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and power of God, can bear any comparison to the The philosophers of Greece deduced their morals views thus presented to us by Divine revelation. Were from the nature of man rather than from that of God. we to forget for a moment, what is the fact, that their They meditated, however, on the Divine Nature, as a noblest notions stand connected with fancies and vain very curious and important speculation; and in the speculations which deprive them of their force, their profound inquiry, they displayed the strength and thought never rises so high, the current of it is broken, weakness of the human understanding. Of ihe four the round of lofty conception is not completed; and, most considerable sects, the Stoics and the Platoniunconnected as their views of Divine power were cians endeavoured to reconcile the jarring interests of with the eternal destiny of man, and the very reason reason and piety. They have left us the most subof creation, we never hear in them, as in the Scrip- lime proofs of the existence and perfections of the First tures, “the THUNDER of his power.” One of the best Cause; but as it was impossible for them to conceive specimens of heathen devotion is given below, in the the creation of matter, the workman, in the Stoic phihymn of Cleanthes the Stoic; and, though noble and losophy, was not sufficiently distinguished from the just, it sinks infinitely in the comparison.
work; while, on the contrary, the spiritual God of “ Hail, o Jupiter, most glorious of the immortals, Plato and his disciples resembled more an idea than a invoked under many names, always most powerful, substance."(3) the first ruler of nature, whose law governs all things, Similar errors have been revived in the infidel philo-hail! for to address thee is permitted to all mortals. sophy of modern time, from Spinoza down to the later For our race we have from thee; we mortals who offspring of the German and French schools. The creep upon the ground, receiving only the echo of thy same remark applies also to the Oriental philosophy, voice. I, therefore, I will celebrate thee, and will al- which, as before remarked, presents at this day a perways sing thy power. All this universe rolling round feet view of the boasted wisdom of ancient Greece, the earth, obeys thee wherever thou guidest, and wil- | which was brought to naught” by the “foolishness” lingly is governed by thee. So vehement, so fiery, so of apostolic preaching. But in the Scriptures there is immortal is the thunder which thou holdest subser- nothing confused in the doctrine of the Divine Ubivient in thy unshaken hands; for, by the stroke of this, quity. God is every where, but he is not every thing. all nature was rooted; by this, thou directest the com- All things have their being in him, but he is distinct mon reason which pervades all things, mixed with the from all things; he fills the universe, but is not mingreater and lesser luminaries ; so great a king art thon, gled with it. lle is the intelligence which guides, and supreme through all; nor does any work take place the power which sustains, but his personality is prewithout thee on the earth, nor in the ethereal sky, nor served, and he is independent of the works of his in the sea, except what the bad perform in their own hands however vast and noble. So far is his presence folly. But do thou, O Jupiter, giver of all blessings, from being hounded hy the universe itself, that, as in the dwelling in the clouds, ruler of the thunder, defend passage above quoted from the Psalms, we are taught, mortals from dismal misfortune; which dispel, O Fa that were it possible for us to wing our way into the ther, from the soul, and grant it to attain that judg- immeasurable depths and breadths of space, God would ment, trusting to which thou governest all things with there surround us, in as absolute a sense as that in justice; that, being honoured, we may repay thee which he is said to be about our bed and our path in with honour, singing continually thy works, as be that part of the world where his will has placed us. comes a mortal; since there is no greater meed to men or On this as on all similar subjects, the Scriptures gods, than always to celebrate justly the universal law." use terms, which are taken in their common sense ac
The OMNIPRESENCE or UBIQUITY of God, is an- ceptation among mankind; and though the vanity of other doctrine of Scripture; and it is corroborated by the human mind disposes many to seek a philosophy facts obvious to all reflecting beings, though, to us and in the doctrine thus announced deeper than that which perhaps to all finite minds, the mode is incomprehen- its popular terms convey, we are bound to conclude, if sible. The statement of this doctrine in the inspired we would pay but a common respect to an admitted records, like that of all the other attributes of God, is revelation, that where no manifest figure of speech made in their own peculiar tone and emphasis of ma- occurs, the truth of the doctrines lies in the tenor of jesty and sublimity. “Whither shall I go from thy the terms by which it is expressed. Otherwise there Spirit, or whither shall I fee from thy presence? If I would be no revelation, I do not say of the modus, for ascend up to heaven, thou art there ; if I make my bed that is professedly incomprehensible; but of the fact. in hell, behold thou art there; if I take the wings of In the case before us, the terms presence and place the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the are used according to common notions, and must be so sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right taken, if the Scriptures are intelligible. Metaphysical hand shall hold me.-Can any hide himself in secret refinements are not Scriptural doctrines, when they places that I shall not see him? Do not I fill heaven give to the terms chosen by the Holy Spirit an acceptaand earth, saith the Lord ? Am I a God at hand, saith tion out of their general and proper use, and niake the Lord, and not a God afar off?--Thus saith the Lord, them the signs of a perfectly distinct class of ideas; it behold heaven is my throne, and the earth is my foot- indeed all distinctness of idea is not lost in the attempt, stool.-Behold, heaven and the heaven heavens | It is therefore in the popular and just, because Scripcannot contain thee.---Though he dig into hell, thence tural, inanner, that we are to conceive of the omnipreshall my hand take him; though he climb up into hea- sence of God. ven, thence will I bring him down; and though he “ If we reflect upon ourselves we may observe, that hide himself in the top of Carmel, I will search and we fill but a small space, and that our knowledge or take him out from thence.--In him we live, and move, power reaches but a little way. We can act at one and have our being.–He filleth all things."
