4. And it is but selfishness, and contentiousness, and private revenge, which Christ forbiddeth, and not the necessary defence or vindication of any talent which God hath committed to our trust, so it be with the preservation of brotherly love and


5. And that Christ foreknew what princes and states would be converted to the faith, is manifest, 1. In all his prophets, who have foretold it, that kings shall be our nursing fathers, &c. 2. In that Christ prophesied himself, that when he was lifted up he would draw all men to him. 3. By the prophecies of John, who saith, that the kingdoms of the world should become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ.

Object, XXII. But it is the obscurity of all those prophecies, which is one of the difficulties of our faith, and that they are never likely to be fulfilled. Almost all your expositors differ about the sense of John's Revelations : and the calling of the Jews, and bringing in all the gentiles to their subjection, seem to be plainly prophesied of, which are never likely to come to pass.1

Answ. 1. Prophecies are seldom a rule of life, but an encouragement to hope, and a confirmation to faith, when they are fulfilled and, therefore, if the particularities be dark, and understood by few, so the general scope be understood, it should be no matter of offence or wonder. It is doctrine, and precept, and promises of salvation, which are the daily food of faith.

2. If no man can hitherto truly say, that any one promise or prophecy hath failed, why should we think that hereafter they will fail? What, though the things seem improbable to us, they are never the more unlikely to be accomplished by God. The conversion of the gentiles of the Roman empire, and so many other nations of the world, was once as improbable as the calling of the Jews is and yet it was done.


3. And many of those prophecies are hereby fulfilled, it being not a worldly kingdom, as the carnal Jews imagined, which the prophets foretold of the Messiah, but the spiritual kingdom of a Saviour. When the power and glory of the Roman empire, in its greatest height, did submit and resign itself to Christ, with many other kingdoms of the world, there was more of those prophecies then fulfilled, than selfishness will suffer the Jews to understand and the rest shall all be fulfilled in their season. But as, in all sciences, it is but a few of the most extraordinarily

1 Obj. Sed et ipse pollicetur quæ non probat. Resp. Ita est: nulla enim futurorum existere potest comprobatio.-Arnob. lib. 2.

wise, who reach the most subtle and difficult points; so it will be but a very few Christians who will understand the most difficult prophecies, till the accomplishment interpret them.

Object. XXIII. But the difficulties are as great in the doctrines as in the prophecies. Who is able to reconcile God's decrees, foreknowledge, and efficacious, special grace, with man's free will, and the righteousness of God's judgment, and the reasonableness of his precepts, promises, and threats? How God's decrees are all fulfilled, and in him we live, and move, and be; and are not sufficient for a good thought of ourselves; but to believe, to will, and to do, is given us; and he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth: and it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. And yet that he would not the death of a sinner, but rather that he repent and live; and that he would have all men saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; and layeth all the blame of their misery on themselves.m

Answ. First, Consider these things apart and in themselves, and then, comparatively, as they respect each other. 1. Is it an incredible thing that all being should be from the First Being, and all goodness from the Infinite Eternal Good; and that nothing should be unknown to the Infinite Omniscient Wisdom; and that nothing can overcome the power of the Omnipotent; or that he is certainly able to procure the accomplishment of all his own will; and that none shall disappoint his purposes, nor make him fall short of any of his counsels or decrees? Go no further now, and do not by false or uncertain doctrine make difficulties to yourselves, which God never made, and then tell me whether any of this be doubtful."

2. On the other side, is it incredible that man is a rational free-agent, and that he is a creature governable by laws; and that God is his Ruler, Lawgiver, and Judge: and that his laws must command and prohibit, and the sanction contain rewards and punishments: and that men should be judged righteously, according to their works: or that the messengers of Christ should entreat and persuade men to obey and that they should be moved as men by motives of good or evil to

m Read Cicero De Fato, de Divinatione,' &c., and all those philosophers de falo, whose opinions Grotius hath collected, and you will see that they had the same doubts as we, but were less able to resolve them.

"Intellectum est optimum cognoscere voluntatem Dei: omnium superior efficitur homo, qui obedierit veritati.-Pachomius in monit. per Voss. Edit.

themselves? Is there any thing in this that is incredible or uncertain? I think there is not."

And these difficulties will concern you, nevertheless, whether you are Christians, or not: they are harder points to philosophers than to us; and they have been their controversies before Christ came into the world: they are points that belong to the natural part of theology, and not that which resteth only on supernatural revelation; and therefore this is nothing against Christ.

