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call into being, and what will be the constitutions, dispositions, and tempers of such agents; and, that this is a proper and a sufficient foundation in nature for God perfectly to foreknow, or infallibly prejudge, (which comes to the fame) what every agent will chuse to do, in every point of duration to come. Answer, first, this is begging the question, because the particular constitution, disposition, and temper of a person, may result from the temperance or intemperance of his parent, or from other like causes; which causes were the produce of the parent's free election or choice. So that bere the point is presumed, or taken for granted, which is in dispute, and ought to be proved. Again, I'answer secondly, admitting what is here presumed, but not proved, viz. that God does foreknow what will be the particular constitution, disposition, and temper of every free being that will exist, it will not follow from hence that he can infallibly prejudge what every free being will chuse to do, in every point of duration to come. I say, that this consequence does not necessarily follow. For, tho' the

particular conftitution, disposition, and temper of each individual, may afford, or introduce particular motives or excitements to action; yet seeing the will is not necessarily determined by those motives, but may and does chuse to act in opposition, sometimes to one motive, and sometimes to another, and thus, in turn, in opposition to them all, which occasions that mixture of good and bad, of wise and foolis actions, of which most, if not all, mens cha



racters are compounded; therefore, a foreknowledge or prejudgment of the particular constitution, &c. does not appear to be a sufficient foundation in nature, for such prescience as is here supposed. So that, I think, it is not very clear and plain that we have wherewith in nature or reason to ground, with certainty, this proposition upon, viz, that God does perfectly foreknow, or infallibly prejudge what every free being will chuse to do, in every point of duration to come.

But admitting that God does foreknow, or prejudge as aforesaid, if our actions have no dependance upon the divine prescience, as, most certainly, they have not ; then, our liberty cannot possibly be affected by it, (which yet yoa seem to think it is) prescience and liberty being as consistent as any two things in nature can be. You add, for what God foręknows will be, canno: but be. Answer, if by (cannot but be] you mean no more than (will be) then, it is true, tho' it answers no purpose ; because it amounts to no more than this, viz. what will be, will be. But if by (cannot but be] you mean [it must be from an absolute neceflity in the nature of things) then, in this sense, it is not true. Let it be admitted, that God perfectly foreknows, or infallibly prejudges that there will be a future judgment; in this case, a future judgment will be so far from being the result of any absolute necessity in the nature of things, that, on the contrary, it will result wholly from God's free election or choice. So that, tho' God certainly foreknows there

will their


will be a judgment to come ; yet there may not be a judgment to come, with regard to any absolute necessity in the nature of things for such a judgment, because a judgment to come, will not result from such necessity, but from the free determination of the Deity, as I have already observed.

But farther, admitting that God does foreknow, or infallibly prejudge every thing that will be, and, consequently, foreknows that . some free beings will abuse their liberty, to their own hurt; yet, I think, this should not have been a reason to him, as a just, wise, and good being, to have with-held his hand from giving being to them, which yet, you seem to think, it ought to have done. Suppose five persons in a boat upon the water to be in fuch danger, as that without your interpoption they must all perish ; and supposing it to be in your power to save them, but that you could not save fome, without saving them all; and fupposing you foreknew, or could infallibly prejudge, that two of the five would abuse yout kindness to their greater hurt, so that, upon the whole, it would be better for them to perish in the waters, than to have life lengthened out to them: in this case, the questions would be, what you ought in reason to do, under such circumstances, or what a just, wise, and good being must do, to act suitably to such a character; whether he must save them all, or let them all perish. If you save them all

, this would be acting a kind and a good part by them, as it would save their lives, and put it into

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your kindness,

their power to improve the kindness to their greater future good. And, whereas two of the five would, upon the whole, be sufferers; yet that would not be the effect, of but the produce of their own free election or choice. This would be the state of the case, supposing you saved them all. If you suffered them all to perish, then indeed, it would, in the event, prove a negative good to two of them, as by it they would be prevented from bringing upon themselves a future greater evil, which otherwise would be their case. But then, this would be acting a most unkind and cruel part by the other three, who would not only lose their lives, but would also be barred the enjoyment of such future greater good, as otherwise they would have procured to themselves. This is the state of the case, supposing you suffered them all to perish. In the former of these cafes, there is no injustice done, nor unkindness thewed to any; whereas in the latter case, your conduct, to say the least, would be greatly unkind to three of the five, who, I think, ought not in reason to be barred your goodness, because two of the company would abuse it to their greater hurt.

This, I think, may very justly be applied to the conduct of the Deity, in the creation, and government of the intelligent and moral world. God has called into being a multitude of agents, who are the subjects of moral government, on purpose that they might attain to happiness; but has left it to their option whether that end should be obtained by them, or not. And, tho' he foreknew, or prejudged that some of those agents, (the number of which I hope will be greatly jort of two in five) would abuse his kindness to their much greater hurt; yet, furely, that ought not in reason to have barred his goodness to the whole, by with-holding his hand from giving being to them ; seeing that would have been a very great hardship and an injury to all those who will answer the true ends of being to themselves. And as to the others, who will, in the event, and upon the whole, be sufferers by existing, the blame will rest wholly upon themselves, because their misery will be wholly of their own procuring. As to the duration of that punishment which will be inflicted on wicked men in another world, and which you seem to startle at; all, I think, that can with any certainty be determined concerning it is only this, viz. that whatever conclufons men may draw from the lofty and figurative language of the New Testament in this respect; yet we are sure that the judge of all the earth will do right, and therefore, there cannot possibly be any


reasonable ground of complaint.

If the foregoing reflexions prove successful, by removing the perplexity you complain of, my end is answered, who am, Sir, your's to serve,

Sarum, August 72




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