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being an evil thing that ever it came into existence. As for instance, it might be an evil thing to crucify Christ, but yet it was a good thing that the crucifying of Christ came to pass. As men's act, it was evil, but as God ordered it, it was good. Who will deny but that it may be so, that evil's coming to pass may be an occasion of greater good than it is an evil, and so of there being more good in the whole, than if that evil had not come to pass? And if so, then it is a good thing that that evil comes to pass. When we say the thing is an evil thing in itself, then we mean that it is evil, considering it only within its own bounds. But when we say that it is a good thing that ever it came to pass, then we consider the thing as a thing among events, or as one thing belonging to the series of events, and as related to the rest of the series. If a man should say that it was a good thing that ever it happened that Joseph's brethren sold him into Egypt, or that it was a good thing that ever it came to pass that Pope Leo X. sent out indulgencies for the commission of future sins, nobody would understand a man thus expressing himself, as justifying these acts.
It implies no contradiction to suppose that an act may be an evil act, and yet that it is a good thing that such an act should come to pass.
have been a bad man, and yet it may be a good thing that there has been such a man. This implies no contradiction ; because it implies no contradiction to suppose that there being such a man may be an occasion of there being more good in the whole, than there would have been otherwise. So it no more implies a contradiction to suppose that an action may be a bad action, and yet that it may be a good thing that there has been such an action. God's commands, and calls, and counsels, do imply another thing, viz. that it is our duty to do these things ; and though they may be our duty, yet it may be certain beforehand that we shall not do them.
And if there be any difficulty in this, the same difficulty will attend the scheme of the Arminians; for they allow that God permits sin. Therefore, as he permits it, it cannot be contrary to his will For if it were contrary to his will as he permits it, then it would be contrary to his will to permit it; for that is the same thing. But nobody will say that God permits sin, when it is against his will to permit it ; for this would be to make him act involuntarily, or against his own will.
§ 18. “The wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." Psal. lxxvi. 10. If God restrains sin when he pleases; and when he permits it, permits it for the sake of some good that it will be an occasion of, and does actually restrain it in all other cases; it is evident that when he permits it, it is his will that it should come to pass for the sake of the good that it will be an occasion of. If he permits it for the sake of that good, then he does not permit it merely because he would infringe on the creature's liberty in restraining it ; as is further evident because he does restrain it when that good is not in view. If it be his will to permit it to come to pass, for the sake of the good that its coming to pass will be an occasion of; then it is his will to permit it, that by its coming to pass he may obtain that good; and therefore, it must necessarily be his will that it should come to pass, that he may obtain that good. If he permits it, that, by its coming to pass, he may obtain a certain good, then his proximate end in permitting it, is, that it may come to pass. And if he wills the means for the sake of the end, he therein wills the end. If God wills to permit a thing that it may come to pass, then he wills that it should come to pass. This is self-evident. But if he wills to permit it to come to pass, that by its coming to pass he may obtain some end, then he wills to permit it that it should come to pass. For to will to permit a thing to come to pass, that by its coming to pass good may be obtained, is exactly the same thing as to will to permit it to come to pass, that it may come to pass, and so the end may be attained. To will to permit a thing to come pass, that he may obtain some end by its coming to pass, and yet to be unwilling that it should come to pass, certainly implies a contradiction.
If the foundation of that distinction that there is between one man and another, whereby one is a good man, and another a wicked man, be God's pleasure, and his causation; then God has . absolutely elected the particular persons that are to be godly. For, by supposition, it is owing to his determination. Matth. xi. 25, 26, 27. “At that time, Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father ; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
§ 19. It may be argued from the infinite power and wisdom of God, that nothing can come to pass, but that it must be agreeable to the will and pleasure of God that it should come to pass. For, as was observed before, every being had rather things should be according to his will, than not. Therefore, if things be not according to his will, it must be for want of power. It cannot be for want of will, by supposition. It must therefore be for want of sufficiency. It must be either because he cannot have it so, or cannot have it so without some difficulty, or some inconvenience; or all may be expressed in a word, viz. that he wants sufficiency to have things as he wishes. But this cannot be the case of a being of infinite power and infinite wisdom. If he has infinite power and wisdom, he can order all things to be just as he wills: And he can order it with perfect and infinite ease, or without the least difficulty or inconveniency. Two things
lie before him, both equally within his power, either to order the matter to be, or not to order it to be ; and both of them are equally easy to him. One is as little trouble to him as the other ; as to easiness or trouble, they are perfectly equal. It is as easy for him to order it, as not to order it. Therefore, his determination, whether it be ordering it, or not ordering it, must be a certain sign of his will in the case. If he does order it to be, this is a sign that his will is that it should be. And if he does not order it to be, but suffers it not to be, that is as sure a sign that he wills that it should not be. So that, however the thing is, it is a sure sign that it is the will of God that it should be as it is.
