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casion a vast Alteration thro' the whole World of Mankind. And so innumerable other Ways might be mention’d, wherein the least assignable Alteration may possibly be attended with great Consequences.
Another Argument, which the foremention'd Auchor brings against a necessary Determination of the divine Will by a superiour Fitness, is, that such Doctrine derogates from the Freeness of God's Grace and Goodness, in chusing the Objects of his Favour and Bounty, and from the Obligation upon Men to Thankfulness for fpecial Benefits. P. 89, &c.
In answer to this Objection, I would obferve,
1. That it derogates no more from the Goodness of God, to fuppose the Exercise of the Benevolence of his Nature to be determin’d by Wifdom, than to suppose it determined by Chance, and that his Favours are bestowed altogether at Random, his Will being determin’d by nothing but perfect Accident, without any End or Design whatsoever ; which must be the Case, as has been demonstrated, if Volition be not determined by a prevailing Motive. That which is owing to perfect Contingence, wherein neither previous Inducement, nor antecedent Choice has any Hand, is not owing more to Goodness or Benevolence, than that which is owing to the Influence of a wife End.
2. 'Tis acknowledged, that if the Motive that determines the Will of God, in the Choice of the Objects of his Favours, be any moral Quality in the Object, recommending that Object to his Benevolence above others, his chusing that Object is not so great a Manifeltacion of the Freeness and Sovereignty of his Grace, as if it were otherwise.
But there is no Necessity of supposing this, in ora der to our supposing that he has some wise End in View, in determining to bestow his Favours on one Person rather than another. We are to diftinguish between the Merit of the Object of God's Favour, or a moral Qualification of the Objeɛt attracting that Favour and recommending to it, and the natural Fitness of such a Determination of the Aet of God's Goodness, to answer some wise Design of his own, some End in the View of God's Omniscience. — 'Tis God's own Act, that is the proper and immediate Object of his Volition.
3. I suppose that none will deny, but that in some Instances, God acts from wise Design in determining the particular Subjects of his Favours : None will say, I presume, that when God distinguishes by his Bounty particular Societies or Perfons, He never, in any Instance, exercises any Wisdom in so doing, aiming at some happy Consequence. And if it be not denied to be so in some Instances, then I would inquire, whether in these Instances God's Goodness is less manifested, than in those wherein God has no Aim or End at all ? And whether the Subjects have less Cause of Thankfulness? And if so, who shall be thankful for the Bestowment of distinguishing Mercy, with that enhancing Circumstance of the Distinction's being made without an End ? How shall it be known when God is influenced by some wise Aim, and when not? It is very manifest with Respect to the Apostle Paul, that God had wise Ends in chusing Him to be a Christian and an Apostle, who had been a Persecutor, &c. The Apostle himself mentions one End. I Tim. i. 15, 16. Christ Jesus came into the World to save Sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit, for this Cause I obtained Mercy, that in nie first, Jesus Christ might shew forth
all Long-suffering, for a Pattern to them who should hereafter believe on Him to Life everlasting. But yet the Apostle never look'd on it as a Diminution of the Freedom and Riches of divine Grace in his Election, which He so often and so greatly magnifies. This brings me to observe,
4. Our supposing such a moral Necessity in the Acts of God's Will as has been spoken of, is so far from necessarily derogating from the Riches of God's Grace to such as are the chosen Objects of his Favour, that in many Instances, this moral Necessity may arise from Goodness, and from the great Degree of it. God may chuse this Object rather than another, as having a fuperiour Fitness to answer the Ends, Designs and Inclinations of his Goodness; being more sinful, and so more miserable and necessitous than others; the Inclinations of infinite Mercy and Benevolence may be more gratified, and the gracious Design of God's fending his Son into the World may be more abundantly answered, in the Exercises of Mercy towards such an Object, rather than another.
One Thing more I would observe, before I finish what I have to say on the Head of the Neceflity of the Acts of God's Will ; and that is, that something much more like a servile Subjection of the divine Being to fatal Necessity, will follow from Arminian Principles, than from the Doctrines which they oppose. For they (at least most of them) suppose, with Respect to all Events that happen in the moral World depending on the Volitions of moral Agents, which are the most important Events of the Universe, to which all others are subordinate ; I say, they suppose with respect to these, that God has a certain Foreknowledge of them, antecedent to any Purposes or Decrees of his about them. And if so, they have a
fix'd certain Futurity, prior to any Designs or Volitions of his, and independent on them, and to which his Volitions must be subject, as He would wisely accommodate his Affairs to this fix’d Futurity of the State of Things in the moral World. So that here, instead of a moral Necefsity of God's Will, arising from or consisting in the infinite Perfection and Blessedness of the divine Being, we have a fix'd unalterable State of Things, properly distinct from the perfect Nature of the divine Mind, and the State of the divine Will and Design, and entirely independent on these Things, and which they have no Hand in, because they are prior to them; and which God's Will is truly subject to, He being obliged to conform or accommodate himself to it, in all his Purposes and Decrees, and in every Thing He does in his Disposals and Government of the World ; the moral World being the End of the natural; fo that all is in vain, that is not accommodated to that State of the moral World, which consists in, or depends upon the Acts and State of the Wills of moral Agents, which had a fix'd Futurition from Eternity. Such a Subjection to Necessity as this, would truly argue an Inferiority and Servi. tude, that would be unworthy of the supreme Being; and is much more agreeable to the Notion which many of the Heathen had of Fate, as above the Gods, than that moral Necessity of Fitness and Wisdom which has been spoken of; and is truly repugnant to the absolute Sovereignty of God, and inconsistent with the Supremacy of his Will; and really subjects the Will of the most High to' the Will of his Creatures, and brings him into Dependence upon them.
SECTION IX. Concerning that. Objection against the Doctrine
which has been maintain'd, that it makes God the Author of Sin.
IT IS urged by Arminians, that the Doctrine
1 of the Necessity of Men's Volitions, or their necessary Connection with antecedent Events and Circumstances, makes the first Cause, and supreme Orderer of all Things, the Author of Sin ; in that he has so constituted the State and Course of Things, that sinful Volitions become necessary, in Consequence of his Disposal. Dr. Whitby, in his Discourse on the Freedom of the Will, * cites one of the Ancients, as on his Side, declaring that this Opinion of the Necessity of the Will ab“ folves Sinners, as doing nothing of their own “ Accord which was Evil, and would caft all the 6 Blame of all the Wickedness committed in the 6 World, upon God, and upon his Providence, « if that were admitted by the Affertors of this “Fate; whether he himself did neceffitate them as to do these Things, or ordered Matters so that " they fhould be constrain'd to do them by some “ other Cause.” And the Doctor says in another Place, + 6 In the Nature of the Thing, and in " the Opinion of Philosophers, Causa deficiens, in " rebus necessariis, ad Causam per fe efficientem redu“ cenda eft. In Things necessary, the deficient « Cause must be reduced to the efficient. And « in this case the Reason is evident ; because the 16 not doing what is required, or not avoiding “ what is forbidden, being a Defect, must follow
* On the five Points. P. 361,
† Ibid. P. 486.