2. But yet I will answer your question, who can reconcile these things? They can do much to the reconciling of them, who can distinguish a mere volition, or purpose, or decree, from an efficacious, pre-determining influx: 2. And can distinguish between those effects which need a positive cause, and purpose or decree, and those nullities which, having no cause but defective, do need no positive purpose or decree: 3. And can distinguish between the need we have of medicinal grace for holy actions, and the need we have of common help for every action natural and free 4. And can distinguish between an absolute volition, and a limited volition, in tantum et ad hoc, and no further: 5. They that can distinguish between man's natural liberty of self-determination, and his civil liberty from restraint of law, and his moral liberty from vicious habits: 6. They that can well difference man's natural power or faculties, from his moral power of good and holy disposition: 7. They that know what a free power is, and how far the causer of that power is, or is not, the cause of the act or its omission: 8. They that can distinguish between those acts which God doth as our Owner or as our free Benefactor, and those which he doth as Rector : 9. And between those which he doth as Rector, by his legislative will, antecedent to men's keeping or breaking his laws, and by his judicial and executive will, as consequent to these acts of man: 10. He that can distinguish between God's method in giving both the first call of the Gospel, and the first internal grace to receive it, and of his giving the grace of further sanctification,

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Leg. librum excell. D. Strangii Scoti de hisce controversiis. Plurima etiam consideratu dignissima sunt in Ro. Baronii Metaphysic.

P Dorothæus (Doct. 6.) to prove the unsearchableness of God's counsels and differencing grace, doth instance in two young maids, in natural temper much alike, both brought as captives in a ship to be sold. A holy woman bought one of them, and instructed her in holiness. A harlot bought the other, and taught her the trade of wickedness: and who, saith he, can give the reason of this event?

justification, and glory: 11. And between the manner of his procuring our first faith, and the procuring our following sanctification: 12. And he that knoweth how easy it is with God to attain what he willeth, without destroying the liberty of our wills: (as a miller can make the stream of water turn his mill and grind his corn, without altering any thing in the inclination of the water :) 13. And, withal, how incomprehensible the nature and manner of God's operation is to man; and how transcendently it is above all physical agency by corporeal contact or motion. I say, he that understandeth and can apply these distinctions, can reconcile the decrees and concourse of God with his government and man's free-will, as far as is necessary to the quieting of our understandings.

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Object. XXIV. But the christian faith doth seem to be but human, and not divine, in that it is to be resolved into the credit of men even of those men who tell us that they saw Christ's miracles, and saw him risen and ascend; and of those who saw the miracles of the apostles; and of those who tell us, that the first churches witness that they saw such things. The certainty cannot exceed the weakest of the premises; and this is the argument: The doctrine which was attested by miracles is of God; but the christian doctrine was attested by miracles; proved; the spectators averred it to others, who have transmitted the testimony down to us. So that you are no surer of the doctrine than of the miracles, and no surer of the miracles than of the human testimony which hath delivered it to you.

Answ. If you will be at the labour to read over what I have written before, you shall find a threefold testimony to Christ, besides this of miracles; and you shall find the apostles' testimony of Christ's miracles and resurrection, attested by more than a human testimony; and you shall find the miracles of the apostles also to have a fuller attestation: even, 1. Besides the most credible and human testimony; 2. A natural impossibility of deceit and falsehood; 3. And a further attestation of God, supernaturally and you shall find that the Gospel hath its certain evidence in the sanctifying effect, by the co-operation of the holy Spirit of Christ unto this day. Peruse it impartially, and you will find all this in what is said.

What, would men rather desire to attest the veracity of a messenger from heaven, than miracles; evident, uncontrolled, multiplied miracles! And must this messenger live in every age, and go into every land, to do these miracles in the presence

of every living soul! If not, how would those that live in another land or age be brought to the knowledge of them, but by the testimony of those that saw them; and how would you have such testimonies better confirmed, than by multiplied miracles, delivered in a way which cannot possibly deceive; and fully and perpetually attested by the spirit of effectual sanctification on believers? It is an unreasonable arrogancy to tell our Maker that we will not believe any miracles which he doth, by whomsoever, or howsoever witnessed, unless we see them ourselves with our own eyes; and so they be made as common as the shining of the sun: and then we should contemn them as of no validity.

So much shall here suffice against the objections from the intrinsical difficulties in the christian faith. Many more are answered in my "Treatise against Infidelity,' published heretofore.


The Objections from Things extrinsical, resolved.

OBJECT. I. All men are liars, and history may convey down abundance of untruths: who liveth with his eyes open among men, that may not perceive how partially men write; and how falsely through partiality; and with what brazen-faced impudence the most palpable falsehoods, in public matters of fact, are most confidently averred? and that in the land, the city, the age, the year of the transaction. Who, then, can lay his salvation upon the truth of the history of acts and miracles done one thousand six hundred years ago ?

Answ. The father of lies, no doubt, can divulge them as well by pen or press, as by the tongue and it is not an unnecessary caution to readers, and hearers too, to take heed what they believe; especially, 1. When one sect or party speaks against another; 2. Or when carnal interest requireth men to say what they do; 3. Or when falling out provoketh them to asperse any others; 4. Or when the stream of the popular vogue, or countenance of men in power, hath a finger in it; 5. Or when it is as probably contradicted by as credible men; 6. Or when the higher powers deter all from contradicting it, and dissenters have not liberty of speech.

But none of these, nor any such, are in our present case:

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