time in one place only, and the sphere of our influence Some striking passages on the Ubiquity of the Divine is narrow at largest. Would we be witnesses to what presence, may be found in the writings of some of the is done at any distance from us, or exert there our acGreek philosophers, arising out of this notion, that God tive powers, we must remove ourselves thither. For was the soul of the world; but their very connexion this reason we are necessarily ignorant of thousand with this speculation, notwithstanding the imposing things which pass around us, incapable of attending phrase occasionally adopted, strikingly marks the dif- and managing any great variety of affairs, or performference between their most exalted views, and those ing at the saine tiine any number of actions, for our of the Hebrew prophets on this subject. “To a large own good, or for the benefit of others. proportion of those who hold a distinguished rank “Although we feel this to be the present condition among the ancient theistical philosophers, the idea of of our being, and the limited state of our intelligent the personality of the Deity was in a great measure and active powers, yet we can easily conceive, there unknown. The Deity by them was considered, not so may exist beings more perfect, and whose presence much an intelligent Being as an animating power, dif- may extend far and wide. Any one of whom present fused throughout the world, and was introduced into in what to us are various places, at the same time, their speculative system to account for the motion of may know at once what is done in all these, and act in that passive mass of matter, which was supposed co- all of them; and thus be able to regard and direct a eval, and indeed coexisent, with himself.”(2) These variety of affairs at the same instant. And who far. defective notions are confessed by Gibbon, a writer not ther being qualified, by the purity and activity of their disposed to undervalue their attainments
nature, to pass from one place to another with great (2) SUMNER's Records of the Creation,
(3) Decline and Fall, &c.
ease and swiftness, niay thus fill a large sphere of best time of the year, watering it in due season and action, direct a great variety of affairs, confer a great quantities, and gathering in the fruits when ripe, and number of benefits, and observe a multitude of actions laying them up in the best manner--if all these efat the same time, or in so swift a succession, as to us fects prove the estate to have a manager, and the would appear but one instant. Thus perfect we may manager possessed of skill and strength-certainly easily believe the angels of God.
