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« he loved his creatures when he made them, as “ none can well deny; their fins he never loved,
nor ever will; he hath declared, that he loved us “ when finners, but never as finners. His eternal “ and constant hatred of all sin, and his unchange« able love of all his creatures, are of the nature of “ primary truths; from which the doctrine of the “ general restoration may be easily and plainly in« ferred.” * here we might ask, If punishment for ages of ages be not inimical to God's unchangeable hatred of sin, and love of all his creatures, how can the unchangeableness of Deity prevent the protraction of that punishment ? Whom he loves once he ALWAYS loves. Consequently, love is not incompatible with punishment. He loved his creatures when he made them; he loved us when finners, but never as finners. Therefore, to love as creatures, though not as hnners, is perfectly consistent with a state of punishment. From whence it follows, that the unchangeableness of God contributes nothing to the doctrine of restoration,
§ 17. 5. “ Another of the first principles of the
restoration, is, the immutability of God's counsels, " which he hath confirmed by an oath, That by two “ immutable things, (viz. his word and oath) in which “ it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a
strong confolation, who have fled for refuge to lay “ hold upon the hope set before us. Heb. vi. 17. 18." Who have fled for refuge. Is not here an evident implication, that those who have not fled for refuge
• The Univer. Restor. p. 96.
are debarred from consolation ? But we, not admit. ting the passages adduced from the New Testament, as expressive of the divine counsel to translate any from hell to heaven, the immutability of those counfels can contribute nothing to establish the argument.
What I before asserted, I now repeat, that my design is not to enter into the great argument, Whether any promissory intimations of scripture may, or may not, be pertinently pleaded in favour of the restoration ; but to shew that endless punishment, in the sense before explained, is perfectly confiftent with, and fairly the result of the equity of divine government.
CH A P. III.
Containing a View of Sovereign Grace.
Of the Sovereignty of Grace in proposing an
$ 1. The moral system considered in reference to end
and means. § 2. Divine wisdom aEting from design requires the fixing of an ultimate end for a free Syftem. § 3. Hence man the subje&t of liberty and necesity. $ 4. The expediency of fixing an ultimate end from the defe&ibility of free agents, and the display of equity and mercy. $ 5. Display of mercy the higher end, and what the ultimate. $ 6. The immediate enquiry is not, What is the chief end; because no act of sovereignty. $ 7. How SOVEREIGNTY appears in fixing on the praise of glorious grace in the salvation of the church as the ultimate end of our System.
Si. AVING taken a view of divine moral
government, and the perfect equity that reigns in every part; we now proceed to take a view of sovereign grace: and as every system implies an ultimate end, and means of accomplishment; we
shall consider the moral system in reference to these two general parts, beginning, as it is most natural, with the former.
§ 2. God is infinitely wise. But it is the dif. criminative character of wisdom not to act without design; and of infinite wisdom to propose the belt end to be accomplished in the best manner. If, therefore, moral government be conducted with wisdom, it must needs refer to some ultimate end worthy of that wisdom. That is, the result of free agency must have been a settled point before any creatures began to exercise their liberty. Prior to decretive choice every thing stood in the rank of mere possibles; the adoption, then, of one hypothetical system in preference to another must have been an act of sovereignty, and consequently the ultimate point in which all the means terminate,
§ 3. This matter duly considered, it must follow, however paradoxical it may appear at first view, that man is at the same time, but in different respects, the subject of liberty and necesity. As in the hand of the moral Governor he is free; but as in the hand of sovereign wisdom he is necesitated. Liberty is essential to government, and necessity is essential to wisdom. If not free he is not accountable, if the result of his conduct be not fixed he is not safe. The creature's ability not extending to active good. ness without sovereign aid, liberty is sure to degenerate into fin if left in the hand of mere equity; if,
then, the fatal consequence be in any case avoided it is owing to necesitating sovereignty.
$ 4. Infinite prescience viewing the defectibility of free agents, and the moral system inevitably falling if left in the hand of its own counsel, and tending to endless disorder, distance, and misery; and seeing neither striat equity nor sovereign mercy could be dis. played without suffering the introduction of moral evil, wisdom interposed to fix an ultimate end which every thing, however contingent in human estimation, should infallibly subserve. If the question be put, Why were free agents permitted to fall? The answer is, indirectly, If they are not liable to fall, they would not be free; but more directly, Because it was good that the divine attribute of equity should be manifested ad extra, which without leaving the creature to itself could not be done, and to leave the creature to itself is the same thing as the sufferance of moral evil. And if the question be put, Why are any redeemed from fin and misery? The answer is, principally, Because it was good that the divine attribute of mercy should be displayed ad extra, which without a plan of redemption could not be done; and, in a secondary view, it was good to promote the happiness of the creature as far as wisdom permitted, which could be effected only by mercy.
$ 5. From what has been said it
appears, that a display of mercy, or redeeming grace, is a higher end than the display of equity; the latter serving as a