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´╗┐Title: Free and Impartial Thoughts, on the Sovereignty of God, The Doctrines of Election, Reprobation, and Original Sin: Humbly Addressed To all who Believe and Profess those Doctrines.
Author: Finch, Richard, 1710-1763
Language: English
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Free _and_ Impartial

THOUGHTS,

ON THE

Sovereignty _of_ God,

THE

DOCTRINES

OF

Election, Reprobation,

AND

Original Sin:

Humbly Addressed

To all who Believe and Profess those

DOCTRINES.


The Second Edition, Corrected and Enlarged.


_LONDON:_

Printed for J. ROBINSON, at the _Golden-Lion_, in _Ludgate-Street._

M.DCC.XLV.



THE

PREFACE

_I Cannot find, upon the most impartial Retrospection of the
Argument, any Reason to alter my Sentiments concerning it; and as it
is a Matter of the greatest Importance, 'tis hoped that those who
maintain the Doctrines of_ Election, &_c. will afford it all the
Weight and Consideration it deserves. But, if there be any among
them, who will hear no Reason or Argument whatever, and are_ sure,
only because they are sure, _I Have_ little _or_ no Hopes _to
prevail with them, to give me a fair Hearing, or to think_ candidly
_and_ impartially _about it. But as there are among them, some, who
no doubt will allow the_ Possibility _of their being in an Error; to
all such I address my self, and beseech them, as much as possible to
lay aside Prejudice and Partiality; wisely considering, that many of
their Fore-fathers maintained some erroneous Doctrines, with as much
Zeal, and Integrity, as they their Descendants now do the Doctrines
of_ Election, &_c. and yet saw Occasion to renounce them
afterwards._

_There is Reason to fear, the just Liberty I have taken with the_
Doctrines of Election, &_c. may, by some, be deem'd Blasphemy
against_ God _himself; but I am far from intending any such thing.
These Doctrines (I think) on the contrary, are_ in them selves
_nothing better than_ blasphemous, _tho' the Intentions of some who
maintain them, be ever so devout and sincere: And if an Impeachment
of Doctrines, which, instead of preserving_ God's Moral Character,
_robs him of all that is dear and valuable, or that can render him
lovely and adorable to Man, be accounted_ Blasphemy, _the Ignorance
and Bigotry of those, who judge after that Manner, ought much to be
lamented. It is a melancholy Truth, that where Prejudice, in favour
of false Principles, has had early and frequent Access to the Mind,
it too often shuts the Ear against Reason and Truth; and 'tis very
hard to persuade such People to enter at all, and much less
impartially, into the Merits of an Argument advanced against them;
nor indeed is the Liberty of Thought on_ Religious Subjects, duly
inculcated _in Religious Assemblies: For, the_ Teachers of
Christianity, _tho' they are seldom averse to give us the Compliment
of a_ just Liberty of thinking for ourselves, _are but too apt_ to
set the Terrors of the Lord in array against Unbelievers; _tho'
perhaps_ their Dissent _may sometimes be only the_ innocent Effect,
_of the best Examination they are able to make. And if there be any
thing worthy of Notice, in what I have advanced, I hereby intreat
all, into whose Hands this Treatise may come, not to be terrified,
by any such popular Arts, from making a thorough Examination for
themselves; on the other hand, I am altogether as willing to set
right, in whatever I may have erred, or been mistaken._

_'Tis well known, the 17th Article of our own_ National Church,
_greatly favours the_ Doctrines _of_ Election _and_ Reprobation;
_and it is also generally believed, that the_ Better Part _of our
Clergy entirely disapprove these Doctrines, and would very readily
assist in expunging them out of their_ Creed; _which would render
their Consciences much easier, than now they are, or can be, under a
Subscription in a Sense so_ very qualified _and_ remote _from the_
natural Intent _and_ Meaning _of the_ Article.

_Experience makes it evident, that Education is able to retain Men
of the_ Brightest Understanding, _in the Belief of the_ Greatest
Absurdities. _But, that Men of Learning, Ingenuity and Experience,
who have lived perhaps to the Age of fifty, in the Disbelief of the_
Doctrines _of_ Election, &_c. should after that sincerely embrace
them, is to me Matter of great Astonishment; yet this I am inform'd
is really the Case, with regard to one of the most ingenious_
Divines, _our Metropolis has to boast of. One Reason may perhaps be
alledged, for such an unexpected Alteration of Sentiment_, viz.
_That tho' we disbelieve these Doctrines, because they are_ absurd,
_yet we hold at the same time, others_, equally repugnant _to
Reason, and to Common Sense; and certainly we may as reasonably_
embrace _the one as_ retain _the other. Besides, with what
reasonable Expectation of Success could such a Man as this sit down
to argue with_ another _of_ absurd Principles, _when_ he himself
_might be so easily abash'd and put to Silence, by an Appeal to_
other Principles, _of_ his own, _equally absurd and inexplicable.
The best way then, instead of embracing a_ fresh, _absurd, Principle
of Faith, is, to renounce the_ old. _I would not willingly Offend_
Any, _by a special Application to_ particular Societies _and_
Doctrines: _let but every Man make an honest Application to himself,
and the Articles of Faith he professes, and the Work of Reformation
will, I am persuaded, gain something thereby. And that, not only
these Doctrines, but every other absurd Principle of Faith, which
either Ignorance, or Design, may have introduced into the Christian
church, to the_ Dishonour _of_ God, _the_ Burthen _and_ Reproach _of
Human Nature, may be_ utterly exploded, _is the incessant Wish, and
earnest Desire, of_

The Author.



Free _and_ Impartial

THOUGHTS, &_c_.

_CHRISTIANITY_ having been instituted, by its great Author and
Publisher, for the Benefit and Advantage of Mankind, it is pity we
should so greatly differ, concerning what _Genuine Christianity_ is;
if the _Holy Bible_, as we generally agree, was designed to lead us
to the true Knowledge of God, and to be a standing and perpetual
Rule of _Faith_ and _Manners_ to Men, it must surely have been
greatly corrupted since the primitive Times of the Gospel, or the
_Explication_ of it designedly left to a more excellent and superior
Director: For the seeming Contradictions, and Multiplicity of
obscure Passages, wherewith it abounds, shew plainly it could never,
in its present Condition, be a Rule of Faith, &_c_. becoming an
all-wise and perfect Being, to give to rational Creatures. Every _good
Man, Society_, and _State_, study Perspicuity in all their _Rules,
Orders, and Statutes,_ dispensed to their _Families, Members,_ and
_Subjects:_ and can we suppose, that He, who is perfect in
Knowledge, would, in the Dispensation of his Laws, take less care of
the everlasting State of his immortal Creature _Man?_ Yet it is
plain, we differ in our Sentiments of Religion, and greatly too, for
want, as I sincerely hope, of the Knowledge of better Helps, to
direct our Inquiries, in Matters, the true Knowledge whereof, is of
so considerable Moment. Therefore,

I intend, in the Course of this Debate, to descant _freely_, on the
Doctrines of _Divine Sovereignty, Election, Reprobation_, and
_Original Sin;_ and also, on the Arguments which some ingenious
Gentlemen have used to support them. But I hope (with regard to the
_Authors_ I may possibly name) to be perfectly decent, and to treat
them with all becoming Respect and Deference, as I think Men of
Integrity, Learning and Abilities deserve; who, though in some
Points they may err, and hold Doctrines in their own Nature and
Tendency altogether subversive of Religion and Morality, do
nevertheless not perceive them to have these Tendencies, and are
therefore by _no Means_ chargeable with them. Yet, as touching the
_Doctrines_ themselves, I shall presume to speak freely, both in
regard to their Nature, and what appears to me to be their genuine
Fruits and Effects.

It is with me an establish'd Truth, that the mistaken Notion of some
_learned Men_, concerning the _Sovereignty_ of the _Deity_, has
given these Doctrines a more favourable Acceptance in the World,
than otherwise they would, or could, ever have met with; and
notwithstanding all the Pains and Arguments these Gentlemen have
bestowed, to reconcile their Doctrines to our common Sense of
_Right_ and _Wrong_, it is plain, that, at _bottom_, this is the
grand governing Principle. For, when their Attempts to reconcile
these Doctrines with common Sense and Equity fail, they have
immediate Recourse to God's _Sovereignty_, and even go so far, at
least in Effect, as to deny there is _any_ intrinsick Difference in
Things themselves, as shall be made appear from their most approved
Writers, whenever they are pleased to demand it: But as this
Principle of _Sovereignty_ is most certainly their strong Hold, I
shall therefore endeavour to go to the Depth of this Argument; and
shew, in the first Place, how greatly they misapprehend the Nature
of this _Attribute;_ and, in the second Place, granting it to be as
they say, I shall then shew the _precarious_ and _miserable_
Condition of all Mankind, not excepting the Elect themselves, under
the Government of such an arbitrary Being.

To begin with the first. That God is a _Sovereign_, we readily
allow: But it will not therefore follow, he is _morally capable_ of
doing any thing, in its _own Nature_, immoral or unjust. All
religious Debates are allowed to be best determinable by the divine
Attributes; and yet nothing is more common, than to single out, and
lay the greatest Stress on, that Attribute alone, which appears best
to suit our own particular Opinions: which, however innocent our
Intention may be, is, I think, in itself, a very erroneous and
unwarrantable Procedure; for as God is _all-wise_ and _good_, as
well as _almighty_ and _independent_, it is, in the Nature of
Things, impossible (and therefore we should never admit it possible)
he should be capable (in a moral Sense, I mean) of exerting any one
particular Attribute in _Opposition_ to, or _Diminution_ from,
another. A _Sovereign_ he is, nor can any Creature whatever dispute
his _unlimited_ and _uncontroulable_ Power over his _whole
Creation_. But Power alone, without Wisdom and Goodness to make a
right Use and Application of it, may be perfect _Frenzy_, and run
into the greatest Latitude of _Folly_ and _Tyranny_. It is, if I may
be allowed the Comparison, like a _Vessel_ that has lost its Helm,
continually exposed to the tossing of Winds and Waves. To talk,
therefore, of _mere Sovereign Pleasure_, without Regard to the
proper Reason or Fitness of Things, so far operating and bring in
the _Divine Mind_ (and which is nothing more than the Presence and
Operation of his own Wisdom) in order to prefer what, in its own
Nature, is _best_, and _fittest_ to be done, is excluding from the
Deity, those _more_ blessed and _valuable Perfections_ of _Wisdom_
and _Goodness_, and establishing in their room, and at their
Expence, mere Sovereign Power alone. _Physically speaking_ indeed,
we allow God can do Evil itself; but the moral Perfections of his
Nature, are to us an _infallible_ and _unshaken Security_, that he
_never will_ do it. _Man_ being an impotent and fallible Creature,
liable, not only to mistake the true Nature and importance of
Things, but when he does understand his Duty rightly, liable also,
thro' the Prevalence of _Habit_ and _Passion_, to be very backward
and defective in performing it, must necessarily be subject to such
Laws, as contain in them Rewards and Punishments, proper to
influence his _Hopes_ and his _Fears_.

But as God, on the contrary, is a Being of all possible and infinite
Perfections; an exact Knowledge of what we call _Right_ and _Wrong_,
_Just_ and _Unjust_, ever hath, and always will exit in the _Divine
Mind_, and be to him a perfect, constant, and invariable Rule of
Action, in relation to his Creatures. He that is _infinite_ in
Knowledge, cannot but know, at all Times, and under the most (to us)
difficult and perplex'd Circumstances of Things, what in its _own
Nature_ is _best_, and _fittest_ to be done; and, being void of all
Bias, Prejudice, and Passion, cannot but approve of what is _right_
and _best;_ and being likewise _Almighty_, no Power can possibly
interrupt, or prevent what he determined to accomplish: So that it
is _morally impossible_, that God should do an evil Thing, These
Truths are so deducible from each other, and in themselves so
evident, to all unbiassed and inquisitive Minds, that one would
wonder to find Men, of Learning and Integrity, give into the
contrary Sentiments; which, in Effect they do, who hold Doctrines
_naturally subversive_ of these fundamental Truths, as all certainly
do, who depart from the moral Good and Fitness of Things, and
resolve all into _mere sovereign Pleasure_ alone, _independent_ of
Wisdom and Goodness; which must ever be at hand to _cooperate_ with,
and govern the Exertion of, their favourite Attribute, _sovereign
Power_ itself; or, if they do not expressly affirm this, they do by
another Method the very same thing; and that is, by denying, in
Effect, the _intrinsick Difference_ of Good and Evil, which,
according to them, has no Foundation in the _Nature_ and Relations
of Things, but takes its Rise, only, from the mere Will and
Appointment of the _Deity_. But if all Things are in themselves
equally Good, where is the Use to _appoint_, or the Sense of talking
about it? Wisdom and Goodness must, according to this Notion, be
idle and unmeaning Sounds, without Sense or Service. But alas! the
natural Consequence of maintaining Tenets, so repugnant to common
Sense, is seldom less than running into and embracing other
Absurdities, in themselves equally great with what they are brought
to defend, And here, as some of these Gentlemen are exalted, and I
hope deservedly, to the Dignity of Teachers in the _Christian
Church_, they will, I hope, permit me to ask them a Question or two,
which I should, on almost any other Occasion, blush to ask any
rational Man, _viz_. If they do not perceive an intrinsic Beauty and
Excellence in Virtue, as opposed to Vice; independent of all
_positive_ or arbitrary Appointment, tho' of the _Deity_ itself; and
whether, besides the Commands of God, (which to be sure are of high
Importance, and ought ever to be urged with great Strength and
Energy) they do not also _press_ upon their Hearers, the Practice of
Virtue, and endeavour to recommend, and inforce it on the Mind, from
its _own_ native Charms? But to make this Matter, still, if
possible, more evident; let us suppose the present excellent Order
of Things inverted, and that God, of his own mere Pleasure, had
given Mankind quite contrary Laws, and commanded _Rebellion, Murder,
Ingratitude_, and all Manner of Intemperance and Debauchery, instead
of their _opposite virtues;_ would the same Fitness, Beauty, and
Propriety, appear to these Gentlemen, as there now does, in
_Virtue?_ If not, from whence the Difference arises, let them
answer.