the enlightening and warming the whole earth by the “We can farther conceive this extent of presence, sun, and so directing its motion, and the motion of the and of ability for knowledge and action, to admit by earth as to produce in a constant useful succession degrees of ascending perfection approaching to infinite. day and night, summer and winter, seed-time and harAnd when we have thus raised our thoughts to the vest; the watering the earth continually by the clouds, idea of a Being who is not only present throughout a and thus bringing forth immense quantities of herbage, large empire, but throughout our world; and not only grain, and fruits--certainly all these effects continually in every part of our world, but in every part of all the produced, must prove that a Being of the greatest numberless suns and worlds which roll in the starry power, wisdom, and benevolence is continually preheavens--who is not only able to enliven and actuate sent throughout our world, which he thus supports, the plants, animals, and men who live upon this globe, moves, actuates, and makes fruitful. but countless varieties of creatures every where in an “The fire which warms us knows nothing of its immense universe--yea, whose presence is not con- serviceableness to this purpose, nor of the wise laws fined to the universe, immeasurable as that is by any according to which its particles are moved to produce finite mind, but who is present every where in infinite this effect. And that it is placed in such a part of the space; and who is therefore able to create still new house, where it may be greatly beneficial and no way worlds and fill them with proper inhabitants, attend, hurtful, is ascribed without hesitation to the contrisupply, and govern them all-when we have thus gra- vance and labour of a person who knew its proper dually raised and enlarged our conceptions, we have place and uses. And if we came daily into a house the best idea we can form of the universal presence of wherein we saw this was regularly done, though we the great Jehovah, who filleth heaven and earth. never saw an inhabitant therein, we could not doubt There is no part of the universe, no portion of space that the house was occupied by a rational inhabitant. uninhabited by God, none wherein this Being of per- That huge globe of fire in the heavens, which we call fect power, wisdom, and benevolence is not essentially the sun, and on the light and influences of which the present. Could we with the swiftness of a sunbeam fertility of our world, and the life and pleasure of all dart ourselves beyond the limits of the creation, and animals depend, knows nothing of its serviceableness to for ages continue our progress in infinite space, we these purposes, nor of the wise laws according to should still be surrounded with the Divine Presence; which its beams are dispensed; nor what place or monor ever be able to reach that space where God is not. tions were requisite for these beneficial purposes. Yet
“ His presence also penetrates every part of our its beams are darted constantly in infinite numbers, world; the most solid parts of the earth cannot ex- every one according to those well chosen laws, and its clude it; for it pierces as easily the centre of the globe proper piace and motion are maintained. Must not as the empty air. All creatures live, and move, and then its place be appointed, its motion regulated, and have their being in him. And the inmost recesses of beams darted, by almighty wisdom and goodness; the human heart can no more exclude his presence, or which prevent the suu's ever wandering in the boundconceal a thought from his knowledge, than the deep- less spaces of the heavens, so as to leave us in disconest caverns of the earth.”(4)
solate cold and darkness; or coming so near or emitThe illustrations and confirmatory proofs of this doc- ting his rays in such a manner as to burn us up? Must trine which the material world furnishes, are numerous not the great Being who enlightens and warms us by and striking.
the sun, his instrument, who raises and sends down “ It is a most evident and acknowledged truth, that a the vapours, brings forth and ripens the grain and fruits, being cannot act where it is not; if therefore actions and who is thus ever acting around us for our benefit, and effects, which manifest the highest wisdom, be always present in the suni, throughout the air, and power, and goodness in the author of them, are conti- all over the earth, which he thus moves and actuates ? nually produced every where, the author of these ac- “ This earth is in itself a dead motionless ass, and tions, or God, must be continually present with us, void of all counsel ; yet proper parts of it are continuand wherever he thus acts. The matter which com- ally raised through the small pipes which compose the poses the world is evidently lifeless and thoughtless; | bodies of plants and trees, and are made to contribute it must therefore be incapable of moving itself, or de- to their growth, to open and shine in blossoms and signing or producing any effects which require wisdom leaves, and to swell and harden into fruit. Could blind, or power. The matter of our world, or the small parts thoughtless particles thus continually keep on their which constitute the air, the earth, and the waters, is way, through numberless windings, without once blunyet continually moved, so as to produce effects of this dering, if they were not guided by an unerring hand ? kind; such are the innumerable herbs, and trees, and Can the most perfect human skill from earth and wafruits w adorn the earth, and support the countless ter form one grain, uch more a variety of beautiful millions of creatures who inhabit it. There must and relishing fruits? Must not the directing mind, therefore be constantly present, all over the earth, a who does all this constantly, be most wise, mighty, most wise, mighty, and good Being, the author and and benevolent? Must not the Being who thus contidirector of these motions.
