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necessary beforehand, as if the Divine Knowledge were in the same sense before the event, as the prediction or writing is. If the knowledge be infallible, then the expression of it in the written prediction is infallible; that is, there is an infallible connection between that written prediction and the event. And if so, then it is impossible it should ever be otherwise, than that that prediction and the event should agree: and this is the same thing as to say, it is impossible but that the event should come to pass: and this is the same as to say thai its coming to pass is necessary.—So that it is manifest, that there being no proper succession in God's mind, makes no alteration as to the Necessity of the existence of the events which God knows. Yea,
2. This is so far from weakening the proof, which has been given oi the impossibility of the not coming to pass of future events known, as that it establishes that, wherein the strength of the foregoing arguments consists, and shows the clearness of the evidence. For,
(1.) The very reason why God's knowledge is without succession, is because it is absolutely perfect, to the highest possible degree of clearness and certainty: all things, whether past, present, or to come, being viewed with equal evidence and fulness; future things being seen with as much clearness, as if they were present; the view is always in absolute perfection; and absolute constant perfection admits of no alteration, and so no succession; the actual existence of the thing known, does not at all increase, or add to the clearness or certainty of the thing known: God calls the things that are not as though they were; they are all one to him as if they had already existed. But herein consists the strength of the demonstration before given, of the impossibility of the not existing of those things, whose existence God knows; that it is as impossible they should fail of existence, as if they existed already. This objection, instead of weakening this argument, sets it in the clearest and strongest light; for it supposes it to be so indeed, that the existence of future events is in God's view so much as if it already had been, that when they come actually to exist, it makes not the least alteration or variation in his view or knowledge of them.
(2.) The objection is founded on the immutability of God's knowledge: for it is the immutability of knowledge which makes his knowledge to be without succession. But this rtost directly and plainly demonstrates the thing I insist on, viz., that it is utterly impossible the known events should fail of existence. For if that were possible, then it would be possible for there to be a change in God's knowledge and view of things. For if the known event should fail of existence, and not come into being as God expected, then God would see it, and so would change his mind, and see his former mistake; and thus there would be change and succession in his knowledge. But as God is immutable, and so it is utterly impossible that his view should be changed; so it is, for the same reason, just so impossible that the foreknown event should not exist: and that is to be impossible in the highest degree: and therefore the contrary is necessary. Nothing is more impossible than that the immutable God should be changed, by the succession of time; who comprehends all things, from eternity to eternity, in one, most perfect, and unalterable view; so that his whole eternal duration is vita interminabilis, tota, timid, et perfecta possessio.
On the whole, I need not fear to say, that there is no geometrical theorem or proposition whatsoever, more capable of strict demonstration, than that God's certain prescience of the volitions of moral agents is inconsistent with such a contingence of these events, as is without all Necessity; and so is inconsistent witk 4he. Arminkm notion of liberty.
Coral. 2 Hence the doctrine of the Calvinists, concerning the absolute decrees of God, does not at all infer any more fatality in things, than will demonstrably follow from the doctrine of most Arminian divines, who acknowledge God's omniscience, and universal prescience. Therefore all objections they make against the doctrine of the Calvinists, as implying Hobbes' doctrine of Necessity, or the stoical doctrine of fate, lie no more against the doctrine of Calvinists, than their own doctrine: and therefore it doth not become those divines, to raise such an outcry against the Calvinists, on this account.
Coral. 3. Hence all arguing from Necessity, against the doctrine of the inability of unregenerate men to perform the conditions of salvation, and the commands of God requiring spiritual duties, and against the Calvinistic doctrine of efficacious grace; I say, all arguings of Arminians (such of them as own God's omniscience) against these things, on this ground, that these doctrines, though they do not suppose men to be under any constraint or coaction, yet suppose them under Necessity, with respect to their moral actions, and those things which are required of them in order to their acceptance with God; and their arguing against the Necessity of men's volitions, taken from the reasonableness of God's commands, promises, and threatenings, and the sincerity ot his counsels and invitations; and all objections against any doctrines of the Calvinists as being inconsistent with human liberty, because they infer Necessity; I say, all these arguments and objections must fall to the ground, and be justly esteemed vain and frivolous, as coming from them; being maintained in an inconsistence with themselves, and in like manner levelled apainst their own doctrine, as against the doctrine of the Calvinists
Whether we suppose the volitions of moral agents to be connected with any thing antecedent, or not, yet they must be necessary in such a sense as to overthrow Arminian Liberty.