As God is an infinite Mind or Spirit, perfectly acquainted, at every
Instant of Time, with whatever _hath been, is_, or _shall be;_ and
all Things _possible to be;_ 'tis evident, that all possible
Relations of Persons and Things are fully known to him; and that all
_moral_ and _divine_ Obligations, arising from the Relation we stand
in to God, and to each other, did, in their own Nature, _previous_
to actual Law or Commandment, exist; because the one was in Time,
and the other Eternal; one commenced only (at best) with the _Being_
and _Beginning_ of Creatures, the other was from all Eternity,
_co-existent_ with the _Divine Wisdom_ itself; and such an inseparable
Concomitant therewith, that, in regard to the _Divine Being_,
himself, it was absolutely impossible, but that, on his creating
such a Rank of Beings as we are, _moral_ and _religious_ Obligations
must have been _invariably_ and _unalterably_ the same; and if, as
these Men teach, God's having commanded the Practice of Virtue, be
its peculiar Sanction, and that _alone_ which distinguishes it from
Vice or Evil; then, by the same or as good an Argument, his
commanding Light in the Beginning, is all the Reason we have for
esteeming Light and Darkness different, (as they really are) the one
being the actual Pretence of a real Body, and the other a mere Name,
to signify its Absence; not that Vice is therefore a mere Name, to
signify the Absence of Virtue, for Comparisons seldom hold good in
_every_ minute Particular; but there is a Parity between the two
Cases, sufficient to justify my bringing in the one, as an
Illustration of the other. There is no Knowledge _more certain_,
than what Mankind commonly have of Good and Evil; and he who, in
order to serve any private Scheme of Religion, goes about to
depreciate this Knowledge, robs Mankind of all Truth and Certainty
whatever, and in the End subjects his own darling Schemes to the
same Uncertainty; for if we cannot judge of the Fitness, of plain
moral Truth and Duty, neither can we of any Scheme of Religion;
especially such as hang together more by Art and human Contrivance,
than by Reason or Revelation.

Being very desirous to get all the Information I could, concerning
the Matter in Debate; I have attentively read over Mr. _Cole's_
Treatise on the _Sovereignty_ of God. I know 'tis thought an
unanswerable Performance; and, so far as it regards general
Christianity, it is worth every Christian's serious Notice: But as
to the Doctrine it was wrote to support, it leaves it (in my
Judgment) no better than it found it; but is miserably weak, and
defective, as to any Thing that looks like sound Reason, or true
Argument; and amounts to no more than this _poor Assertion, That
because God is a Sovereign, he may do what he pleases:_ And, from
the Instances he brings from Scripture, 'tis plain, that Mr. _Cole_
himself pays as _little_ Regard to the intrinsick Worth and
Excellence of Things, as is done by many of his Brethren. The manner
in which he has been pleased to give us the Story of _Jacob_ and
_Esau_, proves the Truth of this Observation, I have no great
Inclination to spend Time in explaining _hard Passages_ of
Scripture, (tho' if any thing of that kind can be serviceable, or
deem'd excellent, 'tis Mr. _Taylor_ of _Norwich_ his Book on
_Original Sin_,) or to trespass on the Reader's Patience, by
throwing one Text of _hard_ and _uncertain_ Meaning against another;
for by this means the Controversy hath been needlessly prolonged.
Where the Scriptures are _plain_, _positive_ and _reasonable_, their
Authority ought to be conscientiously adhered to: But as this is not
always the Case, the _next_ Thing to knowing what is the _true
Meaning_ of any particular Text of Scripture is, to know what it
neither _does_ nor _can_ possibly mean; in which Case, the Divine
Attributes, and the Nature and Reason, or (if you please) Fitness of
Things, is the best Rule. We _cannot_, it is impossible we _should_,
understand the certain determinate Meaning of any Text of Scripture
_better_, if altogether _so well_, as we do _know_ certainly, that
God is _just_ and _good_, and _know_ also as clearly, what _Justice_
and _Goodness_ mean, when applied to the _Deity_, as we do, when we
apply them to _ourselves_. And this Rule, if duly observed, would be
abundantly sufficient, to set aside many Interpretations of
Scripture, too commonly admitted upon this and the like Occasions.
And, besides this never failing Argument (to all who attend duly to
its Force) it is worth while, just to remark, that though, as the
_Bible_ now stands, there are in it (as we must acknowledge) some
Passages, which (especially at first sight) seem to favour the
Doctrine of _Sovereignty_, &c. yet as it is possible, nay sometimes
easy, to give them _another interpretation_, and the general Scope
and Tenor of the Scripture being agreeable to such an Interpretation,
we have abundantly more Reason to _reject_, than to _admit_ of the
Sense, in which these Gentlemen are pleased to understand and
expound many Texts of the _Bible_, relating to this and other
affinitive Points.

I would not, as I observed before, presume to impose on the Reader's
Time and Patience, by entering unnecessarily into the scriptural
Part of the Argument; yet I must beg Leave, to make now and then an
Observation or two as I go along: And the first Thing that falls in
my way is, the Story of _Jacob_ and _Esau_, and the Account which
Mr. _Cole_ gives of it. He not only relates the Story, but assures
us, that _Jacob's_ obtaining the Blessing was of Divine Appointment,
and (what is more extraordinary) that the _Falsehood_ and _Fraud_ he
practised to accomplish it, was all of God's own immediate
Direction; and this he gives as an Instance of God's _Sovereignty_,
and proceeding contrary to the moral Fitness of Things, and the
Nature of those Laws he hath given to Man. That God intended _Jacob_
the _Blessing_, or preferred him to _Esau_, I readily grant; but
cannot admit it to be inferred from thence, that the Means, by which
it was, as we reckon, accomplished, were _Divine_ also: There is a
more natural or (at least) more justifiable way of accounting for
the whole Matter. According to the History, it seems plain, that
_Rebecca_ only, and not her Husband, was privy to this Designation
of the _Deity:_ she had upon Inquiry (when with Child) received such
an Assurance from the Lord; which might be the _first Cause_ of her
preferring _Jacob_ to _Esau_, and which in Time, 'tis probable, grew
up into a much greater Degree of _Partiality_ and _Fondness:_ All
this Time the good Old _Patriarch_, her Husband, seems to have been
entirely unacquainted with the Affair. And when the Time drew nigh,
in which, according (as some think) to Custom, he was about to
_bless_ his _eldest_ Son, _Rebecca_ then grew diffident of the
Accomplishment of the Promise made in _Jacob's_ Behalf, and applied
herself to the Means, which the Text tells us was used on that
Occasion. As to the Authority those Heads of Families had to _confer
Benefits_ on their Offspring, by way of _Blessing_, though I shall
not now much contend about it, yet give me Leave to make a few
Observations. It don't appear to me that _Isaac_, in giving his
Blessing, did so properly or so much bestow it on the _Person_ of
_Jacob_ present, as he did on the _Person_ of _Esau_ absent; because
it is the Intention which ought principally to be regarded, and
_Esau_ undoubtedly was intended. Again, this way of blessing, if
considered in itself as a mere Tradition, could be _no more_
efficacious, than what now prevails in some Parts of the _Christian
Church_. All true Authority of this kind (if any there be) must
result from _immediate Inspiration and Command;_ and whether _Isaac_
had these Qualifications, while _Jacob_ stood before him,
personating _Esau_, is a Matter of no small Doubt and Dispute. He
was ('tis evident) much surprised at the _Cheat_, put on him by his
_Wife_ and _Son_, and would doubtless very willingly have given
_Esau_ the Preference, according to his first Intention; but
something _supernatural_ seems now to have seized and satisfied him,
that _Jacob_ was the Person intended; for he cries out, "I have
blessed him, yea and he shall be blessed." And this latter
Assurance, and the Energy and Satisfaction wherewith the Words were
pronounced, I take _rather_ to have been the _true Blessing_ than
the _other_. For, as the Reason of _Jacob's_ Dissimulation was
intirely owing to his Mother's Diffidence and Impatience; so, there
is no Doubt to be made, but that the _Almighty_ himself would, had
she not interfered, have brought it about in a manner becoming his
_Holiness_, and not by _Falsehood_, _Deceit_, and _Dissimulation_.
_Religion_ can never be _more_ dishonoured, or the Despensations of
God to Mankind receive _greater_ Reproach, than when _Divine
Purposes_ are (under God's immediate Direction) said to be
accomplish'd by Methods in themselves _evil_ and _immoral_, and
altogether opposite to His Commands. Hath he forbid us Lying, under
the _Penalty_ of _Hell-Fire_, and shall he himself practise it, or
immediately influence another to do it, for the sake of bringing to
pass some Event, which he could as easily have accomplish'd, by
Methods purely righteous and honourable! And had _Jacob_ never been
prompted, or attempted to obtain the Blessing in the manner he did
attempt it, 'tis more than probable, that God, who removed _Isaac's_
Surprise, and caused him to break forth as he did, "I have blessed
him, yea and he shall be blessed," would never have permitted or
impowered _Isaac_, to have _blessed Esau_, in an _effectual_ manner
beyond his Brother: Or if a mere Pronouncing of Words, when uttered
as a Blessing from the Heads of Families, was in itself an
_irreversible Blessing_, and _Isaac_ had attempted to bestow it on
_Esau_, God no doubt would have stayed his Mouth by _Intimations
within;_ as he did, on another Occasion, the _Hand of Abraham_, by
an Angel without: Provided, I say, it be allowed, that a _formal
Blessing_, from the Mouth of _Isaac_, was necessary to confirm on
_Jacob_ those superior Privileges, which God had designed for him;
and that this Interpretation of the Text is more honourable, and
better becoming the Truth and Majesty of the _Divine Being_. I
appeal not to Reason only, but to Mr. _Cole_ himself: For whatever
Influence Prejudice, or Enthusiasm, may have on some Minds, there
are certain Seasons, wherein Truth will display itself to the Realm
and Understanding of Mankind, and extort, even from the Mouths of
those, who sometimes oppose her, the most ample Concessions in her
Favour. Take the following as an Instance--_Cole's Sovereignty of
God_, Page 41, 2d Edit. "To this also might be added the strict
Injunctions that God hath laid upon the subordinate Dispensers of
his Law; as namely, to judge the People with just Judgment, not to
wrest Judgment, nor respect Persons; yea, he curseth them that
pervert Judgment, and will surely reprove them that accept Persons;
and shall mortal Man be more just than God? will he, under such
Penalties, command Men to do thus, and not do so himself?"

The Argument is undoubtedly equally applicable to the Sin of
_Lying_, or indeed to any Sin whatever; and I appeal to every
unprejudiced Reader, if any Thing more to the Purpose could be
urged, against his own Account of the Affair between _Jacob_ and
_Esau_, or even against the Doctrine itself, which he writes his
Book to support: and this, in Conjunction with my foregoing
Arguments, may, I hope, be Answer sufficient for the Use they make
of _all other_ parallel Places of Scripture.

By this Concession 'tis plain, that Justice and Goodness in God are,
by this Author, considered the same as in us; how else were it
possible, to understand what the Laws of God truly mean? _Be you
perfect, as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect_, is a plain
Indication (taking in the Context) of the moral Perfections of the
Divine Nature, in Part apparent to us, as the Text observes, from
his admirable Bounty in the Creation; _He causeth his Sun to rise on
the Evil and on the Good, and sendeth his Rain on the Just and the
Unjust_. Though at other Times, when these Gentlemen are hard
pinched with the Iniquity and Injustice of their Doctrines, they
apply for Refuge to the _Sovereignty_ of God, and give strong
Intimations, that _Justice_ and _Goodness_, when applied to him, are
mere unmeaning Sounds, which at best signify, what mere Sovereignty
pleases to do, and that when applied to Man, they signify quite
another Thing. And this naturally leads me to the second Thing I
proposed to consider, _viz_. That allowing the Doctrine of
_Election_ to be, as they say, resolveable into God's Sovereignty;
that God is just such a Sovereign, as this Doctrine supposes, and
these Gentlemen take him to be; that they have his Word for their
own Election and Salvation; yet even then, there could be no manner
of Certainty as to Religion, no Dependance on the Promises and
Threatnings of the Gospel; and consequently, the supposed Elect must
_beat the Air_, and run at the same or as great Uncertainties, as
any other Persons whatever, under the Government of such an
arbitrary Being.

