, yet is ab origine congenite, or of the same Original with us; and that is either private, The loss or Want of something in debito subjecto, that de jure ought to be in the Sub∣ject, termed the Image of God, Gen. 1.26. Ecc. 7.29. Col. 3.10. Or positive, an Alienation, or Dis-inclination to what the Law of God requi∣reth; and a bi•ss and propension to what it prohibiteth, Job. 14.4. Psal. 51.5. and 58.3. Gen. 6 5. Rom. 3.10. (which is heightned by conti∣nued Acts, Jer. 13.23.) and this is the Source and Fountain of all other Sin.
Actual Sin, is either of Omission or Commission. The former, is the subject's not exerting, or not coming up to some particular Act, which by the Law he stood obliged to. The latter, the Perpetration of some Act, or the Doing of some thing, which the Law of God forbids to be committed or done, Luk. 11.42. The formal nature of Sin in abstracto,Page 27 is a Repugnancy to Law or Rule; so the Apostle defines it, a Transgres∣sion of the Law, 1 Joh. 3.4. All Sin, however Distinguished, is such, and for the same reason is Sin; because Inconform to the Law of God, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an Illegality; it's not the Object, or Circumstance of an Act, or Intention of the Agent in Acting, that is the Rule or Measure of its Mo∣rality; but the Act or Action so modified, is Good or Evil, as Conform or Inconform to Rule, Rom. 4.15.
Sin in concreto, is a Peccant Habit, Act, or Omission, against Law or Rule. In it there is nothing more nor less to be considered, but the Ha∣bit or Privation, Act or Omission of the Law; and the Habitude of the former to it. The Law, that is Good and Holy, Rom. 7.12. it's also index recti & obliqui, the Rule and Standard of what is Right, and what Not. God is the Authour of That, Man of the Habit or Act Deviant from it; the Habitude or Relation of Sinfulness, stante lege, results from the former Act. The Formality God is the Authour of, in some Sense, he Constituteth the Law; what Action shall be Good, what Evil, his Nature and Will giveth it so to be, it's of Him; but the Existence of the Act or Action discrepant to Law, is of Man; God is not the Authour or Predeterminer of That; he might not do it, or was not Necessitated so to have done it.
Sin is sometimes in Scripture predicated of the Soul now depraved; somtimes of its Faculties; of the Understanding, Will, and Affections; and sometimes of the Body its Instrument, as the Subject and Efficient of it; so it is of the Habit or Propension to Evil; and Privation of Light, and of the contrary Inclination to Good, (whereof the Soul it self, and its na∣tural Faculties, is the substratum, the prime Subject of such Depravati∣on, and vicious Inclination, and in like manner of all sinful Omissions or Non-agencies) and of actual sinful Commissions, (the substratum or mate∣riale, the matter whereof is the act it self) yea, it's denominated of th•m all in the Abstract, Eph. 5.8. Rom. 8.7. ch. 1.29. Let now this irregular warping of the Faculties, this crookedness of the habitual Frame and In∣clinations of the Soul, and disconformity of its actions, Isa. 59.8. let it, I say, be what it will be, in its precise nature, ens reale rationis, modus entis or modus modi entis; still it cleaveth to, and is affirmed of the Faculty, Habit, or Act whereof it is the Mode, the Scriptures throughou•; and he that determineth, or is determined to an Act forbidden, doth, or is so also, to the Sin or Evil of it, in the Judgment of God; or to the evil Action in concreto; as well to its irregularity, as to the Entity of the action: which whilst the Law abides, it can never really (onely by a ment•l Precision or Abstraction,) be separated from. Put but the Fundamentum and termi∣nus,Page 28 and the relation results. If a Man begets a Child, the relation of Pa∣ternity cannot but •ollow. If the Souldiers do not keep their R•nks, or ob•erve not t•eir due and proper Motions; the disorder of the Army re∣••l•s, and no•e can help it. The Winding up or loosing of a string, or Physical undue Touch or motion of it, will cause an Irregularity or Dis∣cord in Music•; and that by Resultancy from it. So, let the Habits and Propensi•ns •f the Soul be wrong pointed, and its natural Actions deter∣m•ned, as to the Entity of them, and manner of Being, cross to the Law of God, (w•encesoever it be) and its Harmony is de•troyed; Sin results, ne•ther can the Guilt of it come any o•her way. He that so acteth, doth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, make S•n, Joh. 8.34.
Sin, it's 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a Transgression, besides or aga•nst the Law, 2 Pet. 2.16. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Imp•ety, 2 Tim. 2.16. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Deflection from a streight Line, Rom. 5.14. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an Aberration, or Lapse, v. 15. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Disobedience, v. 19. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Pravity, Act. 3.26. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉••edity or Impurit•, Mat. 23.27. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Wickedness, Act. 8.22. and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, all Inju•tice, or Deviation from the Rule of Righteousn•ss, is Sin, 1 J•h. 5.17. The Question is, of what all this is Denominated? what it is, that whoever can justly be ch•rged therewith, the G•ilt of all that cleaveth to him? Surely it's some∣th•ng Re•l, not Imaginary onely that it's spoken of; it's as well of Habits, as Privations; of Act•, as Omissions; and hath an Efficient Cause, and Real Foundation, with the Entity whereof; those Relative Respects are Identified, and he that Causeth one, Causeth both.
