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notion of liberty, and the absurdity of their notion of liberty. Their notion of liberty is, that there is a sovereignty in the will, and that the will determines itself, so that its determination to choose or refuse this or that, is primarily within itself; which description of liberty implies a self-contradiction. For it supposes the will, in its first act, choosing or refusing to be determined by itself; which implies that there is an antecedent act of the will to that first act, determining that act. For, if the will determines its own first act, then there must be an act of the will before that first act, (for that determining is acting,) which is a contradiction. There can be no fallacy in this; for we know that if the will determines its own act, it does not determine it without acting. Therefore, here is this contradiction, viz. that there is an act of the will before the first act. There is an act of the will determining what it shall choose, before the first act of choice; which is as much as to say, that there is an act of volition before the first act of volition. For the will's determining what it will choose, is choosing. The will's determining what it will will, is willing. So that according to this notion of liberty, the will must choose before it chooses, in order to determine what it will choose. If the will determines itself, it is certain that one act must determine another. If the will determines its own choice, then it must determine by a foregoing act what it will choose. If the will determines its own act, then an antecedent act determines the consequent; for that determining is acting. The will cannot determine without acting. Therefore I inquire what determines that first act of the will, viz. its determination of its own act? It must be answered, according to their scheme, that it is the will by a foregoing act. Here, again, we have the same contradiction, viz. that the first act of the will is determined by an act that is before that first act. If the will determines itself, or determines its own choice, the meaning of it must be, if there be any meaning belonging to it, that the will determines how it will choose; and that it chooses, according to that, its own determination how to choose, or is directed in choosing by that its own determination. But then I would inquire, whether that first determination, that directs the choice, be not itself an act or a volition ; and if so, I would inquire what determines that act. Is it another determination still prior to that in the order of nature? Then I would inquire, what determines the first act or determination of all? If the will, in its acts of willing or choosing, determines or directs itself how to choose, then there is something done by the will prior to its act of choosing that is determined, viz. its determining or directing itself how to choose. This act determining or directing, must be something besides or distinct from the choice determined or directed, and must be prior in order of nature to it. Here are two acts of the will, one the cause of the other, viz. the act of the will directing and determining, and the act or choice directed or determined. Now, I inquire,
what determines that first act of the will determining or directing, to determine and direct as it does? If it be said, the will determines itself in that; then that supposes there is another act of the will prior to that, directing and determining that act, which is contrary to the supposition. And if it was not, still the question would recur, what determines that first determining act of the will? If the will determines itself, one of these three things must be meant, viz. 1. That that very same act of the will determines itself. But this is as absurd as to say that something makes itself; and it supposes it to be before it is. For the act of determining is as much prior to the thing determined, as the act making is before the thing made. Or, 2. The meaning must be, that the will determines its own act, by some other act that is prior to it in order of nature; which implies that the will acts before its first act. Or, 3. The meaning must be, that the faculty, considered at the same time as perfectly without act, determines its own consequent act; which is to talk without a meaning, and is a great absurdity. To suppose that the faculty, remaining at the same time perfectly without act, can determine any thing, is a plain contradiction; for determining is acting. And besides, if the will does determine itself, that power of determining itself does not argue any freedom, unless it be by an act of the will, or unless that determination be itself an act of choice. For what freedom or liberty is there in the will's determining itself, without an act of choice in determining, whereby it may choose which way it will determine itself? So that those that suppose the will has a power of self-determination, must suppose that that very determination is an act of the will, or an act of choice, or else it does not at all help them out in what they would, viz. the liberty of the will. But if that very determination how to act, be itself an act of choice, then the question returns, what determines this act of choice.
Also, the foreknowledge of God contradicts their notion of liberty as much, and in every respect in the same manner as a decree. For they do not pretend that decree contradicts liberty any otherwise, than as it infers that it is beforehand certain that the thing will come to pass, and that it is impossible but that it should be, as the decree makes an indissoluble connexion beforehand between the subject and predicate of the proposition, that such a thing shall be. A decree infers no other necessity than that. And God's foreknowledge does infer the same to all intents and purposes. For if from all eternity God foreknew that such a thing would be, then the event was infallibly certain beforehand, and that proposition was true from all eternity, that such a thing would be ; and therefore there was an indissoluble connexion beforehand between the subject and predicate of that proposition. If the proposition was true beforehand, the subject and predicate of it were connected beforehand. And therefore it follows from hence, that it is utterly impossible that it should not prove true, and that, for this reason, that it is utterly impossible that a thing should be true, and not true, at the same time.
$ 23. The same kind of infallible certainty, that the thing will come to pass, or impossibility but that it should come to pass, that they object against, must necessarily be inferred another way, whether we hold the thing to be any way decreed or not. For it has been shown before, and I suppose none will deny, that God from all eternity decrees his own actions. Therefore he from all eternity decrees every punishment that he ever has inflicted, or will inflict. So that it is impossible, by their own reasoning, but that the punishment should come to pass. And if it be impossible but that the punishment should come to pass, then it is equally impossible but that the sin should come to pass. For if it be possible that the sin should not come to pass, and yet impossible but that the punishment should come to pass, then it is impossible but that God should punish that sin which may never be.
$ 24. For God certainly to know that a thing will be, that possibly may be, and possibly may not be, implies a contradiction. If possibly it may be otherwise, then how can God know certainly that it will be? If it possibly may be otherwise, then he knows it possibly may be otherwise, and that it is inconsistent with his certainly knowing that it will not be otherwise. If God certainly knows it will be, and yet it may possibly be otherwise, then it may possibly happen to be otherwise than God certainly knows it will be. If so, then it may possibly happen that God may be mistaken in his judgment, when he certainly knows; for it is supposed that it is possible that it should be otherwise than he judges. For that it should be otherwise than he judges, and that he should be mistaken, are the same thing. How unfair therefore is it in those that hold the foreknowledge of God, to insist upon this objection from human liberty, against the decrees, when their scheme is attended with the same difficulty, exactly in the same manner!