I have, to avoid Dispute, proposed this Argument more to the
Advantage of the Elect, than I was strictly obliged to do, by
allowing them to be absolutely certain, that God has told them, that
they are his Elect, and that he will give them eternal Life; which,
allowing the Doctrine of _Election_ to be true, is generally much
more than they can prove, either to themselves, or to others:
allowing, I say, the Doctrine of _Election_ to be clearly revealed
in Scripture, there will be this Difficulty behind, as to the
certain Marks of being of that Number. The Scripture must also as
clearly reveal the Marks, as it does the Doctrine, or we shall not
be able to apply with any Certainty to ourselves. Is believing the
Doctrine, &_c_. and thinking myself one of this happy Number, a Rule
sufficient to abide by? If so, no Man who has this Faith, concerning
the _Doctrine_ and _himself_, can ever depart from it. Yet, there
have been many Instances of Persons, zealous in that way, who saw
Occasion afterwards to renounce the Doctrine itself, and with it
that _imaginary_ and _ungrounded Conceit_ of their being, for no
Reason whatever, God's dear Children and Favourites, and embraced,
in its room, the Doctrines of _universal Grace_ and _Free-will;_ and
upon the best Reasons too, for as without the one, God cannot be
just, so without the other, Man, being no Agent, can be no Subject
of Rewards and Punishments. These very Men were before thought to be
elect, by their most spiritual and best judging Brethren, who
pronounced them chosen in _Christ_, and unshaken in the Faith; and
so indeed they judged concerning themselves: But the Grace of God
being once permitted freely to operate in the Mind, it soon expelled
that Ignorance, and Narrowness of Spirit, which (even in many well
meaning Persons) is the genuine Effect of such narrow Doctrines. If
having this Faith be no certain Mark, because a Man may depart from
it, what Proof have they? surely none: But allowing them an absolute
Certainty, as to themselves, that God hath told them, in Person,
that they are his Elect, it will (on their own darling Principle of
Sovereignty) amount to just nothing at all; because, as a Sovereign,
God may promise one thing, and intend, nay do another, or the
contrary; nor can they prove, or have they the least Assurance, he
will not thus deal with them, without recurring to other Principles,
which will hold equally strong against the Doctrines themselves--To
this Dilemma are these Gentlemen inevitably reduced; they must
either give up the Doctrines, or part with any Security of
Dependance on God himself, as to their own Happiness. It will be _in
vain_, here, to refer to the _Goodness of God_, though, on _my_
Principles, the Argument would be unanswerable; on _theirs_, it is
_stark naught_, and avails nothing. And pray observe the _double
Dealing_ this reduces them to; it is something like setting up _two
Gods_ instead of one, or, which is much the same, ascribing to the
_eternal, unchangeable Being_, an inconsistent and contrary Conduct.
Here is, _first_, a _mere_ arbitrary Being, that decrees, or
pretends to decree, by mere _Sovereign Pleasure_ only, the Salvation
of the _Elect;_ but, because such a Being may as well break his
Promise as keep it, here is _another_ to make _good_ the Promise,
who invariably acts according to the moral Fitness of Things: Or, if
you take it the other way, here is, 1_st_, A Promise made as a mere
_Sovereign_, undetermined by, and unregardful of, _all_ moral
Obligations; and, 2_dly_, The Performance of this Promise is
expected, from a Principle of Justice and Goodness; ever conformable
_to_ the moral Reason and Fitness of Things: And certainly, in
either Case, it leaves Things very precarious; nor can the Promises
of such a Being as this (I speak it with all possible Reverence to
the true God himself) be any thing near so valuable, or fit to be
depended on, as the Engagements of a good and worthy Man. And
whatever these Gentlemen, to put a more plausible Out-side on their
Doctrines, say, concerning the Freedom and Excellence of that State,
wherein our first Father _Adam_ was created, and the _Possibility_
of his having remained perfectly innocent, and the Blessings of
eternal Life, which would have been thence derived to all his
Posterity, it is plain to me, they generally believe no such thing;
but that, on the contrary, God absolutely _willed_ and _decreed_ the
_Fall of Adam_, Mr. _Cole_ himself, their great Advocate, is far
from supposing the Condition of _Adam_ to have been proper for
abiding long in Obedience to the Divine Command, or that, had he
stood, his Posterity would have thence become _impeccable_ and
_happy:_ on the contrary, he represents _Adam's_ Condition as a very
weak and imperfect State, by no mean suited to the Temptations,
which his Maker knew he would shortly be exposed to, and overcome
with; and all his Posterity, _had they been tried one by one,
would_, it seems, _have failed as he did_, Page 72. If all this does
not amount to something equal to a positive Assertion, that God
_willed_ the Fall of Adam, and in Consequence of it, the Guilt and
Desert of eternal Death, which is said to be thence derived, to
_all_ his prosperity, I do not know what is, or can be equal to it;
and indeed all this, and much more, may easily be resolved into the
Doctrine of God's _Sovereignty:_ and whoever thinks I have
misrepresented their Faith, need only consult their great apostle
Mr. _Calvin_. But let me further pursue my Argument, to prove, that
tho' a Man of this _Faith_ has God's _own Word_ for his Election and
Salvation, he cannot, on this Principle of _mere Sovereignty_,
reasonably or safely depend on it: My Reason, which is short and
plain, I have already given; because God, as a _Sovereign_, may do
just what he pleases, _keep_ his Promises, or _break_ them. There
can be no Possibility of evading this Argument, without coming back
to the Goodness of God; which is at once to set aside mere
_Sovereign_ Pleasure, and evidently recurring to the moral Fitness
of Things. As much as these Gentlemen are pleased to despise this
moral Fitness, and superstitiously exalt the mere Will of God in
Opposition thereto; and if the _Goodness_ of God proves, that he
_cannot_ break the Promise he has made to them of eternal Life; it
is at least as strong a Proof to me, that such a good Being _could
not_ possibly make me for eternal Misery, or, which is the very same
Thing, will or decree the Fall of _Adam_, and pass the Sentence of
eternal Death on all his Posterity; the far greatest Part of whom he
leaves, in this Condition, to perish everlastingly, and _miserable_
me among the rest!

A Due Survey of the two Cases, or Conditions, of the Elect and
Non-elect, may serve to set this Matter in a clear Light, God being in
himself antecedent to the Existence of all other Beings, infinitely
glorious and happy, could have no Occasion for Creatures to add to
his Blessedness; all that we call _evil_, such as Cruelty and
Injustice in Man, ever arises from such a _vicious_ and _imperfect_
State of Mind, as cannot, for that Reason, possibly belong to
_Deity_. As the Sources, therefore, whence these Evils arise, cannot
be in God; such a Conduct, as these Doctrines suppose, is also
equally impossible to proceed from God, whose _only Intent_ in
creating must be, to communicate Happiness to his Creatures:
Creation infers Providence, and to bring a sensible rational Being
into this World; and, instead of taking _due Care_ of its Safety and
Happiness, to _decree_ and render it eternally miserable, is in its
_own Nature_, much worse than making an absolute Promise of eternal
Life to any created being, and _disappointing that Being_ of its
Happiness, whether by annihilation, or by changing it to another
State, or Mode of Being, no more happy than the present mortal Life;
'tis only a Breach of Promise, which, in such a _Sovereign_, is a
mere trifle. We have _no natural_ Right to Immortality, _much_ less
to immortal Happiness; it is the mere Effect of Divine Bounty--But,
being created in a weak, dependent State, and surrounded with Wants
and Infirmities, we _have_ a _natural Right_ to the Care and
Protection of our Maker; and tho' we allow, no _formal Promise_ is
made on our Behalf, yet the _very act_ itself, of creating such
Beings, and the Condition we _are_ placed in, contains in it the
_Substance_ of a Promise; and we may be assured, God will have
proper Regard to such Beings. If God be gracious enough to _give_
eternal Life, to which we have not the _least_ natural Right, can he
possibly with-hold that which, from our Make and Dependance on him,
we have just Reason to expect? and how Much more impossible is it,
that he should make us for everlasting Misery! To make _one Man_ for
Damnation, is much worse, than promising eternal Life to another,
and breaking that Promise; he that does the former, cannot be
depended on in the latter. Methinks, the very Creation itself, and
bountiful Provision therein made, for the Accommodation and
Happiness of Man, might assure us, that (Man being made principally
for another World) a _proportionate Care_ will be taken of his more
important and everlasting Concerns. Which presents me with a fair
Opportunity, of exposing a Notion these Gentlemen hold, or a Method
they have, of interpreting such plain Texts of Scripture, as are
brought to prove God's general Care and Providence over his whole
Creation; in _particular_, where _David_ says, "The tender Mercies
of the Lord are over all his Works:" This, if you believe them,
relates only to this Life; so I think Mr. _Gill_ says. But what
then, Is no Inference thence to be made? If God be thus tender, to
provide Temporals, how _much more_ will he be kind to the Soul, and
provide for _that!_ 'Tis a natural and strong Way of arguing, and it
was our Saviour's own Method of arguing, as the most Plain and
Conclusive: "Wherefore if God so cloath the Grass of the Field,
&_c_. How much more shall he cloath you, &_c_." _Mat_. vi. 30. The
Argument rises in one Case, as much above the other, as _immortal
Life_ is preferable to the present _mortal State;_ and suppose any
of us should sympathise with a near Friend, under a _small Degree_
of Pain and Affliction, would not the same Spirit of Friendship and
Humanity have a _stronger Sympathy_, when Affliction becomes more
intense and severe? To be tender and pitiful in the least and lowest
Matters, and unregardful and cruel in important and everlasting
Concerns, is, with regard to the _Divine Being_, a moral
Impossibility; 'tis _beneath_ human Nature and Prudence, and the
Practice of a good Man; And yet these Doctrines teach this horrible
impiety concerning the great God himself.

To sum up this Argument: That Being who can make a sensible rational
Creature, on _Purpose_ for _Damnation_, instead of taking a
reasonable Care of it, which, from its Make and Dependance, it has a
Right to expect, as much as though a formal Promise were made, may,
with altogether as much (_nay more_) Justice, break its Promises of
eternal Life, _made_ to another Creature of the same Kind; its Claim
not being founded in Nature, but built on Promise. As the former
would be a more cruel and un-justifiable Proceeding than the latter,
he that is capable of doing the one, can have _no moral Perfections_
in his Nature sufficient to secure the _Elect_ against his doing the
other: and on this _wild_ and _boundless_ Principle of _Sovereignty_,
it is possible that, with regard to _Religion_, Things may be quite
_reversed_ hereafter; the _Elect_, as they are called, made _miserable_,
and the _Non-elect, happy_. I think we may challenge the whole World,
to shew on this mad Principle the contrary; and why, as well as any
thing else, such an Economy may not be resolved into _Sovereign
Pleasure_. If God to _Isaac_ conveyed such errant Falshoods, by the
Instrumentality of _Jacob's Mouth_, _Why not_ make the same _deceitful
Use_ of the _Bible_, or even of his own immediate Word, in regard to
the Elect? If God, as Mr. _Gill_ (I think) observes, has two Wills,
"One publick Will of Command, and another of Intention, which is
private;" Why, with regard to the _Elect_, may he not promise one thing,
and intend, nay resolve on another? One would think it impossible, for
any understanding Man to judge thus of his Creator, that it is possible
he should command one Thing under the _severest Penalties_, and at
the _same Time_ not only _will_ and _intend_, but irresistibly and
secretly work to accomplish just the contrary, and (what is amazing
beyond Belief) after all punish severely the Creatures concerned,
whom he actuates to bring his secret Purposes to pass: If there can
be such a thing as arbitrary Power and tyrannical Government, in the
very worst Sense of all, here it is. And here certainly is all the
_Phrensy_, _Folly_, and _Tyranny_, which, I told you in the
Beginning, the Government of such an arbitrary Being (as these
Gentlemen represent the Deity to be) must ever be liable to.

