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cause of man's disability, but his own via ciofily, since the continuance of them isi necessary to keep up the authority of the Law.giver, to assert his dominion over man, to declare his will, to shew the vile nature of fin, and what satisfaction is requisite for it; to discover the impotency of man, without the grace of God; for the direction of such who have it in their walk and conversation; for the restraint of others under che influence of common Providence ; and for the declaration of his difpleafure and indignation against fin, and his strict justice in punishing of it.
(3) « Is it consistent with the justice of Providence, to' aggravate the fins of reprobates on this account, that they knew their Lord's will, and did it not, provided that knowledge rendered them no more able to do it than the most ignorant of men ? or, to make it such an aggravation of the fins of Christians, that they are committed against greater light and stronger motives/co perform their duty, than ever was vouchsafed to the beathen world ; if after this, they of them who lie under God's decree of Preterition, are as unable to perform thac duty as the worst of beathens ?” To this may be replied, thac tho' the knowledge of the will of God does not give men power
h wbitby, p. 507, 508, Ed. 2. 486,
and ability to do it ; yet it puts men in a better fituacion, and in a better capacity of doing it
, chan men wholly ignorant of ic are; and it may be more reasonably expected, chat such should be disposed to do it
, be desirous of it, and implore thac assistance which is necessary to it: and therefore, when on the contrary; such persons hate the very knowledge they have, and cbuse not the fear of the Lord, but say, depart from us, we defire not the knowledge of thy ways; it can never be inconsistent with the justice of Providence to aggravate the fins of these men on this account. So the sins of men who enjoy the gospel-revelation, being committed against greater light and stronger mo tives to perform their duty, than ever were vouchsafed to the heathen world, must be an aggravation of them, notwithstanding çheir inability to perform it; since that inabilicy does not arise from the decree of Preces rition, but from their own wickedness: tho' that any of them, who are truly Christians, lie under God's decree of Pretericion, or are as unable to perform their duty as the worst of beat bens, is never said by any, and must be denied.
(4.) “ Is it suitable to the holiness of Providence, or to that purity which is effential to the divine Nature, and makes it nem
Whitby, p. 509, Ed. 2. 487.
ceffary ceffary for him to bear a strong affection to, and to be highly pleased with, the holinefs, of all that are thus like unto him, and to reward them for ic with the enjoyments of himself, notwithstanding, absolutely to decree nor to afford, to the greatest páre of them to whom he hath given his holy commandments, that aid which he fees absolutely necessary to enable them to be holy, and without which they lie under an absoJute incapacity of being holy?" I answer, Thar holinefs is effential to the divine Na. ture, whence he neceffarily bears a strong affection to, and is highly pleased with, the holinefs of all that are like him, whom he blesses with the enjoyment of himfelf, is cerrain ; but then, this is no contradiction to any decree of his not to afford his
grace, which he is not obliged to give. Certain ic is, that he could make all men holy if he would ; and it is as certain, that he leaves fome deftitute of that grace which is absolurely neceffary to enable them to be holy, and without which they cannot be fo: now, if it is not unsuitable to the holiness of Providence, to leave men deftitute of that grace, which only can make then holy, it cannot be unsuitable to the holiness of Providence to decree to leave them To:
(5.).“ Is it reconcileable to the goodness of Providence, or co the kindness, philan. thropy, the mercy and compaffion of our gracious God, in all his providential dispensa. tions, so highly magnified in holy fcripture, to deal with men according to the tenor of thefe doctrines?" I reply, That the doc. trines of absolute Election and Reprobation, which are here refer'd co, are entirely recono cileable to the goodness, kindness, mercy and compassion of God, which abundantly appear in his faving, and determining to
save, some of the finful race of mankind, C when he could, in strict justices: have
damned them all, as he has the whole body of apostate angels : buc fince this has been largely considered in this part already, under the head of Reprobation, I fhall add no more; especially, fince noching new is of fered in this enquiry.
(6.) “Doch ic comport' with the wisdom of Providence, to promise or to threaten upon impossible conditions, an impossible condition being, in true construction, none at all? how much less will ic comport with
the fame wisdom, to tender the covenant of 4 grace to all mankind, to whom the gospel
is vouchsafed upon conditions which the moft part
of them, before chat covenant was
* Whitby, p. 510. Ed. 2. 487.
established, were utterly unable to perform; and wbo, by God's decree of Preterition, were inevitably left under that disability ?" 1 answer, That the covenant of works, which, I suppose, is referred to in the former part of this queftion, by what follows in the lacrer part of it, being made with man in his state of innocence, did not promise life, and threaten with death, upon an impofsible condition, but upon one that was poffible, and which man was then capable of performing ; and therefore no ways incompatible with the wisdom 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 wisdom of Providence, thac he should be subject to the penalty of it
, from which he can have no relief, but by the provision made in the covenant of grace; which covenant of grace is not a conditional one, as is suggested; nor is it tendered to any, much less to all mankind, to whom the gospel is vouchsafed, or to any left by God's decree of Preterition, under the disability of the fall; buc is a covenant made with Chrift on the behalf of God's elect; is eltablished in him, on better promises than con. ditional ones, depending on the power and will of man, being absolute and fure to all the seed