That 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 u•br•dled Concupiscence, Rom. 7.8. or the Habitual In∣clination of the Whole Man to what is Prohibited, and D•sclination to what is Commanded. It's termed in Scripture, Sin; the Body of Sin, and Law of it, Rom. 7.23. something Present, Dwelling, and Moving in the Subject, v. 5.17. ch. 8.3. Sometimes it's said to Warre, sometimes 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to Reign, or to Lord it; (this Non-ens, as some will have it,) Let not Sin Reign in your Mortal Body, that ye should obey it in the Lusts thereof, Rom. 6.12. This our Catechizes teach to be a Corrupt Nature Inhering or Dwelling in us, pondus a weight, and an Operative, Effective Principle; an anomalous thing; yet the fomes peccati, the Source and Foun∣tain of all Actual Tran•gression. The Natural Habit or Incl•nation, is quid reale, something Real and Existent an Active Quality. It's the Soul, the Form, that Acteth; but by the Habit it's disposed to Act; its Faculties, and Habits or Dispositions, are its Instruments of Action, and concurre subord•nately thereunto.
If it Inclineth, stands Bent, or Determined towards what the Law for∣bids, Page 29 or be pointed repugnantly to Rule, It's 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an Evil Complexion, Habit or Co•••itution of Soul; a Leprosie, Isa. 1.6. a Running sore upon it, Ps. 38.5. it's more than a Privat•on, it's a contrary Habit to Good, a Plag•e on •he Heart, Hos. 11.7. Inclinatio ad malum & prohibitum re∣ciprocanter, to incl•ne to any Act or Object that God Prohibits, is to En∣cline to Moral Ev•l, or Wickedn•ss; and such Inclination (of Mind, Will or Afflections,) or so mod•fied, and determined, is Wicked and Sinfull; the Entity of it is so mo•ally, (not Physically,) so is the Mi•d its self so Affected, Act. 14.2. the Will, Eph. 2.3. and Aff•ctions, Rom. 1.26. as well as that which proceedeth or cometh our of them: For, from within, out of the Heart of Men, proceed Evil Thoughts, Adulteries, &c. saith our Saviour: all these Evil things; and defile the Man, Mark. 7.21, 23. having Eyes full of Adultery, 2 Pet. 2.14.
So for Omissions and Commissions. Omissions; There is none that cal∣leth upon thy Name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee, Isa. 64.7. There is none that Ʋnderstandeth, none that seeketh after God, none that doth Good, Rom. 3.11, 12. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Ingrateful, 2 Tim. 3.2. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 without Natural Affect•on, v. 3. I was an Hungred, and ye gave me no Meat; In Prison, and ye visited me not, Mat. 25.42. All this is Impiety, Sin, or Unrighteousness. By what th•n doth a Man Contract the Guilt of all, but by a non agency nor non-exertion of some Physical Act, which the Law of God, some affirmative Precept requireth? it results from it.
In like manner for Commissions; They are all gone out of the way, Rom. 3.12. Their Throat is an open Sepulchre; With their Tongues they have used deceit, &c. v. 13. this is Sin and Wickedness. The Question is whether Sin hath an• Efficient, or Author, or not? Or if so, what it is to be the Author of it? Sin is the Transgression of the Law, saith the A∣postle▪ 1 Joh. 3.4. But he that lieth carnally with another mans Wife, or that tak•th away the Life of an Innocent Person, or uncondemned, &c. Transgresseth the Law, Jam. 2.11. Ergò, So to do is Sin. The very natu∣ral Act is such: Put but the Law, and the Act, and it results; If ye have respect of Persons, ye commit Sin, and are convinced of the Law as Transg•essors, v. 9. You are the Authours of it. Hence such Actions re∣ceive a new denomination, when Illegal. The Natural Use of Woman is lawfull, but that is not called Adultery; So, to take away the Life of man in some case; but that is not termed Murder as before. Jam. 2.11. All Eating and Drinking, is not Surfetting and Drunkenness; nor every tak∣ing of a Purse, Theft; nor saying Yea or Nay, Ly•ng; but as the question is put, Act. 5.8. the modification then of these natural Acts, (the Power whereof is from God, Act. 17.28.) the Specifying and Determining them Page 30 this or the other way, with their Relation to God's Law, is that which gi∣veth them both Name and Thing. If a man •ayeth Yea, when by the Law of God he ought to say Nay, it's Lying, and the physical Act Sin, or Trans∣gression. To pour water, and to Baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy-Ghost, is no Sin, (yea may be Righteousness;) but so to do, and say, over a Beast, can never be but Sin: To Name the Word Devil, is is not alwayes Sin; But to Baptize a Chri•tian in•o his Name, hath a moral Malignity in it, that can never by the Wit of Man be separated from it; but that he that determineth to the Act, doth also to the Obliqui∣ty of it.