It is evident, that as worthy Sentiments of God and of Religion,
better the Mind, and improve the Understanding; so do weak and
superstitious Principles corrupt the intellectual Faculty, and
render the Soul more blind and inhuman, than it is in its natural
State, unassisted and unimproved by Divine Grace. I have the rather
made choice of this Argument, not only because I have never seen it
urged before, but because I think it more nearly affects Men of this
Faith, than any I have hitherto met with. I may be mistaken; but
while it has such weight with me, I cannot but earnestly recommend
it to the serious and impartial Consideration of all who profess
this Faith, more especially those who preach it publickly to the
World; whose Acknowledgment of what I take to be Truth, or friendly
Animadversions thereon, will be Matter of no small Satisfaction to
me: But I must here enjoin one Caution, _viz_. that it will be a
absolutely in vain to produce Texts of Scripture, till this Point is
better settled between us. In the Art of evading Scripture Proofs, I
allow these Gentlemen to be very skilful and expert; nor can I help
believing, that a small Part of the Penetration and Dexterity,
usually exercised on these Occasions, would, in Men of contrary
Principles, or even in themselves, could they be persuaded to think
differently, be abundantly sufficient to overthrow even the
Doctrines themselves: They have a peculiar Talent, at misunderstanding;
and perverting the plainest Text, and rendering those which are
difficult and obscure in their literal Sense, with much Boldness, and
without Hesitation; they stumble in a plain Path at Noon-Day, and walk
carelessly at Midnight amongst Rock, and upon the most dangerous
Precipices. And here I might safely rest the Argument, and make a final
End of it. _Sovereignty_, such an one as they contend for, once proved,
any thing whatever may be allowed to follow, and all Disputations will
be utterly in vain. Allow but the _Roman Church_ its _Infallibility_,
and the Truth of other Doctrines will unavoidably follow. Till these
Gentlemen, I say, set my main Principles aside, all the Scripture in the
World will be nothing to their Purpose. Not but in the main the _Bible_
is against them; for the Scriptures _reveal_ God's Being and Attributes
_more clearly_ than they do most Points of Doctrine: the Reason is,
because the Doctrines commonly embraced, are in themselves _not so
plain_ to Reason, as the Being and Attributes of God; the latter being
generally acknowledged in all Christian Churches, tho' at the same
Time they widely differ about particular Doctrines, some of which
have no doubt been greatly corrupted in passing through _various
Hands_ and Translations: and I have been informed, by much better
Judges than I pretend to be, that the _New Testament_, even in these
very Doctrines I have been contending against, has, by _some
Partiality_ or _Neglect_, been made to speak more roundly in their
Favour, than the original _Greek_, or best Copies, will support; and
that, in some Places, the Meaning of the Original is inverted in the
Translation. The Scripture not only revealing to us the _Being_ and
_Attributes_ of God, _more clearly_ than it does many Doctrines, and
that Fundamental of all true Religion being also in itself perfectly
agreeable to the Light of Nature; 'tis evident, we are bound to
reject the most positive Text of Scripture militating against this
everlasting and fundamental Truth: and rather than part with this,
we had much better suppose the Writer, as to disputable Points, to
have been mistaken at the first, or the true Meaning corrupted by
others. The Translators are allowed to have been fallible Men, and
'tis very probable some Errors might creep in at that Door: But it
will not so easily be granted, that the _inspired Writers_ could
mistake, nor would I suppose it, unless in _very extraordinary
Cases_, where either _that_ or something _worse_ must be supposed;
and such a Supposition will, I am sure; much better become us, than
to imagine it possible for God to make a Revelation of his Will to
Man, which shall upon Examination be found _contrary_ to his Being
and Goodness, as well as expressly contrary to other _plain Parts_
of this Revelation, Tho' the Argument, I say, might be safely rested
here, yet as there are some well meaning Persons, who believe that
_Adam_ was made upright, and furnished with a Stock of Strength and
Understanding, sufficient to _preserve_ his Innocence; that God made
a Covenant with him, as our _Federal_ or _Representative Head_,
wherein it was stipulated, that if he continued upright, during the
Time of Probation allotted, _all_ his Posterity should be _for ever_
happy; but that if he fell, _all_ should be _subject_ to everlasting
Misery, as the counter Part of the Covenant; and he falling, the
Restoration of his fallen Race should be intirely owing to the good
Pleasure of God, who might _redeem all_ or only _a Part_, and leave
the rest to perish in the State wherein he found them, and in which
_Adam_ had involved them by his Transgression: This they call
_Preterition_, or a _Passing by_, which sounds a little better than
that harsh Word _Reprobation_, tho' in reality no better at all: And
on this first Transgression _some_ found the Doctrine of _Election_,
and others that of _Infant-Baptism_, as an Expedient to wash away
this original Guilt; and it must be owned, the Virtue of the Remedy
is admirably well suited to the Malignity of the Disease. I shall,
for their sakes, inspect a little farther into the Affair; to me it
appears unreasonable, and therefore improbable, that God should make
with _Adam_ any such Covenant or Agreement, or suffer the eternal
State of all Mankind to hang upon the single Thread of _one Man's_
Behaviour, and who too (it seems) God knew would swerve from his
Obedience: besides, in all equitable Covenants, _every Party_
concerned has a Right to be consulted, nor can they be justly
included to their own Detriment, without Consent first obtained,
(especially if the Thing covenanted for, has an immediate, or may
have a very fatal, tho' very remote, Tendency, to make _wretched_
and _unhappy_) which, in this Case, with regard to the Unborn, could
not possibly be had. I am sensible the Gentlemen against whom I am
arguing (especially Mr. _Gill_) have many pretty Inventions, to
justify such a Conduct in the Divine Being, such as producing
parallel Instances, drawn from the allowed Practice of Men, and Usage
of the State; in particular, the Law relating to _High-Treason_,
whereby a _Rebel's_ immediate Descendants are _deprived_ of
inheriting their Father's Estate, with others of a like Kind; to
all which, what I am about to offer may, I hope, be a sufficient
Answer: The two Cases differ so widely, that it will be no easy
Undertaking to make any Thing of this Instance in their Favour; and
'tis very surprising, to find Men of the brightest Intellects, so
weak as to argue and infer, from the Laws of _Fallible Men_, to the
Laws of an _Infallible_ and _Holy Being:_ The Inference ought rather
to be just the Reverse; for such Institutions as Men, in this weak
and imperfect State, may think convenient for their own Sakes, and
the Good of Society, to establish and ordain, can be _no Rule_ to
him, whose Infinite Wisdom and Almighty Power set him _far above_
all such Necessity. Nor, again, does this Case come up to the Matter
in Dispute: It is true, that the Heir of a convict Rebel _cannot_,
according to our Laws, inherit his Father's Estate; but what then,
does it deprive him of any thing that was his own before? No; the
Law convicts the Rebel, while _in Possession_ of his Estate, which
it considers as his _own Property_, and which therefore it justly
takes away for his _own Offence_. Perhaps, in Cases of Hereditary
Possessions, it may seem a little hard, because it prevents the
_next_ Heir from inheriting; but if there be any Evil or
Imperfection in this, we must excuse it, for the Sake of the Intent,
which might be for the general Good, the more effectually to deter
Men from _treasonable Conspiracies_ against their Prince, whereby
the Happiness of Society hath been often greatly disturbed, and
whole Kingdoms and Countries depopulated: but in this Case, it is
not strictly the Heir's, till he comes into Possession; for the Law,
by which he may possess hereafter, may be considered as having in it
this _particular_ Exception, as to the Crime of _High-Treason_,
which, whenever it _occurs_ as to the _Parent_, renders the Son
incapable, &_c_. With regard to our Laws, we may, in some Sense, be
said to make them ourselves, by our Representatives, whom we
constitute for that End: and 'tis besides very probable, that some
great Men, who formerly possessed Estates, and settled them on the
Male Heirs in their Families, from one Generation to another, might
help to make this very Law itself concerning Treason, and
consequently they could not but acquiesce with this _very Exception_
to the Right of Inheritance in their Posterity. But if it be still
said to be unjust, though necessary, 'tis no Argument; for it
_cannot_ be unjust and necessary too: the Law, in this Case, ought
rather (with Submission) so far as it unjustly affects a Man's
Children, to be alter'd; and if it robs us of the Security, which
arises from deterring the Parent, on Account of the Evils which
shall afterwards befall his Child, 'tis easy to remedy this, by
laying an _additional Punishment_ on the Traitor himself; which, as
_Self_ is much nearest to us all, might better prevent the Sin of
Rebellion, If the present Law be just in itself, there can be no
Objection to it; if it be unjust, _no Argument_ of any Weight can be
drawn from it, in regard to the _Divine Being;_ who is holy, wise,
and true, and so are all his Appointments concerning the Children of
Men.

To bring this kind of Reasoning of theirs up to the Point, they
should have produced a Law, which subjected the Son (for the
Father's Offence) to the _same corporal_ Punishment with the Father,
and then also they must have proved such a Law to be just and good.
But, as these Gentlemen are so fond of bringing Instances from the
_Practice of Men_ in this frail State, in Justification of their own
Doctrine, I shall present them with one or two of my own. _Murder_
has sometimes been committed under such Circumstances, that though
the Murderer has been arraigned, there hath been no room to condemn
him, all Circumstances having concurred, in the Eye of the Law, to
acquit him; _will the Almighty therefore acquit him?_ Again, on the
other hand, in the Case of Murder, things have so fallen out, as to
make an innocent Person look like the Murderer, in the Eye of the
Law or Court, which has therefore sometimes proceeded to Death
itself; _is this Man therefore guilty before God?_ I have put these
two Cases, purely to shew the Absurdity of such kind of Arguments:
and I hope they will consider better of it, and advance them no
farther.

If there was such a Covenant between God and Adam, 'tis strange _no
Notice_ should be taken of it in the Law given to _Adam_, as laid
down in the _Bible_, and where, of all Places, we have most Reason
to expect it--this must surely have been the fittest Place for its
Insertion--Nor is it only absent here, for there is no positive
Account of any such Covenant in all the _Old Testament_. Besides,
when the Law was given, and threatening (in Case of Disobedience)
pronounced on _Adam_, 'twas _merely personal_--_In the Day_ thou
_eatest thereof_, thou _shalt surely die_. And when _Adam_ and _Eve_
had broke the Command, and God descended to judge them for it, their
Sentences were _personal_ and _particular_, and no reproaching
_Adam_ on the Account of Evils to be thence brought on his
Posterity, and _much less_ of eternal Damnation. The _Jews_ indeed,
many of whom were weak enough to embrace any Absurdity at all, had
by some Means contracted a Notion, not altogether unlike this of
_original Sin_, probably from a Misunderstanding of the second
Commandment, which speaks of "visiting the Iniquity of the Father
upon the Children, &_c_." But 'tis highly worthy of our Notice, that
God himself was _greatly displeased_ with their having imbibed this
Notion, and commanded the Prophet _Ezekiel_ to refute it at large;
the Substance of which I cannot avoid setting down, it being so full
to my Purpose. The Prophet introduces it thus, _Ezek_, xviii. 2.
_What mean ye, that use this Proverb in Israel, The Fathers have
eaten sour Grapes, and the Children Teeth are set on edge?_ Ver. 4.
_Behold all Souls are mine, as the Soul of the Father, so also the
Soul of the Son is mine: the Soul that sinneth, it shall die_. The
Prophet then, from _ver_. 5. to 19. puts the _two Cases_ of a
_righteous Man's_ having a _wicked Son_, and a _wicked Man's_ having
a _righteous Son_, in order to shew, that neither is the one
_better_ for his Father's Uprightness, nor the other at all _worse_
for his Father's Wickedness; but that all is, as it should be,
placed to the Account of their own _Merits_ or _Demerits_. Ver. 20.
_The Soul that sinneth, it shall die: the Son shall not bear the
Iniquity of the Father, neither shall the Father bear the Iniquity
of the Son; the Righteousness of the Righteous shall be upon him,
and the Wickedness of the Wicked shall be upon him_. Ver. 23. _Have
I any Pleasure at all that the Wicked should die? saith the Lord
God: and not that he should return from his Ways and live?_ Ver. 25.
_Yet ye say, the Way of the Lord is unequal. Hear now, O House of
Israel, Is not my Way equal? are not your Ways unequal?_ Ver. 32.
_For I have no Pleasure in the Death of him that dieth, saith the
Lord God: wherefore turn your selves and live ye_.

Words more positive against this Doctrine cannot be laid together.
_Justice_ and _Equity_ are here, by the Almighty himself, consider'd
as the _very same_, both in God and Man; and the same Justice and
Equity, which _He commands_ us to make the Rule of _our Actions_,
'tis evident _He here_ makes the Rule of his _own_. He blames them
for their false Principles, their Ignorance and Bigotry, and is not
a little offended, because they thought him capable of acing in so
evil and unrighteous a Manner, as that would be, of _punishing the
Child for the Parent's Offence;_ and strongly and solemnly assures
them, he will do no such Thing. And as Justice and Equity would not
bear it then, it is plain that, God could never take any such cruel
and disreputable Measures, either in the Beginning, or at any time
afterwards; because, to act thus at the Creation of Man, and disdain
the Imputation with Indignation afterwards, argues a strange
Inconsistency in the Conduct of God towards Men; but the Truth is,
the same Reasons which made him abhor the Imputation afterwards,
could not but infallibly prevent his making any such unrighteous
Covenant in the Beginning. What would you think of a Man, who is a
Villain to-day, and boasts much of his great Honesty tomorrow? The
_Appearance_ of _Christ_ in the Flesh was, we are told by these
Gentlemen, on Account of _Adam's_ Transgression, without which it
would have been, they say, wholly superfluous. But the Expediency or
End of _Christ's_ coming, may be resolved into the _Love of_ God, on
the _one hand;_ pitying the Ignorance and Folly of Mankind, on the
_other:_ and whether this State was the Effect of _Adam's_ Sin, or
of their _own_ personal Demerits, it makes _no Difference_ in this
Case. Whoever looks carefully into the Evangelists, will find
abundant Reason to disapprove and condemn this Doctrine of _Original
Sin_, and of _Christ's_ coming into the World on _that Account
only_. Our Saviour, had this been the Case, would either have
plainly express'd, or have given some strong Intimations concerning
it: Yet no such thing appears; but the contrary, to a _Demonstration_,
from no less than two Passages of Scripture, recorded by St. _Mark_,
(ix. 36.) When the Disciples had been privately contending for
Preheminence above each other, our Saviour, to rebuke this aspiring
Spirit, sets before them, as a Pattern of Simplicity and Innocence, a
little Child; which must have been very absurd, according to the Notion
of _Original Sin:_ The second is _Mark_ x. _ver_. 13. 14. 15. 16.
where _Christ_ assures his Disciples, that, in order to enter into the
Kingdom of Heaven, they _must become as little Children_. And in St.
_Matthew_ (xviii. _ver_. 3.) this very thing is, if possible, more
_Strongly_ and _Emphatically_ express'd. Which Declarations, had there
been such a Thing as the Guilt of Original Sin, _subjecting Children
to_ God's _Wrath and Displeasure_, would have been ungrounded, and
erroneous in a high Degree; for if they were to become like such a little
Child, as a necessary and fit Condition for Heaven, the Condition of
Infants _must also_ be suitable to that Blessed Place--_Suffer
little Children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is
the Kingdom of Heaven_. The Word Such, is a general Term, equally
applicable to all Infants whatever: it shews their Innocence, and
how acceptable they are to the Almighty; and, consequently,
demonstrates the Doctrine of _Original Sin_ to be Spurious and
Erroneous: as is also the Practice of _Infant Baptism_, in Support
of which, this very Text is wisely alledged; whereas the Text itself
assures us, that Children are _already_, by Nature, in that _same
State_ of Innocence, which _Baptism_ is design'd to procure them:
and how vain the Ceremony, under such a Circumstance, must be, is
_too evident_ to need Explaining.

But suppose there was such a Covenant, our Condition, in point of
Innocence, is just the same as it would be without it; we could have
no manner of Concern with _Adam's_ Transgression: and our Innocence
in either Case being _exactly_ the same, God cannot but look upon us
(in our natural State, before we commit Sin) as Creatures that never
did any thing to offend him, and consequently be gracious and kind
to us; for to leave us in this State, to suffer everlasting Torment,
is worse than a Breach of Promise made to the Elect; and if we are
as innocent, as tho' no such Covenant had ever been made, God cannot
but regard us accordingly: and this proves that such a Covenant
could never be made, because to no good or valuable End.

I am fearful of swelling this Pamphlet, beyond its intended Bounds;
yet so fast do my Thoughts, on this Subject, multiply and enlarge
themselves, that I must beg Leave to Say a small Matter, concerning
that _Propensity to Evil_, which we are told is derived from _Adam_,
as a Fruit and Proof of his first and original Offence. If _Adam_'s
Sin had this Influence on his Posterity; as the Act, which produced
it, was _one_ and the _same;_ and all his Posterity standing in the
same Relation to him, as their Federal Head; 'tis evident, in this
View of the Matter, that _this_ Bias to Evil, must in _all_ be
_uniform_ and _alike:_ but the contrary seems demonstrable, from
undoubted and incontestable Experience; some Children having _much
stronger Propensities to Evil_, than others: And if Part of this can
be resolved into something besides the _Influence_ of _Adam's first
Transgression_, and _subsequent_ to the _Fall;_ it lies (I think) on
our Adversaries to shew clearly, why every Propensity to Sin, may
not likewise be resolved into something besides, and _subsequent_
to, this _original Transgression_. But allowing we are born into the
World, with this _Propensity to Evil_, and that we derive it from
_Adam's_ Sin; yet if God be _merciful_, he could never leave us in
this deplorable Condition; nor would his _Impartiality_ admit of
_redeeming_ the one Part of Mankind in a mere arbitrary Manner, and
_leaving_ the other _to perish_. Nor can much Righteousness be
expected from the _Justice_ of that Being, whose Mercy can be an
idle and unconcerned Spectator, in so very moving, piteous, and
Miserable a Circumstance. As to _Adam's_ Posterity, where is the
Difference to them, whether their present weak and despoiled
Condition (as these Men deem it) be the immediate Work of _Creation_
itself, or the _Effect_ of _Adam's Sin_, and Abuse of his
intellectual Powers. We are what we are by _Necessity_, strict
_Necessity:_ and though it may be called _moral Necessity_, in order
to palliate and distinguish it from that which is natural; it
operates on us, to all Intents and Purposes, equally the same; and
the giving it a milder Name, looks like a sophistical Artifice. If
Man's Nature be impaired by the Act of another, God, as a _just_ and
_good_ Being, will either abate of the Rigour of his original Law,
or replenish and restore our decayed Powers.

