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ings, which do as naturally arife from the dictates of a confcience enlighthed by the word of God." We are obliged to this writer, for the kind and good-natur'd comparifon he makes between us and the dif puters of Providence and a future Judgment; between their impious perfuafions concerning thefe things, and our theological ones, as he calls them, about the doctrine of perfeverance, and between their fears, arifing from the dictates of a natural confcience, and thofe of others, arifing from the dictates of an enlightned one. Tho' it thould be obferved, that the doubts and fears of believers concerning falling from grace, dọ not arifé from the dictates of a confcience enlightned by the word, but rather from a confcience darkned by fin, and loaded with the guilt of it, upon which a wrong judg ment is formed of their state and condition. A believer may fall into fin, and conscience may pronounce him guilty of it, and condemn him for it, whereby his peace may be broken, and his comfort loft; which are reftored, not by fincere repentance, removing the guilt, as is intimated, but, by the application of the blood of Christ, which fpeaks peace, yields comfort, and encourages confidence in God, notwithstanding all the condemnations of his heart and confcience. It is in this way he only defires to have peace and comfort; nor does the word of



God deny it him this way, but gives it, and he receives it, tho' his heart cannot afford it, but suggests the contrary: for if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our beart and knows all things. And tho' a believer may lose the comfort of the divine favour, when his intereft in it remains firm and inviolable; yet his lofs of comfort does not neceffarily cut off his affurance of being a child of God, and of his perfeverance to the end; nor has he any reafon, upon every fall into fin and condemnation of confcience for it, to fufpect his fall from grace, and the truth of his fincerity: nor does this doctrine of perfeverance make men lefs careful, but more fo, to avoid all wilful violations of the law; nor less speedy, but more fo, in their application to the blood of Chrift for pardon and cleanfing, in the exercife of faith and repentance, and in the performance of every religious duty; fince thefe are means of their holding out and perfevering to the end.

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Of the Prescience and Providence of God.

N the controversy between the Calvinifts and Arminians concerning the decrees of Election and Reprobation, the Freedom

of man's will, and the Specialty of God's grace, it is obferved by the former, that many of the arguments of the latter feem as ftrongly to conclude against God's foreknowledge of future contingencies, as against his abfolute decrees; that what is faid in favour of the freedom of mens wills, and against the determination of them by a divine influence, weakens the providence of God, and that the cafe of the heathens being left without a revelation, cannot well be reconciled to the doctrines of univerfal Grace and general Redemption. The learned writer, attended to, proposes, in his fixth Difcourfe, an anfwer to these three objections, which he easily faw lay against the doctrines he had afferted in his former difcourfes, and the arguments by which he endeavoured to con

firm them, which I fhall confider and reply to in this and the following chapter. And,

I. It must be, and is generally allowed, that God had from eternity a prescience or fore-knowledge of all future events; of all future contingencies, even of the free actions of mens wills; of every thing that should be done in time, to the end of the world, and to all eternity. He fore-knew what all men would do, or would not do; who would believe and repent, and who would not; and who would perish, and who would be eternally faved: which fore-knowledge is not conjectural, uncertain, and precarious; but is real, certain, and infallible; whence it. muft follow, that whatsoever arguments are advanced upon the attributes of God, his wifdom, juftice, holiness, truth, fincerity, goodness and mercy; or upon the methods and dealings of God with the sons of men, against the abfolute decrees of God, are as much oppofed unto and lie as ftrongly against the fore-knowledge of God; fince that as much requires the certainty, and secures the infallibility of the event, as his abfolute decrees do; otherwife his foreknowledge would not be knowledge, but conjecture. The answer to this is ",

* Whitby, p. 491. Ed, 2, 407.

1. "That

1. "That tho' this argument be offered in favour of the decrees of abfolute Election and Reprobation, yet doth it plainly overthrow them, or render them fuperfluous for be it, that these decrees were made from eternity; yet feeing that God's fore-knowledge of the events of all men, was alfo from eternity, muft he not know what was the condition of all men when he made thefe decrees? And what need then would there be of a decree for that event, which was infallible by virtue of his foreknowledge, without that decree.” To which I reply, That the fore-knowledge of God is fo far from overthrowing or rendering fuperfluous the decrees of God, that the decrees of God are the foundation of his foreknowledge of future events; for he forefees and fore-knows all things that come to pafs in himself, in his own will, and the decrees of it. The reason why God decrees this or the other thing, is not because he fore-knew they would be, whether he decreed them or no; but he fore-knew they would be, because he decreed they should be. God fore-knows all things poffible in his own power, and all things future in his own will, and the determinations of it; he willed things, and then knew what he willed; tho' there is neither firft nor last in God, yet we are obliged to confider one thing after another. God's decrees are not to be


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