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CHA P. VIII.”

Of the State and Cafe of the Heathens,

N favour of the doctrines of Abfolute Election and Reprobation, particular Redemption, and fpecial Grace in Converfion, we ob

ferve, That, for many ages, God fuffered the heathen world to walk in their own ways, leaving them without a revelation of his mind and will, without the gospel, and means of grace, and which has been, and ftill is the cafe of multitudes to this day. This, it cannot reasonably be thought, he would have done, had it been, according to the counsel of his will, that all the individuals of mankind fhould be faved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; or had Chrift died for and redeemed them all; or was it the will of God to beftow on all men fufficient grace, whereby they may be faved. Nor can it be thought that God deals more feverely with men, according to the above doctrines, than he feems to have done with the heathen world in this respect:

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particularly, in favour of God's decrees, it is obferved, that if God conveys his gospel to, and beftows the means of grace on fome people, and not on others, when the one are no more worthy of it than the other, and fo muft arife from his free grace, fovereign pleasure, and the counfel of his will; why may not the decree of the end of bestowing falvation on fome, and not on others, as well as the decree of the means of fending the gospel to fome, and not to others, be thought to be equally free, abfolute and fovereign? And feeing it is in fact certain, that the greatest part of mankind have been always left destitute of the means of grace, we need not wonder why that God, who freely communicates the knowledge of himfelf, by the gospel, to fome nations, denying it to others, fhould hold the fame method with individuals that he doth with whole bodies; for the rejecting of whole nations by the lump, for fo many ages, is much more unaccountable, than the felecting of a few to be infallibly conducted to falvation, and leaving others in that state of difability, in which they fhall inevitably fail of it. Now to this is replied:

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I. "That this objection doth by no means anfwer the chief arguments produced againft

Whitby, p. 515. Ed. z. 493.

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which are all taken from the inconfiftency of them with the truth and fincerity of God's declaration; with his commands to repent; his exhortations and defires that they would; threats of ruin to them that do not; and with all the promifes, motives and encouragements to induce them unto it." I obferve, That this writer himself feems to be convinced that this objection anfwers fome, tho' not the chief arguments produced against the absolute decrees of God. And as for those which are taken from the fuppofed inconfiftency of them with the truth and fincerity of God, in his declarations, they have been replied to already, in this Part, under the article of Reprobation, to which the reader is referred; where it is made to appear, that there is no inconfiftency between these decrees and the truth and fincerity of God, in his declarations. It is much we should be called upon to fhew the like inconfiftency as is here pretended, between God's declarations, touching the heathen world, and his dealings with them; when it is agreed on both fides, he has made no declarations of his mind and will to them. This author goes on, and allows, that there is a greater depth in the divine Providence, and in his difpenfations towards the fons of men, than

• Whitby, p. 516, 517. Ed. 2. 494, 495.

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we can fathom by our fhallow reafon; but then, it must be infolence in us to say, that God does not act, in the ordering of affairs in the world, according to the measures of true goodness; because we, who cannot dive into the reasons of his difpenfations, cannot difcern the footsteps of that goodness in all his various tranfactions towards men. To which I heartily agree; and it would have been well, if this author, and others of the fame caft with him, had carefully attended to fuch an obfervation, and contented themfelves with fuch a view of things; which must have stopped their mouths from calumniating the goodness of God, on a fuppofition of his abfolute decrees of Election and Reprobation. It is further obferved", "That what God hath plainly and frequently revealed concerning his goodness, ought firmly to be owned and believed, altho' we are not able to difcern how the tranfactions of God, in the world, comport with our imperfect knowledge and weak notions of immenfe and boundless goodness." All very right. To which is added, That "feeing the revelations of this nature (of divine goodness) are fo clear and copious, have we not reafon to believe them, notwithstanding thofe little fcruples, which, from our fond

Whitby, p. 517. Ed. 2. 495. f Ib, p. 519. Ed. 2. 496.

ideas and imperfect notions of divine goodnefs, we do make against them ?" But, pray, what are thefe plain and frequent, clear and copious revelations of divine goodnefs? and what the things that are not fo clearly revealed? why, we are told, that to apply these things to our fubject,

مهد

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1. We know from fcripture, how dreadful for quality, how endless for duration, will be the punishment of every Chriftian, who fails of the falvation tendered; . but we know fo little of the future ftate of heathens, that, we are uncertain both as to the measure and duration of their punish ment." Now, not to take notice, that fal vation is not tendered, and that a Chriftian, or one that truly deferves that name, cannot fail of it, or be liable to endless punishment; it is ftrange, that the dreadful punishment of any, and the endless duration of it, should be mentioned among the plain and frequent, clear and copious revelations of divine goodnefs, when it belongs to the plain and fre quent, clear and copious revelations of divine juftice. Befides, tho' we know fo little of the future ftate of heathens from the fcripture, yet we are not altogether at an uncertainty about either the measure or duration of their punishment; for as to the former, we are told, that it shall be more

Mat. xi. 21, 22.

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