Hence it is that Men are said to hatch and contrive Mischief, Isa. 59.4. to do Wickedness, Gen. 39.9. or Unrighteousness, Lev. 19.15. Rom. 1.29. and to commit Sin, Ja. 2.9. (the Abstract for the Concrete,) this, though it may not be Good Metaphysicks, is found Divinity I am sure It's meant of Acts oblique, and thwarting Gods Law; Termed a Working of Wi•kedness, 2 King. 21.6. It's the Act or Substratum only that is meant, or that Man doth, when he is said to be the Authour or Worker of Sin; and that he pleaseth himself in, when he is said to take Pleasure in Unrighteous∣ness, 2 Thes. 2.12. or that his Members are Serviceable to, when he is said to yield them as Instruments of Unrighteousness, Rom. 6.13. or that he repents him of, when he is said to repent him of his Wickedness, Act. 8.22. and beg pardon for it, Psal. 32.2, 5. or that Men are Damned for, when they are said to Receive the Wages of Unrighteousness; And yet surely that is Sin, Rom. 6.20, 23. these things hast thou done, Psal. 50.21. And diverse Affection: Sin hath predicated of it; (whereas non entis nulla est affectio) It's said to be Intended, and Remitted; some to be greater, some less•r Sins, and Sinners, Gen. 15.16. a Wonderfull and Horrible thing is Committed. Jer. 5.30. and 23.14. it's said also to leaven, 1 Cor. 5.6. and its self to be purged out, 2 Pet. 1.9. some to be overcome of it, 2 Pet. 2.19. and others to overcome it, Rom. 12.21. being a∣ware of its deceit, Heb. 3.13. What can all this and the like be affirmed of: but of somewhat that hath Entity? It's the Material, the Substrate matter, or Subject, the Illegal Habits, or Operations of the Soul, that is called Sin, and the Body of it, Rom. 6.6.
Yet farther, If sin be a non-ens, Nothing, Or hath no Efficient; nei∣ther is Grace any thing, nor hath it God for its Authour, nor yet man: This appeareth from the Rule of Contraries; contrariorum eadem est ratio. Sin and Grace, Righteousness and Unrighteousness are opposed contrari∣ly, (not privatively in Morals) Sub habitu, vel actione morali. They are two Contraries meeting sometimes in the same Subj•ct, and combating Page 31 there, Gal. 5.17. As Grace, or Holiness is an Elective habit of the Mind and Will, or an Act Imperated of it, commensurate to the Law of God: So is Vice or Sin, in the Mind or Will, a Habit or Act deflecting from the same Rule; And in the Abstract the deflection (opposed to commensura∣tion) is its Vitiocity or Sinfulness; and the Will of man is the Efficient cause of it, of Evil equally as of Good. Errour hath its Radication in the Mind, as well as Truth; and to be Wise to do Ev•l, h•th as much of En∣tity in it, as to do Good, Jer. 4.22. Blindness, Darkness, or Ignorance is indeed nothing Positive. If it be of what the Nature of man is Incapa∣ble of, or was never Endowed with; It's but Simple Nescience, a Nega∣tion only: If of Natural things only, the loss of an Endowment of Mind in the discerning of, and Knowledge in and about things not Relating to Religion, wherein yet Manonce had Understanding, and was capable of; It's a Privation; but no Sin, or Moral Evil. If a Man becometh Ignorant or Nescient in or unto the compassing of what is by the Law of God forbidden; It's Metaphysical Evil, (if I may so term it,) a Privati∣on of something that hath an Entity, and with which transcendental Good (the common Affection of Entity) is Convertible; but it's Moral good, Jam. 3.15. let not my Soul come into their Secret, Gen. 49.6. Igno∣rance or Darkness in and abo•t the things of God, and of the Spirit, be it juris or facti, of the Law, or of the Adequation of the Act to it, 1 Tim. 6.5. Isa, 5.20. if of that which is due and was connate to man to know and Understand, it's a Privation (viz.) of that, the Habit or Power whereof was once an Humane Endowment: (and the which he is a Sub∣ject capable of having again retrived, by a Supernatural and Divine pow∣er) and Perfective of man: and its Moral Evil. The Soul or Mind of Man is the Substratum or Subject of it, or that that is so deprived: and being destitute of Light and Truth, it's ens moraliter Malum, a Being e∣thically Evil, a depraved Faculty, Eph, 4.18. and he that extinguisheth the Habit, causeth the Privation, and all the Evil that •nsueth, Rom. 1.28. 2 Pet. 3.5. The Pravity or Sinfulness of the Soul, or its Faculties, by rea∣son of that Privation, is from the Law requiring the contrary Habit. The Formal Nature thereof, is its discrepancy and repugnancy to Law or Rule; and hath as much of Entity in it, as when the fundamentum, the Foundati∣on of that relative Respect, is quid positivum something positive, as a Habit. And the reason of Sin is the same, in Omissions, and Commissions; the Will is culpable in both alike, either Efficiently or Deficiently; and the Obli∣quity or Illegality of the one, hath as much of positivity in it, as of the other.
