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wisdom, goodness, and justice in him, that it doth in a high measure impeach them all..
FATALITY.—You will never be able to make that good.
Til. INFID.-I beseech you, hear me patiently. For his WISDOM first : I conceive that is extremely eclipsed, in that he hath inade choice of no better means to advance his own honour, but hath stooped to such mean and unworthy designs to come pass that end, as all but tyrants and bankrupts would be ashamed of.
DR. DUBIUS.—How so?
Til. INFID.—Your doctrine, if it does not belie the Majesty you profess to worship, supposeth him to have made a peremplory decree, whereby his subjects are necessitated to trade with hell and Satan for sin and damnation, to the end he may take advantage out of that commerce to raise an inconsiderable impost to augment the revenues of his own glory.
PRETERITION.-We have his own word for it, “ Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” (Matt. xx, 15.)
Til. Infid.-(1) Your Scripture must not conclude me, while I personate the Infidel.—But (2) We are not now argue ing what God may do by his absolute power and right of dominion, but what is agreeable to his infinite wisdom.—And (3) Your text speaks of a free disbursement of his favours : but our discourse proceeds upon the account of appointing men to sin and punishment. Now I hope you will not call sin “God's own,” though your doctrine concludes him fairly to be the Author of it; and for the punishment,-he is pleased to call that opus alienum, not his own but “a strange work.” But if your God, for his mere pleasure only, and to make demonstration of his absolute power, hath appointed to eternal torments the greatest part of his noblest creatures without any respect to sin, as some of your Synod do maintain, not regarding his own image in them,—what is this but to play the tyrant? and where then is that infinite goodness, which you profess to be in your God, and which I expect to be in that God whom I fear and honour? “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast;” (Prov. xii, 10.) yet his mercy is to be but a a copy transcribed from that original in God. * But if your God be of that temper, the righteous man may very well be a precedent of mercy unto him.
PRETERITION—Indeed some of the Synod do maintain that rigid way, but the Synod itself determined otherwise, viz. that
* Luke vi, 36.
Almighty God, looking upon mankind as fallen in the loins of Adam, passed over the greatest part of them, leaving them in that lapsed estate, not affording them sufficient grace for their recovery, ordaining finally to condemn them.
Til. INFID.-If for the sin of another man, and that pardoned to him that did wilfully commit it, but imputed to his posterity,
(who never were in a capacity to taste the pleasure of it, to . consent unto it, or protest against it,) your pretended God deals thus cruelly with them, depriving them for ever of his grace which should enable them to repent, and sealing them up by an irrevocable decree under an irresistible necessity continually to sin and then to perish everlastingly for so sinning ;where is that infinite Justice, accompanied with that superabundant mercy and graciousness, [which) you affirmed to be in him? I have heard, that the God whom Christians do adore, is so infinitely merciful, that he “ will have all men to be saved, and none to perish ;” and [that] not able to swear by a greater, Che] swears by himself, that he “ wills not the death of a sin. ner, but that he may repent and live ;” that he protesteth the sufficiency of his own applications, and bewaileth their wilful obstinacy, and expostulateth most earnestly: “What could have been done more that I have not done? O that there were such a heart in you! Why will ye die?” Indeed there is so much grace and sweetness in these expressions, they would bring a poor wretch presently upon his knees to such a God.
DR. DUBIUS.—These are all the very expressions of that God whom we serve, into whose gracious arms and bosom we so earnestly desire to bring you.
Til. INFID.-If you could teach me how to reconcile these expressions to the doctrine of your Synod, I should say something: but I conclude that impossible.
SIMULANS. -I shall willingly undertake that work, as hard as you make it, and a great deal more too, to gain your soul out of the state of infidelity. There is a three-fold distinction used amongst our Divines, that will untie the knot presently. (1) Mr. Calvin (in Ezek. xviii, 23,) hath very learnedly observed, that God hath two wills : One outward and revealed, whereby he doth most sweetly invite sinners to his grace, and most graciously calls them to repentance, seeming as though he were most earnestly desirous of their salvation. The other will is inward and secret, which is irresistible and takes effect infallibly;
and by this he brings, through ways unavoidable, to an estate and course of sin here, and then to eternal damnation and punishment hereafter.” Now, to apply this ; you must understand those places of scripture, forementioned, of God's outward and revealed will which is uneffectual, not of his inward and secret will which is unresistible.
Til. INFID.-A very useful distinction, and tending much to the honour of your God, as you have applied it! I see you have not your name for nought, Mr. Simulans ! But for my part, I think Homer was much more honest than you and your God, when he says, that ExOgos Mev uos, &c. “Who speaks contrary to what he means,' ought to be held as a common enemy, and hated as the very gates of hell.” But perhaps your second distinction may be more satisfactory. I pray let us have that.
SIMULANS.-We must make use of distinctions to clear our doctrines from contradiction ; and if that doth not like you, we have another which cannot be denied. When it is said, that “God would have all men to be saved,” the word “ all” is to be understood, non de singulis generum, but de generibus singulorum : “not for all of every kind,” but “for some few only of every sort and nation.”
