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Chapter IV.

Of the providence of God in governing the world diversely, thrust from this pre-eminence by the Arminian idol of free-will.

I come now to treat of that betwixt which and the Pelagian idol there is bellum ἄσπονδον, implacable war and immortal hatred, absolutely destructive to the one side, — to wit, the providence of God. For this, in that notion Christianity hath hitherto embraced it, and that, in such a sense as the Arminians maintain it, can no more consist together than fire and water, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, and he that shall go to conjoin them ploughs with an ox and an ass; they must be tied together with the same ligament “quo ille mortua jungebat corpora vivis,” — wherewith the tyrant tied dead bodies to living men. This strange advancement of the clay against the potter, not by the way of repining, and to say, “Why hast thou made me thus?” but by the way of emulation, “I will not be so, I will advance myself to the sky, to the sides of thy throne,” was heretofore unknown to the more refined Paganism.5858   “Θεία πάντων ἀρχὴ δί ἦς ἅπαντα καὶ ἔστι καὶ διαμένει.” — Theophrastus, apud Picum. Vid. Senecam de Provid. et Plotinum. As these of contingency, so 31they, with a better error, made a goddess of providence, because, as they feigned, she helped Latona to bring forth in the isle of Delos; intimating that Latona, or nature, though big and great with sundry sorts of effects, could yet produce nothing without the interceding help of divine providence: which mythology of theirs seems to contain a sweeter gust of divine truth than any we can expect from their towering fancies 5959   “An actus divinæ providentiæ omnium rerum conservatrix, sit affirmativus potentiæ, an tantum negativus voluntatis, quo nolit res creatas perdere.” — Rem. Apol., cap. vi.who are inclinable to believe that God for no other reason is said to sustain all things, but because he doth not destroy them. Now, that their proud, God-opposing errors may the better appear, according to my former method, I will plainly show what the Scripture teacheth us concerning this providence, with what is agreeable to right and Christian reason, not what is dictated by tumultuating affections.

Providence is a word which, in its proper signification, may seem to comprehend all the actions of God that outwardly are of him, that have any respect unto his creatures, all his works that are not ad intra, essentially belonging unto the Deity. Now, because God “worketh all things according to his decree, or the counsel of his will,” Eph. i. 11, for whatsoever he doth now it pleased him from the beginning, Ps. cxv. 3; seeing, also, that known unto God are all his works from eternity; therefore, three things concerning his providence are considerable:— 1. His decree or purpose, 6060   “Providentia seu ratio ordinis ad finem duo præcipue continet: principium decernens seu ipsam rationem ordinis in mente divina, ipsi Deo coæternum, et principium exequens, quo suo modo, per debita media, ipsa in ordine et numero disponit.” — Thom.whereby he hath disposed of all things in order, and appointed them for certain ends, which he hath fore-ordained. 2. His prescience, whereby he certainly fore-knoweth all things that shall come to pass. 3. His temporal operation, or working in time, — “My Father worketh hitherto,” John v. 17, — whereby he actually executeth all his good pleasure. The first and second of these have been the subject of the former chapters; the latter only now requireth our consideration.

This, then, we may conceive as an ineffable act or work of Almighty God, whereby he cherisheth, sustaineth, and governeth the world, or all things by him created, moving them, agreeably to those natures which he endowed them withal in the beginning, unto those ends which he hath proposed. To confirm this, I will first prove this position, That the whole world is cared for by God, and by him governed, and therein all men, good or bad, all things in particular, be they never so small and in our eyes inconsiderable. Secondly, show the manner how God worketh all, in all things, and according to the diversity of secondary causes which he hath created; whereof 32some are necessary, some free, others contingent, which produce their effects nec πάντως, nec ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ, sed κατὰ συμβεβηκός, merely by accident.