nually exerts his skill and energy around us, for our “We cannot, it is true, see him with our bodily eyes, benefit, be confessed to be always present, and conbecause he is a pure spirit; yet this is not any proof cerned for our welfare ? that he is not present. A judicious discourse, a series “Can these effects be ascribed to any thing below of kind actions, convince us of the presence of a friend, an all-wise and almighty cause? And must not this a person of prudence and benevolence. We cannot cause be present, wherever he acts? Were God to see the present mind, the seat and principle of these speak to us every month from heaven, and with a voice quaiities; yet the constant regular motion of the loud as thunder declare, that he observes, provides tongue, the hand, and the whole body (which are the for, and governs us; this would not be a proof, in the instruments of our souls, as the material universe and judgment of sound reason, by many degrees so valid. all the various bodies in it are the instruments of the Since much less wisdom and power are required to form Deity), will not suffer us to doubt, that there is an in- such sounds in the air than to produce these effects; telligent and benevolent principle within the body, and to give not merely verbal declarations, but subwhich produces all these skilful motions and kind ac- stantial evidences of his presence and care over us.”(5) tions. The sun, the air, the earth and the waters, are “In every part and place in the universe, with which no more able to move themselves, and produce all that we are acquainted, we perceive the exertion of a power, beautiful and useful variety of plants, and fruits, and which we believe mediately or immediately to proceed trees, with which our earth is covered, than the body from the Deity. For instance: In what part or point of a man, when the soul hath left it, is able to move of space, that has ever been explored, do we not disitself, form an instrument, plough a field, or build a cover attraction? In what regions do we not find light? house. If the laying out judiciously, and well cultiva- In what accessible portion of our globe do we not meet ting a small estate, sowing it with proper grain at the with gravity, magnetism, electricity; together with (4) AMORY'S Sermons,
(5) AMORY's Sermons,
the properties also and powers of organized substances, thee; but the night shineth as the day. The ways of of vegetable or of animated nature ? Nay, farther, we man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth may ask, What kingdom is there of nature, what corner all his goings; he searcheth their hearts, and underof space, in which there is any thing that can be exa- standeth every imagination of their thoughts." Nor is mined by us, where we do not fall upon contrivance this perfect knowledge to be confined to men or angels, and design?' The only reflection perhaps which arises it reaches into the state of the dead, and penetrates the in our minds from this view of the world around us is, regions of the damned. “Hell, hades, is naked before that the laws of nature every where prevail ; that they him; and destruction (the seats of destruction) hath no are uniform and universal ? But what do we mean by covering.” No limits at all are to be set to this perfection. the laws of nature, or by any law? Effects are pro- “Great is the Lord, his understanding is INFINITE." duced by power, not by laws. A law cannot execute In Psalm xciv. the knowledge of God is argued from itself. A law refers us to an agent.”(6)
the communication of it to men. “Understand, ye The usual argument d priori, on this attribute of the brutish among the people; and, ye fools, when will ye Divine Nature, has been stated as follows; but amid so be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? much demonstration of a much higher kind, it cannot He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that be of much value.
chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct ? he that “The First Cause, the supreme all-perfect mind, as teacheth man knowledge, skall not he know?” This he could not derive his being from any other cause, argument is as easy as it is conclusive, obliging all must be independent of all other, and therefore unli- who acknowledge a First Cause, to admit his perfect mited. He exists by an absolute necessity of nature; intelligence, or to take refuge in Atheism itself. It and as all the parts of infinite space are exactly uniform fetches not the proof from a distance, but refers us to and alike, for the same reason that he exists in any one our bosoms for the constant demonstration that the part, he must exist in all. No reason can be assigned Lord is a God of knowledge, and that by him actions are for excluding him from one part, which would not ex- weighed. clude him from all. But that he is present in some
“We find in ourselves such qualities as thought and parts of space, the evident effects of his wisdom, power, intelligence, power and freedom, &c., for which we and benevolence continually produced, demonstrate have the evidence of consciousness as much as for our beyond all rational doubt. He must therefore be alike own existence. Indeed, it is only by our consciousness present every where; and fill infinite space with his of these that our existence is known to ourselves. infinite Being."(7)
We know likewise that these are perfections, and that Among metaphysicians, it has been matter of dis- to have them is better than to be without them. We pute, whether God is present every where by an infi- find also that they have not been in us from eternity. nite extension of his essence. This is the opinion of They must, therefore, have had a beginning, and conNewton, Dr. S. Clarke, and their followers; others sequently some cause, for the very same reason that a have objected to this notion, that it might then be said, being beginning to exist in time requires a cause. God is neither in heaven nor in earth, but only a part Now this cause, as it must be superior to its effect, of God in each. The former opinion, however, appears must have those perfections in a superior degree; and if most in harmony with the Scriptures; though the term it be the first cause, it must have them in an infinite extension, through the inadequacy of language, conveys or unlimited degree, since bonds or limitation, without too material an idea. The objection just stated is wholly a limiter, would be an effect without a cause." grounded on notions taken from material objects, and “If God gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge is therefore of little weight, because it is not applica- to men of understanding, if he communicates this perble to an immaterial substance. It is best to confess fection to his creatures, the inference must be that he with one who had thought deeply on the subject, “there himself is possessed of it in a much more eminent is an incomprehensibleness in the manner of every degree than they; that his knowledge is deep and intithing about which no controversy can or ought to be mate, reaching to the very essence of things, theirs but concerned.”(8) That we cannot comprehend how God slight and superficial; his clear and distinct, theirs conis fully, and completely, and undividedly present every fused and dark; his certain and infallible, theirs doubtwhere, need not surprise us, when we reflect that the ful and liable to mistakes; his easy and permanent, manner in which our own minds are present with our theirs obtained with much pains, and soon lost again bodies is as incomprehensible, as the manner in wkich by the detects of memory or age; his universal and the Supreme mind is present with every thing in the extending to all objects, theirs short and narrow, reachuniverse.
