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determined that two, or two hundred, or two thousand, or many millions, yea, even the greatest part of men, fhould perish in, and for their fins, without any impeachment of his truth and fincerity?

2. It is further asked, "Whether he reprefents God honourably, who believes that he hath impofed a law on men, which he requires them to obey, on penalty of his eternal displeasure; though he knows they cannot do it without his irresistible grace, and yet is abfolutely refolved to withhold this grace from them, and then to punish them eternally for what they could not do without it; and after all enquires, Why will ye die, &c. or he that believes it more agreeable to the truth and fincerity of the divine nature, to deal plainly with his creatures, and mean what he fays." I reply; That it can be no difhonourable reprefentation of God, to believe that he has imposed a law upon men, who are his creatures, and over whom he has a fovereign dominion, or that he requires them to obey it on penalty of his eternal difpleasure, fince it is holy, just and good, and every way agreeable to his nature and perfections; and especially when it is confider'd, that when this law was impofed on man, as it was agreeable to his nature, make and con

! Whitby, p. 30.

dition,

dition, fo he was fufficiently furnished with abilities to obey and keep it; and though man has, by the fall, loft his power to obey, God has not loft his authority to require obedience, and which he does require; though he knows, man cannot perform it without grace from him, which he is not obliged to give; and in all this he deals plainly with his creatures, and means what he fays. But, perhaps, the infincerity is thought to lie here; that after God had abfolutely resolv'd to withhold, and had withheld that grace, without which they could not yield obedience to his law, he enquires what was wanting on his part, to enable them to do it. But no fuch enquiries are made by God; the paffages referred to, regard not the fpiritual and eternal ftate of all mankind, only the civil and political state of the Jews; towards the welfare and profperity of which civil ftate nothing had been wanting on the part of God.

3. It is alfo afked ", " Does it become his (God's) fincerity, to feem fo earnest in his calls to them (men) to repent, and turn themselves from their tranfgreffions, and live; when he himself hath paffed that act of preterition on them, which renders it impoffible for them to repent, or turn from the evil of their ways, and therefore im

Whitby, p. 33, 75, 233. Ed. 2. 32, 74, 227, 228.

poffible

poffible that they fhould live." I answer; That whenever God calls men to repent, he not only feems to be, but he really is ferious, and in good earneft: But then the calls referred to in Ezekiel ", refpect not internal converfion, and evangelical repentance, but a national repentance, and an external reformation of manners, as has been fhewn in the first part of this petformance, of which reprobates are capable, and by which they may be preserved from temporal calamities, as the Ninevites were. And it will be difficult to prove, that God any where calls and invites all mankind, and particularly fuch who are not eventually faved to fpiritual and evangelical repentance; for, whom he thus calls, to them he gives repentance and remiffion of fin. Befides, it is not the act of preterition, but the corruption of nature, which makes this repentance impoffible; and therefore, fuppofing the corruption of nature, and no act of preterition and reprobation, repentance and converfion would be impoffible without the grace of God: hence the fame charge of infincerity, and want of ferioufness in the calls of God, to repentance and converfion, would remain, fuppofing no act of preterition, where the grace of God is not given.

h Chap. xviii. 30, 31, 32.

No. xx. p. 113, 114.

4. The decree of Reprobation is thought to be inconfiftent with the fincerity of God, in his ardent wishes, vehement defires, and paffionate concern for the welfare of men; fuch as are expreffed in Deut. v. 29. and xxxii. 29. Pfal. lxxxi. 13, 14. Ezek. xviii. 30, 31, 32. But, as has been made to appear in another part of this work', these things are only to be ascribed to God, after the manner of men, in a figurative, and improper fenfe, and, at moft, only fhew what would be agreeable to him if done, but not what is his determining will should be done. Besides, they relate only to the people of Ifrael, and refpect not their fpiritual and eternal, but. civil and temporal welfare. Whereas, if any thing is done to purpose, on this head, in order to difprove the decree of Reprobation, it ought to be proved, that God has ardently wifhed for, vehemently defired, and has fhewed a paffionate concern for the fpiritual and eternal welfare of every individual of human nature, even of those who are not eventually faved.

5. It is argued ", That "if God promifes pardon and falvation to the non-elect, on a condition which his own act of preter

k See Whitby, p. 33, 34, 222, 236. 217, 230. Curcellacus, p. 370. No. iii, vi, vii, xxi.

Whitby, p. 243. Ed. 2. 237.

Ed. 2. 32, 33,

ition hath render'd impoffible for them to perform, How can a God of truth and fincerity be faid to promife feriously, and in good earneft?" I reply; That the promife, of pardon is not made to any, no, not to the elect, upon a condition to be performed by them; it is an abfolute, unconditional one, and runs thus"; I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their fins, and their iniquities will I remember no more: and though this promife is made to faith, yet not as a condition of it, but as defcriptive of the perfons who enjoy it, and as the hand by which they receive it. And, it is fo far from being made upon a condition to, the non-elect, that it is not made to them at all, the promife of pardon being a new covenant one, reaches to no more than to those who are in that covenant, and they are only the elect of God, and much lefs upon a condition render'd impoffible, by the act of preterition; fince not that, but the corrup tion of nature, renders faith, repentance, converfion, or whatever elfe, of a fpiritual, kind, that may be thought to be the condition, impoffible, without the powerful grace of God.

6. It is intimated, That, fuppofing an abfolute decree of Reprobation, the tenders,

Heb. viii. 12.

• Whitby, p. 341, 343. Ed. 2. 332, 334. Limborch, p. 337Curcellaeus, p. 379.

of

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