The providence of God in governing the world is plentifully made known unto us, both by his works and by his word. I will give a few instances of either sort:— 1. In general, that the almighty Δημιουργός, and Framer of this whole universe, should propose unto himself no end in the creation of all things, — that he should want either power, goodness, will, or wisdom, to order and dispose the works of his own hands, — is altogether impossible. 2. Take a particular instance in one concerning accident, the knowledge whereof by some means or other, in some degree or other, hath spread itself throughout the world, — and that is that almost universal destruction of all by the flood, whereby the whole world was well-nigh reduced to its primitive confusion. Is there nothing but chance to be seen in this? was there any circumstance about it that did not show a God and his providence? Not to speak of those revelations whereby God foretold that he would bring such a deluge, what chance, what fortune, could collect such a small number of individuals of all sorts, wherein the whole kind might be preserved? What hand guided that poor vessel from the rocks and gave it a resting-place on the mountains? Certainly, the very reading of that story, Gen. vii., viii., having for confirmation the catholic tradition of all mankind, were enough to startle the stubborn heart of an atheist.

The word of God doth not less fully relate it than his works do declare it, Ps. xix., “My Father worketh hitherto,” saith our Saviour, John v. 17. But did not God end his work on the seventh day, and did he not then “rest from all his work?” Gen. ii. 2. True, from his work of creation by his omnipotence; but his work of gubernation by his providence as yet knows no end. Yea, and divers particular things he doth besides the ordinary course, only to make known “that he thus worketh,” John ix. 3. As he hath framed all things by his wisdom, so he continueth them by his providence in excellent order, as is at large declared in that golden Psalm civ.: and this is not bounded to any particular places or things, but “his eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” Prov. xv. 3; so that “none can hide himself in secret places that he shall not see him,” Jer. xxiii. 24; Acts xvii. 24; Job v. 10, 11; Exod. iv. 11. And all this he saith that men “may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside him. He is the Lord, and there is none else. He formeth the light, and createth darkness: he maketh peace, and createth evil: he doeth all these things,” Isa. xlv. 6, 7. In these and innumerable like places doth the Lord declare that there is nothing which he hath made, that with 33the good hand of his providence he doth not govern and sustain.

Now, this general extent of his common providence to all doth no way hinder but that he may exercise certain special acts thereof towards some in particular, even by how much nearer than other things they approach unto him and are more assimilated unto his goodness. I mean his church here on earth, and those whereof it doth consist; “for what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them?” Deut. iv. 7. In the government hereof he most eminently showeth his glory, and exerciseth his power. Join here his works with his word, what he hath done with what he hath promised to do for the conservation of his church and people, and you will find admirable issues of a more special providence. Against this he promiseth “the gates of hell shall not prevail,” Matt. xvi. 18; — amidst of these he hath promised to remain, chap. xxviii. 20; supplying them with an addition of all things necessary, Matt. vi. 33; desiring that “all their care might be cast upon him, who careth for them,” 1 Pet. v. 7; forbidding any to “touch his anointed ones,” Ps. cv. 15, and that because they are unto him as “the apple of his eye,” Zech. ii. 8. Now, this special providence hath respect unto a supernatural end, to which that, and that alone, is to be conveyed.