Neither hath Righteousness or Holiness, the contrary Mode of Being, any thing more of Entity, (as hath been said) than Sin or Unrighteousness; Page 32 or is there any more of Efficiency to the one than the other. Neither Sin, nor Grace, Piety, or Impiety can subsist out of any Subject, or hang in the Air; inconcreto, & abstracto in that agree. Harmony na Dis∣cord, Order and Disorder, Conformity and Disconformity, Rectitude and Obiquity, Righteousness and Unrighteousness, have an Efficient Cause; and Men are said as well to do one, as the other, if we may Credit the Scriptures, 1 Joh. 3. 7, 10. Lev. 19.15. Rom. 6.23. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Uncor∣ruptness, or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Sincerity, Tit. 2.7. which is as Salt, that render∣eth every Instance or Obedience Savoury; hath no more of Positivity in it, than the Contrary Deceit, Corruptness, Prevarication, or Hypocrisie, of which the former is the Negation; without Hypocrisie, Isa. 3.17. 1 Pet. 3.4. that is, Upright, in the Affirmative. Yea, one and the same Act or Action, every way alike Circumstantiated, may and have received either Denomination; sometimes, that of Good or Righteous, and then again of Sinful or Unrighteous; upon the Alteration of the Law, the Standard of Righteousness, Josh. 7. 20, 21. and chap. 8.2. So it was with reference to the Ceremonial and Judicial Law, after the Coming of Christ. If in lineâ Physicâ the Jews kept their course, Acted and did, what before that they practised; those same Actions were now Impious and Sinful, that before were Pious and Good. Shall we then think that the Goodness and Rectitude of the same natural Habits and Acts, was ens, and had an Efficient Cause, (when the Law was in force) but yet that the Malignity and Obliquity of them was nihil, (after its Repeal,) and had no Cause at all? what did they more in the One, than in the Other? its too Subtile for me to understand. The Truth is, he that is the Authour or Efficient of the Act, is the Authour or Efficient of both. Righteousness, or Unrighteousness (streight, or oblique,) is but the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; or Habitude of the Act, and all its Circum∣stances to Law; and he that Doth or Causeth the Act, Doth or Causeth Righteousn•ss or Unrighteousness, (accordingly as the same Act is Conform or Inconform and Cross to the Law of God) and that in a proper Sense; or the Scriptures do never treat-of the one or the other properly at all. Did not Sol•mon King' of▪ Israel sin by these things? Neb. 13.26.
What hath been said may suffice for the Explication of the Scriptural Notion of Sin. To reassume then our former Argument, and reduce what hath been before i•sisted on to the Case in hand.
(1) As to Original Sin, originans I mean, that of Adam, and ours in Him. If our first Parents Inadvertency, or Om•ssion of a due Exercise of Reason and Understanding; if their Eating of the Forbidden Fruit; if their Los• and Depravation of the Image of God in Knowledge and Light necessary to Conduct them unto God and Holiness; or their Declin∣ing Page 33 from God, and Inclination and Propension to the Flesh-pleasing, con∣trary to the Law of God, was Sin; then accordingly it followeth from our Adversaries hyyothesis, that God must be the Author of Sin: But the Antecedent is true: Ergò the Consequent.
The Antecedent is proved, Gen. 3.6. what is this that thou hast done? saith God, v. 13, 17. 1 Tim. 2.14 Rom. 5.12. Col. 3.10. Nor can it be denied to be Sin.
The Consequent is evident, in that they make God to be the first Cause, and Predeterminer of Man unto all, in every Branch thereof. That Adam did not Advert, Weigh, and better Consider the Evil and Danger of Complying with the Temptation, was they say from Gods withdraw∣ing his Influence, and Causation from him, as often as man doth not Will or Act; he therefore doth it not, say they, because God doth not deter∣mine him to it; and that None-determination, or Suspensation of God, meerly of its self, without any positive action inureth to the preventing of all Operation of the Creature. They affirm, that God did subtract or take away from Adam before his Fall, that spotless Light, and Primoge∣nial Perfection of his Understanding, wherein he was at first Created, and and left him so denuded or stript to shift for himself: that moreover God did Predefine his Lapse or Fall, and that in Execution of his Decree, he did Premove, and Efficiently, by his Physical Influx, Predetermine his Will to the Eating of the Tree, whereof he Commanded him not to Eat; to chuse that rather than the other, and that Indeclinably, so as that it was Inevitable to him, considered as he stood in Subordination to the aforesaid Decree, and Efficiency of God, and his nec•ssary Dependence on him: (though in sensu diviso, considering him, or his furure Act, without the Consideration of the Decree and Efficiency of God, or his Dependence upon him in esse & operari, or secluding the Foreknowledge of God of all future Contingencies, &c. which is impossible: they deny not but that he might possibly have stood, and not have been so Predetermined by him, or Caused to Fall;) either I say all that was not Sin, nor Culpable; or according to them God was the Author of his Sin or Transgression.