To this, nothing can be objected, unless that it is not for wapi of will, nor want of power in God, that things be not as he would have them, but because the nature of the subject will not allow of it. But how can this be to the purpose, when the nature of the subject itself is of God, and is wholly within his power, is altogether the fruit of his mere will ? And cannot a God of infinite wisdom and infinite power cause the natures of things to be such, and order them so after they are caused, as to have things as he chooses, or without his will's being crossed, and things so coming to pass that he had rather have them otherwise? As, for instance, God foresaw who would comply with the terms of salvation, and who would not: And he could have forborne to give being to such as he foresaw would not comply, if, upon some consideration, it was not his pleasure that there should be some who should not comply with the terms of salvation. Objectors may say, God cannot always prevent men's sins, unless he act contrary to the free nature of the subject, or without destroying men’s liber
But will they deny, that an omnipotent and infinitely wise God could not possibly invent, and set before men such strong motives to obedience, and have kept them before them in such a manner, as should have influenced all mankind to continue in their obedience, as the elect angels have done, without destroying their liberty ? God will order it so, that the saints and angels in heaven never will sin : And does it therefore follow, that their liberty is destroyed, and that they are not free, but forced in their actions ? Does it follow, that they are turned into blocks, as the Arminians say the Calvinist doctrines turn men ?
$20. God decrees all the good that ever comes to pass; and therefore there certainly will come to pass no more good, than he has absolutely decreed to cause; and there certainly and infallibly will no more believe, no more be godly, and no more be saved, than God has decreed that he will cause to believe, and cause to be godly, and will save.
$21. The foreknowledge of God will necessarily infer a decree: For God could not foreknow that things would be, unless he had decreed they should be; and that because things would not be future, unless he had decreed they should be. If God,
from all eternity, knew that such and such things were future, then they were future, and consequently the proposition was from all eternity true, that such a thing, at such a time, would be. And it is as much impossible that a thing should be future, without some reason of its being future, as that it should actually be, without some reason why it is. It is as perfectly unreasonable to suppose, that this proposition should be true, viz. such a thing will be, or is to be, without a reason why it is true; as it is that this proposition should be true, such a thing actually is, or has been, without some reason why that is true, or why that thing exists. For, as the being of the thing is not in its own nature necessary, so that proposition that was true before, viz. that it shall be, is not in its own nature a necessary truth. And therefore I draw this consequence, that if there must be some reason of the futurition of the thing, or why the thing is future; this can be no other than God's decree, or the truth of the proposition, that such a thing will be, has been determined by God. For the truth of the proposition is determined by the supposition. My meaning is, that it does not remain a question; but the matter is decided, whether the proposition shall be true or not. The thing, in its own nature, is not necessary, but only possible; and therefore, it is not of itself that it is future; it is not of itself in a state of futurition, if I may so speak, but only in a state of possibility; and there must be some cause to bring it out of a state of mere possibility, into a state of futurition. This must be God only; for there was no other being by supposition existing. And though other things are future, yet it will not be sufficient to say, that the futurition of other things is the cause of the futurition of this. And it is owing only to him, that is the first being, and that exists necessarily, and of himself, that all other things, that are not in their own nature necessary, or necessarily future, but merely possible, are brought out of that state of mere possibility, into a state of futurition, to be certainly future. Here is an effect already done, viz. the rendering that which in its own nature is only possible, to be certainly future, so that it can be certainly known to be future: And there must be something already existing, that must have caused this effect. · Whatsoever is not of itself or by the necessity of its own nature, is an effect of something else. But that such a thing should be future by supposition, is not of itself or by necessity of its own nature. If things that appertain to the creature, or things that come to pass in time, be not future of themselves and of their own nature, then they are future, because God makes them to be future. This is exceedingly evident; for there is nothing else at all beside God and things that come to pass in time. And therefore, if things that come to pass in time have not the reason of their own futurition in themselves, it must be in God.
But if you say, that the ground or reason of their futurition is in the things themselves, then things are future, prior to any decree, or their futurition is antecedent in nature of any decree of God. And then, to what purpose is any decree of God? For, according to this supposition, God's decreeing does not make any thing future, or not future; because it was future, prior to his decree. His decreeing or appointing that any thing shall be, or shall not be, does not alter the case. It is not about to be, or about not to be, any thing the more for God's decreeing it. According to this supposition, God has no freedom or choice in decreeing or appointing any thing. It is not at his choice what shall be future, and what not; no not in one thing. For the futurition of things is by this supposition antecedent in nature to his choice; so that his choosing or refusing does not alter the case. The things in themselves are future, and his decreeing cannot make them not future; for they cannot be future and not future at the same time; neither can it make them future, because they are future already; so that they who thus plead for man's liberty, advance principles which destroy the freedom of God himself. It is allowed that things are future before they come to pass; because God foreknows them. Either things are future antecedently to God's decree and independently of it, or they are not. If they are not future antecedently to, and independently of God's decree, then they are made so by his decree; there is no medium. But if they are so antecedently to his decree, then the above mentioned absurdity will follow, viz. that God has no power by his decree to make any thing future or not suture. He has no choice in the
And if it be already decided, something must have decided it; for, as has been already shown, it is not true without a reason why it is true. And if something has determined or decided the truth of it, it must be God that has decided it, or something else. It cannot be chance or mere accident: That is contrary to every rational supposition. For it is to be supposed, that there is some reason for it, and that something does decide it. If there be any thing that comes to pass by mere accident, that comes to pass of itself without any reason. If it be not chance therefore that has decided it, it must be God or the creature. It cannot be the creature as actually existing: For, by supposition, it is determined from all eternity before any creature exists. Therefore, if it be any thing in the creature that decides it in any way, it must be only the futurition of that thing in the creature. But this brings us to the absurdity and contradiction, that the same thing is both the cause and the effect of itself. The very effect, the cause of which we are seeking, is the futurition of the thing; and if this futurition be the cause of that effect, it is the cause of itself.
$ 22. The first objection of the Arminians is, that the divine decree infringes on the creature's liberty. In answer to this objection, we may observe some things to show what is the true