For wicked men, as they are excepted from this special care and government, so they are not exempted from the dominion of his almighty hand. He who hath created them “for the day of evil,” Prov. xvi. 4, and provided a “place of their own” for them to go unto, Acts i. 25, doth not in this world suffer them to live without the verge of his all-ruling providence; but by suffering and enduring their iniquities with great patience and “long-suffering,” Rom. ix. 22, defending them oftentimes from the injuries of one another, Gen. iv. 15, by granting unto them many temporal blessings, Matt. v. 45, disposing of all their works to the glory of his great name, Prov. xxi. 1, 2, he declareth that they also live, and move, and have their being in him, and are under the government of his providence. Nay, there is not the least thing in this world to which his care and knowledge doth not descend. Ill would it become his wisdom not to sustain, order, and dispose of all things by him created, but leave them to the ruin of uncertain chance. Jerome6161   “Majestatem Dei dedecet scire per momenta singula, quot nascantur culices, quæ pulicum et muscarum in terra multitudo.” — Hieron, in cap. i., Hab. then was injurious to his providence, and cast a blemish on his absolute perfection, whilst he thought to have cleared his majesty from being defiled with the knowledge and care of the smallest reptiles and vermin every moment; and St Austin is express to the contrary: 6262   “Quis disposuit membra pulicis ac culicis, ut habeant ordinem suum, habeant vitam suam, habeant motum suum,” etc. “Qui fecit in cœlo angelum, ipse fecit in terra vermiculum, sed angelum in cœlo pro habitatione cœlesti, vermiculum in terra pro habitatione terrestri, nunquid angelum fecit repere in cœno, aut vermiculum in cœlo,” etc. — Aug., tom. viii., in Ps. cxlviii.“Who,” saith he, “hath 34disposed the several members of the flea and gnat, that hath given unto them order, life, and motion?” etc., — even most agreeable to holy Scriptures: so Ps. civ. 20, 21, cxlv. 15; Matt. vi. 26, 30, “He feedeth the fowls, and clotheth the grass of the field;” Job xxxix. 1, 2; Jonah iv. 6, 7. Sure it is not troublesome to God to take notice of all that he hath created. Did he use that great power in the production of the least of his creatures, so far beyond the united activity of men and angels, for no end at all? Doubtless, even they also must have a well-disposed order, for the manifestation of his glory. “Not a sparrow falleth on the ground without our Father;” even “the hairs of our head are all numbered,” Matt. x. 29, 30. “He clotheth the lilies and grass of the field, which is to be cast into the oven,” Luke xii. 27, 28. Behold his knowledge and care of them! Again, he used frogs and lice for the punishment of the Egyptians, Exod. viii.; with a gourd and a worm he exercised his servant Jonah, chap. iv.; yea, he calls the locusts his “terrible army;” — and shall not God know and take care of the number of his soldiers, the ordering of his dreadful host?

That God by his providence governeth and disposeth of all things by him created is sufficiently proved; the manner how he worketh all in all, how he ordereth the works of his own hands, in what this governing and disposing of his creatures doth chiefly consist, comes now to be considered. And here four things are principally to be observed:— First, The sustaining, preserving, and upholding of all things by his power; for “he upholdeth all things by the word of his power,” Heb. i. 3. Secondly, His working together with all things, by an influence of causality into the agents themselves; “for he also hath wrought all our works in us,” Isa. xxvi. 12. Thirdly, His powerful overruling of all events, both necessary, free, and contingent, and disposing of them to certain ends for the manifestation of his glory. So Joseph tells his brethren, “As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is at this day, to save much people alive,” Gen. l. 20. Fourthly, His determining and restraining second causes to such and such effects: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” Prov. xxi. 1.

First, His sustentation or upholding of all things is his powerful continuing of their being, natural strength, and faculties, bestowed on them at their creation: “In him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts xvii. So that he doth neither work all himself in them, without any co-operation of theirs, which would not only turn all 35things into stocks, yea, and take from stocks their own proper nature, but also is contrary to that general blessing he spread over the face of the whole world in the beginning, “Be fruitful, and multiply,” Gen. i. 22; — nor yet leave them to a self-subsistence, he in the meantime only not destroying them;6363   Rem. Apol., cap. vi. which would make him an idle spectator of most things in the world, not to “work hitherto,” as our Saviour speaks, and grant to divers things here below an absolute being, not derivative from him: the first whereof is blasphemous, the latter impossible.

Secondly, For God’s working in and together with all second causes for producing of their effects, what part or portion in the work punctually to assign unto him, what to the power of the inferior causes, seems beyond the reach of mortals; neither is an exact comprehension thereof any way necessary, so that we make every thing beholding to his power for its being, and to his assistance for its operation.