So in like manner, (2) For our Personal Original Sin, ortum I mean, or originatum, that which ab origine we bring into the World with us, Job 14.4. if God be the Authour and Efficient of our Habits or Inclinations in the General, and their Specifier and Determiner, giving them their Biass that way they propend or go, namely, contrary to his Law, then is he the Authour of Sin: But according to them who go the way of Physical Predetermination he, doth the former; Ergò according to them he doth the latter also.
The Minor is their own assertion, they say that not onely the power of Page 34 Willing, and the radical affections of Love and Hatred; but their aliena∣tion from the Life of God, the Habitual Pointing and Determining them Oblique and Cross to his Law, to the Love of the Word and Flesh-plea∣sing, and to the Hatred of Himself, and Enmity to his Law, both their Entity and Modification, God is the prime Cause and Efficient of. He from Etern•ty foresaw it, and that in his Decree, with which his Efficiency runs Parallel and Even, in all and every Creature-effect; all that hath Entity.
The Connexion or Consequence of the Major Proposition, will not I suppose be Denied, namely, that the Habitual Dis-inclination of the Soul to Holiness, or Propension and Incl•nation to Acts Discrepant to the Law of God, (such as the Hatred of God, and avers•tion unto his Commands) is indeed Sin, or the Law of Sin, Rom. 8.3.5. I• then God be the Authour and Determiner of, or unto that, he is so of Sin.
The Case is still the s•me, as to Actual Sin, whether of Omission, or Commission. If God be the Cause of mens not Hearing the Word, Rea∣ding, Praying, Omitting, or not Exercising of this and the other act which his Law Commandeth and O•ligeth them unto, causa prohibens, by his Suspending or Denying that Influence of his, without which the Crea∣ture cannot move or act at all, but is Determined to a Non-agency; then is the Authour, or is wholly in Cause of all S•n against the affirmative Com∣mands of his Law: but according to our Adversaries in this point, he is so: Ergo.
That the Omission of many Physical acts is Sin cannot be denied, Mat. 5.42. But that God by his Non-operation doth Predetermine the C•eature U∣n•versally to a Not-acting, is their constant Doctrine, as •o all Natural Acts, (nor onely as to Gracious or truly Pious acts, the which we grant in a Sense, since Man hath disabled himself) Then by undeniable Consequence is God the Cause, yea the Sole Cause of such Sins; for Man doth nothing at all therein, neither (according to them) can do, nor ever could: and that Common assertion of Divines, wherewith they have been wont to stop the Mouths of Objectors against the Equity of Gods procedure with Man, for that he cannot do this and that; namely that Man once had Power; is by them Exploded as Heterodox, and of no Use, if this be true. Again, If God Premoveth and Efficaciously by his Influence and Cau∣sation Predetermineth men unto the Perp•tration of Acts Repugnant to the Negative Precepts of his Law, such as Gluttony, and Drunkenness (not bare Eating and Drinking) Fornication, Adu•tery, Incest, and the like; then is he the Authour or Predeterminer of Sin; or else those Acts are no Sins: But God causeth those Acts, according to them. Man they would have to be the Deficient Cause, and God the prime Efficient. All such Page 35 Acts say they were from Eternity future: and that could not be without a Cause; If Gods Will then, were not it, there must be an Effect without a Cause; This they term an Insoluble demonstration, that such Effects have God for their Cause. Thence they proceed to Argue, that the Ope∣ration of the second Cause, is the Effect of the Precurse of the first Cause, as l•ss Worthy, Dependent, and Subordinate to it, &c. Now let any one shew me, how God for Instance should Premove or Excite Achan to covet the Babylonish Garment, the Silver and the Gold, Josh. 7.21. How he should Predetermine him by his Physical Influence, to Will and to Do, to take them, and to hide them in the Earth, (which himself acknow∣ledgeth to be Sin, v. 20. add for the which doing, or for the passing of which Act out of its potentiality into Existence, and determination, he died,) and yet not be the Authour or Cause of that Sin of his: how God should Effectually cause that Numerical Act, but not the Ob•iquity of it, the Law abiding; Or what Achan the Secondary Instrument did more; If it be Granted but that he was the Subordinate Author of that Wicked∣ness, (though Inevitable to him.) But enough of that.
Arg. 2. The aforesaid Hypothesis of Gods Predetermining all sinful Actions, reflecteth on the Attributes of God; and therefore is not to be admitted.
