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for the proof of their deity. If they can foretel things to come certainly and infallibly, on the account of their own knowledge of them, gods they are, and gods they shall be esteemed. If not, saith he, you are nothing, worse than nothing, and your work is of nought, and he is an abomination that chooseth you.' And it may particularly be remarked, that the idols, of whom he speaketh, are in especial those of the Chaldeans, whose worshippers pretended above all men in the world to divination, and predictions. Now this issue doth the Lord drive things to betwixt himself and the idols of the world ; if they can foretel things to come, that is, not this or that thing (for so by conjecture, upon consideration of second causes, and the general dispositions of things, they niky do, and the devil hath done), but any thing, or every thing, they shall go free; that is, is there nothing hid from you that is yet for to be ? Being not able to stand before this interrogation, they perish before the judgment mentioned. But now if it may be replied to the living God himself, that this is a most unequal way of proceeding, to lay that burden upon the shoulders of others, which himself will not bear; bring others to that trial, which himself cannot undergo ; for he himself cannot foretel the free actions of men, because he doth not foreknow them, would not his plea render him like to the idols, whom he adjudgeth to shame and confusion? God himself there concluding, that they are vanity and nothing, who are pretended to be gods, but are not able to foretel the things that are for to come, asserts his own Deity, upon the account of his infinite understanding and knowledge of all things, on the account whereof he can foreshew all things whatever, that are as yet future. In like manner doth he proceed to evince what is from himself, what not, in the predictions of any, from the certainty of the event. Deut. xviii. 21, 22. “If thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word that the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.'
4. The fourth proposition, that God by the free actions of men (some whereof he foretelleth), doth fulfil his own counsel as to judgments and mercies, rewards and punishments, needs no farther proof nor confirmation, but what will arise from a mere review of the things before-mentioned, by God so foretold, as was to be proved. They were things of the greatest import in the world, as to the good or evil of the inhabitants thereof: and in whose accomplishment as much of the wisdom, power, righteousness, and mercy of God was manifest, as in any of the works of his providence whatever. Those things which he hath disposed of, as to be subservient to so great ends, certainly he knew that they would be. The selling of Joseph, the crucifying of his Son, the destruction of antichrist, are things of greater concernment, than that God should only conjecture at their event. And indeed, the taking away of God's foreknowledge of things contingent, renders his providence useless, as to the government of the world. To what end should any rely upon him, seek unto him, commit themselves to his care through the course of their lives, when he knows not what will, or may befall them the next day? How shall he judge, or rule the world, who every moment is surprised with new emergencies, which he foresaw not, which must necessitate him to new counsels and determinations ? On the consideration of this argument doth Episcopius conclude for the prescience of God, Epist. 2. 'ad Beverovicium de termino vitæ,' which he had allowed to be questioned in his private ‘Theological Disputations,' though in his public afterward he pleads for it. The sum of the argument insisted on, amounts to this:
Those things which God foretels, that they shall certainly and infallibly come to pass, before they so do, those he certainly and infallibly knoweth, whilst they are future, and that they will come to pass.
Bat God foretels, and hath foretold all manner of future contingencies and free actions of men, good and evil, duties
i Speciem et pondus videtur habere hæc objectio; nec pauci sunt, qui ejus, vi adeo moveatur, ut divinam futurorum contingentium præscientiam negare, et quæ pro ea facere videntur loca, atque argumenta, magno conatu torquere malint, et lectere in sepsus, non minus periculosos quam difficiles. Ad me quod attinet, ego hactenus sive religione quadam animi, sive divinæ majestatis reverentia, non potui prorsus in animum meum inducere, rationem istam allegatam tanti esse, ut propter eam Deo futurorum contingentium præscientia detrahenda sit: maxime cum vix videam, quomodo alioquin divinarum prædictionum veritas salvari possit, sine aliqua aut incertitudinis macula, aut falsi possibilis suspicione. Sim. Episcop. Respons. ad secund. Epist. Johan. Beverovi. * Episcop. institut. Theol. lib. 4. cap. 17, 18. Episcop, disput. de Deo T'hes. 10.
and sins, therefore he certainly and infallibly knows them whilst they are yet future.
The proposition stands and falls unto the honour of God's truth, veracity, and power.
The assumption is proved by the former, and sundry other instances that may be given.
He foretold, that the Egyptians should afflict his people four hundred years, that in so doing they would sin, and that for it he would punish them; Gen. xv. 13-16. And surely the Egyptians sinning therein, was their own free action. The incredulity of the Jews, treachery of Judas, calling of the Gentiles, all that happened to Christ in the days of his flesh, the coming of antichrist, the rise of false teachers, were all foretold, and did all of them purely depend on the free actions of men, which was to be demonstrated.
