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“it was the custom to slay such sacrifices before they were burnt upon the altar."
RESPONSE.---For answer to this, it needs not be replied, that “ words and phrases in Holy Scripture, as well as in other authors, are used in diverse senses." But the answer is, that there was a necessity (upon the matter) that Almighty God should use a phrase that carried such an obvious sense with it, because this was a special command given unto Abraham for a signal trial of his faith and obedience, “ And it came to pass that God did tempt Abraham.” (Gen. xxii. 1.) Which there could have been no proof of, if God had expounded to him the sense of his command after this manner, Go, take thy son, &c. But thou “ needest not startle at the imposition ; for my intent and pur
is, only that thou shouldest bring him into the land of Mo" riah, and bind him and expose him there upon the allar, which “ thou shalt make for that purpose, and then I will accept thy “ obedience, and rescue thy son from the knife by a voice from “ Heaven.” If God had thus far revealed his will, Abraham's faith had found no difficulty to contest against, and [it] consequently had not been capable of an approbation. The upshot therefore of all is this,—that in this intercourse with Abraham, God revealed his will, and nothing but his will, but not his wHOLE WILL, which he was not bound to do, neither could the doing of it consist with his design of trying the sincerity of Abraham's graces. But this is not to be drawn into example when we speak of God's ordinary external intercourse with sinners, inviting and calling them to repent, believe and obey the Gospel, upon promise of life and peril of damnation. For,
1. This would make the Divine Call, not only a continual temptation, (which is absurd enough!) but also ridiculous: for this would not be such a temptation as that which occurs in Abraham's example; wherein the duty commanded was not only possible to be performed, but was also actually, performed, so far forth, that God declared his own satisfaction in it by a voice from Heaven. But (according to the doctrine of those men [whom we oppose) God is supposed to be always tempting and trying, whether that will come to pass which is altogether impossible to come to pass,—that is, (according to them] he tempts and tries again and again whether the reprobate will believe and convert, that is whether he [the reprobate] will do that which God's own decree hath rendered impossible for him to do. Which is, as if one should be very solicitous to make an experiment, whether the blind would see, or the dead walk.
2. This would make God's calling of reprobales, which is done by his siGNANT will alone, (as they say) not only an act of hypocrisy, in seeming to wish them well, by desiring their repentance and salvation, when his BENEPLACENT will bath decreed otherwise: but also an act of cruelty ; because by this calling, God is not only the occasion, or cause of their infidelity and disobedience, (it being impossible for reprobates to answer that call,) but of their greater punishment likewise, into which they do necessarily fall for that their necessary and unavoidable infidelity.-From which it follows,
3. That that will whereby God wills not to give to reprobates sufficient grace to enable them to repent and believe, (much less irresistible grace, that actually they must do so,) should not be Voluntas beneplaciti, but rather maleplaciti, "a will of displeasure rather than of good pleasure ;” because it is an affection of the greatest hatred and aversation; whereas, notwithstanding, God's calling unto faith and to salvation (which is done by the word) is declared to be an act of his good pleasure and grace, (Ephes. 1.9 ; 2 Thes. 1. 11; 2 Tim. i. 9.) and an evidence of his compassion and love, as may easily be collected out of Holy Scripture. (2 Chron. xxxvi. 15; Rom. i. 7; Hos. ix. 15.) Lastly, according to the doctrine of that distinction, and those men that make use of it, the whole revelation and ministry of the Gospel, goes for no more, but voluntas signi, “ the will of God to give out such a thing for a sign only," when, indeed it is the will of God's beneplaciture and is expressly so called, as shall appear in the second particular, wherein Tilenus offers the reader satisfaction, which is, about the sense of another text perversely cited by him above upon another occasion.
Maccovius, (Colleg. de Predest. disp. 2.) to prove that God would not have all men to be saved, (no, not voluntate signi)
according to his revealed will,” contrary to the most express grammatical sense of scripture, (1 Tim. ii, 4; 2 Pet. iii, 9 ;) saith, Voluntas signi non est propriè dicta voluntas, sed est verbum Dei, " that which is revealed and signified (in holy Scripture) to be the mind of God, is not his will properly so called, but it is the word of God," as if it were consistent with his sacred veracity to utter something disagreeable to his own will! And he affirms further, (disp. 5.) that “God doth not will, that is, not delight in or approve of any thing, but what he doth effect;" and this he endeavours to prove out of Psalm cxv, 3; a parallel place to which we have [in] Psalm cxxxv, 6; against which doctrine these two assertions are clear:
1. That God's word or his command, revealed in holy Scripture, is his will properly so called.—“I caine down from Heaven to do the will of him that sent me: and this is the will of him that sent me, &c.” John vi, 38, 39, 40 ; “ Thou art called a Jew,—and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will-being instructed out of the law.” Rom. ii, 18; “ This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” 1 Thes. iv, 3; “ But he that doth the will of my Father,” &c. Mat. vii, 21 ; See Mat, xii, 50; John vii, 17; ix, 31; Heb. xiii, 21; 1 John ii, 17.