ing only to some few things, while that which is wanting cannot be numbered; and therefore as the heavens are higher than the earth, so, as the prophet has told us,
are his ways above their ways, and his thoughts above CHAPTER IV.
their thoughts.”(1) ATTRIBUTES of God.-Omniscience.
But His understanding is in finite; a doctrine which
the sacred writers not only authoritatively announce, The Omniscience of God is constantly connected in but confirm by referring to the wisdom displayed in his Scripture with bis Omnipresence, and forms a part of works. The only difference between wisdom and almost every description of that attribute; for as God is knowledge is, that the former always supposes action, a spirit, and therefore intelligent, if he is every where, if and action directed to an end. But wherever there is nothing can exclude him, not even the most solid bo- wisdom, there must be knowledge; and as the wisdom dies, nor the minds of intelligent beings, then are all of God in the creation consists in the formation of things things “naked and open to the eyes of him with whom which, by themselves, or in combination with others, we have to do." “Where he acis, he is, and where he shall produce certain effects, and that in a variety of is, he perceives." "He understands and considers operation which is to us boundless, the previous knowthings absolutely, and as they are in their own natures, ledge of the possible qualities and effects inevitably powers, properties, differences, together with all the supposes a knowledge which can have no limit. For circumstances belonging to them."(9) “Known unto as creation out of nothing, argues a power which is him are all his works from the beginning of the world," omnipotent ; so the knowledge of the possibilities of rather an 'arovos from all eternity-known, before things which are not, a knowledge which, from the they were made, in their possible, and known, now they effect, we are sure must exist in God, argues that such are made, in their actual existence. “Lord, thou hast
a Being must be omniscient. For “all things being not searched me and known me; thou krowest my down-only present to him, but also entirely depending upon sitting and mine up-rising, thou understandest my him, and having received both their being itself, and all thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my their powers and faculties from him : it is manifest lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For that, as he knows all things that are, so he must likethere is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou wise know all possibilities of things, that is, all effects knowest it altogether. The darkness hideth not from that can be. For, being himself alone self-existent;
and having alone given to all things all the powers and (6) Paley.
faculties they are endued with; it is evident he must of (8) Jackson's Existence and Unity, &c.-Vide also necessity know perfectly what all and each of those Watts's Philosophical Essays, and Law's Inquiry into powers and faculties, which are derived wholly from the Ideas of Space, &c. (9) Bishop Wilkins's Principles,
(1) TILLOTSON's Sermons,
himself, can possibly produce: and seeing, at one bound- The foreknowledge of God, or his prescience of less view, all the possible compositions and divisions, future things, though contingent, is by divines generally variations and changes, circumstances and dependences included in the term omniscience, and for this they have of things; all their possible relations one to another, unquestionably the authority of the Holy Scriptures. and their dispositions or fitnesses to certain and re- From the difficulty which has been supposed to exist, apective ends, he must, without possibility of error, in reconciling this with the freedom of human actions, know exactly what is best and properest in every one and man's accountability, some have however refused of the infinite possible cases or methods of disposing to allow prescience, at least of contingent actions, to be of things; and understand perfectly how to order and a property of the Divine Nature; and others bave direct the respective means, to bring about what he so adopted various modifications of opinion, as to the knows to be, in its kind, or in the whole, the best and knowledge of God, in order to elude, or to remove the fittest in the end. This is what we mean by infinite objection. This subject was glanced at in Part 1. Wisdom.”