Thirdly, His supreme dominion exerciseth itself in disposing of all things to certain and determinate ends for his own glory, and is chiefly discerned advancing itself over those things which are most contingent, and making them in some sort necessary, inasmuch as they are certainly disposed of to some proposed ends. Between the birth and death of a man, how many things merely contingent do occur! how many chances! how many diseases! in their own nature all evitable, and, in regard of the event, not one of them but to some proves mortal; yet, certain it is that a man’s “days are determined, the number of his months are with the Lord, he hath appointed his bounds that he cannot pass,” Job xiv. 5. And oftentimes by things purely contingent and accidental he executeth his purposes, — bestoweth rewards, inflicteth punishments, and accomplisheth his judgments; as when he delivereth a man to be slain by the head of an axe, flying from the helve in the hand of a man cutting a tree by the way. But in nothing is this more evident than in the ancient casting of lots, a thing as casual and accidental as can be imagined, huddled in the cap at a venture. Yet God overruleth them to the declaring of his purpose, freeing truth from doubts, and manifestation of his power: Prov. xvi. 33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord;” — as you may see in the examples of Achan, Josh. vii. 16–18; Saul, 1 Sam. x. 20, 21; Jonathan, chap. xiv. 41, 42; Jonah, chap. i. 7; Matthias, Acts i. 26. And yet this overruling act of God’s providence (as no other decree or act of his) doth not rob things contingent of their proper nature; for cannot he who effectually causeth that they shall come to pass, cause also that they shall come to pass contingently?

Fourthly, God’s predetermination of second causes (which I name not last as though it were the last act of God’s providence about his 36creatures, for indeed it is the first that concerneth their operation) is that effectual working of his, according to his eternal purpose, whereby, though some agents, as the wills of men, are causes most free and indefinite, or unlimited lords of their own actions, in respect of their internal principle of operation (that is, their own nature), [they] are yet all, in respect of his decree, and by his powerful working, determined to this or that effect in particular; not that they are compelled to do this, or hindered from doing that, but are inclined and disposed to do this or that, according to their proper manner of working, that is, most freely: for truly such testimonies are everywhere obvious in Scripture, of the stirring up of men’s wills and minds, of bending and inclining them to divers things, of the governing of the secret thoughts and motions of the heart, as cannot by any means be referred to a naked permission, with a government of external actions, or to a general influence, whereby they should have power to do this or that, or any thing else; wherein, as some suppose, his whole providence consisteth.

Let us now jointly apply these several acts to free agents, working according to choice, or relation, such as are the wills of men, and that will open the way to take a view of Arminian heterodoxies, concerning this article of Christian belief. And here two things must be premised:— First, That they be not deprived of their own radical or original internal liberty; secondly, That they be not exempt from the moving influence and gubernation of God’s providence; — the first whereof would leave no just room for rewards and punishments; the other, as I said before, is injurious to the majesty and power of God. St Augustine6464   “Qui sic homines voluit esse liberos ut fecit sacrilegos.” — Aug. judged Cicero worthy of special blame, even among the heathens, for so attempting to make men free that he made them sacrilegious, by denying them to be subject to an overruling providence: which gross error was directly maintained by Damascen,6565   Τὰ ἐφ’ ὑμῖν οὐ τῆς προνοίας ἀλλὰ τοῦ ἡμετέρου αὐτεξουσίου. — Damascen. a learned Christian, teaching, “Things whereof we have any power, not to depend on providence, but on our own free will;” an opinion fitter for a hog of the Epicurus herd than for a scholar in the school of Christ. And yet this proud, prodigious error is now, though in other terms, stiffly maintained: for what do they else who ascribe such an absolute independent liberty to the will of man, that it should have in its own power every circumstance, every condition whatsoever, that belongs to operation, so that all things required on the part of God, or otherwise, to the performance of an action being accomplished, it remaineth solely in the power of a man’s own will whether he will do it or no? which supreme and plainly divine liberty, joined with such an absolute uncontrollable power and dominion over all his 37actions, would exempt and free the will of man, not only from all fore-determining to the production of such and such effects, but also from any effectual working or influence of the providence of God into the will itself, that should sustain, help, or cooperate with it in doing or willing any thing; and, therefore, the authors of this imaginary liberty have wisely framed an imaginary concurrence of God’s providence, answerable unto it, — namely, a general and indifferent influence, always waiting and expecting the will of man to determine itself to this or that effect, good or bad; God being, as it were, always ready at hand to do that small part which he hath in our actions, whensoever we please to use him, or, if we please to let him alone, he no way moveth us to the performance of any thing. Now, God forbid that we should give our consent to the choice of such a captain, under whose conduct we might go down again unto Paganism, — to the erecting of such an idol into the throne of the Almighty. No, doubtless, let us be most indulgent to our wills, and assign them all the liberty that is competent unto a created nature, to do all things freely according to election and foregoing counsel, being free from all natural necessity and outward compulsion; but for all this, let us not presume to deny God’s effectual assistance, his particular powerful influence into the wills and actions of his creatures, directing of them to a voluntary performance of what he hath determined: which the Arminians opposing in the behalf of their darling free-will, do work in the hearts of men an overweening of their own power, and an absolute independence of the providence of God; for, —

