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and by this he brings, through way; 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 EgOgos Mey Moi, &c. “Who speaks * contrary to what he means, ought to be held as a common ene. my, 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 Go. vernor 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 perpetual 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 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 faculty of speech which God had given him, and to keep his tongue in 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
marks by which we may discern the Elect from the Reprobate, and those we must reflect upon, to the making out of our assurance: And because our vocation is the next saving benefit that results from our Election, and it is altogether uncertain when God will vouchsafe it to us, whether at the third, or at the sixth, or at the ninth, or at the last hour of our lives; therefore every one ought to keep himself in readiness, to answer when God knocks, and to obey when he calls. What you utter in your ignorance and unbelief is capable of so much alleviation that it proceeded from you in such a state; otherwise I should tell you it savours much of a spirit of Reprobation, to say, “ that, since such as God hath elected, are elected to the means as well as to the end, men work in vain to believe, and do the exercises of piety, as well as to be saved; and to perform these in order to their salvation.”
TIL. INFID.-If it be so great an arrogance to pry into these secrets, why do you so positively define in them, and so peremptorily obtrude your definitions upon others ?-But (2) If all men be infallibly enlisted under one of those two regiments, of Election or Reprobation, and we be not able to distinguish to which we do belong, till God be pleased to call us over and give us our special marks and cognizance; and if that vocation be not in our own power to procure, all our works and endeavours that are brought forth before it, being born in sin and children of wrath, (as your doctrine teacheth,) and so not conducible to that purpose,-sure it were a piece of improvidence at least, if not a huge presumption, to attempt thus to prevent the will of God and anticipate the decrees of heaven; notwithstanding, it is a part of our faith, (as you define it,) that we must needs stay till that saving call of God doth ring so loud in our ears, that it is impossible we should be deaf or disobedient to it.
DR. CONFIDENCE.- None but a Reprobate would argue after this manner.
TIL. INFID. If you be of that opinion, I will hear no more of your instructions: For I understand, it is one of your tenets, that “the gospel is preached to the greatest part of the world, to no other end but to aggravate their condemnation;" as it is recorded by a chief professor of that doctrine, called Mr. Calvin, that God doth direct his word unto such, “that they may become the more deaf; and that he doth set his light before
them, of purpose to make them the more blind.” (Instit. III, chap. xxiv, sec. 13.) And if this be the infinite WISDOM, GOODNESS, and JUSTICE of your God, those at whose ears there. never arrived any intelligence of him, are the more happy, or at least the less unfortunate and miserable, than those who are brought into some acquaintance with him and yet cannot believe, because the notice they have of him, through his own unprovoked restraint, is not attended with grace necessary to work belief in them.
IMPERTINENT.—We advise you to betake yourself to your prayers, “that these thoughts of your heart may be forgiven you," and that God would put you into a better mind.,
TIL. INFID.--I am weary of these absurd contradictions: for if the best works of the unregenerate be not only unfruitful, but noxious and hurtful, (as they are accounted by the test and scale of your doctrine,) and if it be “impossible to please God without faith” in Christ, and that faith not to be ushered into the soul but by the dead-awakening call of the Almighty, my prayers in this state of infidelity will rather provoke and exasperate that God unto whom you advise me to pray, than propitiate and appease him. That philosopher, therefore, gave those wicked passengers whom the violence of a tempest had stormed into a fit of devotion, a great deal better counsel, when he said, Silete, ne dii vos nebulones hic navigare sentiant : He bid them " hold their peace, lest their cries should give the Gods warning to take their advantage to shipwreck and destroy them.”
By this, gentlemen, you see with what success you are able to manage your plea (according to your Synod's principles,) in behalf of your God against an Infidel; perhaps you may come off better in your attempt to correct a wicked Christian: I. desire, therefore, in the next place, that you would make proof of your discipline upon Tilenus CARNALIS.
II. TILENUS CARNALIS. Fatality.--Herein, methinks, I should make no great diffi. culty to prevail, if the power of reason can but fasten upon your understanding, or the tie of religion upon your conscience, or the sense of gratitude upon your heart and affections. Do but reflect upon those obligations which Almighty God hath laid upon you, in your creation and redemption. He hath a fair title to your best obedience by right of dominion, in regard of that excellent nature and being which he freely conferred upon