chap. ix. but in this place, where the omniscience of On the subject of the Divine Ubiquity and Omni- God is under consideration, the three leading theories science, many fine sentiments are found, eyen among which have been resorted to for the purpose of mainpagans; for, an intelligent First Cause being in any taining unimpugned the moral government of God, and sense admitted, it was most natural and obvious to the freedom and responsibility of man, seem to require ascribe to him a perfect knowledge of all things. They examination, that the true doctrine of Scripture may be acknowledged "that nothing is hid from God, who is fully brought out and established.(5) intimate to our minds, and mingles himself with our very thoughts;"(2) nor were they all unaware of the feels at that want of all moral delicacy from which only practical tendency of such a doctrine, and of the motive such comparisons could emanate, when the true chait affords to a cautious and virtuous conduct.(3) But racter of Socrates comes to be unveiled! On a sermon among them it was not held, as by the sacred writers, preached at Cambridge by Dr. Butler, which contains in connexion with other correct views of the Divine one of these parallels, "the Christian Observer” has Nature, which are essential to give to this its full moral the following just remarks :effect. Not only on this subject does the manner in “We earnestly request that such of our readers as which the Scriptures state this doctrine far transcend are sufficiently acquainted with classical literature to that of the wisest pagan theists; but the moral of the institute the examination, would turn to the eleventh sentiment is infinitely more comprehensive and im- chapter of the third book of the Memorabilia of Xenopressive. With them it is connected with man's state phon, and we are persuaded that they will not think of trial; with a holy law, all the violations of which, our reprehension of Dr. Butler misplaced. The very in thought, word, and deed, are both infallibly known title of the chapter, we should have thought, would and strictly marked; with promises of grace; and of have precluded any Christian scholar, much more any mild and protecting government as to all who have Christian divine, from the possibility of being guilty of sought and found the mercy of God, forgiving their a profanation so gross and revolting. The title of it is sins and admitting them into his family. The wicked Cum Meretrice Theodata de arte hominum alliciendoare thus reminded, that their hearts are searched, and rum disserit (Socrates, viz.) Doubtless many who their sins noted ; that the eyes of the Lord are upon heard Dr. Butler preach, and many more who have their ways; and that their most secret works will be since read his sermon, have taken it for granted, that brought to light in the day when God, the witness, when he ventured to recommend the conduct of soshall become God the Judge. In like manner, “the crates, in associating with courtesans, as being an eyes of the Lord are said to be over the righteous;" adumbration with that of our Saviour, he must have that such persons are kept by him “who never slum- alluded to instances in the life of that philosopher of bers nor sleeps;" that he is never “far from them,” his having laboured to reclaim the vicious, or to conand that “his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole sole the penitent with the hope of pardon. For ourearth, to show himself strong in their behalf;" that selves, we know of no such instances. But what will foes, to them invisible, are seen by his eye, and con- be his surprise to find that the intercourse of Socrates trolled by his arm; and that this great attribute, so with courtesans, as it is here recorded by Xenophon, appalling to wicked men, affords to them, not only the was of the most licentious and profligate description ? most influential reason for a perfectly holy temper and (5) There is another theory which was formerly much conduct, but the strongest motive to trust, and joy, and debated, under the name of Scientia Media ; but to hope, amid the changes and afflictions of the present which, in the present day, reference is seldom made, life. Socrates, as well as other philosophers, could The knowledge of God was distributed into Necessary, express themselves well, so long as they expressed which goes before every act of the will in the order of themselves generally, on this subject. The former nature, and by which he knows himself, and all pos. could say, " Let your own frame instruct you. Does sible things :--Free, which follows the act of the will, the mind inhabiting your body dispose and govern it and by which God knows all things which he has de. with ease? Ought you not then to conclude, that the creed to do and to permit, as things which he wills to universal mind with equal ease actuates and governs ( be done or perniitted :-Middle, so called, because par. universal nature; and that, when you can at once con- taking of the two former kinds, by which he knows, sider the interests of the Athenians at home, in Egypt, sub conditione, what men and angels would voluntarily and in Sicily, it is not too much for the Divine wisdom , do under any given circumstances. “ Tertiam Mediam, to take care of the universe ? These reflections will qua sub conditione novit quid homines aut angeli facsoon convince you, that the greatness of the Divine turi essent pro sua libertate, si cum his aut illis cirmind is such, as at once to see all things, hear all things, cumstantiis, in hoc vel in illo rerum ordine constituebe present every where, and direct all the affairs of the rentur.” -EPISCOPIUS De Scientia Dei. They illusworld." These views are just; but they wanted that trate this kind of knowledge by such passages as “Wo connexion with others relative both to the Divine nature unto thee, Chorazin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida! for if and government, which we see only in the Bible, to the mighty works which were done in you, had been render them influential; they neither gave correct done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long moral distinctions nor led to a virtuous practice, no, not ago in sackcloth and ashes.” This distinction, which in Socrates, who on some subjects, and especially on was taken from the Jesuits, who drew it from the the personality of the Deity, and his independence on Schoolmen, was at least favoured by some of the Rematter, raised himself far above the rest of his philo- monstrant divines, as the extract from Episcopius sophic brethren, but in moral feeling and practice was shows; and they seem to have been led to it by the ciras censurable as they.(4)
cumstance that almost all the high Calvinist theolo
gians of that day entirely denied the possibility of con(2) Nihil Deo clausum, interest animis nostris, et tingent future actions being foreknown, in order to supmediis cogitationibus intervenit.--SEN. Epist.