Every act of the Will has a cause, or it has not. If it has a cause, then, according to what has already been demonstrated, it is not contingent, but necessary; the effect being necessarily dependent and consequent on its cause; and that let the cause be what it will. If the cause is the Will itself, by antecedent acts choosing and determining; still the determined and caused act must be a necessary effect. The act, that is the determined effect of the foregoing act which is its cause, cannot prevent the efficiency of its cause; but must be wholly subject to its determination and command, as much as the motions of the hands and feet . The consequent commanded acts of the Will are as passive and as necessary, with respect to the antecedent determining acts as the parts of the body are to the volitions which determine and command them. And therefore if all the free acts of the Will are thus, if they are all determined effects, determined by the Will itself, that is, determined by antecedent choice, then they are all necessary; they are all subject to, and decisively fixed by the foregoing act, which is their cause: yea, even the determining act itself; for that must be determined and fixed by another act, preceding that, if it be a fret and voluntary act; and so must be necessary. So that by this all the free acts of the Will are necessary, and cannot be free unless they are necessary •
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because they cannot be free, according to the Arminian notion of freedom, unless they are determined by the Will; which is to be determined by antecedent choice; which being their cause, proves them necessary. And yet they say, Necessity is utterly inconsistent with Liberty. So that, by their scheme, the acts of the Will cannot be free unless they are necessary, and yet cannot be free if they be necessary!
But if the other part of the dilemma be taken, and it be affirmed that the free acts of the Will have no cause, and are connected with nothing whatsoever that goes before them and determines them, in order to maintain their proper and absolute contingence, and this should be allowed to be possible; still it will not serve their turn. For if the volition come to pass by perfect contingence, and without any cause at all, then it is certain, no act of the Will, no prior act of the soul was the cause, no determination or choice of the soul, had any hand in it. The Will, or the soul, was indeed the subject of what happened to it accidentally, but was not the cause. The Will is not active in causing or determining, but purely the passive subject; at least, according to their notion of action and passion. In this case, contingence does as much prevent the determination of the Will, as a proper cause; and as to the Will, it was necessary, and could be no otherwise. For to suppose that it could have been otherwise, if the Will or soul had pleased, is to suppose that the act is dependent on some prior act of choice or pleasure; contrary to what is now supposed: it is to suppose that it might have been otherwise, if its cause had made it or ordered it otherwise. But this does not agree to its having no cause or orderer at all. That must be necessary as to the soul, which is dependent on no free act of the soul: but that which is without a cause, is dependent on no free act of the soul: because, by the supposition, it is dependent on nothing, and is connected with nothing. In such a case, the soul is necessarily subjected to what accident brings to pass, from time to time, as much as the earth, that is inactive, is necessarily subjected to what falls upon it. But this does not consist with the Arminian notion of Liberty, which is the Will's power of determining itself in its own acts, and being wholly active in it, without passiveness, and without being subject to Necessity.—Thus Contingence belongs to the Arminian notion of Liberty, and yet is inconsistent with it.
I would here observe, that the author of the Essay on the Freedom of Will, in God and the Creature, page 76, 77, says as follows: "The word Chance always means something done without design. Chance and design stand in direct opposition to each other: and chance can never be properly applied to acts of the will, which is the spring of all design, and which designs to choose whatsoever it doth choose, whether there be any superior fitness in the thing which it chooses, or no; and it designs to determine itself to one thing, where two things, perfectly equal, are proposed, merely because it will." But herein appears a very great inadvertence in this author. For, if the Will be the spring of all design, as he says, then certainly it is not always the effect of design; and the acts of the Will themselves must sometimes come to pass, when they do not spring from design; and consequently come to pass by chance, according to his own definition of chance. And if the Will designs to choose whatsoever it does choose, and designs to determine itself, as he says, then it designs to determine all its designs. Which carries us back from one design to a foregoing design determining that, and to another determining that; and so on in infinitum. The very first design must be the effect of foregoing design, or eke it must be by chance, in his notion of it .
Here another alternative may be proposed, relating to the connection of the acts of the Will with something foregoing that is their cause, not much unlike to the other; which is this; either human liberty is such, that it may well stand with volitions being necessarily connected with the views of the understanding, and so is consistent with Necessity; or it is inconsistent with, and contrary to, such a connection and Necessity. The former is directly subversive of the Arminian notion of liberty, consisting in freedom from all Necessity. And if the latter be chosen, and it be said that liberty is inconsistent with any such necessary connection of volition with foregoing views of the understanding, it consisting in freedom from any such Necessity of the Will as that would imply; then the liberty of the soul consists (in part at least) in freedom from restraint, limitation and government, in its actings, by the understanding, and in liberty and liableness to act contrary to the understanding's views and dictates; and consequently the more the soul has of this disengagedness, in its acting, the more liberty. Now let it be considered what this brings the noble principle of human liberty to, particularly when it is possessed and enjoyed in its perfection, viz., a full and perfect freedom and liableness to act altogether at random, without the least connection with, or restraint or government by, any dictate of reason, or any thing whatsoever apprehended, considered or viewed by the understanding; as being inconsistent with the full and perfect sovereignty of the Will over its own determinations. The notion mankind have conceived of liberty, is some dignity or privilege, something worth claiming. But what dignity or privilege is there, in being given up to such a wild contingence as this, to be perfectly and constantly liable to act unintelligently and unreasonably, and as much without the guidance of understanding, as if we had none, or were as destitute of perception, as the smoke that is driven by the wind!
