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in all preceding Ages But yet that these Images are real Efsects of these future Existences, perfectly dependent on, and connected with them as their Cause i these Effects and Images, having already had actual Existence, rendering that Matter of their Existing perfectly firm and stable, and utterly impossible to be otherwise; this proves in like Manner as in the other instance, that the Existence of the Things which are their causes, is also equally sure, firm and necessary; and that it is alike impossible but that they should be, as if they had been already, as their Effects have. And if instead of Images in a Glass, we suppose the antecedent Effects to be perfect Ideas of them in the divine Mind, which have existed there from all Eternity, which are as properly Effects, as truly and properly connected with their cause, the Case is not altered. . .
Another Thing which has been faid by some Arminians, to take off the Force of what is urged from God's Prescience, against the Contingence of the Volitions of moral Agents, is to this Purpose "That when we talk of Foreknowledge in *' God, there is no strict Propriety in our so "Speaking; and that altho' it be true, that there ** is in God the most perfect Knowledge of all E*' vents from Eternity to Eternity, yet there is no "such Thing as before and after in God, butHe sees "all Things by one perfect unchangeable View, *' without any Succession." To this I answer,
1. It has been already shewn, that all certain Knowledge proves the Necessity of the Truth known; whether it be before, after, or at the fame 'time.—Tho' it be true, that there is no Succession in God's Knowledge, and the Manner of his Knowledge is to us inconceivable, yet thus much we
know know concerning it, that there is no Event, past, present, or to come, that God is ever uncertain of; He never is, never was, and never will be without infallible Knowledge of it; He always sees the Existence of it to be certain and infallible. And as he always fees Things just as they are in Truth; hence there never is in Reality any Thing contingent in such a sense, as that possibly it may happen never to exist. If, strictly speaking, there is no Foreknowledge in God, 'tis because those Things which are future to us, are as present to God, as if they already had Existence: and that is as much as to fay, that future Events are always in God's View as evident, clear, sure and necesfary, as if they already were. If there never is a Time wherein the Existence of the Event is not present with God, then there never is a Time wherein it is not as much impossible for it to fail of Existence, as if its Existence were present, and were already come to pass.
God's viewing Things so perfectly and unr changeably as that there is no succession in his Ideas or Judgment, don't hinder but that there is properly now, in the Mind of God, a certain and perfect Knowledge of the moral Actions of Men, which to us are an Hundred Years hence: yea the objection supposes this; and therefore it certainly don't hinder but that, by the foregoing Arguments, it is now impossible these moral Actions should not come to pass.
We know, that God knows the future voluntary Actions of Men in such a sense, before-hand, as that he is able particularly to declare, and foretell them, and write them, or cause them to be written down in a Book, as He often has done; and that therefore the necessary connection which
N 2 there there is between God's Knowledge and the Event known, does as much prove the Event to be necessary before-hand, as if the divine Knowledge were in the fame 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 would ever be otherwise, than that that prediction and the Event should agree: And this is the fame Thing as to fay, 'tis impossible but that the Event should come to pass: and this is the fame as to
fay, that 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 of 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 shews 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 view'd 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, don't at all increase, or add to the Clearness or Certainty of the Thing known: God calls the Things that are not, as tho' 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 Lights 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. Eternity, in one, most perfect, and unalterable View; so that his whole eternal Duration is Vita interminabilis, tot a, Jimul, & $crfecta PojfeJJio.
(2.) The objection is founded on the Immutability of God's Knowledge: For 'tis the Immutability of Knowledge makes his Knowledge to be without Succession. But this most directly and plainly demonstrates the Thing I insist on, viz. that 'tis 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 a Change and Succession in his Knowledge. But as God is immutable, and so it is utterly and infinitely impossible that his View mould be' changed; so 'tis, for the fame Reason, just so impossible that the fore-known Event should not exist: And that is to be impossible in the highest Degree: and
more impossible than that the immutable God should be changed, by the Succession of Time ', who comprehends all Things, from Eternity to
therefore the contrary
On the whole, I need not fear to fay, 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 with the Arminian Notion of liberty.
Corol. 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 univerfal Prescience, Therefore all Objections they make against the Doctrine of the Calvinists, as implying Hobbes's Doctrine of Necessity, or the Stoical Doctrine of Fate, lie no more against the Doctrine of Calvinists, than their own Doctrine: And therefore it don't become those Divines, to raise such an Out-cry against the Calvinists, on this Account.
Corol. 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 fay, all Arguings of Arminians (such of them as own God's Omniscience) against these Things, on this Ground, that these Doctrines, though they don't suppose Men to be under any constraint or Coaction, yet suppose them under Necessity, with Respect to their moral Ac