The _same Goodness_ (if these Gentlemen will allow it was
_Goodness_) which prompted the Almighty to make Man such an
excellent and blessed Creature in the Beginning, must also prevail
with him, to look even on _Adam_ himself with an Eye of Pity and
Compassion, after he had sinned; and much more must he be inclined
to provide for the _Restoration_ of his Off-spring, who themselves
had not _actually_ sinned, but yet had their Natures impaired by the
_Fall_. Besides, if Man was first enslaved by the Devil, not of
_Force_, but by _Fraud_ and _Temptation;_ and Jesus Christ be a kind
of _Chieftain_, set up against Antichrist; his Method of _Recovery_
must be as extensive as the _Fall_--Why does he save some? but as
they are Objects of Mercy, and to recover, with a just Indignation,
Souls, originally God's own, out of the Hand of an Usurper, Tyrant,
and Destroyer. How can these Reasons operate as to a Part, and have
no Influence as to the Remainder? The more I reflect upon the
Doctrine, and view it in every light, the more terrifying and
deformed it appears: and there is no Argument, short of God's
_Sovereignty_, that will relieve the Difficulty; which admitted,
will bring on and multiply ten thousand greater Evils.

It may here be proper to take notice of a new Argument, urged in its
full Strength, and with all the Advantage of Rhetorick and
Eloquence, by the most ingenious Dr. _I--c W--s_, in a Book
intituled, _The Ruin and Recovery of Mankind;_ &_c_. We are there
told, that this _covenant_ seems to have been, evidently, calculated
for the best; because _Adam_, in that State of Understanding and
Innocence, was more likely to stand, and maintain his Innocence,
than any of his Posterity, especially when he consider'd himself as
acting for _all_ his Posterity; with which the Doctor supposes him
to have been fully and strongly apprised; as indeed he ought, had
the Case been as the Doctor believes. This Argument I take him to
have mistaken both ways, _viz_. by extolling _Adam's_ Condition, on
the one hand, beyond what in reality it ever was, and setting that
of his Posterity much lower than it really is: and these Errors are
productive of many others. _Adam_ is supposed to have been without
any Pain, or Uneasiness, and that he would so have remained, during
his Innocence: But after Christ has removed the Curse, and taken
away the Sin of his own _Chosen_ Children, bodily Pains and outward
Afflictions are sometimes their Lot, why might not Man, in his
original State of Innocence, be subject, in some Degree, to Pain and
Disease? if _Creation_ were inconsistent with such a mixt
Dispensation of Good and Evil, why not _Redemption?_ If God, for the
Exercise of Man's Fidelity, placed him where he was exposed to the
Evil and Danger of Temptation; why not suffer his Patience to be
exercised, at some Seasons, by Pain and Inquietude? To return to
this _Covenant_, could it be proved to have been as the Doctor
imagines, I see not what could be gained by it: because it would be
trifling to a considerable Degree. And all the Arguments, used by
_Milton_, in his third Book of _Paradise Lost_, to shew the
Absurdity of that Doctrine, which considers _Adam_ as _acting_, or
rather as _being acted, by Necessity_, in that Situation of
Paradise, would be equally applicable to all the Elect, under the
absolute Slavery of the _Fall_.

Where is the Use of _Reason_, or _Moral Agency_, in Man, if another
be substituted to act in his Stead, and not he himself? Man, being
made a _free_ and _moral_ Agent, has Power to act for himself, and
can be accountable for no body's Crimes but his own. The
_Consciousness_ of being a Sinner, belongs only to him, that
_actually_ sinneth, or omitteth his Duty. Enthusiasm indeed, which,
in its highest Stages, is a kind of spiritual Madness, may have on
some Minds a quite different Effect; and the Poor Soul, that is
subject to this gloomy and tyrannical Principle, may conceit strange
things; it may at one Time imagine itself under the Guilt of
_Adam's_ Sin, which it never committed; and fancy itself a Saint in
Jesus Christ (and what not) at another: it is a mad Principle,
fruitful of false Doctrines, Chimeras, and Monsters. It matters not
whether (as in the Case of _Natural Madness_) the Reason be lost, or
whether (as in that of _Enthusiasm_) it be over-power'd, and brought
into subjection to False Principles. The Effect is the same; and
between Powers that are suffered to lie dormant, and no Powers at
all, there is here no material Distinction to be made. Again, this
Notion of _Adam's_ being more likely to stand than his Posterity, is
a mere Fallacy: it supposes a Difference of State, and Rectitude of
Mind, between him and us; which, if true, will likewise suppose,
that our State being more weak and defenceless than his, the Task or
Duty, assigned us, must be proportionate to our different and
inferior Abilities. If _Adam_ was put into this State, as _The Ruin
and Recovery_ seems to suppose, from a Motive of Love in God, to his
Creatures, in order to prevent the Misery of the Human Race; the
same Love cannot fail to commiserate the Case, and to provide an
effectual Remedy for all such as are included in the Covenant.
_Adam's_ Motive to Obedience must (we are told) have been greatly
strengthened by this Consideration, That on _Him_ depended the
Happiness, not of _himself_ only, but of _all his Posterity_. But, I
believe, Experience will tell us, that if the Consideration of a
Man's own Future State, placed in the strongest Light (as this Book
supposes before _Adam_) be not sufficient to move to Obedience, a
Regard to others will seldom have any considerable Influence: Such a
Covenant enter'd into, or rather arbitrarily imposed on _Adam_ by
his Maker, could not fail to awaken, in so holy and knowing a
Creature, some very uneasy and disquieting Suspicions. This
Covenant, and _Partial Election_ thence following after the _Fall_,
will, if rightly considered, appear very iniquitous and oppressive:
because it makes no proper Difference between the _Righteous_ and
the _Wicked_. If _Adam_ had been considered as a private Person
only; and _all his Posterity_ left to stand or fall, by their own
Merits or Demerits; some of those, whom this Doctrine adjudges to
everlasting Condemnation, would doubtless have been so _wise_ and
_happy_, as to have pleased God in their Generation; while others,
on the contrary, would have sinned, and transgressed his Laws. The
State of the latter is, you see, the same as it would have been,
upon the vulgar Notion of _Adam's Sin;_ or rather the Guilt of it
being, in virtue of this Covenant, imputed to them: The other and
better Part, in virtue of this Doctrine, are miserable, and must
therefore have abundant and bitter Cause of Complaint against the
Doctrine itself. I therefore think it was impossible, such a
Covenant should ever be proposed to _Adam;_ a Covenant which, if
ratified, tended only to make those wretched and miserable, who
without it, had they been left to shift for themselves, would have
used their Liberty and Rational Powers aright, and have pleased and
obtained God's Favour thereby. To talk of its being of general
Service, can never be of sufficient Authority to silence this
Argument. No _private Injuries_ can be excused to _innocent
Sufferers_ (and much less that of _eternal Torment_) on the Score of
general Good; what is it to them, whether _they only_, or _all
Mankind_ suffer. If _Adam_ had stood, these very Men, (who would,
had they been left to their Liberty, have proved obedient) would
have been in no wise bettered; as he failed, Misery came on those,
who would otherwise have been happy. As to those who would, in the
Course of their Liberty, have sinned; this Covenant, had _Adam_
stood, would ('tis true) have saved them from the Sentence of
_Condemnation_. Take it again the other way: _Adam's Fall_ could
make no Alteration in the State of those who, without it, would have
been Sinners; such as would have proved virtuous and happy, are
hereby made miserable. These are, or must have been the Consequences
of such a Covenant strictly observed; and the Wisdom and Equity of
all Covenants must be judged of, by comparing the good and evil
Consequences, necessarily resulting from them. All the Good such a
Covenant could possibly pretend to, had it been kept, was, the
saving from Wrath such as, without it, would, as free Beings, have
sinned; and if, for their Sakes, and to prevent the Evil that might
otherwise befall them, such a Covenant was worthy of God to make
with Man, a Day of Grace and Salvation, extended for their Recovery,
after they might have transgressed, would have been equally worthy
of God; and we need not recur to such Fictions and Chimeras. One
would think it incumbent on all Legislators, to consider well the
Consequences of every Law they enact; for the preferring a Law,
whose Consequences can at best be of no Service, and will probably
in the main Event of Things be more evil and pernicious than
otherwise, would be preferring Evil to Good; in as great Proportion
as the Evil might exceed the Good: and how such a Constitution could
be better for Mankind, I do not understand. I am sorry any body,
especially the Author of _The Ruin and Recovery_, should imbibe and
defend such erroneous Opinions, and this too, in Opposition to other
and nobler Sentiments of his own, elsewhere delivered.

But, thus it is to be enslaved to the mere Letter of the _Bible_,
under a Notion of doing it _just Honour_, when, on the contrary,
'tis the ready way to _dishonour_ and _lessen_ its Authority.

The Pains which Infants suffer, and the many Miseries to which they
are exposed, are, by this Gentleman, consider'd as so many Arguments
of the Guilt of _Original Sin_. He thinks that, without such a
Supposition, the _Justice_ of God cannot be vindicated. [I wish he
would stick true to that Argument.] We must, he thinks, suppose one
of these two Things: either, _That God punishes them without all
Cause or Reason_, or, _That they are under the Curse and
Condemnation of_ Adam'_s Sin:_ and the latter is, in his Opinion,
the best Sentiment. But I am of a contrary Opinion, and think that
in either Case, the _Injustice_ is the same. He _allows_ it in the
_one Case;_ and I hope it is _proved_ in the other: and really the
Picture which this Gentleman has drawn of our young Innocents, is
very dreadful and terrifying. If all the _Evils_ that befall them in
this Life, and _Eternal Damnation_ afterwards, be no more than a
_just_ Punishment for their _Sins_, our _Saviour_ must surely have
been _greatly out_, in the Encomiums he bestows on their
_Innocence_, as I observed before; or, the Kingdom of Heaven,
instead of being design'd for _upright holy Souls_, may be a
Receptacle for the worst of human Race.

The Brute Creation undergo Pain and Affliction; is _Adam's_ Sin,
therefore, imputed to them? If not, and they sometimes suffer by
Pain and Abuse, why may not Infants do the same? The Miseries of the
human Race, reckon'd up and aggravated thro' so many elaborate
Pages, cannot all of them be supposed to belong to the _Original
Constitution_ of Things, but might be partly owing to the Effect of
Time and Accident, as well as to the Folly and Wickedness of
particular Persons and Nations. This Objection, drawn from the
Sufferings of Brute Animals, the Doctor endeavours to answer: I
wonder _Adam_ is not considered (for the sake of putting an End to
the Difficulty) as their Federal Head. He thinks, however, that
Brutes must be some way or other included in the _Curse;_ and may be
punished, as Man's Property: But has Man, because they are his
Property, a Right to grieve and afflict them? They were bestowed as
a Blessing, for reasonable Service and Delight, not for cruel
Treatment and Abuse. The Doctor's Rule of Faith will tell him, _A
merciful Man will be merciful to his Beast_. If their being Man's
Property will not justify him in abusing or cruelly handling them;
it can be no Reason or Argument, why another should do it, even the
Almighty himself. Consider Beasts, then, as God's own Property; will
that render it a whit more equitable? No: This the Doctor himself,
in the Case of Infants, allows would be cruel, and contrary to the
Divine Justice and Goodness: and the Argument is the same as to
Brutes. But the Doctor, sensible of the Weakness of this Argument,
has recourse to another, which I believe will always be admired as a
standing Mark of _extraordinary Invention_, to get rid of difficult
and perplexing Questions. Brutes may, it seems, contrary to common
Experience, have Sensations _less Quick_ and _Painful_ than ours. I
wonder he allows them any Sensation at all; nay, 'tis doubtful if he
does allow it. Noise, or Crying out, in them, is, it seems, no Mark
of Pain, because some Brutes, under the same Circumstance, remain
quiet and still. But will the Doctor say, they have therefore no
painful Sensations? Are there no Marks of Pain besides those of
crying aloud? Did the Doctor never know a Man sometimes bear a
pretty deal of Pain without crying out at all; and give many
external Tokens of Pain, at another Time? Did he never perceive a
_gaul'd Horse_ wince, upon the most gentle Approach of the Hand; and
discover Signs of the greatest Fear, and most _exquisite Pains?_ Do
not some Brutes take as much Pains to avoid the Discipline of the
Whip, as tho' their Sensations were the same as ours? I am ashamed
to waste Time upon such a Subject; tho' I hope to be pardoned for
following so great a Man in his own Method of arguing. He perhaps
may continue of the same Mind, and there may be no Hopes of
Convincement, till Brutes are taught to speak. By this new Way of
Reasoning, the Ground we tread upon, and every Thing around us,
hitherto thought Inanimate, may be full of Cogitation. If affording
the common Marks of Sensation, be no Proof, that Brutes have it in a
common Degree, Wanting the common Marks of Intelligence, can be no
Proof that a Stock or a Stone has it not. If I mistake not, Bishop
_Berkley_ has furnished the World with something equally instructive
and philosophical, in relation to the Existence of Matter; which, he
endeavours to prove _not_ to be a _real_, but an _ideal_ and
_imaginary Being_. I shall leave others to guess, in what Condition
those must be, who think and reason after this extraordinary Manner.
But the Doctor has yet another Argument in reserve, to vindicate
God's Justice--_Tho' Brutes suffer, yet they may_ it seems _have
upon the whole more Pleasure than Pain_. But do not some Brutes
partake very deeply of the former, in this Life; will the Doctor
therefore suppose a Future State for them, by way of Compensation?
But this Argument ruins the whole Affair, and may be turned against
the Doctor himself, in the Case of Infants, who may be made ample
Amends in a future State, for the Evils sustained here, which Evils
may have other Causes besides _Original Sin;_ for here again, as in
the Case of a Propensity to Evil, Pain in Infants, if inflicted
because of _Adam's Sin_, must in _all_ be _uniform_ and _alike_. But
the Fact being quite otherwise, some of this Pain and Evil must be
resolved into _other Causes;_ and if _some_, why not _all?_ I grant
indeed, that _Adam_ himself might have so far corrupted his Nature,
as to render him more liable to Pain, than in a State of true
Innocence he might have been, and that therefore he might be
instrumental to propagate the Seeds of several Diseases, to his
Posterity: But had he never done this, his Successors might have
done it; and _every Age_ has, perhaps, by Intemperance and
Lasciviousness, been adding to the common Stock of human Diseases
and Calamities: Propensities to Vice might also be propagated in the
same Way, and that, and nothing besides, can (I think) account so
well for their great and infinite Variety. The Doctor, with the rest
of his Brethren, are perpetually urging those common-place
Arguments, drawn from the Practice of Men; which in the general I
have answer'd already: and, had I proper Leisure, it would be no
difficult Matter to give a clear and distinct Answer to every one of
them: And these very Gentlemen would, on other Occasions, had they
no favourite Point to carry, reject such Reasoning with all the
Contempt, and Indignation, it deserves. It is with some Reluctance,
I find myself obliged to disapprove the Sentiments of such wise and
worthy Grey Hairs, to whom the World hath been long and deeply
indebted for his many excellent Services, both from the Pen and the
Pulpit. I have read over Mr. _J--s_'s Book, in Answer to Taylor's
_Free and Candid Examination;_ and tho' I have no personal Knowledge
of that ingenious Gentleman, yet I hope he will permit me to say,
'Tis pity, great pity, that fine Talents (pardon the Expression)
should be prostituted in the Defence of such an unholy and
incongruous System of Religion. Superior Degrees of Learning and
Knowledge are, in themselves, most excellent Things, and eminently
serviceable, when rightly applied to the Honour and Defence of
Truth: But, like a two edged Sword, they cut both ways, and are also
too frequently employed in the Propagation of Error.