port on this ground their doctrine of absolute predes(3) Quis enim non timeat Deum, omnia pervidentem, tination. In this, however, those Remonstrants, who et cogitantem, &c.-Cic. De Nat. Deor.
adopted that notion, did not follow their great leader (4) Several parallels have been at different times Arminius, who felt no need of this subterfuge, but drawn, even by Christian divines, between the charac- stood on the plain declarations of Scripture, unembarpers of Socrates and Christ, doubtless with the inten- rassed with metaphysical distinctions. Gomarus, on tion of exalting the latter, but yet so as to veil the true the other side, adopted this opinion, which was concharacter of the former. How great is the disgust one fined, among the Calvinists of that day, to himself and
The Chevalier Ramsay, among his other speculations, Scriptures are allowed to contain prophecies of rewardholds “it a matter of choice in God, to think of finite able and punishable actions. ideas;" and similar opinions, though variously worded, That man is accountable to God for his conduct, and have been occasionally adopted. In substance these therefore free, that is, laid under no invincible necessity opinions are, that though the knowledge of God be in- of acting in a given manner, are doctrines clearly con finite as his power is infinite, there is no more reason tained in the Bible, and the notion of necessity has here to conclude, that his knowledge should be always ex- its full and satisfactory reply; but if a difficulty should erted to the full extent of its capacity, than that his be felt in reconciling the freedom of an action with the power should be employed to the extent of his omni- prescience of it, it affords not the slightest relief to deny potence; and that if we suppose him to choose not to the foreknowledge of God as to actions in general, know some contingencies, the infiniteness of his know while the Scriptures contain predictions of the conduct ledge is not thereby impugned. To this it may be an- of men whose actions cannot have been determined by swered, “that the infinite power of God is in Scripture invincible necessity, because they were actions for represented, as in the nature of things it must be, as an which they received from God a just and marked puinfinite capacity, and not as infinite in act; but that nishment. Whether the scheme of relief be, that the the knowledge of God is on the contrary never repre- knowledge of God, like his power, is arbitrary, or that
sented there to us as a capacity to acquire knowledge, the prescience of contingencies is impossible; so long .but as actually comprehending all things that are, and as the Scriptures are allowed to contain predictions of
all things that can be. 2. That the notion of God's the conduct of men, good or bad, the difficulty remains choosing to know some things, and not to know others, in all its force. The whole body of propheey is founded supposes a reason why he refuses to know any class on the certain prescience of contingent actions, or it is of things or events, which reason, it would seem, can not prediction, but guess and conjecture-to such fearonly arise out of their nature and circumstances, and ful results does the denial of the Divine prescience therefore supposes at least a partial knowledge of lead! No one can deny that the Bible contains predicthem, from which the reason for his not choosing to tions of the rise and fall of several kingdoms; that know them arises. The doctrine is therefore some- Daniel, for instance, prophesied of the rise, the various what contradictory. But, 3, it is fatal to this opinion, fortune, and the fall of the celebrated monarchies of anthat it does not at all meet the difficulty arising out of tiquity. But empires do not rise and fall wholly by imthe question of the congruity of Divine prescience, and mediate acts of God; they are not thrown up like new the free actions of man; since some contingent actions, islands in the ocean, they do not fall like cities in an for which men have been made accountable, we are earthquake, by the direct exertion of Divine power. sure, have foreknown by God, because by his They are carried through their various stages of adSpirit i freedom of man can in these cases be reconciled to the which God makes the instruments of their prosperity prescience of God, there is no greater difficulty in any or destruction. Counsels, wars, science, revolutions, other case which can possibly occur.«
all crowd in their agency; and the predictions are of the A second theory is, that the foreknowledge of contin- combined and ultimate results of all these circumgent events, being in its own nature impossible, because stances, which, as arising out of the vices and virtues it implies a contradiction, it does no dishonour to the of men, out of innumerable acts of choice, are continDivine Being to affirm, that of such events he has, and gent. Seen they must have been through all their can have, no prescience whatever; and thus the pre- stages, and seen in their results, for prophecy las