Til. Infid.—Methinks, Sir, if this be the meaning of the words, the Scripture might have said with far more reason, that «God will have all men to be damned,” since of every nation and condition the number of the damned do so far exceed the number of the saved, according to your doctrine; and reason requires, that the denomination should be made according to the major part. But perhaps your third distinction will help this out.
SIMULANS.-The will of God is either approbans tantum, or else approbans et efficiens simul. * God, we say, will have all men to be converted and saved approbativè, non effectivè: “he approves of it and likes it well in himself that all men be converted and saved, but he wills it not effectively ;" that is, he hath decreed the contrary, not to give them means necessary to the attainment of it.
Til. INFID.—This distinction I conceive no less unreasonable and absurd than the former. That your God should appoint by
* God's will is either that of approbation alone, or that of approbation and efficiency together.
a secret, absolute, and irrevocable decree, that those things which he doth naturally hate and abhor should be most practised, and those which he naturally loves and likes should be omitted ;-this is so inconsistent with that infinite wisdom and goodness, which you proclaim to be in him, that I cannot find myself, in any measure inclined to acknowledge him the Governor of the world. I suspect rather, that you have a design to make me become a proselyte to the Manichæans, who profess two principles,-a wicked one as well as a good one; and having acknowledged my persuasion of a good God, who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity, you tempt me to believe a wicked God also, which is the Author of all evil, and in pera petual hostility against the former. It were so great an impeachment of his sincerity, that no civil person would endure to have his words so interpreted as you interpret those of your gospel; the unavoidable consequence whereof is, that your God is the true Author of all the sins and wickedness of this world, both past, present, and to come.
FATALITY.-We say, Deus est causa cur peccatum existat, sed non cur sit, “God is the cause of the existence, but not of the essence, (if I may so speak,) of sin;" as he that drives a lame horse is the cause of his halting, but not of his lameness.
Til. INFID.—This distinction will hardly help the lame dog over the style: For, he that drives a horse unavoidably into that motion, which necessarily causeth his first halting, is certainly the cause of his lameness: and so did your God drive Adam (according to your own doctrine,) into the first sin; which made him and his posterity halt ever since.
Fatality.—You must distinguish the materiality of sin from the formality of it; or the act from the deformity. God, we say, is cause of the act, or the materiality : but not of the formality, the defect, or obliquity of it.
Til. INFID.-I reply, (1) That there are sins of omission, which happen (according to your doctrine,) by reason the offender is deprived of necessary and sufficient grace to perform the duty, and these sins are not capable of that distinction; and if the deficient cause in things necessary be the efficient, you know to whom such sins are to be imputed,—(2) There are sins of commission not capable of that distinction neither; as in blasphemy, murder, adultery, wherein the act is not to be distinguished from the exorbilancy; were such a distinction allowable
ostinguish the formity. God formality,
before God, (and if it be not, sure it is not to be alleged on his behalf,) every transgressor might shew a fair acquittance, and justly plead NoT GUILTY. The adulterer might say, he went in to his adultress as a woman, not as she was married to another man; and that he humbled her for procreation, or for a remedy of his concupiscence, not for injury to her husband. The blasphemer might say, what he spake was to make use of the facully of speech which God had given him, and to keep his tongue is use, not to dishonour the Almighty. And so (might every offender have leave by virtue of this distinction to separate his sinful act from the enormity of it,) every sin would become a miracle, that is, it would be an accident without a subject. If your God stands in need of this logic himself, there is all the reason in the world, that (when he sits in judgment) he should allow the benefit thereof to others.--But (3) the greatest Doctors of your Synod have written, that “God doth predestinate men as well to the means as to the end:” but the natural act (granting your distinction,) is not the cause of man's damnation, as it is an act, but only as it is sin; and therefore those unfortunate, forlorn wretches whom the absolute pleasure of your God hath invincibly chained to the fatal decree of Reprobation, can no more abstain from following sin (the means,) than avoid damnation (the woful end,) to which they are so peremptorily designed
Fatality. We do not desire that you should launch out any further into that unfordable abyss of horror and astonishment, the decree of eternal Reprobation. It is more for your comfort, to “make your calling and election sure;" to get an interest in Jesus Christ through faith; by whose means the eternal decree of mercy may be accomplished to you.
Til. INFID.--If the decree of God be really such as you propound it, my endeavours would be to as little purpose as your instruction is like to be: For if every man be inrolled from all eternity, (after such a sort as your Synod hath determined,) in one of those two fatal books of life or death, it is as impossible to be blotted out of either, as for God to deny himself. To what end then serves all your importunity ?
IMPERTINENT.-It were too great an arrogance in us to pry into God's secrets. “ Till he gives us a key (of his own making) to unlock that cabinet, we must not undertake to read the mysteries [which] he hath locked up in it. There are visible