While I am thus rendering _human Learning_, its just Tribute of
Praise, _Truth_ requires, that I should be free to detect those
little Arts, so often practised to deceive the Unwary, and misguide
Mankind. As I am fully persuaded, the Generality of those Writers;
who stick by this _Covenant_, and endeavour to vindicate the Honour,
Justice, and Goodness of God therein, do it _only_ for Decency sake,
_and to put_ (as I observed) _a more plausible Outside on their
Doctrines;_ I think it incumbent on me to _detect_ this _equivocal_
Way of Writing, and shew, that while the Doctor is endeavouring to
persuade you he _does not_ believe these Doctrines in their most
_harsh_ and _severe_ Sense, there is Reason to suspect he does
notwithstanding, _secretly_ and _strongly_, believe them in that
_very Sense:_ nay, he seems to resolve _them_ very artfully into the
_Sovereignty_ and _Majesty of God_. Any Man, who reads the Book, may
perceive, how greatly the Doctor is _put to it_ for _Arguments_, to
answer _Objections;_ and he himself knows it to be impossible to
make any tolerable or reasonable Defence, of such unreasonable and
unaccountable Doctrines: and therefore, lest his _own People_
should, from some Expressions, which, at first sight, might look as
though he was arguing merely upon a Principle of _moral Fitness_,
suspect his Sincerity, he has (Second Edition, _Page_ 274) given
strong Intimations of his Faith, as follows:

"The Doctrine of _Reprobation_, in the most _severe_ and _absolute_
Sense of it, stands in such a direct Contradiction to all our
Notions of Kindness and Love to others, in which the _blessed God_
is set forth as our Example, that our Reason cannot tell how to
receive it; yet if it were never so true, and never so plainly
revealed in Scripture, it would only be a Doctrine which would
require our humble Assent, and silent Submission to it; with awful
Reverence of the Majesty and Sovereignty of the great God, &_c_."

This proves, I think clearly, on what Authority the Doctor himself
believes these _Doctrines;_ and whoever knows, how _common_ it is
for Men of _this_ Faith, to make a specious Shew of reasoning with
others on a Principle of moral Fitness, and among themselves,
without Scruple, resolving all into mere _Sovereignty_, will not
think I have been too forward or severe in my Observation. I
_humbly_ presume, what I have offer'd against this Notion of _God's
Sovereignty_, is a plain Confutation of the Doctor; and I here, with
all due Submission, invite _him_, or any of his _Brethren_, to
defend _the Doctrines;_ and _this Quotation_, against me. If they
_do really_ resolve these Doctrines into _God's Sovereignty_, let
them speak it out plainly; if they _do not_ believe them in this
Sense, let them speak that out plainly too; that we may clearly
understand, in what _determinate Sense_, they do believe them.

The Doctor has taken a great deal of Pains to make the World
believe, that Christ died for all Men, when it does not appear, that
he himself believes any such thing. Hear him, _Page_ 89, "And
methinks, when I take my justest Survey of this lower World, with
all the Inhabitants of it, I can look upon it no otherwise, than as
a huge and magnificent Structure in Ruins, and turned into a Prison,
and a Lazar-house, or Hospital; wherein lie Millions of Criminals,
and Rebels against their Creator, under Condemnation to Misery and
Death, who are at the same time sick of a mortal Distemper, and
disorder'd in their Minds, even to Distraction: Hence proceed those
infinite Follies, which are continually practised here; and the
righteous Anger of an offended God is visible in ten thousand
Instances: yet there are Proclamations of Divine Grace, Health, and
Life, sounding amongst them; either with a louder Voice, or in
gentler Whispers, though very few of them take any Notice thereof.
But of this great Prison, this Infirmary, there is here and there
one who is called powerfully, by Divine Grace, and attends to the
Office of Reconciliation, and complies with the Proposals of Peace;
his Sins are pardoned, he is healed of his worst Distemper; and
tho', his Body is appointed to go down to the Dust, for a Season,
yet his Soul is taken upwards to a Region of Blessedness; while the
Bulk of these miserable and guilty Inhabitants, perish in their own
wilful Madness and by the just Executions of Divine Anger."

As I have hitherto troubled the Reader with little Quotation, and it
being now so necessary to let us into the _true Spirit_ of the
Doctor's Belief, notwithstanding any seeming Appearance to the
contrary, I hope to be pardoned. You perceive here, that all are
called, but the _greatest Part_, in such a weak and imperfect
Manner, that is out of _their Power_ to embrace the Call, and so
they perish as _unavoidably_ and _unjustly_, as though no such Call
were extended. The Distinction, which is here made between moral and
natural Necessity, the Doctor thinks sufficient to silence all
Objections, _Page_ 285. I have endeavour'd to shew the contrary, and
I hope with better Success. Again, what the Doctor observes, _Page_
245, is worthy of Notice,--"Though there must be a _very good
Sense_, in which _Christ_ may be said to die for all Men, because
the Scripture uses this Language; yet it does not follow, that the
Doctrine of Universal Redemption is found there: I cannot find that
Scripture once asserts that _Christ_ redeemed all Men, or _died_ to
redeem them all."

This is, I think, manifestly a _Contradiction_, and the Doctor, it
seems, believes it, only because the Scripture, as he thinks,
reveals it. Where is the Difference between _dying to save all Men_,
and, _dying to redeem all Men?_ And yet _Jesus Christ_, it seems,
did the one, but not the other. According to him (the Doctor) the
Scripture assures us, that is, the Word of God assures us, both that
_Christ did_, and that he _did not_ die to redeem all Mankind; which
is a flat Contradiction. In what good Sense, I should be glad to
know, could _Christ_ be said to _die_ for _all Men_, when God
purposely, and peremptorily, _with-holds_ proper Assistances to
restore the _greatest Part?_ If this be to die for _all Men_, it is
certainly not in a good, but in a very bad Sense. But, perhaps, the
_Doctor_ means, _that Man, consider'd in his primitive Rectitude,
has Power sufficient to obey the Gospel as proposed to Sinners, and
that_ Adam's _Posterity, consider'd as fallen in him, are under the
same Obligation to keep the Law, as_ Adam _was_. But of this I have
already taken due Notice, and therefore I need only put the Doctor
in mind of a few Words of his, drop'd _Page_ 340, in his
_Consideration of the State of dying Infants_. He thinks, "it would
be by no Means agreeable, to have them condemned to a wretched
Resurrection and eternal Misery, only because they were born of
_Adam_, the original Transgressor." This is a rational Sentiment,
and I wish it were well improved; for it is better to suppose them
entering on a new State of Trial, or downright Annihilation to be
their Portion: But what Havock does this Concession make with the
Doctor's other Doctrines, of _Christ's dying for all Men in a good
Sense, of considering us in point of Obligation to keep the Law
inviolable, the same as Adam was before his Fall;_ of God's either
granting _no Aids_ to enable us to _do this_, or such _as are too
weak and insufficient to enable us thereto!_ We are, he allows,
_under a moral Incapacity to keep the Law_, but not a _natural_
Incapacity, and therefore God may justly exact our Obedience. But
pray consider, if both a _moral_ and _natural_ Ability be requisite
to keep God's Laws, what signifies which of these is wanting, when
we may as well be without _both_, as without _either_. It signifies
little, what Epithets we bestow on the Word _Necessity_. Wherever it
prevails; and whether it be _moral_ or _natural_, if it is not
_self-caused_, but comes on Man, either by the immediate Decree of
Heaven, or by the _Act of another_, it is _Necessity_, _irresistible
Necessity_, and no Distinction can palliate it.

I allow indeed, when Man is created upright, and furnished with
sufficient Understanding and Ability to please the Almighty; and
yet, _abusing_ his Liberty, becomes at length so enslaved to his
Passions and Appetites, as to fall into this _moral Debility_, the
Law of God is still his Duty to observe: On the other hand, allowing
Mankind to have lost their _moral Ability_ to practise Virtue in the
Fall of _Adam_, and that God, taking Pity upon Man, grants him
sufficient _Light_, to discern his State, and sufficient _Power_, to
obtain Redemption from it, this Man is also under the _same
Obligation_ to keep the Law of God, as though his moral Powers had
never sustained any _Decay_ or _Loss_ in _Adam;_ and I dare affirm,
that in _no_ other Sense, can Man be accountable for the Pravity of
his Will. And let the Doctor observe this,--If it would be
unsuitable to the Mercy of God, in the Case of Infants not
committing actual Sin, to punish them eternally, _only because they
were born of this first Transgressor_, would it not be equally
unkind, to leave such as arrive at mature Age, under the Power of
those _restless_ and _irresistable_ Propensities to Evil, derived
from _Adam_, and to punish _them_ eternally, only because these
Propensities, derived in virtue of being born of the first
Transgressor, constantly, and _in spite_ of any thing we are able,
considered in a moral and natural Sense, to do to the contrary,
produce _Vice_ and _immorality?_ _All_ evil Actions, consequent upon
this Propensity, are, in fact, as necessary and unavoidable to us,
as the Propensity itself, _Where_ then, in point of Innocence, can
the Difference be, _between_ having imputed Guilt and this
Propensity, in Time of Infancy, and living long enough in this
World, to feel, and shew to others, its arbitrary Effects, in
producing Vice and Impiety whether we will or no? and where then is
the Reason, for such very different Treatment of Infants and adult
Persons? I must observe one Thing--The Doctor and his Brethren, as
they make the Work of Salvation, a very easy and agreeable Thing to
the Elect, on the one hand; so they assign the poor Sinner a very
_hard Task_, on the other: _He that offends in one Point is_, they
say, _guilty of breaking the whole Law_. Here is a _plain Instance_
of taking _Scripture_ in a literal Sense, when it can by no Means be
so understood. According to this, a Man, that only _steals_, may be
said to commit Murder, and be _punished_ as a Murderer as well as a
Thief; though we know he has not committed it.

In the main, we may conscientiously observe and keep God's Laws, and
yet in Time of _Temptation_ and _Weakness_ fall into some Evil,
will, God therefore _consider_ and _punish_ us as those who live in
the daily Breach and Contempt of all his Laws? No! For, on the
contrary, God ever waits to be gracious to all such, as through
Inadvertence fall into Sin, and are willing to forsake it. The View
and Intent of our Apostle, in these Words, seems to be of very
_easy_ and _plain_ Signification: There was in those early Times, as
appears from our Saviour's frequently reproving the Hypocrisy of
that Generation, a Sort of People, who appeared zealous in the
Externals of Religion, while at the same Time they neglected Things
of far _greater Moment:_ _Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, ye pay
Tithe of Mint and Cummin; and have omitted the weightier Matters of
the Law:_ Mat. xxiii. _ver_. 23. They daringly violated God's Laws
in some of the most material and important Instances, and complied
with others in a mere formal ostentatious Way; and were therefore
guilty, in the Divine View, of the Breach of the _whole Law;_ for
_mere Obedience_ upon improper Motives to a _Part_ of the Law, while
at the same Time they allow'd themselves in the _known_ and
_deliberate_ Violation of _more weighty_ Commands, was no true or
proper Obedience at all: and, in this Sense, the _Jewish_ Sacrifices
of the Law, though commanded by the highest Authority, were always
esteemed an Abomination; and the Christian Religion as well as the
Law, is certainly liable to Abuses of the same Kind, from Men of
hypocritical and corrupt Minds, whom therefore this Doctrine of the
Apostle _effectually_ and _peculiarly_ regards and reproves: and I
appeal to all, if this Construction of the Sacred Text be not more
agreeable to Reason and Common Sense, than that which the Doctor has
thought fit and convenient to bestow thereon. I beseech the Doctor
to consider how, according to his Principles, this Covenant could be
proposed to _Adam_, out of a kind and beneficent intention in the
Creator, when God knew, in the first Place, that _Adam_ would not
keep it, and determined, in the second Place, upon the Breach of it,
to leave the Bulk of Mankind to perish everlastingly, without Mercy,
without sufficient or suitable Means of Redemption; and what a
_cruel Joke_, upon the _Calvinistical Scheme_, of God's willing the
_Fall_, was here put upon _Adam_, and all his Posterity!