First, they deny that God (in whom we live, and move, and have our being) doth any thing by his providence, 6666   “Deus influxu suo nihil confert creaturæ, quo ad agendum incitetur ac adjuvetur.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. iii. sect. 15, p. 35.“whereby the creature should be stirred up, or helped in any of his actions.” That is, God wholly leaves a man in the hand of his own counsel, to the disposal of his own absolute independent power, without any respect to his providence at all; whence, as they do, they may well conclude, 6767   “Quæ Deus libere prorsus et contingenter a nobis fieri vult, ea potentius aut efficacius quam per modum voti aut desiderii, velle non potest.” — Vorst. Parasc., p. 4.“that those things which God would have to be done of us freely” (such as are all human actions), “he cannot himself will or work more powerfully and effectually than by the way of wishing or desiring,” as Vorstius speaks; which is no more than one man can do concerning another, perhaps far less than an angel. I can wish or desire that another man would do what I have a mind he should; but, truly, to describe the providence of God by such expressions seems to me intolerable blasphemy. But thus it must be; without such helps as these, Dagon cannot keep on his head, nor the idol of uncontrollable freewill enjoy his dominion.

38Hence Corvinus will grant6868   “Deinde etsi in isto casu destinatum aliquod consilium ac voluntas Dei determinata consideranda esset, tamen in omnibus actionibus et in iis quidem quæ ex deliberato hominum consilio et libera voluntate et male quidem fiunt, ita se rem habere inde concludi non possit, puta, quia hic nullum consilium et arbitrii libertas locum habent.” — Corv. ad. Molin., cap. iii. sect. 14, p. 33. that the killing of a man by the slipping of an axe’s head from the helve, although contingent, may be said to happen according to God’s counsel and determinate will; but on no terms will he yield that this may be applied to actions wherein the counsel and freedom of man’s will do take place, as though that they also should have dependence on any such overruling power; — whereby he absolutely excludeth the providence of God from having any sovereignty within the territory of human actions, which is plainly to shake off the yoke of his dominion, and to make men lords paramount within themselves: so that they may well ascribe unto God (as they do6969   “Respectu contingentiæ quam res habent in se, tum in divina scientia Deo expectatio tribuitur.” — Rem. Defen. Sent. in Act. Syn., p. 107.) only a deceivable expectation of those contingent things that are yet for to come, there being no act of his own in the producing of such effects on which he can ground any certainty; only, he may take a conjecture, according to his guess at men’s inclinations. And, indeed, this is the Helen for whose enjoyment, these thrice ten years, they have maintained warfare with the hosts of the living God; their whole endeavour being to prove, that, notwithstanding the performance of all things, on the part of God, required for the production of any action, 7070   “Potentia voluntatis, ab omni interna et externa necessitate immunis debet manere.” — Rem. Confes., cap. vi. sect. 3. Vid. plura. Rem. Apol., cap. vi. p. 69, a.yet the will of man remains absolutely free, yea, in respect of the event, as well as its manner of operation, to do it or not to do it. That is, notwithstanding God’s decree that such an action shall be performed, and his foreknowledge that it will so come to pass; notwithstanding his cooperating with the will of man (as far as they will allow him) for the doing of it, and though he hath determined by that act of man to execute some of his own judgments; 7171   “In arbitrio creaturæ semper est vel influere in actum vel influxum suum suspendere, et vel sic, vel aliter influere.” — Corv. ad. Molin., cap. iii. sect. 15.yet there is no kind of necessity but that he may as well omit as do it: which is all one as if they should say, “Our tongues are our own; we ought to speak: who is lord over us? We will vindicate ourselves into a liberty of doing what and how we will, though for it we cast God out of his throne.” And, indeed, if we mark it, we shall find them undermining and pulling down the actual providence of God, at the root and several branches thereof; for, —

