« PreviousContinue »
to one. Moreover, since God cannot be tempted to evil, nor is it possible that he should ever commit it, it follows, that true liberty does not confift in an indifference to good and evil.
II. The human nature of Christ, or the Man Christ Jesus, who as he was born without fin, and lived without it all his days on earth; so was impeccable, could not fin. He lay under some kind of necessicy, from the purpose of God, the command of God, the covenant between God and him, as well as from the purity of his nature, to fulfil all righteousness; and yet he did it most freely and voluntarily, which proves that the liberty of man's will, in its greatest perfection, which is so in the Man Christ Jesus, does not lie in equilibrio, in an indifference
to good and evil; but is consistent with ľ some kind of necessity, and with a decer
mination to that which is good only. The EL
objection to the former argument can have no force here, for tho' Christ was not in a state of trial, as men in common are not ; yet he was liable to be tempted, and was tempted to evil, tho' he had no inclination to it, nor was it possible that he should be prevailed upon to commit it.
III. The good Angels, holy and elect, who are confirmed in the state in which
they are, and by the confirming grace
of God are become impeccable, cannor fin, or fall from that happy state ; yet perform their whole obedience to God, do his will and work chearfully and willingly. The freedom of their wills is not loft, nor in the least curtailed by their impeccability, confirmed state, and determination to that which is only good. To say, “there was a time when they were not confirmed in goodness as now they are, and have lost that liberty ad utrumvis, they then had, is more than can be proved; fince, for ought we know, they might be confirmed in goodness from the original of their creation; and the reason why they fell not when others of the same species of creatureş did, might be because they were thus confirmed, and the rest left to the weakness and mucability of creatures. I have, indeed, in the First Part of this work, allowed the good angels to have been in a state of probation, antecedent to their confirmation, which I am now tempted to retract; but since we know for little of angels, 1 chuse to be in fuspence about it. When it is urged', that being chus confirmed, they are not in a state of trial; it must be replied, as before, nor is man. When it is said”, that they are not under any temptation to d il, it is saying
* wbitby, p. 308. Ed. 2. 200.
more than can be made good. But, supposing it true, as it is certain, that there is no propensity in them to fin, nor can they, by any temptation, be induced to it, it serves but to confirm what is contended for, that liberty does not consist in an indifference to good and evil. When it is further asserted“, that their actions are not now rewardable, ic is nothing to the purpose, since this no ways affects the liberty of their actions ; tho’I see not why their actions, which are taken notice of with commendation, may not be rewarded now by the grace of God. '
IV. The devils and damned fpirits have no inclination to, nor capacity of, doing thac which is good, but are wholly decermined to that which is evil; and yet do all they do freely and voluntarily. It is true, they are not in a state of crial, no more are men. But to say', they are noc subject to any farther punishment for the evil they do, is not consistent with the justice of God, and the dreadful expectation of the devils themselves, who are not as yet in full corment.
V. The liberty of the will of man, in every state he has been, is, or shall be in, lies not in an indifference to good and evil, la
his state of innocence, as he was made after the image, and in the likeness of God, so the biass of his soul was only to thac which is good, which he performed willingly, in obedience to the will of God. In his fallen state, he is averse to all that is spiritually good, and is a Nave to his finful lufts and pleasures, is wholly set upon them, and given up to them; and yet serves and obeys them with the utmost willingness and freedom. In his regenerate state, there is, indeed, an inclination both to good and evil; but this arises from two different principies in the regenerate man. The new man, or principle of grace, is inclined, bent and determined to that which is good only; and yet freely serves the law of God. The old man, or corrupt nature, is inclined, bent and determined to that which is evil only ; and yet freely serves the law of fin. In the state of glorification, the saints will be impeccable, cannot fin, can only do that which is good; and yet what they do, or will do, is and will be done with the utmost freedom and liberty of their wills. Whence iç follows, that the liberty of man's will does not lie in an indifference or indetermination to good or evil; but is consistent both with some kind of necessity, and a determination to one.
VI. If liberty is not consistent with neceffity in any sense, then it is not consistent i with the decrees of God, nor even with the
foreknowledge of God; from whence must follow some kind of neceffity, not, indeed, a necessity of co-action or force upon the will of man, but of event; for if chere is not a necessity of the things coming to pass, which are foreknown and decreed by God,, then his foreknowledge is uncertain, and is but mere fupposition and conjecture, and his decrees must be frustrable and precarious, It is said, this “ was of old the chief argument of the Fatalists, espoused of late by Mr. Hobbs, and is still made the refuge of the Predestinarians.” Be it fo ; if the Fa. talists and Mr. Hobbs meant no more by neceffity than we do, namely, a necessity of
the immutability and unfrustrablenefs of : God's fore-knowledge and decrees, and not I of co-action or force upon the will of man';
we have no reason to be ashamed of the argument they made use of; and, instead of making it a refuge, or mere shift, shall think our selves obliged to defend it, and abide by it.