To talk as some do, of our existing in _Adam_ at the Time of his
Transgression, is very absurd, when, as _intelligent_ and _free
Creatures_, it is evident, we did not exist at all. _Sin is a
Transgression of some Law, which we have at the same time Power to
keep_. God never requires Impossibilities. He that made Man, knows
best what he is capable of and hath undoubtedly taken care to
proportion the _Duties_ he requires of Man, to the _Powers_ he hath
bestowed on him. The contrary would be very hard dealing indeed--If
a Law be dispensed to me, I must in the first Place have
Understanding sufficient to judge of its Authority, and the
Obligations it lays me under; and, in the second Place, I must also
have Power to keep it, otherwise it can never be a Law suitable to
me; and a Man's _Age_, _Complexion_, _Stature_, and _Circumstances_,
are as just Causes for Damnation, as the Breach of a Law which lies
beyond the Reach of his Knowledge and Abilities. But supposing, in
the last Place, that God did make such a Covenant with _Adam_, &_c_.
(though I think I have shewn it to be impossible) let us see how the
Doctrines of _Election_ and _Preterition_ will turn out _then_. I
have already endeavoured to make it appear, that God does not act in
that arbitrary Manner, which these Gentlemen teach; that though he
is indeed governed by no Law without, or accountable to any for what
he is pleased to do, yet his own Rectitude of Mind, is to him an
invariable Rule of Righteousness, equally secure to all Intents and
Purposes of a written Law without: and this argues the adorable and
incomparable Excellency of his Being who, though by Nature he is
infinitely above all Power and Authority whatever, yet his moral
Perfections continually prompt him to promote the Happiness of the
meanest of his Creatures. It was _sovereign Goodness_ (rather than
_sovereign Pleasure_) which prompted the Almighty to create Man, in
order to communicate Happiness to him; and if _Adam's_ Posterity
might be said to fall in him, yet God must at least look on them in
a more favourable Manner, than if they had actually sinned
themselves; and consequently it could never suit with his Goodness
to punish eternally _any one_ under this Circumstance, without
_first giving_ him an Opportunity of recovering from his lapsed
State; nor could he ordain the Means on Purpose to _save some_ by
_electing Grace_, without _saving all_. God does nothing without
sufficient Reason: he could save none under this Circumstance, but
as they were _in themselves_ Objects of his Pity and Mercy; and if
ever there was an Object of Mercy, here it is, an immortal Soul
condemned, for the Fault of _another_, which it could by no Means
hinder or prevent, to suffer eternal Torment. There is something
greatly moving in such an Object as this; and as _all Adam's_
Posterity were equally involved in his Guilt, all are Objects of
Mercy _precisely the same_, and therefore there is not the least
Ground for the Difference which we are told is made by Election;
because 'tis making a _Distinction_ where there is _no Difference_.
Here is the Race of _Adam_, considered as _equally_ fallen in him,
divided into two very unequal Parts (equally in themselves, and
altogether Objects of Mercy, if such an Object can be) by the
Almighty himself. The smaller Number he is at all Events determined
to save, and to destroy the greater Number.

In answer to this, I expect to hear that common, but _weak_
Argument, drawn from an _earthly Prince_, his extending Pardon to
_one_ Criminal, and leaving _another_ to undergo the Execution of
his Sentence. But this is of the same _fallacious Kind_, as that
drawn from the Case of _Rebellion_, and shews how _very hard_ the
Patrons of this Doctrine are put to it for Arguments. Two Men,
condemned for one Crime, may not be equally wicked, and consequently
_one_ may better deserve Pity than the _other_, and to extend it, is
in itself a rational and worthy Distinction, made between two _such
Criminals_. Let us suppose, in order to illustrate the Argument,
that a Man is _compelled_, by Thieves, to go out on the Highway,
where he plunders, and is at length, with the rest, brought to
Justice; his Sentence would doubtless be the _same_ as theirs: But
when he is consider'd, as having acted not by Choice, but _by
Necessity_, he must needs be an Object of Pity. Nay, mere Justice
itself will plead strongly in his Favour. Apply this (so far as it
belongs) to the Doctrine of _Original Sin;_ which if it makes Men
Sinners _at all_, it must be _by Necessity_, there being no
_Possibility_ for us to prevent it; which is equal to the greatest
Constraint that can be produced or imagined, and consequently _all
Men_ must, under this Consideration, be _at worst_ suitable Objects
of Mercy. Besides, the Weakness of this Argument will plainly
appear, upon considering, with respect to _earthly Princes_, that
where the Equity of making a _due Distinction_ between one
_Criminal_ and another, is not the Reason, why _one is pardoned_,
and the other _left to suffer;_ it _always_ arises either from
_Caprice_, _Interest_, _Solicitation_, or from _Misrepresentation_
of Facts to Monarchs; who, too often, _see_ and _hear_ through
_others_, that are not always duly conscientious, to preserve
inviolable the Trust reposed in them; and whether such Reasoning as
this, can possibly affect the _Almighty_, any Man of common
Understanding may easily judge.

But let them apply my Argument on the _Sovereignty of_ God against
the _Certainty_ of their Election, and I believe they will find but
little Reason to boast of their Doctrine of electing Grace. They
tell us indeed, that this Doctrine of theirs, makes the Death of
_Christ_ of more Effect than ours, because it secures the Salvation
of _some_. But I have proved there can be no Security in it; and
surely that Doctrine, which _puts all_ into a Capacity of Salvation,
must be better, than that, which leaves _almost every Man_ to
perish; and if it was better to save a few, than to save none in
this arbitrary Manner, it must still have been better and more to
the Glory of _Christ_, arbitrarily to have saved all Mankind. They
say also, that their Doctrine of Election is a much better Ground
for Love and good Works, than is that of _free Grace_. But the
contrary is apparent, because whoever thinks rightly, cannot be
without this disquieting Thought.--If God, in a mere arbitrary
Manner, and without any Regard to previous Fitness, has chosen me,
and rejected another; how do I know but his Mind may change
hereafter, or that he may not reverse this Decree? or if
_unconditional Election_ be the true Doctrine of the Gospel, and Man
is _equally dear_ and acceptable to God _without_, as he is _with_,
good Works, what Inducement can such a Person have to please God
that Way, when he is already as well pleased without them? If
Election is founded upon an _unconditional Decree_, the natural
Inference (in all such as believe the Doctrine, and themselves to be
of the Elect) must be this--If I am of the Number of the Elect,
nothing can frustrate my Happiness; I may gratify my favourite
Passions, and wallow in all Kinds of Wickedness, Luxury and
Sensuality, and be equally acceptable to the Almighty, as was
_David_ in the Sins of Murder and Adultery: On the contrary, if I am
not of that Number which shall be saved, all my Pains and Obedience
will never procure me Acceptance with God, and therefore I _will
seek_ all possible Gratifications in this Life, seeing it is the
only Time and Place wherein I can obtain any Thing like Happiness;
nor can the Liberty I take here increase my Misery hereafter, the
_precise Degree_ of _that_ being fixed along with the Decree of my
Damnation: Though this Persuasion of being set apart for everlasting
Torment, has more often the Effects of Desperation and _Self-Murder;_
and indeed the two Extremes of _Presumption_ and _Despair_,
are the natural Brood and Offspring of these Doctrines, as the
reverend and learned Dr. _Trapp_ has abundantly evinced, in his
excellent Discourse, _against the Folly, Sin, and Danger of being
righteous over much_. Hypocrisy and Persecution are also the genuine
Offspring of this Faith; and _whenever_ it has been tried,
Persecution has grown up to a considerable Maturity: for as they
pretend to know the Marks of elect and reprobate Men, what can be
more natural, than for those, who apprehend themselves to be the
_former_, to persecute and take Vengeance on the _latter_. Hath not
God, by his own Decree of Damnation, set them an Example? and if he
has set a Mark on the Reprobate, they (the Elect) may very
reasonably, in Imitation of the _Divine Conduct_, endeavour to make
them as wretched as possible here in this Life, and _who shall lay
any Thing to the Charge of God's Elect?_ I am now shewing, what are
the genuine Effects of this Doctrine, not charging Consequences on
such as neither do _see_ nor _approve_ of them: there is great
Difference in the Conduct of Men of this Principle; and its natural
Effects are, by other Things intervening, often prevented, the chief
of which may, I believe, be Want of Power and Opportunity; for tho'
many, when out of Power, might be apt to say (as _Hazael_ did) _what
is thy Servant a Dog, that he should do this Evil?_ yet they would
perhaps be in some Danger of behaving as that great Man did, when he
came to be tried. Some again, who tho' they profess the Doctrine,
are yet (I doubt not) often under the Influence of God's _Grace_,
which, as it tends to humble the Soul, and render it more loving and
humane than before, naturally prevents the Spirit of Persecution
from taking such deep Root as otherwise it might. And here, though I
do not pretend to be a _nice Judge_ of the spiritual Part of
Religion, yet I have heard such as have been accounted Men of the
best Experience say, that when the Grace of God operates on the
Soul, the ardent Love of Mankind is _inseparable therewith_. If then
the better Sort of those, who profess this Doctrine, are ever
sensible of this _most agreeable_ and humbling Operation in the
Soul, I ask them, if it does not _naturally distend_ and enlarge
their Wishes, in Behalf of all Mankind? and if this Spirit of Love
be the genuine Effect of the Operation of God's Grace, what shall be
said of that ineffable and immense Fountain of Grace and Goodness,
from whence it proceeds? But, on the other hand, it has been
observed, that among mere _enthusiastick and traditional Believers_,
of the Doctrine of Election, their Hypocrisy, Deceit and
Dissimulation has overtop'd that of all the World besides, even
beyond what human Nature could be thought capable of, in its most
wicked and corrupt State; in short, they seem to have made the
Deceit of _Jacob_, and all other parallel Places of Scripture, that
furnish the worst Part of the Lives of good Men, a _standing Rule_
of Behaviour--What a blessed Company has the Lord set apart for
himself!

The _Foreknowledge_ of God is supposed, by some, to belong to the
Argument of _Predestination;_ but I think it wholly beside my
present Purpose, to enter circumstantially into it, for _this
Reason_--If, Whatever God _foreknows_, he must also of Necessity
_foreordain;_ it is manifestly using _Foreknowledge_ and
_Ordination_ to signify just the _same Thing_, and, _in this Light_,
every Argument against _Fore-ordination_, must be equally strong
against _Foreknowledge_, so far as it affects the Doctrines under
Consideration; and when these Gentlemen can shew the contrary, or
are willing to enter into the Consideration of the _Divine
Foreknowledge_, either _separate from_, or _connected with_, the
Doctrine of _Fore-ordination_, I shall always be ready to receive
Information.

This Doctrine of electing Grace, they exalt as an _incomprehensible
Mystery;_ so do the Papists, with as good Reason, that of
_Transubstantiation;_ for neither of them are Mysteries, or
incomprehensible, but _palpable Errors_, whose Absurdity we do
_easily and fully comprehend;_ nor will the stale Art of playing on
the Word _Mystery_ amuse us any longer. Another strange Argument,
which these Men make use of, in order to set aside some Passages of
Scripture, which are positive and express against them, is this,
_that if God wills the Salvation of all Men, all must be saved,
otherwise we may be said to conquer the Will and Grace of God_. To
which the Answer is very easy--Man is made a _free Creature_, and
therefore God deals with him as such; because to make him free, and
then arbitrarily _overrule_ his Freedom, would be making him free to
_no Purpose_. The Will of God is sometimes _positive_, and sometimes
_conditional_. He gives Laws, commands us to keep them, and promises
eternal Life to those who obey; nor can we suppose he commands us to
obey, without willing our Obedience. We may indeed _resist_ the
Operations of his Grace: but to talk of _conquering_ God, is
Nonsense. He has made us free Creatures; he wills our Salvation, and
has granted us such Aids as are sufficient, if we use them aright,
to bring us to Happiness: This Conduct in the Divine Being, is not
only reasonable in itself, but _perfectly agreeable_ to many _plain_
and _express_ Parts of Scripture. The _Weeping_ and _Lamentation_ of
_Christ_ over _Jerusalem_, is a strong Proof of it: _How often would
I have gathered thee, as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her
Wings; but thou wouldest not!_ Here was all done, that was fit and
convenient to reclaim free Beings; not only proper Aids offer'd, but
offer'd in the _most tender_ and affectionate Manner, as is evident
from the Comparison of the Hen, &_c_. and by the Words _how often_,
is set forth the _great Patience and longsuffering of God:_ And
notwithstanding all this, they resisted to their own Destruction.
God _willed_, or would have saved her, but she was stubborn and
rebellious, and would not accept of Salvation; did she therefore
_conquer_ the Almighty? Suppose my Father gives me a good Education,
a good Employment, and a competent Portion in Money, and, besides
all, is continually at hand, ready further to advise and assist me,
whenever it may be necessary; yet I am obstinate and disobedient,
and, by pursuing evil Courses, fall into Poverty, Contempt, and
Ruin: I may indeed be said to _resist_, but in no _good Sense_ to
_conquer_ my Father. Besides, according to this absurd Way of
arguing, if God does all in Believers, his Laws are to be _kept_ by
himself; with what Propriety then can they be said to be given to
Man? He to whom the Law is given is to keep it, not the Being who
gives it.

I might here, very naturally, speak concerning the Sacrifice of
_Christ's Death_, and _his Righteousness_ imputed to us; but I shall
not now discuss it fully, only a few Remarks may not be impertinent
or useless. These two Points appear to me to be much misunderstood;
_Sin_ is said to be infinite, because committed against an infinite
God; and that therefore nothing but an infinite Being can satisfy
the Justice of God for it: A fine Story indeed, for Men to amuse us
with, who pretend to believe in _only one_ God: Here is _one_
infinite Being, to be satisfied for Sin; and _another_, to satisfy
him. And, what is still as bad or worse, it supposes, that an
infinite Being may, for a certain Season, suffer or undergo a
Diminution of its Happiness; which, in an infinite and unchangeable
Being, I take to be impossible. Was it then _only_ the Person, or
_rational Soul_ of _Jesus Christ_, that suffered, being upheld under
it, by the infinite Being himself? If so, what is become of the
infinite Being, that was to _suffer_ for Sin; for does God make
Satisfaction to himself? 'Till these Gentlemen either renounce, or
better explain this Matter, they will, I hope, think very favourably
of all who deal in absurd Schemes of Faith.

