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I. What this state of probation is, ar what is meant by it?
1. This state of trial is not of mens graces, as faith, patience, &c. by afflictive du penfations of providence; for men in general are not in fuch a ftate, fince all men have not graces to be tried; nor is the state of every man an afflicted one in this life; this is a state peculiar to the people of God, and to them only when converted; for before converfion they have no gon a be tried; and with fome of the the a very short, and fo far from beng te lae v man whilst in this wont,
be seen hereafter, the pros u the be probation pretty much the site. seare the
of fcripture, a
the graces of heim v di...
2. The fed.&
right, it ma
1. All thofe fcriptures are urged which fpeak of God's proving the children of Israel when in the wilderness, and in their own land, whether they would walk in his ftatutes, and keep his commandments or no; fuch as Exod. xvi. 4. and xx. 20. Deut. viii. 2. and xiii. 3. Judg. ii. 21, 22. and iii. 1, 4. It ought to be obferv'd, that these people were under a Theocracy, or the immediate government of God as their king, who gave them laws according to which they thould act ; to which they readily promised a cheerful and univerfal obedience; on condition of which obedience they were to enjoy, and continue in their enjoyment of the land of Canaan. Therefore, before they enter'd into the land, and when in it, God was pleased to try them, fometimes in one way, and fometimes in another, whether they would yield that obedience to his commands which he required, and abide by the promises which they themselves had made, or no; all which he did not for his own fake, who knows all things, but that their obedience, or difobedience might be made manifeft, and he be juftified in all his dealings with them. This trial of their obedience was not in order to their falvation in another world, but to their temporal good in this: For fuch of them as were faved with an everlasting falvation,
Whitby, P. 305, 314.
were lived not by their obedience to the commands of God, but by the grace of the Lord Jefus Chrift. Befides, the fcriptures produced, speak only of the people of Irael, and of what was their ftate and cate as a politic body, under the immediate government of God in a certain period of time; and not of all mankind; and fo fall abundantly fhort of proving that the ftate of man in this world, is fuch a frate ct proba tion as before described.
2. This is attempted to be proves from
Pfal. lxvi. 10. Daniel x 35-
is a fuficient res
is alleged from thefe panager ince de
and that not in order
that these scriptures are infufficient proofs of every man's being in a state of probation, in order to everlasting happiness or mifery.
3. This is faid to be evident from all the promises and threats recorded in the fcripture, to engage all men to repent, and turn to God; for 'tis added, no fuch thing is, or can reasonably be offered to them who are already in a fixed ftate, either of happiness or mifery. To which I reply, that the promifes and threats recorded in the fcripture, which relate to mens fpiritual and eternal good, may be reduced to, and comprehended in these words; He that believeth and is baptized, fhall be faved; he that believeth not shall be damned; which was the fubftance of the gofpel miniftry the apostles had in commiffion from Chrift, to fulfil, and which might be exercifed fully and throughly, fuppofing a fixed ftate of happiness and mifery; fince fuch a miniftry might be, and is used, through the grace of God, to bring those who are defigned for happiness into a state of grace meet for the fame; and to leave others inexcufable, to discover the more, the corruption and vitiofity of their nature, and fo to justify the righteous proceedings of God against them.
4. This is argued for from all the exhortations of the holy fcripture to men, to i Whitby, p. 306.
watch and pray, that they enter not, and are not led into temptation, and from fuch fcriptures which fuppofe men to be in danger by temptation; the paffages referred to are, Matt. vi. 13. and xxvi. 41. Luke viii. 13. 1 Thess. iii. 5. which only regard the faints, or fuch who profefs to be fo, and not all mankind. Besides, if God has put all men into a state of probation, and this defigned by temptation, how fhould 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 fhould men watch and pray against it? if a bad one, can it be reasonably fuppofed that God has put men into it, in order to their everlasting good? and why then fhould it be
5. This is faid to be evident from the temptations of Satan, who goes about continually, feeking whom he may devour; and 'tis added, to what end fhould he tempt, or endeavour to deftroy the elect, or strive to hinder the progrefs of the gospel, or the converfion of any man; when fuppofing a fixed ftate by the decrees of God, and a divine unfruftrable operation on the hearts of men, he muft know that his labour will certainly be in vain: To which I answer, That Satan has not the book of life in his