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that these scriptures are insufficient proofs of every man's being in a state of probation, in order to everlasting happiness or misery,
3. This is said ' to be evident from all the promises and threats recorded in the scripture, to engage all men to repent, and turn to God; for 'tis added, no such thing is, or can reasonably be offered to them who are already in a fixed state, either of happiness or misery. To which I reply, that the promises and threats recorded in the scripture, which relate to mens spiritual and eternal good, may be reduced to, and comprehended in these words; He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; be that believeth. not Mall be damned; which was the substance of the gospel ministry the apostles had in commission from Christ, to fulfil, and which might be exercised fully and throughly, supposing a fixed state of happiness and misery; since such a ministry might be, and is used, through the grace of God, to bring those who are designed for happiness into a state of grace meer for the same; and to leave others inexcusable, to discover the more, the corruption and vitiofity of their nature, and so co justify the righteous proceedings of God against them.
4. This is argued for * from all the exhortations of the holy scripture to men, to i Whitby, p. 306.
watch and pray, that they enter not, and are not led into temptation, and from such scriptures which suppose men to be in danger by temptation; the passages referred to are, Matt. vi. 13. and xxvi. 41. Luke viii. 13. 1 Tbes. iii. 5. which only regard the saints, or fuch who profess to be to, and not all mankind. Beldes, if God has put all men into a state of probation, and this designed by temptation, how should any watch and pray not to enter or be led into it? Moreover, this state of probation is either a good one or a bad one ; if a good one, why Thould men watch and pray againit it? if a bad one, can it be reasonably lupposed that God has put men into it, in order to cheir everlasting good? and why then should it be contended for ?
5. This is said to be evident from the temptations of Saran, who goes about continually, seeking whom he may devour ; and 'tis added, to what end should he tempt, or endeavour to destroy the elect, or strive to hinder the progress of the gospel, or the conversion of any man; when luppofing a fixed state by the decrees of God, and a divine unfrustrable coeration on the hearts of men, he must know that his labour will certainly be in vain : To wrich I aniwer, That Satan has not the tec'scrie is his
keeping; nor does he know who are and who are not the elect of God, until this appears by the unfrustrable operation of God's grace on their hearts, and may be not even then: So that it is no wonder that he tempis, strives and endeavours to hinder the success of the gospel in their conversion, and to destroy them ; and when he does know who they are, endeavour to distress by his temptations, tho’ he cannor' destroy; and in ten thousand instances will hew his malice when he cannot Thew his power. Besides, the text referred to in i Pet. v. 8. carries in the sense of it the doctrine of a fixed state, when it supposes that there are some whom Satan may devour, and leaves a plain intimation that there are ochers whom he may not and cannot devour; who are the sheep of Christ, and being in his hands, neicher man nor devil will ever be able to pluck from thence. This is the sum of the proof offered in favour of this nocion, by a late celebrated writer, which how pertinent it is must be left to the confideration of others.
III. What reason there is to conclude chat the state of man in this world is not such a state ?
1. Angels and man both, have been in a state of probation already, in which their free-will, and power to obey the commands of God have been sufficiently tried ; which
trial has issued in the fall and ruin of a large number of angels, and of the whole race v mankind; and therefore it is not reasonable to suppofe that God would put man into such a state again; but rather provide in another way for the good of ihose he designed to bring to everlasting happiness.
2. If men were in a state of probation, they ought to be on equal ground, enjoying equal privileges and advadsazes; wimsen's this is not the case; forme lieve Dinly! dim light and weak la x <f "L", Wine others enjoy the momentin, these some base 25, means of grace,
ELEK . have the 9:205"> 3? them, oises ke 13. men insan ed for, :42: would be a
whom he justified, them he also glorified, Rom. ix. il. and viii. 29, 30.
4. This notion puts man's salvation on the foot of his obedience and works, contrary to the scriptures, to the merits of Christ, and to the grace of God; it ascribes more to the free will of man than to the free grace of God, and lays a foundation for boasting in the creature.
5. Such a state of probation is contrary to all those scriptures which represent the faints to be now in a saved state, and as having everlasting life ; such as Eph. ii. 8. V. 24. and vi.
47 In a word, it destroys the doctrine of afsurance, and leaves the saints themselves in a most uncomfortable condition, because it leaves them in a most precarious, unsercled, yea, dangerous one.