It is "that which is right in the eyes of the Lord."(Deut. vi,17,18; Heb. xiii, 21) It is " that good, that acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. xii, 2.) And, if it be not so, how can we be assured that we do please him, and are acceptable in his sight, when we walk according to this rule?
2. This will of God is not always done, but many times the contrary.—“ When I called ye did not answer; when I spake ye did not hear, but did evil before mine eyes, and did chuse that wherein I delighted not.” Isa. Ixv, 12; and lxvi, 4; So Jer. xix, 5; and chap. xxxii, 35; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind.”
Now to come to those passages of the Psalmist when he saith, “ The Lord doth whatsoever pleaseth him,” it cannot be understood of man's work, whether we mean his sin or his
(1.) Not of his sin ; for that cannot be said “to please God.”— For“ he is not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness.” (Psalm V, 4.) And therefore most of our adversaries are ashamed, directly to attribute the effecting thereof unto God.
(2.) Nor yet can it be understood of man's duty; for that pleaseth God, not as it is opus operatum, (Isa. i, 12; &c.) but as it is a duty; and a duty it cannot be, if it be God's doing, for u duty is “ a work performed by an inferior, in obedience to the command of his superior, who hath authority over him;" and consequently man's duty cannot be a work of God's only doing. Besides, he that commands a thing would have that thing which he commands, to be done by him to whom he doth command it. But he that does that thing (supposed to be under command) himself, wills not that it be done by another: Otherwise he should at the same time both will and Nill it to be done by that other. The Psalmist therefore is to be understood, not of the things which the Lord would have done (in a way of duty) by others; nor yet of such things as he promises to perform himself upon condition of man's obedience,-which through default hereof many times are not accomplished, as Numb. xiv, 30; 1 Sam. ii, 30; but of all things which he intends absolutely to execute and bring to pass himself, as Psalm xxxiii, 9. And so we may observe, that his
power in these works is opposed to the impotency of Idols, who are able to do just nothing. See those two Psalms throughout, viz. cxv, 3; & cxxxv, 6; &c.
But here a question may be moved, " Whether the will of God can at any time be defeated ?" To which the answer is, that it is most true, in a good sense, that the will of God is always fulfilled. For the understanding whereof, we must distinguish of God's will and the objects of it.
1. Some things God wills ABSOLUTELY, and they must of neCESSITY come to pass, otherwise that will of God could not be truly said “to be fulfilled.” Thus when it is said, “ God will
give Christ for a covenant of the people ; whoremongers and " adulterers God will judge; the faithful he will save;" If Christ were not so given, or whoremongers and adulterers could avoid judgment, or the faithful fail of salvation,-God's will, declared in those promises and threatenings, were utterly broken. Thus also, it being God's absolute will, that man, being a reasonable creature, should be a Free AGENT, he must be SO OF NECESSITY,
2. Other things God wills disJUNCTIVely; and they come to pass CONTINGENTLY, or not at all; otherwise, if they should come to pass of NECESSITY, God's will should be crossed in them. For in these things his will is, “ that neither the one nor the other particular should be necessary, but either that they should not be at all or be conTINGENT."
This distinction may be seen in his judgment threatened and propounded to David:(2 Sam. xxiv, 12, 13;)" Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things, chuse which of them I shall do unto thee. Wilt thou that seven years of famine come upon the land, or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, or that there be three days of pestilence in thy land ?"—Here God abSOLUTELY willed to send a judgment, and consequently the coming of it was necessARY : but, which of the three, was referred to David's choice, and so that was conTINGENT. But this distinction is more evident in God's commands, established with promises and threatenings, relating to man's transgression and obedience respectively. So in his commands for temporal safety: “And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.” Jer. xxi, 8, 9. Here God's will is DISJUNCTIVE, and whether they continued in the city, and perished there, or fled out to the C
ans and were preserved by them, it was a matter of their own FREE
Choice and so contingent; but whichsoever of these two courses they took and succeeded accordingly, God's will was fulfilled.
So it is likewise in the matter of life and death eternal. “ Bee hold, I set before you this day, a blessing and a curse: A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God : And a curse, if ye will not obey, but turn aside out of the way, which I command you.” (Deut. xi, 26, 27, 28.) And, "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom. viii, 13.) So that whether they live by one means, or die by the other, God's will is necessarily fulfilled ; because his will is not, that they shall either necessarily observe his commands, or necessarily transgress them: But if they do transgress, (though that transgression be contingent,) death is the necessary doom awarded to it. And if they do observe them, (though that observation be a matter of choice and so contingent also,) yet is life the necessary reward, and absolutely designed to crown that obedience.
It appears by this discourse, that God cannot fail of accom. plishing such an end, and after such a manner as his wisdom thinks fit to propound in his intercourse with voluntary and free agents. For if he cannot prevail with us, (by such means, and such a manner of working as is agreeable to the condition of our intellectual nature,) to suffer ourselves to be saved by him, in performing that service to which his goodness hath ordained us, (which his good pleasure is set upon in the first place,) then his good pleasure is fulfilled by inflicting upon us that punishment, which he threatened ; according to that saying of Saint Augustine, Facit Deus Voluntatem suam de eo, á quo voluntas ejus facta non est.*
* “God executes his own will concerning (or through) that man by whom his will is not performed."