The Thing productive of these Absurdities, is a _wrong Notion_ of
Sin, and of the Justice of God: Sin, they say, is infinite, because
_committed against an infinite God_. It is doubtless sometimes a
great Aggravation of it, that it is committed against God; but it is
not so much his _Greatness_, as our abusing his _Goodness_, that
aggravates the Crime: As may appear from this short Observation,
That any Favour, disinterestedly done, by a Person of the meanest
Rank in Life, lays the Receiver under the same Obligation, as though
it were granted by the greatest Man upon Earth: It is the Motive and
the Action, put together, that gives it its proper Value to the
Receiver. God's Authority may add some kind of Sanction but no
Alteration of outward Circumstances, in him who confers a Benefit,
can ever after change the Nature of the Action, or the Obligations
resulting from it.

And, when we consider, on the other hand, that Sin is committed by a
frail finite Being, very often in its unguarded Moments, prompted by
Passion and Appetite, and surrounded with the most powerful
Temptations; this proves more strongly, that it cannot be infinite.
By the _Justice_ of God, is not meant, that he cannot forgive Sin
without Satisfaction, but that he _will_ not punish the Innocent; He
proposes himself as a Pattern for our Imitation, and bids us
_forgive our offending Brethren, if they repent and desire
Forgiveness:_ and he himself will therefore forgive on the same
Terms; for unless Sin becomes so enormous, as to make Punishment
necessary, _Repentance_ and _Amendment_ is all that God expects. The
Gospel is proposed to Sinners, on these Terms; and as to the Death
of Christ, it were unreasonable to think, he laid down his Life by
way of Satisfaction to Offended Justice, in the Manner these
Gentlemen understand it; but in Testimony of the Truth of his
Doctrines, and Confirmation of God's _great Love_ to the World. This
was the Cause of Christ's Coming in the Flesh. God so loved the
World, that he sent Christ to save it, by such Preaching and
Miracles, and other internal Aids, &_c_. as were in themselves
sufficient to beget Faith in such as gave a proper Attention; such a
Faith, in the Soul, as was productive of Morality and Virtue in
Practice. It was an _original Act_ of Grace and Goodness in God, to
send Christ into the World, to save Sinners, and not (as some
superstitiously teach) a mere Compliance in God the Father (and
that, not without full Satisfaction first made) to the _voluntary_
and _merciful_ Intercession of Christ the Son. For then our
Salvation would be _owing only_ to the Love of Christ, and not _at
all_ to God's Love, who is here considered as a _rigorous_ and
_unrelenting Creditor_, that will not release the Debtor, until full
Satisfaction be made; so that Christ becomes our Creditor, and God
has no farther Demand: and what Need then can there be of
Intercession to God on our Behalf, when the Debt is already paid,
and full Satisfaction made? Christ's coming into the World was
_entirely owing_ to the Father's Mercy. His Doctrine, Miracles,
&_c_. were what he had in Commission from God, as a Means to
instruct and make the World happy; it is he who, instead of being
averse to forgive frail Man his Offences, has through Jesus
_proclaimed Pardon_ to _all_, on Condition of Repentance and
Amendment; and thro' the Love of God it was also, that Christ was
appointed a Mediator for sinful Man: So that the whole Affair arose
from God's own Mercy.

I stand amazed at the Gentlemen, against whom I am arguing; what a
_Scope_ do they give to the _Sovereignty_ of God, in the Doctrines
of _Election_ and _Reprobation?_ And yet they won't _suffer it_ at
all to operate, in the Case of _forgiving Sin_, on the Terms of
Repentance and Amendment. A small, yea _very small_ and reasonable
Allowance, in regard to the _Exertion_ of this Attribute, and in a
_good Cause_ too, would be sufficient to justify the Mercy of God,
in forgiving Sin. If, as a Sovereign, he punishes where no Sin is,
surely he may also, as a Sovereign, forgive Sin. So that this Notion
of the Impossibility of God's forgiving Sin, without Satisfaction
first made, is erroneous and despicable. Repentance and Amendment in
the Creature is, in the Nature of Things, a _much better_
Satisfaction, than can be made by the Act of another. By the
_Justice_ of God, I repeat it again, is meant, that he will not
punish the innocent, and not that he cannot shew Mercy to an
offending, repenting, penitent Creature, unless another sheds his
Blood for an Atonement. Nor is the Righteousness of Christ,
_strictly speaking_, imputable to any one. The Terms of the Gospel
are, _Repent, and be converted, and your Sins shall be blotted out:_
Be _sorry_ and _amend_, and I will _forgive_ you. _The Prayer of a
Righteous Man availeth much;_ and God, in some Cases, to shew his
Regard to the Righteous, and to excite others to become righteous
also, may possibly grant _that_, at the Request of such a righteous
Person, which without, it might be improper to grant; and Christ
being our holy and righteous Mediator, God may do more at his
Request, on our Behalf, than he would do without it. Not but that
(_independent of_ and previous to the Intercession of Christ, at
least to the Account we have of it, in the New Testament) God was
_ever disposed_ to be favourable to Man, and always ready to receive
him, coming to him in a proper and becoming Manner: For even this
very Christ, and his Intercession, &_c_. is all ultimately the Act
of God, and flows from his unbounded Love and Goodness to Man. So
that _imputed Righteousness_ can mean no more, than God's forgiving
us, at the Request of Jesus Christ (whom he sent on purpose to make
that Request, and to do every thing for the Benefit and Happiness of
Man) and not a _real Transfer_ of Christ's _personal_ Righteousness,
which is not only in itself impossible, but would, if true, take
away all Necessity of our becoming holy. The Righteousness of Christ
is altogether different to what these Men take it to be; it is a
real State of Righteousness, wrought in the Soul by the Operation of
Christ's _Spirit_, Man submitting thereto. I know there are some
Expressions in the _New Testament_, which (if precipitantly
understood, without Regard had to the Nature of the Thing, and to
other plain Texts) seem _a little_ to favour these Doctrines. I
can't say, by what Means _precisely_ the _Bible_ came into its
present Condition; many Things might concur to give us wrong
Apprehensions of its true Sense and Meaning, He that understands
human Nature will find, that Men, who have been _great Bigots_ in
any Way of Religion, _will generally retain_ some of their former
Prejudices, even after, in the main, they may have changed their
Principles, Prejudice in Education is a Leaven, not so easily purged
out, as some may imagine; and 'tis possible, the _Writings_ of St.
_Paul_ may have in them a Tincture of this kind; besides what may
have since crept in, by Partiality or Accident: against which, and
_all Errors_ of a like Kind, a due Regard to the _fundamental
Principles_, I have endeavoured to inculcate, will, I hope,
abundantly secure us. These are some succinct Observations, that I
could not well avoid making; which perhaps may shortly be followed
by something more _full_ and _comprehensive_, concerning the
_Virtue_ and _Extent_ of Christ's _Death_, and the Nature of
_imputed Righteousness_. What I have here delivered, concerning
God's _Sovereignty_, is not the Result of a few, hasty, or loose
Thoughts, but the Effect of long and mature Deliberation. I have
weighed over and over the Arguments in my own Breast, and tried
their Strength with People, the most likely to afford me
Satisfaction; and could I have found it in either Way, the World had
never been troubled with these _Free and Impartial Thoughts_.

Permit me, before I make an End, just to observe, in Regard to the
Controversy, between Mr. _J--s_ and Mr. _Taylor_, on the Scripture
Doctrine of _Original Sin;_ that Mr. _J--s_, as well as Dr. _W--s_,
lays great Stress on that frivolous Distinction, mentioned a few
Pages back, of _moral_ and _natural_ Necessity, to that Degree, that
Mr. _Taylor_ is treated somewhat _rudely_, for not perceiving the
Force of it; when I dare aver, _none_ but misguided Zealots, could
ever see any Reason or Argument in it: Nor do some of these very
Men, who urge it, seem to believe it themselves. Ask them how Man
can be justly accountable for Evils, that proceed from a _Nature
depraved in_ Adam, and they immediately leave _this Distinction_,
and recur to the _Covenant;_ and this Covenant they cannot support
by any Argument short of God's _Sovereignty_, which they are welcome
(if they can tell how) to improve to their own Advantage.

To say that Man, in the Fall, has natural Powers to act rightly, and
is therefore condemnable when he does not, tho', by Necessity; he
wants Inclinations to be virtuous, would, to _use_ Mr. _J--s_'s
genteel Language, _be a senseless Falshood, and shew Poverty of
Argument_ (I am loth to add as he does) _and Effrontery too_. Such
Rudeness deserves Lamentation as well as Reproof, nor do I on this
Occasion set before _him_ his _own Words_ with any secret Pleasure,
but purely to shew Mr. _J--s_, how agreeable such a Liberty will
appear, when, in return, it may be offered to himself.

Why is this favourite Distinction urged, unless it be to shew, that
because Man has natural Powers, 'tis his _own_ Fault, if he does not
employ them aright; but how does it appear, that such a Power
_only_, can render _Man_ a whit better, or _more_ a _moral Agent_,
than he is, or would be, without it? If Inclination to _Virtue_,
must _precede_ every truly virtuous Action; and Man's Depravity
under the Fall, be _such_ as prevents his ever having such good
Inclinations, his natural Ability to do Good, must needs be a mere
_Joke_ and a _Cypher_. Just the same as, on the other hand, would
be, the strongest Inclinations to Virtue, and _no_ natural Power of
complying with them in Practice. As nothing short of _Knowledge_ and
_Power_, Power of both kinds, _natural_ and _moral_, can constitute
Man a _moral Agent_, or proper Subject of _Law_, of Rewards and
Punishments, either here, or hereafter; one would wonder to see this
insignificant Distinction urged at all in this Controversy: for it
is, at the best, a mere _Parade of Words;_ which prove nothing,
except it be the Want of Truth and Righteousness, in this Doctrine
of _Original Sin;_ or great _Bigotry_, and Defect of Understanding,
in its most accomplished Patrons. And after all that is, or can be
said, concerning _natural_ and _moral_ Powers; it is doubtful, if
such a depraved miserable Wretch, as Man under the Fall is said by
the _Assemblies Catechism_ to be, can (strictly speaking) have any
Power at all over his own Thoughts and Actions; The immediate Cause
and Spring of Action _is_ the _Soul_, to which the _Body_ is
subservient only as an _Instrument_, but has in itself, according to
the best Philosophy, no Power to produce _voluntary_ or _self
Motion_. What is called _natural_ Power in Man, as opposed to
_moral_, is at least, a Power lodged in the Soul, to give Motion to
the Body. But these _Volitions_ of the Mind, and the immediate Act
of the Soul upon the Body, in order to produce _Virtue_, depending
on the Mind's being in a State of _Freedom_, able to chuse and
prefer Virtue, as better than Vice; it is evident, that in a Mind,
totally abandoned to Evil, _moral_ Motives have not their due Power
over the Man; and what we call his _natural_ Power to be virtuous,
is either suspended, or quite overpowered, by an evil and
irresistable Turn of Inclination, arising from the _Act_ of another;
I mean, _Adam_. Man then, considered as a _moral_ Agent, has Power
to _do_, or _not_ to _do_, the very same Thing; be it good or evil.
But this Liberty of Choice and Action in the Creature, as the _Soul_
is but one, and also _the_ immediate Source of all Action in Man,
cannot properly, I think, be called _two_ distinct Powers, but
rather _different Applications_ of _one_ and the _same Power_ lodged
in the Soul. On the other hand, in such a _depraved Creature_, as
Man under the Fall is said to be, the Power of _choosing_ and
_refusing_, of being virtuous or vicious, which he _pleases_, is
altogether lost and destroyed; and such a Man, so far from having
_natural_ and _moral_ Powers, has (properly speaking) _no Power_ at
all remaining: all his Thoughts and Actions, like those of a
Machine, are merely involuntary; he is constantly impelled by
something mightier than himself, and ever necessitated to think and
act as he does: his being an intelligent Creature, doth not alter
the State of the Case, or render him more an Agent than a Stock or a
Stone. In this sad Condition, Man can have no Power at all to love
and pursue Virtue, untill the overruling Principle, which determines
all his Thoughts and Actions to the contrary, be removed, or he
receive Superaddition of Understanding and Strength agreeable
thereto. My natural Strength of Body may be equal to four hundred
Weight; but what can this avail, while I am continually pressed down
by four thousand? and all Mr. _J--s_'s Skill and Criticism (_Pages_
71, 72) will not evade this Reasoning. The Distinction between
immediate and remote Causes of Sin, is as trifling and inconclusive,
as the 'forementioned Distinction of _moral_ and _natural_ Powers.
Those indeed, who can fancy themselves to be God's own dear and
elect Children, may reject all Opposition with _Scorn_, and without
_Examination_, and acquiesce readily in the most rigid and
tyrannical System of Religion, that renders the Bulk of Mankind
miserable, while the Elect may think themselves secure in the Divine
Decree, _with an humble Assent, and awful_ (it should be
superstitious) _Reverence of the Majesty and Sovereignty of the
great God_. But what Reason or Recompence will that be to _him_, who
under proper Means and Motives would have kept the Commandments, and
so have entered into Life; who would have loved the Lord his God,
with all his Heart, Soul, and Strength; and his Neighbour as
himself? Or how can such a partial and tyrannical Doctrine, be
reconciled to the Voice of Reason in Man, to our common Notions of
_Right_ and _Wrong_, to the General Scope and Tenour of the _Holy
Scriptures_, or to that Text in particular, which assures us, that
_the Almighty doth not grieve nor afflict the Children of Men
willingly?_

_FINIS._





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