WHEREIN IS INQUIRED, WHETHER ANY SUCH LIBERTY OF WILL AS ARMINIANS HOLD, BE NECESSARY TO MORAL AGENCY, VIRTUE AND VICE, PRAISE AND DISPRAISE, ETC.
Having considered the frst thing that was proposed to be inquired into, relating to that freedom of Will which Arminians maintain; namely, Whether any such thing does, ever did, or ever can exist, or be conceived of; I come now to the second thing proposed to be the subject of inquiry, viz., Whether any such kind of liberty be requisite to moral agency, virtue and vice, praise and blame, reward and punishment, &c
I shall begin with some consideration of the virtue and agency of the Supreme moral agent, and fountain of all agency and virtue.
Dr. Whitby, in his discourses on the Five Points, p. 14, says, " If all human actions are necessary, virtue and vice must be empty names; we being capable of nothing that is blameworthy, or deserveth praise; for who can blame a person
for doing only what he could not help, or judge that he deserveth praise oarf for what he could not avoid 1" To the like purpose he speaks in places innumerable; especially in his discourse on the Freedom of the Will; constantly maintaining, that a freedom not only from coaction, but necessity, is absolutely requisite, in order to actions being either worthy of blame, or deserving of praise. And to this agrees, as is well known, the current doctrine of Arminian writers, who, in general, hold, that there is no virtue or vice, reward or punishment, nothing to be commended or blamed, without this freedom. And yet Dr Whitby, p. 300, allows, that God is without this freedom; and Arminians, so far as I have had opportunity to observe, generally acknowledge that God is necessarily holy, and his Will necessarily determined to that which is good.
So that putting these things together, the infinitely holy God, who used always to be esteemed by God's people not only virtuous, but a Being in whom is all possible virtue, and every virtue in the most absolute purity and perfection, and in infinitely greater brightness and amiableness than in any creature; the most perfect pattern of virtue, and the fountain from whom all others' virtue is as beams from the sun; and who has been supposed to be, on the account of his virtue and holiness, infinitely more worthy to be esteemed, loved, honored, admired, commended, extolled and praised, than any creature: and He, who is thus everywhere represented in Scripture; I say, this Being, according to this notion of Dr. Whitby, and other Arminians, has no virtue at all: virtue, when ascribed to him, is but an empty name; and he is deserving of no commendation or praise: because he is under necessity. He cannot avoid being holy and good as he is; therefore no thanks to him for it. It seems, the holiness, justice, faithfulness, fitc, of the Most High, must not be accounted to be of the nature of that which is virtuous and praiseworthy. They will not deny, that these things in God are good; but then we must understand them, that they are no more virtuous, or of the nature of any thing commendable, than the good that is in any other being that is not a moral agent; as the brightness of the sun, and the fertility of the earth, are good, but not virtmous, because these properties are necessary to these bodies, and not the fruit of self-determining power.
There needs no other confutation of this notion of God's not being virtuous or praiseworthy, to Christians acquainted with the Bible, but only stating and particularly representing it. To bring texts of Scripture, wherein God is represented as in every respect, in the highest manner virtuous, and supremely praiseworthy, would be endless, and is altogether needless to such as have been brought up in the light of the gospel.
It were to be wished, that Dr. Whitby, and other divines of the same sort, had explained themselves, when they have asserted, that that which is necessary, is not deserving of praise; at the same time that they have owned God's perfection to be necessary, and so in effect representing God as not deserving praise. Certainly, if their words have any meaning at all, by praise, they must mean the exercise or testimony of some sort of esteem, respect and honorable regard. And will they then say, that men are worthy of that esteem, respect and honor for their virtue, small and imperfect as it is, which yet God is not worthy of, for his infinite righteousness, holiness and goodness 1 If so, it must be, because of some sort of peculiar excellency in the virtuous man, which is his prerogative, wherein he really has the preference; some dignity, that is entirely distinguished from any excellency, amiableness, or honorableness in God: not in imperfection and dependence, but in pre-eminence: which therefore he does not receive from God, mr is God the fountain or pattern of it; nor can God, in that respect, stand