3. To omit many other arguments and to close this discourse; all perfections are to be ascribed to God; they are all in him. To know is an excellency: he that knows any thing, is therein better than he that knows it not. The more any one knows, the more excellent is he. To know all things is an absolute perfection in the good of knowledge: to know them in and by himself who so knows them, and not from any discourses, made to him from without, is an absolute perfection in itself, and is required where there is infinite wisdom and understanding. This we ascribe to God, as worthy of him, as by himself ascribed to himself, To, affirm on the other side, (1.) That God hath his knowledge from things without him, and so is taught wisdom and understanding as we are, from the events of things, for the more any one knows the wiser he is; (2.) That he hath (as we have) a successive knowledge of things, knowing that one day, which he knew not another, and that thereupon there is,(3.) A daily and hourly change and alteration in him, as from the increasing of his knowledge there must actually and formally be; and that he (4.) sits conjecturing at events : To assert, I say, these and the like monstrous figments, concerning God and his knowledge, is as much as in them lieth, who so assert them, to shut his providence out of the world, and to divest him of all his blessedness, self-sufficiency, and infinite perfections. And, indeed, if Mr. B. believe his own principles, and would speak out, he must assert these things, how desperate soever; for having granted the premises, it is stupidity to stick at the conclusion. 'And, therefore, some of those whom Mr. B. is pleased to follow in these wild vagaries, speak out and say (though with as much blasphemy as confidence), that God doth only conjecture, and. guess at future contingents. For when this argument is. brought, Gen. xviii. 19. “I know,' saith God, ‘Abraham will command his children after him,' &c. therefore, future contingents may be certainly known of him; they deny the consequence ;k and, granting that he may be said to know. them, yet say it is only by guess and conjecture, as we do.. And for the present vindication of the attributes of God this. may suffice.
Before I close this discourse, it may not be impertinent to divert a little to that, which alone seems to be of any difficulty, lying in our way in the assertion of this prescience of God, though no occasion of its consideration be administered to us by him, with whom we have to do.
That future contingents have not in themselves a determinate truth, and therefore cannot be determinately known, is the great plea of those, who oppose God's certain foreknowledge of them; and therefore, say they, doth the 'philosopher affirm, that propositions concerning them, are neither true nor false. But,
1. That there is, or may be, that there hath been, a certain prediction of future contingents, hath been demonstrated, and therefore they must on some account or other (and what that account is hath been declared) have a determinate truth. And I had much rather conclude, that there are certain predictions of future contingents in the Scripture, and therefore they have a determinate truth; than on the contrary, they have no determinate truth, therefore there are no certain predictions of them. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.'
2. As to the falsity of that pretended axiom: this proposition, Such a soldier shall pierce the side of Christ with a spear, or he shall not pierce him, is determinately true and
k Anonymus ad 5. cap. priora Math. p. 28. Nego consequentiam Deus dicere potuit se scire quid facturus erat Abraham, etsi id certo non prænoverit, sed probabi, liter. Inducitur enim Deus sæpius humano more loquens. Solent autem homines afa firmare se scire ea futura, quæ verisimiliter futura sunt, &c.
1 Arist. lib. 1. de Interp. cap. 8.
necessary, on the one side or the other, the parts of it being contradictory, which cannot be together. Therefore, if a man before the flood had used this proposition in the affirmative, it had been certainly and determinately true; for that proposition which was once not true, cannot be true afterward
the same account. 3. If no affirmative" proposition about future contingents be determinately true, then every such affirmative proposition is determinately false; for from hence, that a thing is, or is not, is a proposition determinately true or false. And therefore, if any one shall say that that is determinately future which is absolutely indifferent, his affirmation is false; which is contrary to Aristotle, whom in this they rely upon, who affirms, that such propositions are neither true nor false. The truth is, of propositions that they are true or false, is certain. Truth, or falseness, are their proper and necessary affections, as even and odd of numbers : nor can any proposition be given, wherein there is a contradiction, whereof one part is not true and the other false.
4. This proposition, 'Petrus orat,' is determinately true *de presenti,' when Peter doth actually pray (for 'quicquid est, dum est, determinate est'); therefore this proposition, de futuro, Petrus orabit,' is determinately true. The former is the measure and rule by which we judge of the latter. So that because it is true, 'de presenti, Petrus orat,' ergo, this (de futuro) Petrus orabit,' was ab æterno' true (ex parte rei); and then (ex parte modi) because this proposition, 'Petrus orat,' is determinately true, 'de presenti:' ergo, This 'Petrus orabit,' was determinately true from all eternity. But enough of this.
Mr. B. having made a sad complaint of the ignorance and darkness that men were bred up in, by being led from the Scripture, and imposing himself upon them for a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, and a teacher of the babes,' doth in pursuit of his great undertaking, in this chapter instruct them what the Scripture speaks concerning the being, na
m Alphons. de Mendoza. Con Theol. Scholast. q. 1. p. 534. Vasquez. in 1. Tho. disput. 16. Ruvio in 1. Interpret. cap. 6. q. unica, &c.
n Vid Rod. de Arriaga. disput. Log. 14. sect. 5. subsect. 3. p. 205. Suarcza in Opus. I. 1. de Præscientia Dei cap. 2. Vasquez. 1. Part. disp. 66. cap. 2. Pet. Hurtado de Mend. disp. 9. de Anima. sect. 6.