$ 25. Their other objection is, that God's decrees make God the author of sin. I answer, that there is no more necessity of supposing God the author of sin, on this scheme, than on the other. For if we suppose, according to my doctrine, that God has determined, from all eternity, the number and persons of those that shall perform the condition of the covenant of grace; in order to support this doctrine, there is no need of maintaining any more concerning God's decreeing sin, than this, viz. that God has decreed that he will permit all the sin that ever comes to pass, and that upon his permitting it, it will certainly come to pass. And they hold the same thing; for they hold that God does determine beforehand to permit all the sin that does come to pass; and that he certainly knows that if he does permit it, it will come to pass. I say, they in their scheme allow both these ; they allow Vol. VII.
that God does permit all the sin to come to pass, that ever does come to pass; and those that allow the foreknowledge of God, do also allow the other thing, viz. that he knows concerning all the sin that ever does really come to pass, that it will come to pass upon his permitting it. So that if this be making God the author of sin, they make him so in the very same way that they charge us with doing it.
$26. One objection of theirs against God's decreeing or ordering, in any sense, that sin should come to pass, is, that man cannot do this without making himself sinful and, in some measure, guilty of the sin, and that therefore God cannot. To this I answer, that the same objection lies against their own scheme two ways: 1. Because they own that God does permit sin, and that he determines to permit beforehand, and that he knows, with respect to all sin that ever is committed, that upon his permitting it, it will come to pass; and we hold no other. 2. Their objection is, that what is a sin in men, is a sin in God; and therefore, in any sense to decree sin, would be a sin. But if this objection be good, it is as strong against God's permission of sin, which they allow; for it would be a sin in men to permit sin. We ought not to permit or suffer it where we have an opportunity to hinder it; and we cannot permit it without making ourselves in ' some measure guilty. Yet they allow that God does permit sin; and that his permitting it does not make him guilty of it. Why must the argument from men to God be stronger in the other case than in this ?
$ 27. They say, that we ought to begin in religion, with the perfections of God, and make these a rule to interpret scripture. Ans. 1. If this be the best rule, I ask, why is it not as good a rule to argue from these perfections of God, his omniscience, infinite happiness, infinite wisdom and power, as his other attributes that they argue from? If it be not as good a rule to argue from these as those, it must be because they are not so certain, or because it is not so certain that he is possessed of these perfections. But this they will not maintain; for his moral perfections are proved no otherwise than by arguing from his natural perfections; and therefore the latter must be equally certain with the former. What we prove another thing by, must at least be as certain as it makes the thing proved by it. If an absolute and universal decree does infer a seeming inconsistence with some of God's moral perfections, they must confess the contrary to have a seeming inconsistence with the natural perfections of God.
Again, 2dly. They lay it down for a rule, to embrace no doctrine which they by their own reason cannot reconcile with the moral perfections of God. But I would show the unreasonableness of this rule. For, 1. If this be a good rule, then it always
Let us then see what will follow. We shall then, 2dly, have reason to conclude every thing to be really inconsistent with God's moral perfections, that we cannot reconcile with his moral perfections ; for if we have not reason to conclude that it is inconsistent, then we have no reason to conclude that it is not true, But if this be true that we have reason to conclude every thing is inconsistent with God's moral perfections which we cannot reconcile with those perfections, then David had reason to conclude that some things that he saw take place, in fact were inconsistent with God's moral perfections, for he could not reconcile them with those perfections, Psalm lxxiii. And Job had cause to come to the same conclusion concerning some events in his day. 3. If it be a good rule that we must conclude that to be inconsistent with the divine perfections, that we cannot reconcile with, or, which is the same thing, that we cannot see how it is consistent with those perfections, then it must be because we have reason to conclude that it cannot happen that our reason cannot see how it can be, and then it will follow that we must reject the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, &c.
The scripture itself supposes that there are some things in the scripture that men may not be able to reconcile with God's moral perfections. See Rom. ix. 19. “Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will ?" And the apostle doth not answer the objection, by showing us how to reconcile it with the moral perfections of God, but by representing the arrogancy of quarrelling with revealed doctrines under such a pretence, and not considering the infinite distance between God and us. “Nay, but who art thou, O man, that repliest against God?” And God answered Job after the same manner.
God rebuked him for darkening counsel by words without knowledge, and answered him, only by declaring and manifesting to him the infinite distance between God and him; so letting him know, that it became him humbly to submit to God, and acknowledge his justice even in those things that were difficult to his reason; and that without solving his difficulties any other way than by making him sensible of the weakness of his own understanding.
$ 28. If there be no election, then it is not God that makes men to differ, expressly contrary to scripture. No man ought to praise God for that happiness that he has above other men, or for that distinction that is between him and other men, that he is holy and that he is saved; when they are not holy and not saved. The saints in heaven, when they look on the devils in hell, have no occasion to praise God on account of the difference between them. Some of the ill consequences of the Arminian doctrines are, that it robs God of the greater part of the glory of his grace, and takes away a principal motive to love and praise him, and exalts man to God's room, and ascribes the glory to self, that belongs to God alone. Rom. xi. 7. “The election hath obtained, and the rest were blinded.” That by the election here is not meant the Gentiles, but the elect part of the Jews, is most