First, For his conservation or sustaining of all things, they affirm7272   “An conservatio ista sit vis sive actus petentiæ an actus merus voluntatis negativus, quo vult res creatas non destruere aut annihilare, — posterius non sine magna veri specie affirmatur: locus ad Heb. i. 3 inepte adducitur.” — Rem. Apol., cap. vi. sect. 1, p. 68, a. 39it to be very likely that this is nothing but a negative act of his will, whereby he willeth or determineth not to destroy the things by him created; and when we produce places of Scripture which affirm that it is an act of his power, they say they are foolishly cited. So that, truly, let the Scripture say what it will, (in their conceit,) God doth no more sustain and uphold all his creatures than I do a house when I do not set it on fire, or a worm when I do not tread upon it.

Secondly, For God’s concurring with inferior causes in all their acts and working, they affirm it to be only 7373   “Curandum diligenter, ut Deo quidem universalis, homini vero particularis influxus in actus tribuatur, quo universalem Dei influxum, ad particularem actum determinet.” — Corv. ad Molin., cap. iii. sect. 5.a general influence, alike upon all and every one, which they may use or not use at their pleasure, and in the use determine it to this or that effect, be it good or bad (so Corvinus), as it seems best unto them. In a word, to the will of man 7474   “Ita concurrit Deus in agendo, cum hominis voluntate, ut istam pro genio suo agere et libere suas partes obire sinat.” — Rem. Confes., cap. vi. sect. 3.it is nothing but what suffers it to play its own part freely, according to its inclination; as they jointly speak in their Confession. Observe, also, that they account this influence of his providence not to be into the agent, the will of man, whereby that should be helped or enabled to do any thing (no, that would seem to grant a self-sufficiency), 7575   “Influxus divinus est in ipsum actum non in voluntatem.” — Armin. Antip., alii passim.but only into the act itself for its production: as if I should help a man to lift a log, it becomes perhaps unto him so much the lighter, but he is not made one jot the stronger; which takes off the proper work of providence, consisting in an internal assistance.

Thirdly, For God’s determining or circumscribing the will of man to do this or that in particular, they absolutely explode it, as a thing destructive to their adored liberty. 7676   “Determinatio cum libertate vera nullo modo consistere potest.” — Rem. Apol., cap. vii. fol. 82.“It is no way consistent with it,” say they, in their Apology. So also Arminius: 7777   “Providentia divina non determinat voluntatem liberam ad unam contradictionis vel contrarietatis partem.” — Armin. Artic. Perpen.“The providence of God doth not determine the will of man to one part of the contradiction.” That is, “God hath not determined that you shall, nor doth by any means overrule your wills, to do this thing rather than that, to do this or to omit that.” So that the sum of their endeavour is, to prove that the will of man is so absolutely free, independent, and uncontrollable, that God doth not, nay, with all his power cannot, determine it certainly and infallibly to the performance of this or 40that particular action, thereby to accomplish his own purposes, to attain his own ends. Truly, it seems to me the most unfortunate attempt that ever Christians lighted on; which, if it should get success answerable to the greatness of the undertaking, the providence of God, in men’s esteem, would be almost thrust quite out of the world. “Tantæ molis erat.” The new goddess contingency could not be erected until the God of heaven was utterly despoiled of his dominion over the sons of men, and in the room thereof a home-bred idol of self-sufficiency set up, and the world persuaded to worship it. But that the building climb no higher, let all men observe how the word of God overthrows this Babylonian tower.

