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partieularly, in favour of God's decrees, it is observed, that if God conveys his gospel to, and bestows the means of grace on some people, and not on others, when the one are no more worthy of it than the other, and so muft arise from his free grace, sovereign pleasure, and the counsel of his will; why may not the decree of the end of bestowing salvation on fome, and not on others, as well as the decree of the means of sending the gospel to some, and not to others, be thought to be equally free, abfolute and fo. vereign ? And seeing 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 him. self, by che gospel, to fome nacions, deny ing it to others, should hold the same me. thod with individuals that he doch with whole bodies ; for the rejecting of whole nations by the lump, for so many ages, is much more unaccountable, chan the selecting of a few to be infallibly conducted to salvation, and leaving others in that state of disability, in which they fall inevitably fail of it. · Now to this is replied P:
1. “That this objection doth by no means answer the chief arguments produced against
thefe decrees, which are all caken from ihe inconsistency of them with the truth and fincerity of God's declaration, with his commands to repent; his exhortations and desires that they would ; threats of ruin to them that do not; and with all che promifes, motives and encouragements to in duce them unto it.” I observe, That this writer himself seems to be convinced that this objection answers fome, tho' not the chief arguments produced against the absolute decrees of God. And as for those which are taken from the supposed inconsistency of them with the truth and sincerity of God, in his declaracions, they have been replied to already, in this Part, under the article of Reprobacion, to which the reader is referred; where it is made to appear, chac there is no inconsistency between these decrees and the truth and sincerity of God, in his declaracions. It is much we should be called upon to Thew che like inconsistency, as is here pretended, between God's declaracions, touching the heathen world, and his dealings with them; when it is agreed on both sides, 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 dispensations towards che sons of men, than
o Whitby, p. 516, 5.17. Ed. 2. 494. 495.
we can fathom by our shallow reason; but then, ic must be insolence 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 dispensations, cannot discern the footsteps of that goodness in all his various transactions towards men. To which I heartily agree; and ic would have been well, if this author, and ochers of the fame cast with him, had carefully attended jo such an observation, and contented chemselves with such a view of things; which must have stopped their mouths from calumniacing the goodness of God, on a supposition of his abfolüte decrees of Election and Reprobation. It is further observed ", " Thaç what God hath plainly and frequently revealed concerning his goodness, ought firmly to be owned and believed, altho' we are not able to discern how the transactions of God, in the world, comport with our imperfect knowledge and weak notions of immense and boundless goodness.” All very right. To which is added, That “ seeing the revelations of this nature (of divine goodness) are so clear and copious, have we noc reason to believe them, notwithstanding those little scruples, which, from our fond
Whitby, p. 517. Ed. 2. 498.
p. 519. Ed. 2. 496.
ideas and imperfect notions of divine goods
1. We know from scripture, how dreado ful for quality, how endless for duration, will be the punishment of every Christian, who fails of the salvacion tendered; but we know so licele of the furure state of beathens, that we are uncertain both as to the measure and duration of their punishmenc." Now, not to take notice, that fal. vation is not tendered, and that a Christian, or one that truly deserves that name, cannor fail of it, or be liable to endless punishment; ic is strange, that the dreadful punishment of any, and the endless duration of it, should be mencioned among the plain and frequent, clear and copious revelacions of divine goodness, when it belongs to the plain and frequent, clear and copious revelations of dis vine justice. Besides, tho’ we know so lita tle of the future state of beathens from the scripture, yet we are not altogether at an uncertainty abouc either the measure or duration of their punishment ; for as to the former, we are cold', that it fall be more
i Mat, xi, 21, 22,
tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, for the inhabitants of these places, who had not the adVantage of Christ's ministry and miracles, at the day of judgment, than
for the inhabis cants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, who were favoured with them; and it is reasonable to conclude, chac chis will hold good of all men, without a divine revelation ; and as to the latcer, it is certain, when our Lord Thall descend from heaven, he will take vengeance on them that know not God, the Gentiles, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, meaning such who have enjoyed, but have neglected and despised che means of grace; who, one as well as another, fall be punished with everlasting deftruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of bis powerő. Moreover, whereas it is fuga gested, that Providence may put the beathens into a better state before their final doom, since God overlooked the times of their former ignorance w, there being the like reason for his still overlooking them; it should be observed; chac God's overlooking the times of heathen ignorance, was not an instance of his kindness and goodness, but of bis disregard unto them: the meaning is, that he looked over them, took no notice of them, made no revelation co them ; but left them in their blindness and ignorance, with: