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God unchangeable in his purposes, in ftows according to his counsel and

the accomplisbment of which, all design from the beginning, in acthe real good ever enjoyed by men, complishment of “ the eternal is effected and beslowed. purpose which he purposed in

Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The counsel, plan, or purpose scriptures has affirmed, of God respecting all his works, Every good gift and every per- which exifted in his mind from fect gift is from

above, and cometh the beginning, or from everlasting, down from the Father of lights, comprises all the ways and means, with whom is no variableness, nei- by which the good and perfe&t ther shadow of turning." James gifts, which come from himn, are i. 17.

effected, accomplished, conveyed A diftin&t illustration of every or obtained. Every mean, and ev. particular aflerted or clearly impli-ery circumstance, which hath any ed in these words, would contain relation to the good bestowed, con. too much for a place in the maga- veyed or obtained, in time, had juft zine. The following obfervations the same relation to and connection will, therefore, be principally con- with the event in the divine plaa fined to the last proposition ; yet from everlasting, as it hath at the keeping in view its connection time the effect is wrought, or the with the other parts of the verse. good bestowed. If God purposed

The proposition, “With whom or decreed to save the individual is no variableness, neither shadow perfons, composing the church of of turning,” imports, that God, the Thessalonians, whom Paul the Father of lights, is unchange- addressed in his second epiftle to able in his being and essential per- them, through fanctification of the fections. A necessary self-exist- Spirit and belief of the truth, ent being muft necessarily be the and to call them to the obtaining fame forever. There never was, of this inestimable good, by means and never will be, any alteration, of the gospel which the apostles change, or variation, in his great-preached, then they could not ness, or power, or wisdom, holi- be saved in any other way, or by neso, justice, goodness, or truth. any other means, confiftently with The proposition also imports, that his counsel or decree. The gosGod is without variableness or pel preached to them, and their change in his counsels and designs. hearing it, and believing it, had A being who is strictly and abfo- precisely the same relation to and lutely unchangeable, makes no connection with their falvation in alteration in his counsels, deligns, the eternal purpose of God, as at or purposes. He forms his plan the time when they actually heard of operation, and ad'reres to it, and believed ; and in the eternal and carries it into complete effect, purpofe of God their salvation without deviating from it in any was as much dependent on and as initance whatsoever. “ Known much the effect of their hearing unto God are all his works from and believing, as it was at the the beginning of the world.--He time when it in fact took place. worketh all things after the coun- The like might be observed with fel of his own will.” All the respect to every beneficial effcet, good gifts, and all the perfect for the accomplishment of which, gifts, which he bestows, he bc- means are employed.

The counsel or purpose of God, he once intended to do, or the according to which he worketh grant or performance of any thing all things, primarily respects his which formerly he did not purown-conduct. He hath formed pose to do, evidently implies such a complete plan of all his own a change of mind, as cannot be works or operations, embracing reconciled with his strict, eternal every act and operation of his, immutability or unchangeableness. from everlasting to everlasting. All And why should any with God that he hath done, and all that to change his mind, or to alter he will do, is according to the his purpose, or to do or omit any plan or counsel of his will from thing which once he did not inthe beginning. He never did and tend? Or what objection can never will do any thing, which he they reasonably make, against his did not always purpose or intend forming in the begiening the to do. And every thing which whole plan of his operations, and he always intended to do, he do carrying it into complete effect, eth or will do. Not one of the without any the least alteration ? infinite variety of things comprif- Do they secretly imagine that he, ed in his original plan, will fail or like creatures, improves by age be left undone. And by thus fix and experience, and can better ing the plan of his own opera- determine now, what it is most tions, and deciding or determin- wise and proper and best for him ing what he will do, in every in- to do, in some cases, than he Itance from everlasting to everlast- could in the ages of eternity ? Do ing, the universal system of events, they think he hath now a clearer comprising every existence, and view and more perfect knowledge every action, and every enjoyment of all creatures, cases and circumand every suffering of creatures, Itances, than he had before the acbecame fixed and certain. For tual existence of creation comi. the whole hath such relation to, menced ? and dependence on, and connec Surely none will dare pretend tion with, what God doeth, that to this. The thought is impious, the determination of his own acts and implies a denial or disbelief of in every instance, from everlasting the absolute eternal omniscience to everlasting, renders the whole and infinite knowledge of God. fixed and certain.