First, then, In innumerable places it is punctual that his providence doth not only bear rule in the counsels of men and their most secret resolutions, (whence the prophet declareth that he knoweth that “the way of man is not in himself,” — that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps,” Jer. x. 23; and Solomon, that “a man’s heart, deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps,” Prov. xvi. 9; David, also, having laid this ground, that “the Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to naught,” and “maketh the devices of the people of none effect,” but “his own counsel standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations,” Ps. xxxiii. 10, 11, proceedeth accordingly, in his own distress, to pray that the Lord would infatuate and make 7878   “Dominus dissipavit consilium quod dederat Achitophel agendo in corde Absolon, ut tale consilium repudiaret, et aliud quod ei non expediebat eligeret.” — Aug. de Grat., et Lib. Arbit., cap. xx.“foolish the counsel of Ahithophel,” 2 Sam. xv. 31, — which also the Lord did, by working in the heart of Absalom to hearken to the cross counsel of Hushai); but also, secondly, That the working of his providence is effectual even in the hearts and wills of men to turn them which way he will, and to determine them to this or that in particular, according as he pleaseth: “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord,” saith Solomon, Prov. xvi. 1; — which Jacob trusted and relied on when he prayed that the Lord would grant his sons to find favour and mercy before that man whom then he supposed to be some atheistical Egyptian, Gen. xliii. 14; whence we must grant, either that the good old man believed that it was in the hand of God to incline and unalterably turn and settle the heart of Joseph to favour his brethren, or else his prayer must have had such a senseless sense as this: “Grant, O Lord, such a general influence of thy providence, that the heart of that man may be turned to good towards my sons, or else that it may not, being left to its own freedom.” A strange request! yet how it may be bettered by one believing the Arminian doctrine I cannot conceive. Thus Solomon 41affirmeth that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” Prov. xxi. 1. If the heart of a king, who hath an inward natural liberty equal with others, and an outward liberty belonging to his state and condition above them, be yet so in the hand of the Lord as that he always turneth it to what he pleaseth in particular, then certainly other men are not excepted from the rule of the same providence; which is the plain sense of these words, and the direct thesis which we maintain in opposition to the Arminian idol of absolute independent free-will. So Daniel, also, reproving the Babylonian tyrant, affirmeth that he “glorified not the God in whose hand was his breath, and whose were all his ways,” chap. v. 23. Not only his breath and life, but also all his ways, his actions, thoughts, and words, were in the hand of God.

Yea, thirdly, sometimes the saints of God, as I touched before, do pray that God would be pleased thus to determine their hearts, and bend their wills, and wholly incline them to some one certain thing, and that without any prejudice to their true and proper liberty: so David, Ps. cxix. 36, “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” This prayer being his may also be ours, and we may ask it in faith, relying on the power and promise of God in Christ that he will perform our petitions, John xiv. 14. Now, I desire any Christian to resolve, whether, by these and the like requests, he intendeth to desire at the hand of God nothing but such an indifferent motion to any good as may leave him to his own choice whether he will do it or no, which is all the Arminians will grant him; or rather, that he would powerfully bend his heart and soul unto his testimonies, and work in him an actual embracing of all the ways of God, not desiring more liberty, but only enough to do it willingly. Nay, surely the prayers of God’s servants, requesting, with Solomon, that the Lord would be with them, and “incline their heart unto him, to keep his statutes and walk in his commandments,” 1 Kings viii. 57, 58; and with David, to “create in them a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within them,” Ps. li. 10; when, according to God’s promises, they entreat him “to put his fear into their hearts,” Jer. xxxii. 40, “to unite their hearts to fear his name,” Ps. lxxxvi. 11, to work in them both the will and the deed, an actual obedience unto his law; — cannot possibly aim at nothing but a general influence, enabling them alike either to do or not to do what they so earnestly long after.

