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(5.) "Is it reconcileable to the goodness of Providence, or to the kindness, philan thropy, the mercy and compaffion of our gracious God, in all his providential difpenfa tions, fo highly magnified in holy fcripture, to deal with men according to the tenor of thefe doctrines?" I reply, That the doce trines of abfolute Election and Reprobation, which are here refer'd to, are entirely recon→ cileable to the goodnefs, kindness, mercy and compaffion of God, which abundantly appear in his faving, and determining to fave, fome of the finful race of mankind, when he could, in ftrict justice,: have damned them all, as he has the whole body of apoftate angels: but fince this has been largely confidered in this Part already, under the head of Reprobation, I fhall add no more; especially, fince nothing new is offered in this enquiry.
(6.) "Doth it comport' with the wisdom of Providence, to promife or to threaten upon impoffible conditions, an impoffible condition being, in true construction, none at all? how much lefs will it comport with the fame wisdom, to tender the covenant of grace to all mankind, to whom the gospel is vouchfafed upon conditions which the moft part of them, before that covenant was
k Whitby, p. 510. Ed. 2. 487.
established, were utterly unable to perform; and who, by God's decree of Preterition, were inevitably left under that difability?" I answer, That the covenant of works, which, I suppose, is referred to in the for mer part of this queftion, by what follows in the latter part of it, being made with man in his ftate of innocence, did not promife life, and threaten with death, upon an impoffible condition, but upon one that was poffible, and which man was then capable of performing; and therefore no ways incompatible with the wifdom of Providence. And tho' man, by breaking this covenant, has loft his power of fulfilling the condition of it, perfect obedience; yet it entirely comports with the wifdom of Providence, that he fhould be fubject to the penalty of it, from which he can have no relief, but by the provifion made in the covenant of grace; which covenant of grace is not a conditional one, as is fuggefted; nor is it tendered to any, much less to all mankind, to whom the gofpel is vouchfafed, or to any left by God's decree of Preterition, under the disability of the fall; but is a covenant made with Chrift on the behalf of God's elect; is eftablished in him, on better promises than conditional ones, depending on the power and will of man, being abfolute and fure to all the feed.
(7.) " On
"On the other hand", can it ac(7.) cord with the fame wifdom of Providence, to threaten the fevereft judgments to them, if they repented not, or if they turned away From their righteousness, or fell away from their own fedfaftness, or endured not to the end, whom he had abfolutely decreed to give repentance to; and, by continuance in well-doing, to preserve them to a blessed immortality; or to caution them not to do fo, or to enquire whether temptations had not prevailed upon them fo to do, or bid them fear left they fhould do fo," I answer, That the threatnings, cautions, and exhor tations referred to, will appear to accord perfectly with the wifdom of Providence, when it is confidered that they are made to focieties and bodies of men under a profeffion of religion; fome of which were real, others nominal profeffors; fome true believers, others hypocrites, men deftitute of the grace of God; and, perhaps, with a particular view to the latter, were thefe things given out, to whom God had never decreed to give repentance and perfeverance. Befides, allowing that thefe threats, cautions and exhortations are made to fuch to whom he had decreed to give repentance D and perfeverance, they are to be confidered as means leading on, and bleffed, in order
Whitby, p. 511. Ed. 2. 489.
to the enjoyment of what God had determined to give; and therefore it muft accord with the wifdom of Providence to make ufe of them.
(8.) Is it fuitable to the fincerity of his providential difpenfations, of which his dealings with men, by his revealed will towards them, make fo great a part, to move them to the performance of their duty only by motives, which he knows cannot work upon them, without that farther aid he, from eternity, hath determined to deny them ?" I reply, That if by performance of duty, is meant that men fhould convert themfelves, repent of fin, and believe in Chrift to the faving of their fouls, it will not be 'eafy to prove, that God makes use of any motives to move any perfons to do these things of themselves; and ftill more difficult to prove, that he makes use of any to induce fuch perfons thereunto, to whom he does not give that grace which only can enable them to do them. If by performance of duty, is meant moral obedience to the law of God, this is every man's duty, whether he has any motives to it or no; and if 'God makes use of any motives to induce unto it, which, without his grace, do not, and cannot work upon them, the infufficiency of them does not arife from any thing in the
motives themselves, nor from the denial of God's grace, nor from his determination to deny it, but from the perverfeness and wickednefs of mens hearts; wherefore, it is not unfuitable to the fincerity of Providence, to make use of fuch motives, tho' they do not, and he knows they cannot, influence without his grace, which he is not obliged to give, and which he has determined to deny; fince thereby, the perverfenefs and wickedness of men are more fully difcovered, and they left inexcufable. Befides, the inftances referred to, regard not all mankind, but the people of Ifrael, and God's dealings with them, not in relation to their fpiritual and eternal welfare, but their civil and temporal eftate, as a body politic, as has been fhewn in the first Part of this work.
(9.) "Is it fuitable to the fame wifdom and fincerity, to move fuch perfons by promises, to repent and believe, and to require them, having fuch promifes, to cleanse them felves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God? What wit of man can fhew, how God can be ferious in calling fuch men to faith and repentance, much lefs in his concern that they might do fo, or in his trouble that they have not done fo; and yet be serious and in good-earnest in his antecedent decree to de