(1) It asperseth the Essential Holiness of God, 1 Pet. 1.15, 16. whil'st he is made to predetermine to, and by his energetical Operation to give a Shall-be, or determinate Existence to all the Impious Actions Conceived, and Committed in the World; Yea to Actions intrinsecally Evil; not only contrary to the Light of our Nature, the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to the Fundamental Principle of Reason relating to Morals; But Repugnant to its own Nature, (which is regula regulans,) such as are not so, from the bare Will or Pleasure of God prohibiting them; But by Resultancy from his Nature, and from the Eternal Reason of the thing, in Conjunction with the Habitude or Relation that we stand in to him) and which himself cannot alter not change: As, to hate his Blessed self, and to Lye and Blaspheme his Holy Name, to say in the Heart that there is no God, or to Curse him. As to such Acts or Actions, God himself cannot alter the Standard which they run cross to, nor can sepa∣rate their Entity from their Obliquity, or make them not to be Wicked∣ness. And yet this he is said, by those whom I Oppose, to Predetermine men to, even to those very Acts, (but not to the Sinfulness they say.) More tolerable is the Opinion of the Manichees, who feigned two Gods, one to be the Author of Evil, and the other of Good; than so to affirm, or to Father such Actions on the true God.
Page 36(2) It Impeacheth the Legislative Righteousness of God, and the E∣quity of his Law. It hath been Generally taken for Granted, that God not only made Man with the Faculties of Reason and free Will, without which he had not been a Being of such a species or kind as had been capable of a∣ny Law; But that also he was furnished with whatever might adapt him to the keeping of that Law he should be put under: and that the same was due to him from Gods Justice or Righteousness of Condecency, (as due to his Soul, in Case he Expected Obedience from him,) and that he should be no wayes necessitated to transgress, or Obedience be rendred impossible to him, from any Cause Extrinsecal to himself. Now all this the former Hypothesis overturneth. Where then is the Equity of •he Law? or by what shall the Righteousness of God be vindicat•d? If it be true, which is by them maintained, that God never gave to a Man a self-determining Power: (through his Assistance,) that he never made, nor could make such a Creature as might or could possibly specify his own Acts; that could Chuse or Refuse, but as himself first determineth him: That it were a Contradiction to suppose it; For that he must be a God, (not made af∣ter his Image) that doth it: Nor could God foresee if it were so, what he would Issue in; Nor his Supremacy he Retained over such a Subject▪ what Reason then that man should be Obliged by any Law, when he can neither Will nor Chuse in any Instance of Action, whether this or that shall be or not be? which is Essenti•l to the Idea of a Subject capable of Moral Government, and Obnoxious to an Enquiry about it. Yet far∣ther, If Man cannot but Omit what God Efficaciously determineth him not to, but must abide in an Everlasting Indetermination, why shou•d he by Law be Obliged to a Natural Impossibility? And if God Inv•ncibly de∣termineth him unto every Action that he doth, by what Righteous Law should he be Ob•iged to be above God, or to be Stronger than he? Thus to r•solve all Mans Wickedness into Necessity, is to justifie him, and to Condemn God. Nemo tenetur ad impossibile.
(3) It reflecteth on the Wisdom and Counsell of God in the Constitu∣tion of his Law. The Law must be rather for himself, than for them, if Man cannot nor never could ever put in Act the least Thought or Motion conform, nor inconform to it, but as he Predetermineth him. A Man might as Rationally make a Law for his Axe, Hammer or Saw; for, though his Elective Power goes along they say with Gods Precurse or Premotion: Yet in no Instance can he turn this way or the other, but as he is first Inclined by the Law-giver, and Predetermined anteceden•er therein. Let the Law Speak what it will for it, or against it, still the Instrument can neither Move, nor Act otherwise than it doth; what then meaneth Page 37 the solemnity of a Law? or to what End should it be designed?
(4) It Impeacheth the Fidelity and Sincerity of God in his Expostula∣tions with Men, if nothing be within the Verge of their Power. Why will you die saith he? Ezek.•8. signifying his being agrieved at their Sin, and Ruine thereby. What shall we think of his Upbraiding Men for it, and protesting he willed the contrary? O that my People would Consider, &c. Deut. 5.29. and 32.29. Isa. 48.18. Jer. 44.4. Psal. 18.13. Mat. 11.20. and 12.41. If he himself Indeclinably Predetermineth them to the very thing which he dehorteth them from, and Worketh in them both to will and to do, so as that they can do no otherwise; No Man can form a Conception of God, more repugnant to the Notions that the Scrip∣ture hath given us of his Nature and Properties, If I mistake not; Amos 2, 11, 12, 13.
Arg. 3. The former Hypothesis of Physical Predetermination, It over-turneth the Doctrine of Original Sin; And of its Traduction. If on the one Hand God did substract his Gift from Adam before he Sinned, and deprive him of that Light and Ability which he once had, and without which he could no longer stand, before any fault or forfeiture of his, (and so determined him to fall in Execution of his Decree, as is sometimes said:) by what Rule should his Posterity be Obliged still to have that, (which though the Nature of Man was capable of it, yet was never due to it, and) which God h•mself took away? or why should it be termed Sin to want it? when it's by no fault of his that it's wanting, nor was it ever by God intended to be continued? It must be a meer Negation, no Privation; Since there could not be debitum inessendi, any due Obligation of having it, if their Supposition be true: No more than is on a Beast to Reason; Shall the Lord and Master of the Family take the Candle out of the Room, (not the Servants Extinguish it,) and then make it an Offence that they are in the dark, and challenge them for their not working? or will it solve the matter to tell them that it's a Privation, Darkness, a non-Entity, and therefore he could not cause it? So on the other Hand, If that which is termed the Corrupt Nature dwelling in Man, be ens as it is a Quality or Habit, and all that hath Entity be the Workmanship of God, (as they say it is; or else Man must have a Creative Power, and also good: why then do we call it sin, and Original sin? or if it be nihil, a non-Entity, how then doth it descend? How is it Traduced, Joh. 3.6. and said to be ours by real Inhesion and Contagion, as the whole Church consesseth? saith Davenant.