Fourthly, The certainty of divers promises and threatenings of Almighty God dependeth upon his powerful determining and turning the wills and hearts of men which way he pleaseth; thus, to them that fear him he promiseth that they shall find favour in the sight 42of men, Prov. iii. 4. Now, if, notwithstanding all God’s powerful operation in their hearts, it remaineth absolutely in the hands of men whether they will favour them that fear him or no, it is wholly in their power whether God shall be true in his promises or no. Surely when Jacob wrestled with God on the strength of such promise, Gen. xxxii. 12, he little thought of any question whether it were in the power of God to perform it. Yea, and the event showed that there ought to be no such question, chap. xxxiii.; for the Lord turned the heart of his brother Esau, as he doth of others when he makes them pity his servants when at any time they have carried them away captives, Ps. cvi. 46. See, also, the same powerful operation required to the execution of his judgments, Job xii. 17, xx. 21, etc. In brief, there is no prophecy nor prediction in the whole Scripture, no promise to the church or faithful, to whose accomplishment the free actions and concurrence of men are required, but evidently declareth that God disposeth of the hearts of men, ruleth their wills, inclineth their affections, and determines them freely to choose and do what he in his good pleasure hath decreed shall be performed; — such as were the prophecies of deliverance from the Babylonish captivity by Cyrus, Isa. xlv.; of the conversion of the Gentiles; of the stability of the church, Matt. xvi.; of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, chap. xxiv.; with innumerable others. I will add only some few reasons for the close of this long discourse.

This opinion, that God hath nothing but a general influence into the actions of men, not effectually moving their wills to this or that in particular, —

First, Granteth a goodness of entity, or being, unto divers things, whereof God is not the author, as those special actions which men perform without his special concurrence; which is blasphemous. The apostle affirms that “of him are all things.”

Secondly, It denieth God to be the author of all moral goodness, for an action is good inasmuch as it is such an action in particular;7979   “Qui aliquid boni a Deo non effici affirmat, ille Deum esse negat: si namque vel tantillum boni a Deo non est: jam non omnis boni effector est eoque nec Deus.” — Bucer. in cap. ix. ad Rom. which that any is so, according to this opinion, is to be attributed merely to the will of man. The general influence of God moveth him no more to prayer than to evil communications tending to the corruption of good manners.

Thirdly, It maketh all the decrees of God, whose execution dependeth on human actions, to be altogether uncertain, and his foreknowledge of such things to be fallible and easily to be deceived; so that there is no reconciliation possible to be hoped for betwixt these following and the like assertions:—

43S. S.

Lib. Arbit.

“In him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts xvii. 28.

“God’s sustaining of all things is not an affirmative act of his power, but a negative act of his will.”

“He upholdeth all things by the word of his power,” Heb. i. 3.

— “Whereby he will not destroy them,” Rem. Apol.

“Thou hast wrought all our works in us,” Isa. xxvi. 12. “My Father worketh hitherto,” John v. 17.

“God by his influence bestoweth nothing on the creature whereby it may be incited or helped in its actions,” Corvinus.

“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord,” Prov. xvi. 1. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” Prov. xxi. 1.

“Those things God would have us freely do ourselves; he can no more effectually work or will than by the way of wishing,” Vorstius.

“Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness,” Ps. cxix. 36. “Unite my heart to fear thy name,” Ps. lxxxvi. 11. “The God in whose hand try breath is, and whose are all try ways, thou hast not glorified,” Dan. v. 23.

“The providence of God doth not determine the free-will of man to this or that particular, or to one part of the contradiction,” Arminius.

See Matt. xxvii. 1, compared with Acts ii. 23, and iv. 27, 28; Luke xxiv. 27; John xix. 31–36. For the necessity of other events, see Exod. xxi. 17; Job xiv. 5; Matt. xix. 7, etc.

“The will of man ought to be free from all kind of internal and external necessity in its actions,” Rem. That is, God cannot lay such a necessity upon any thing as that it shall infallibly come to pass as he intendeth. See the contrary in the places cited.


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