rescience of God, as to moral actions, being wholly denied, gistered those results. The prescience of them cannot the difficulty of reconciling it with human freedom and be denied, for that is on the record; and if certain preaccountability has no existence (6)
science involves necessity, then are the daily virtues To this the same answer must be given as to the and vices of men not contingent. It was predicted, former. It does not meet the case, so long as the that Babylon should be taken by Cyrus in the midst of
a midnight revel, in which the gates should be left un. another. Gomarus betook himself to this notion of guarded and open. Now, if all the actions which arose conditional prescience, in order to avoid being charged out of the warlike disposition and ambition of Cyrus with making God the
author of the sin of Adam, and were contingent, what becomes of the principle, that found it a convenient mode of eluding so formida- it is impossible to foreknow contingencies ?- they were ble an objection, as Curcellæus remarks: “Sapienter foreknown, because the result of them was predicted. ergo, meo, judicio, Gomarus, cum suam de reproba. If the midnight revel of the Babylonian monarch was tionis objecto sententiam hoc absurdo videret urgeri, contingent (the circumstance which led to the neglect quod Deum peccati Adami auctorem constituerit, ad of the gates of the city), that also was foreknown, bepræscientiam conditionatam, confugit, qua Deus ex in- cause predicted; if not contingent, the actions of both finito scientiæ suæ lumine, quædam futura non abso- monarchs were necessary, and to neither of them can lute, sed certa conditione posita prenovit. Hac enim be ascribed virtue or vice. ratione commodissime ictum istum declinavit.-Eum- Our Lord predicts, most circumstantially, the de: que postea secutus est Wallæus in Locis suis Commu- struction of Jerusalem by the Romans. If this be alnibus; qui etiam feliciter scopulum illum præterve- lowed, then the contingencies involved in the conduct hitur.Nullum præterea ex Calvini discipulis novi, of the Jews who provoked that fatal war-in the qui hanc in Deo scientiam agnoscat. - De Jure Dei. Roman senate who decreed it-in the Roman generals
To what practical end this opinion went, it is not who carried it on-in the Roman and Jewish soldiers easy to see either as to such of the Calvinists or of the who were engaged in it-were all foreseen, and the reArminians as adopted it. The point of the question, sult of them predicted : if they were not contingencies, after all, was, whether the actual circumstances in that is, if they were not free actions, then the virtues which a free agent would be placed, and his conduct and vices of both parties, and all the acts of skill, and accordingly, could both be foreknown. Gomarus, who courage, and enterprise; and all the cruelties and sufadopted the view of conditional foreknowledge, as to ferings of the besieged and the besiegers, arising out of
conceded the liberty of the will, so far innumerable volitions, and giving rise to the events su as the first man was concerned, to his opponents; but circumstantially marked in the prophecy,
were deterEpiscopius and others conceded by this notion some mined by an irreversible necessity. The 53d chapter of thing of more importance to the Supralapsarians, who Isaiah predicts, that Messiah should be taken away by denied that the prescience of future contingencies was a violent death, inflicted by men in defiance of all the at all possible. However both agreed to destroy the principles of justice. The record cannot be blotted prescience of God as to actual contingencies, though out; and if the conduct of the Jews was not, as the the advocates of the Media Scientia reserved the point | advocates of this scheme will contend it was not, inas to possible, or rather hypothetic ones, and thus the fluenced by necessity, then we have all the continwhole was, after all, resolved into the wider question, gencies of their hatred, and cruelties, and injustice
Is the knowledge of future contingencies possible? predicted, and therefore foreknown. The same obserThis point will be presently considered.
vations might be applied to St. Paul's prediction of a (6) So little effect has this theory in removing any “falling away” in the church; of the rise of the “man difficulty, that persons of the most opposite theological of sin, and, in a word, to every prediction which the sentiments have claimed it in their favour.--Socinus sacred volume contains. If there be any predictions in and his followers-all the Sapralapsarian Calvinists, the Bible at all, every scheme which denies the preand a few Arminians,
science of contingencies must compel us into the doo