Arg. 4. It staineth the Glory of free Grace in the Pardon of Sin, and casteth a Blemish upon the Whole of the Meditation of Christ. Wha•Page 38 Conviction can possibly possess the Mind of Man of the Riches of Gods Grace in the Pardoning of sin, whilst it's maintained that the abounding of sinful Actions (not to say sin) is as well from God, (the Efficient and Pre∣determiner unto them,) as the Superabounding of Grace in the Remission of them? Rom. 3.7. and 5.20? What sense can abide upon the Soul, of the Grace of Christ, in his being made Flesh, and bearing the Wrath of God for those Tran•gressions, whereof himself as God was the Prime Efficient, and the which, man by his own Influence and Causation was Indeclinably Predetermined unto? He that shall Cause or Determine another, (suppo∣sing him a Rational Agent, and capable of such an Impr•ss,) freely and willingly to do that wh•ch in the Issue will prove Rottenness in his Bones, (as Prohibited, or Illegal Actions will do, Job. 20.11. Psal. 38.5.) will Receive little thanks for his Cure, whatever Cost he may be at; When himself caused the Disease, and the which, had he not done it, there had been no need of a Remedy for it.
Arg. 5. If the Doctrine of our Adversaries be true; What meaneth then the Combating of the Spirit of God against sin, or Mens being said to grieve, and to Quench the Spirit? 1 Thes. 5.19. it must according to th••r Hypothesis be God on both parts; His own Counteraction in the Sub∣ject. And if all the first motions of the Imagination, all Distraction in Re∣ligious Duties, all the vain Thoughts emerging out the Heart of Man in their Numberless Operations be from God, as the first Mover and De∣terminer, why then should Man be r•quired at his Peril to dislodge them? Jer. 4.14. What is it that he can do? Or should he Enterprize the E∣viction and Expulsion of the ataxie or Obliquity of them, whilst that God himself keepeth the Entity of them in possession, and in actual Operation? Deut. 15.9.
Arg. 6. It layeth the Axe to the Root of all Repentance for what is done and past: It raseth the Foundation thereof, and Excludeth the very Idea of it. A Man may bewail Impreventable disaster; but cannot pre∣vent him, of that which he could never have helped, 2 Cor. 7.11. I ap∣peal to the sense of any man living, whether his Heart be wont to reproach him, for the doing of that wherein he was no way wanting to himself, or for that, the which were it to do again, must be done, and could be no o∣therwise, on no Account whatsoever within his Power, now, nor ever be∣fore. If Man by the Necessity of his Being, and from the Exigency of his Condition, as a dependent Being, cannot move, save that way he is premoved; and cannot but act that way that he is Predetermined or act∣ed; why then, when he sees the Event, should he wish it were Undone, and Repent him that he did it; or not rather that God did it, if that be true? Page 39 Repentance is not founded in the Obediential Subjection of the Creature, namely, that God could have caused him to do otherwise; or barely in the Capacity of the Subject to receive such an Impress from the first Cause; but on the Evitability of the Fact, or Possibility of the contrary, from a Principle Intrinsick and Connate to himself. Yea, who or where is the man, that dare go to God in Prayer, with such a Notion in his head, and hold to it, that he is not to Confess that he could have done more Good, and omitted more Evil, than Eventually he hath? Neh. 9.16, 17, 26, 29. Ezra. 9.10, 14. had not David just Cause to Repent him of his Lye that he told to Abimelech, 1 Sam. 21.2. and to acknowledge it a preventable Act, (which is the Sole aggravation of S•n, and true Reason of it, though all Sin is not now Preventable, as some is:) though I know not why or how he should so do, were it true which is by some Affirmed, that in linea physicâ to the Entity of the Act he was Predetermined of God, to speak every Word and Syllable that he did, (whereof there was never a one true,) equally as in the using of his Tongue in the pra•sing of his name.