If God hath obtained any new That God hath thus deter- ideas since creation began ; if mined the plan of his own works, things have happened which he acts or operations, and in the be did not expect, or otherwise than {towment of every good and per- he expected ; if he now fees any fect gift which comes from him, thing in a new and different light accomplishes his own purpose, from what he once did, and would according to the counsel of his not from the beginning have formwill, and doeth nothing but what ed his plan in all respects just as he from everlasting intended or he did, had he then viewed every determined to do, is clearly and thing just as he doth now; if any fully implied in the proposition, thing like this hath taken place; that with him there is no variable- then surely there is a very 'materim ness neither shadow of turning. al change in his view and knowl For any alteration of his purpose, edge of things, and he was once or the omiflion of any thing which I ignorant of what he now knows

And upon this fuppofition, his rations with respect to every understanding or knowledge was world, creature, thing and event, once imperfect, but is now im- from beginning to end, which proved ; and upon the same prin- would not lie equally against his ciple, may probably be fill fur- ever determining what to do in ther improved fome ages hence. all cases.

If such be the idea which any But to cut the argument short, entertain of God, let them no and bring the case to a point, let more pretend to believe his eternal it be observed, that God is effenomniscience-his infinite, eternal tially and eternally omniscient and and absolutely perfect knowledge infinitely wise. Before he began of all things. But let them can- creation, he knew just as much didly own, that although they as he doth now : he had as clear believe his knowledge is very and perfect a view of all things great and extensive, and far supé. as he now hath or ever will have. . rior to that of creatures ; yet he He, therefore, then saw and knew, is, or may have been, ignorant in as clearly and as perfectly as he a degree with respect to some ever will, what it would be wiseft things liable to some error or and best for him to do, and most mistake, and may possibly make for the glory and happiness of the such improvement and acquire fyftem, in all cases whatsoever, in such new ideas, that, like crea- regard to creation, and all creatures, he may see it wise and best tures, things and events, through to do some things, which from the interminable ages of eternity the beginning he did not think of What plan of operations and doing, and to omit others, which events would produce the moft he then proposed to do.

glorious and happy system on the But if any, who object to God's whole, most completely gratifying eternal immutable purpose, ac- to a perfectly just and infinitely cording to which he invariably wise and benevolent heart, he acts, do not choose to own, that then saw and knew with the utthey entertain any such like de moft clearness with infallible cer. grading and reproachful ideas of tainty. To deny this, is in efthe Deity, they are desired to en- fed to deny his absolute omnis. quire and confider seriously, whe-cience, his absolutely perfect ther they can affign or conceive of knowledge and wisdom, and to any reason, why God, before he impute fome imperfection to him had formed any creature, could in point of understanding, wisdom not determine as well, what it and knowledge. would be wisest and best for him He then knew himself to be to do in all cases whatsoever, as absolutely omnipotent, every way he could afterwards. And if he able and sufficient, to carry into was as wise and holy, as just and effect and accomplish such a plan righteous, faithful and true, as of operation and events, as he law good and gracious, benevolent, and knew would be wiseft and merciful and compassionate then, beft. To deny this, is in effect as he is now or ever will be, whe- to deny his infinite power and all. ther they can poffibly conceive of sufficiency, and to impute imper-: : any objection against his then de- fection to him in point of power, termining and fixing in his own kill and ability. rind, the whole plan of his ope He was then as impartially

juft, as infinitely righteous, as he , of the most High, and attempt to now is or ever will be. Therefore, defeat his purposes. But though whatever plan he then formed, “ there be many devices in a man's muft certainly be as agreeable to heart ; nevertheless, the counsel of asconsistent with, justice and right, the Lord, that shall stand.” Yea, cousness, as he would ever act at “ The Lord bringeth the counany time, in case he had not pre- fel of the heathen to nought; he viously determined what to do, be- maketh the devices of the people fore the occasion actually existed. of none effect. The counsel of

Once more : God is eternally the Lord ftandeth forever, the and unchangeably the same infin- thoughts of his heart to all geneitely benevolent, good and mer- rations.” In short, “ he work. ciful being; and, therefore, in- eth all things after the counsel of variably and infinitely inclined to his own will.” And certainly,' that plan and system of operations if his counsel is perfectly wise, jult and events, which will produce and good, and contains the best and issue in the greatest possible poffible plan, there can be no reagood, and equally opposed in fonable objection againft it. But heart to every thing which will the truth is, men do not like the lessen or impair it, on the whole. divine plan. In their view and to We may, therefore, be just as fure their hearts, it is not good, but that he hath, from the beginning, evil. For God doeth many things been invariably fixed and deter- which are exceedingly crossing mined upon that system or plan and mortifying to their hearts. of operations and events, which And many real evils evidently exwill produce and issue in the great- | ift. And they will not believe it eft pollible good on the whole, as poslible, that these should be any we are that he always knew what way comprised in the plan of a it is, and was every way able to perfectly wise, just and good God; insure and accomplish it, and because they do not see how they is and always was perfectly are necessary, or will prove fubjuft and righteous, and infinitely servient to the best good of the good. We are, therefore, redu- fyftem. And they inwardly feel ced to the necessity of believing, as though God doth very wrong that God hath always had one in suffering them to take place, fixed plan of operations unaltera- provided he could poffibly prevent bly establishedfrom the begin- them, and, therefore, as though ning, from which he never devi- they took place contrary to his ates in any instance ; or else, of design, and in ipite of his endeav. disbelieving his absolute eternal in ors to prevent them. But that finite and unchangeable perfection. God doeth many things very crof.

The former is moft rational, fing and inortifying to the corrupt, and certainly the plainly revealed felish and rebellious feelings of do&rine of the scriptures. For the human heart, is certainly no according to those divine oracles, argument that he doth not act "He declares the end from the wisely and for the best. Nor is beginning, and from antient times it at all strange, that such shortthe things that are not yet done, fighted felfish creatures as we are, saying, « My counsel shall stand, should not be able to see how the and I will do all my pleasure.” evil things which take place under

Men often oppose the counsell the divine adminiftration are inter

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ded for good, and will ultimately | And, as before observed, the terminate in the bett good of the truth is, we are dissatisfied with system. Yet when they in fact God's condud. We dinike his take place under the government works and ways. If all that God of an infinitely wise, powerful, just doeth was right and good in our and good God, and he also tells eyes, and perfectly plealing to our us he means them unto good, and hearts, we should not entertain a clearly shows already, in many thought of his having done wrong particular cases, how he makes in determining, purposing and them subservient to the accem- firmly decreeing to do fo from all plishment of the most wife, be- eternity. nevolent and merciful purposes, if These observations will be closwe were not most unreasonably ed with one general reflection, viz. proud and self conceited, we What a solid foundation and inshould readily believe that he acts exhaustible source of support, conin the wiseft and beft possible man- solation and joy, do all the benevner; though his thoughts and olent and holy find, in the view ways are even farther above our and contemplation of God as the comprehenfion, than the heavens Father of lights, from whom comare higher than the earth. To do eth every good and perfect gift, otherwise, is to set our scanty un- and in the belief and assurance, derstandings, which are as no chat with him there is no variable. thing, in opposition to the infinite ness, neither shadow of turningunderstanding and absolutely uni- that he is unchangeable in his beversal perfect knowledge of God. ing and essential perfections, and How arrogant and daringly impi- in all his counsels and designs ? ous is this!

Let it be added, Conscious that they are depen. Every objection against God's dent creatures, who have no fufeternal unchangeable purpose, ficiency of themselves, to provide counsel or design, is equally a- for and secure their own happigainst what he actually doeth. ness, or that of others-yea, that For if all that God actually do they are finners, and as such, miltth, in crcation and providence, erable already, and exposed to in the worlds of nature and of yet greater mifery ; seeing alfa grace, is wife and just and good; the world, at present full of evils, then certainly it was wife and just and the inhabitants more general. and good in him, to intend, pur- ly living in malice and envy, hate. pose and determine, or decree to ful and hating one another, with. do it, before the world began. out any fear of God before their Whatever wisdom, justice eyes, their feet swift to the blood, goodness at any time requires God and their ways marked with de. to do, it equally required him al- Atruction and misery ; how would ways to intend or purpose to do. their benevolent hearts fink within This is self-evident. Nor can we them, and be overwhelmed with object against his forming and un- grief and despair, in case they alterably establishing the whole knew of no being, to whom they plan of his operations from the be- might look for support and help, ginning, without equally objec- in a well grounded confidence, that ting to what he actually doeth, he is able and disposed and fully and pronouncing it unwise, unho determined, to support those who ly or not good, but the contrary, cleave unto him, and to overrule


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