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who never received the grace of God in truth; yet it will not be eafy to prove that ever any, fruitful in the works of righteousness, which I think a man cannot be without the grace of God, did not continue to the end, or ever proved an hypocrite: nor has such an one, who acts from an internal principle of grace, any reafon to doubt either of his fincerity, or of his continuance in the way of righteousness; for tho' he cannot prove the truth of his faith by better works than an hypocrite may do in fhew; yet he is confcious to himself of inward principles of love to God, and regard to his glory, from whence he acts, which an hypocrite is an utter ftranger to. It is, indeed, uncomfortable for a man to doubt either of his fincerity, or of his continuance in the way of righteousness, and a true believer may be left to doubt of both, and yet his final perfeverance be certain; which does not depend upon his frames, but the power of God, the confideration of which may yield him relief and comfort, when the contrary doctrine muß be diftreffing.
(2.) "Let men hold what doctrines they please, yet, as it is with them who question Providence and a future Judgment, their impious perfuafions cannot remove their fears, arifing from the dictates of a natural confcience; fo neither can mens theological perfuafions remove the fears and doubtR 3
ings, which do as naturally arife from the dictates of a confcience enlighthed by the word of God." We are obliged to this writer, for the kind and good-natur'd comparifon he makes between us and the dif puters of Providence and a future Judgment; between their impious perfuafions concerning these things, and our theological ones, as he calls them, about the doctrine of perfeverance, and between their fears, arifing from the dictates of a natural confcience, and thofe of others, arifing from the dictates. of an enlightned one. Tho' it thould be obferved, that the doubts and fears of believers concerning falling from grace, do not arife from the dictates of a confcience enlightned by the word, but rather from a confcience darkned by fin, and loaded with the guilt of it, upon which a wrong judgment is formed of their state and condition. A believer may fall into fin, and conscience may pronounce him guilty of it, and condemn him for it, whereby his peace may be broken, and his comfort loft; which are reftored, not by fincere repentance, removing the guilt, as is intimated, but, by the application of the blood of Chrift, which fpeaks peace, yields comfort, and encourages confidence in God, notwithstanding all the condemnations of his heart and confcience. It is in this way he only defires to have peace nor does the word of and comfort:
God deny it him this way, but gives it, and he receives it, tho' his heart cannot afford it, but fuggefts the contrary: for if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our beart and knows all things. And tho' a believer may lose the comfort of the divine favour, when his intereft in it remains firm and inviolable; yet his lofs of comfort does not neceffarily cut off his affurance of being a child of God, and of his perfeverance to the end; nor has he any reafon, upon every fall into fin and condemnation of confcience, for it, to fufpect his fall from grace, and the truth of his fincerity: nor does this doctrine of perfeverance make men lefs careful, but more fo, to avoid all wilful violations of the law; nor less speedy, but more fo, in their application to the blood of Chrift for pardon and cleansing, in the exercife of faith and repentance, and in the performance of every religious duty; fince thefe are means of their holding out and perfevering to the end.
N the controversy between the Calvinifts and Arminians concerning the decrees of Election and Reprobation, the Freedom of man's will, and the Specialty of God's grace, it is obferved by the former, that many of the arguments of the latter feem as ftrongly to conclude against God's foreknowledge of future contingencies, as against his abfolute decrees; that what is faid in favour of the freedom of mens wills, and against the determination of them by a divine influence, weakens the providence of God, and that the cafe of the heathens being left without a revelation, cannot well be reconciled to the doctrines of univerfal Grace and general Redemption. The learned writer, attended to, propofes, in his fixth Difcourfe, an answer to these three objections, which he eafily faw lay against the doctrines he had afferted in his former difcourfes, and the arguments by which he endeavoured to con
firm them, which I shall confider and reply to in this and the following chapter. And,
I. It must be, and is generally allowed, that God had from eternity a prescience or fore-knowledge of all future events; of all future contingencies, even of the free actions of mens wills; of every thing that should be done in time, to the end of the world, and to all eternity. He fore-knew what all men would do, or would not do; who would believe and repent, and who would not; and who would perish, and who would be eternally faved: which fore-knowledge is not conjectural, uncertain, and precarious; but is real, certain, and infallible; whence it. must follow, that whatfoever arguments are advanced upon the attributes of God, his wifdom, juftice, holiness, truth, fincerity, goodness and mercy; or upon the methods and dealings of God with the fons of men, against the abfolute decrees of God, are as much oppofed unto and lie as strongly against the fore-knowledge of God; fince that as much requires the certainty, and secures the infallibility of the event, as his abfolute decrees do; otherwife his foreknowledge would not be knowledge, but conjecture. The answer to this is ",
* Whitby, p. 491. Ed, 2, 407.