Arg. 7. It leaveth not the least Foundation, whereupon to bottom Gods Judicial Process against Man in the Day of Judgment. To resolve mans Damnation into meer Dominion and Sovereignty, is abhorrent to God, and Cross to all Scripture. Nor is there any thing more Repugnant to the Notions of Justice and Righteousness, (which are the Attributes of God to be Displaied towards all that shall then be Cast, or Peri•h, Rom. 3.5. 2 Thes. 1.5.) than that he should be thought to Adjudge his Creature to Endless Torment, for that which it could never Help; or that he shou•d make that a Crime, which himself was the Authour or Cause of, or Pre∣det•rmined it to. Is God Ʋnrighteous when he taketh Vengeance? absit, God forbid, saith the Apostle: how then shall he Judge the World? Rom. 3.6. God may bestow freely his Mercy and special Favour where he pleases: but not so the Effects of his Vindictive Justice and Wrath; there must be Cause for it, or it were not becoming his Righteousness, and Holi∣ness; it were a Wrong and Injustice to the Creature, as himself doth ad∣m•t, and is willing to render accountable to any one that shall Challenge him therein, Ezek 18.25, 29. Isa. 5.3. Now, it's matter of Fact that the Inquest shall be about, in the day of our Account, Mat. 25.25, 30, 35. Rom. 3.6. 1 Pet. 1.17. the substratum of Sin, (the same, as in all Humane Courts of Judicature.) If then God be the Efficient Cause of the Fact, if he Premoveth men, and Predetermineth them to the Entity, and giveth a Futurition, and Existence to their Acts of Murder, Adultery, &c. rendering them necessary necessitate causali & motiva: on what foot of Account then shall we fix the Equity of his tak•ng vengeance on them for the same? Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right? Should a Judg so proceeding, be like unto God? VVhat colour of Justice Page 40 were there? or of meerness in the Recompence? Heb. 2.2.
Arg. 8. The Predeterminant Hypothesis, It shaketh the Foundation of Revelation, the Authority of the Scriptures, the Rule of Gods Judgment. It maketh God the Suggest∣er of Lyes, as well as of Truth: Then did not the false Prophets deceive the People, when they said, Thus saith the Lord, Jer. 23.17. (for it was ens,) and yet God himself saith, that it was the Vision of their own Heart, and not from him, v. 16. The Question is, what according to them, God did more in the Inspiration of the true Prophets, than in the false, in linea Physica as they speak?
Arg. 9. If God Predetermineth all the Operations of Man, as is affrmed, there is no Reason nor Foundation left for Civil Government, Oeconomical or Political. It were not only Ludicrous; but highly Injurious. It were a horrid thing for Man not to be aware of it, (whatever God might do, as they say) Humane Lawes do presuppose the Lapse, or Disablement of Man, and with one consent it's agreed, that no man shall be put to the loss of his Life, or Member penally for Omitting, or doing ought, that is not within reach of humane Power to determine concerning; If all the World be not cheated there∣in. What Man should be so Irrational as to Reprove or Correct Child or Servant, (yea his Beast,) for that which in good Earnest he stands convinced that he could not pre∣vent? The Fact, or Omition I mean, not the anomie only, which results from the same? plain People understand well enough what I say, Mat. 21.29, 30.
Arg. 10. It denieth to man his Essential Nature, and specifick form, (the Natural Image of God, in genere physico, wherein he was made, Gen. 9.6.) which is to have Dominion o∣ver his own Acts; A Power of Willing, or Nilling, this, or the contrary (in such sense as hath been opened.) What is a Natural Faculty or Active power, but an Ability connate to the Subject, (founded in nature,) rendering it potent to such an Effect? Actually so, or, that it may and can reduce into Act? Voluntas nostra, nec voluntas esset, nisi esset in nostra potestate; Porrò quia est in nostra potestate libera est, saith Augustine. Yea the former Hypothesis debaseth Man beneath the whole creation of God. It's not denied but that in the virtue of their first Qualities, and active Principles, (supposing the General concurse of God,) other Creatures can Operate; The fire can heat, and VVater cool, and they specifie their Operation also by virtue of their proper forms, (not that the first Cause is hot, or maketh hot in the presence of the one, and cold in the presence of the other.) By Ingrafture, or Inoculation, Man may specifie the active Influence of the first cause, of what Nature it shall give the fruit of such a Stock to be; Never to be altered without a Miracle. And better were it to move necessarily as the Stone downwards, or Fire up∣wards, than to be moved universally like a clock or an Engine, (not in all points; but as to the Effect, without an Intrinsick Power unto the contrary Event,) especially in a matter of Offence and Punishment, (of which our question is, and) with which a natu∣ral necessity is by all men granted inconsistent, and would totally excuse. But what need∣eth to add any more?
Finally, the aforesaid notion is not only subversive of all Religion, Policie and humanity, in its genuine consequents, as is before proved, if I be able to judge; But it's Expresly re∣pugnant to several plain Texts of Scripture; As, to Name no more, 1 John. 2.16. All that is in this World, (as the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life,) is not of the Father, (not the existence of them,) but is of this World; or of the Devil, John 8.44. who is a Lyer, and when he speaketh a Lye, saith our Saviour, speaketh de suo of his own, is the Author of it. So Jam. 1.13, 14. Let no man say that he is tempted of God to Evil. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own Lust; That is an Entity yet Sin, and the Conceiver of it, both Father and Mother of that which when it hath finish∣ed, bringeth forth Death: Opposed to Grace, which is from above, v. 17. chap. 3.15, 17. Psal. 7.14. Jer. 7.31. The Lord give us Understanding herein, and a due sense thereof upon our Souls.