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or very properly be ask'd here, Who then
Thus our doctrine appears to be not only consistent with the mercy of God, but to give it a brighter display. And I would only add upon this; It is the grace and mercy which I fee shining forth in this doctrine, that makes me embrace it, and prize it, and contend for it. And however others may judge, I declare with all seriousness, I wou'd not for ren thousand worlds but my own salvation shou'd stand more secure, than any will or power of my own is able to make it.
To go on. 3. It is objected against the truth we are maintaining, that it is inconsistent with human liberty, and tends to establish a fatal neceffu.y of things. Some will say, if men are predestinated to faith and holinels, a force is then put upon their inclinations, and a free choice taken away : As on the other hand they say, this brings men under
a necessity of finning; and why are they to be blam'd' or punish'd for what they cannot help? Nay, some will venture so far as to say, that upon this principle God himself must be the author of sin, or the blameable cause of evil. .
I answer, To reconcile the divine foreordination with human liberty, is a thing 100 hard for us ; nor may any one pretend to do it. Yet the matter of fact is certain, that men do act with liberty and freedom in things that are fore-ordained. And tho' we can't reconcile them, there is certainly an agreement between these two. Nor is it more difficult to reconcile this, than some other things which yet are generally own'd. As for instance, the duty and success of prayer with the doctrine of God's unchangeableness. Such is the perfection of God's nature that he is unchange able in his mind and purposes. When he is said in scripture to repent or change his mind, 'tis only spoken after the manner of men ; and can by no means be understood as if he had alter'd his purpose upon any new prospect, or was bro's to do otherwile than he before delign'd; for this wou'd plainly be to derogate from the perfection of his nature. Yec prayer is the appointed means of receiving mercy and blessings
from God, and he does many things for his people in aniwer to their prayers, and has never faid to the feed of Jacob, seck ye me in vain. Now I say, 'tis no more difficult to reconcile the divine fore ordination with human liberty, than it is the doctrine of the divine unchangeableness with the efficacy of prayer. And so there is no more reason to reject the doctrine of the divine decree', than there is the doctrine of the divine unchangavleness, which even reason teaches.
Tho’the elect of God are predestinated to faith and holiness, no violence is offer'd to their wills when they come to believe in Christ, and chuse the way of holiness. Tho'all that the father hath given him, Mall come to Christ, yet they come freely, not by a force upon their wills, but a change in chem Surely God may incline the wills of men, without deilroying the nature and freedom of them. So we read, Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, Psal. i10. 3. And God tells his prope people, I bave loved thee with an everlasting love ; therefore with loving kindness
barve I drawn thee. And the church prays, Draw me, we will run after thee, Cant. I 4. On the other hand, Tho'che decree osGod leaves some unto the sinfulness of their own hearts and lives, out of which he is
under no obligation to recover them, yet this enforces no man to fin; but men's fin is always voluntary and chosen. So'tis said of God's sinful people of old, Ilai. 66.3. Tbey bave chosen their own ways, and their roul delightetb in ibeir abominations.
To illustrate and confirm this, let me refer you to the story of Jofeph, which pre. sents us with a notable draught & scheme of providence. God had a purpose to ad. vance Joseph in Egypt, and also a design to save his fachers house alive in a time of famine, by sending him there before them to make provision for them; and as a means to this Fosepb was sold to the Ishmalites, and by them to an officer in Pharaoks court. But will any one say that his brethren did not act freely in their selling of him, and gratifie their own envy and malice by that wicked deed ?
So our Lord Jesus Christ was the lamb Nain from the foundation of the world, in the divine counsel and purposes ; yet 'tis said of the Fews that for eavy tbey delivered bim to Pilate, Mac. . 18. And the apostle Peter thus charges them, Acts 2. 2 3. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God, ye bave taken, and by wicked bands bave cræcified and pain. The crime is expresly said to be their own, tho' done in pursuance of the divine determination.
: Nor can the holy God be made the author of fin when he leaves the sinner to his sinfulness: For cho' he permits the sin, he infuses no sinfulness into the finner.
"Will any fay, God's denying the revengful person, or the murderer, that grace which would prevent his executing his bloody designs, makes him the author of the murder ? Or is his denying to others the neceflary supply of their present exigencies, the cause of their making use of unlawful means, by plundering and stealing, to subsist themselves ? No, this is only to be assign’d to chat wicked propensity of nature, which enclines to sin when occasion is offer'd, & not to the divine efficiency."
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4. It is objected that this do&rine of particular election is inconsistent with such declarations in scripture as those that tell us, God is not willing any shou'd perish, but wou'd bave all men to be saved ; and with such expoftulations as God uses with finners, and lamentations over them, when he says, Turn ye, turn ye, why will ge die? And, O that thou badit known in this thy day, the things of iby peace! And also with such general offers of grace as that, Wboliever will let bim take of the water of life freely.