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it is asserted, that God understands our thoughts (which certainly are of our free actions, if any such there are) afar off. Here, that he knows not our free actions that are future, and not yet wrought or performed.

2. By whom is it wont to be gathered from the following Scriptures, that God knoweth not our free actions until they come to pass ? Why doth not this mere Christian, that is of no sect, name his companions and associates in these learned collections from Scripture? Would not bis so doing discover him to be so far from a mere Christian, engaged in none of the sects that are now amongst Christians, as to be of that sect, which the residue of men so called, will scarce allow the name of a Christian unto?

3. What he intends by the close of his query, yea' that there are such actions, an advance is evident in the words towards a farther negation of the knowledge of God, than what was before expressed. Before he says, 'God knows not our actions that are future contingent:' here, he knows not that there are such actions. The sense of this must be, either that God knows not that there are any such actions, as may or may not be, which would render him less knowing than Mr. B. who hath already told us, that such there be; or else that he knows not such actions when they are, at least without farther inquiring after them, and knowledge obtained, beyond what from his own infinite perfections and eternal purpose he is furnished withal. In Mr. Biddle's next book or catechism, I desire he would answer these questions also.

Now in this endeavour of his, Mr. B. doth but follow his leaders. Socinus, in his prelections, where the main of his design is to vindicate man's free-will into that latitude and absoluteness, as none before him had once aimed at, in his eighth chapter, objects to himself this fore-knowledge of God, as that which seems to abridge, and cut short the liberty

u Stegman. Photin. Refut. Disput 1.q. 2. An Photiniani ullo modo Christiani dici queant. Neg. Martin. Sniglec. Jes. Nova monstra, novi Ariani. cap. 1. Arianos nullo modo Christianos dici posse.

* Ut ad rationem istain non minus plene quam plane respondeamus, animadvertendum est, infallibilem istam Dei prænotionem, quam pro re concessa adversarii sue munt, a nubis non admitti. Socin Pralec. c. 8. p. 25. Cum igitur nulla ratio, nullus Sacrarum literarum locus sit, ex quo aperte colligi possit, Deum omnia quæ fiunt, scivisse antequam fierent, concludendum est, minine asserendam esse a nobis istam Dei præscientiam : præsertim, cum et rationes non paucæ, et sacra testimonia non desint, unde eam plane negandam esse apparet. Idem, cap. 11. p. 38.

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contended for. He answers, that he grants not the foreknowledge pretended, and proceeds, in that and the two following chapters, labouring to answer all the testimonies and arguments which are insisted on for the proof and demonstration of it; giving his own arguments against it, chap. xi, “Crellius is something more candid, as he pretends, but indeed infected with the same venom with the other; for after he hath disputed for sundry pages, to prove the fore-knowledge of God, he concludes at last, that for those things that are future contingent, he knows only that they are so, and that possibly they may come to pass, possibly they may not. Of the rest of their associates few have spoken expressly to this thing. dSmalcius once and again manifests himself to consent with his masters, in his disputations against Franzius, expressly consenting to what Socinus had written in his

prelections, and affirming the same thing himself, yea disputing eagerly for the same opinion with him.

For the vindication of God's fore-knowledge, I shall proceed in the same order as before, in reference to the otherattributes of God, insisted on, viz. 1. What Mr. B. hath done, how he hath disposed of sundry places of Scripture for the proof of his assertion, with the sense of the places by him so produced, is to be considered. 2. Another question and answer is to be supplied in the room of his. 3. The truth vindicated, to be farther confirmed.

For the first.

In the proof of the assertion proposed, Mr. B. finds himself entangled more than ordinarily; though I confess his task in general be such, as no man not made desperate by the loss of all, in a shipwreck of faith, would once have undertaken. To have made good his proceeding according to his engagement, he was at least to have given us texts of Scripture, express in the letter, as by him

cut off from the state, condition, and coherence, wherein by the Holy Ghost they are placed, for the countenancing of his assertion. But

c Itaque in considerate illi faciunt, qui futura contingentia Deum determinate scire aiunt, quia alias non esset omniscius : cum potius, ideo illa determinate futura non concipiat, quia est omniscius. Crellius de Vera Relig. lib. 1. cap. 24. p. 201.

a Nam si omnia futura qualiaconque sunt, Deo ab omni æternitate determinate cognita fuissc contendas; necesse est statuere omnia necessario fieri, ac futura esse. Unde sequitur, nullam esse, aut fuisse unquam, humanæ voluntatis libertatem, ac porro nec religionem. Idem ibid. p. 202. Smalcins Refutat. Thes. Franz. disput. t. de Trinitat. p. 3. disput. 12. de caus. peccat. p. 428, 429, &c. 435.

here, being not able to make any work in his method proposed and boasted in, as signal and uncontrollable; no apex or tittle in the Scripture being pointed towards the denial of God's knowing any thing, or all things, past, present, and to come; he moulds his question into a peculiar fashion, and asks, whence or from what place of Scripture may such a thing as he there avers, be gathered ? At once plainly declining the trial he had put himself upon, of insisting upon express texts of Scripture only; not one of the many quoted by him, speaking one word expressly to the business in hand, and laying himself naked to all consequences, rightly deduced from the Scripture, and expositions given to the latter of some places suitable to the proportion of faith. That then which he would have, he tells you, is gathered from the places of Scripture subjoined; but how, by whom, by what consequence, with what evidence of reason, it is so gathered, he tells you not. An understanding, indeed, informed with such gross conceptions of the nature of the Deity, as Mr. B. hath laboured to insinuate into the minds of men, might gather from his collection of places of Scripture for his purpose in hand, that God is afraid, troubled, grieved, that he repenteth, altereth, and changeth his mind to and fro; but of his knowledge, or foreknowledge of things, whether he have any such thing or not, there is not the least intimation, unless it be in this, that if he had any such fore-knowledge, he need not put himself to so much trouble and vexation, nor so change and alter his mind, as he doth. And with such figments as these (through the infinite, wise, and good providence of God, punishing the wantonness of the minds and lives of men, by "giving them up to strong delusions' and vain imaginations, in the darkness of their foolish hearts, so far Bas to change 'the glory of the incorruptible God,' into the likeness of a corruptible, weak, ignorant, sinful man) are we now to deal.

But let the places themselves be considered. To these heads they may be referred: 1. such as ascribe unto God, fear, and being afraid; Deut. xxxii. 26, 27. Exod. xiii. 17. Gen. iii. 22, 23. are of this sort. 2. Repentance; 1 Sam. xv. 10, 11. ult. 3. Change, or alteration of mind; Numb. xiv. 27. 30. 1 Sam. ii. 30. 4. Expectation, whether a thing will answer

e Rom. xii. 6.

1 2 Thess. ii. 10--12.

& Rom. i. 23.

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his desire or no; Isa. v. 4. Conjecturing; Jer. xxxvi, 1–3. Ezek. xii. 1, 2. 5. Trying of experiments; Judg. iii. 1. 4. Dan. viii. 2. 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. From all which and the like, it may, by Mr. B.'s direction and help, be thus gathered: • If God be afraid of what is to come to pass, and repenteth him of what he hath done, when he finds it not to answer his expectation, if he sits divining, and conjecturing at events, being often deceived therein, and therefore tries and makes experiments, that he may be informed of the true state of things, then certainly he knows not the free actions of men, that are not yet come to pass.' The antecedent Mr. B. hath proved undeniably from ten texts of Scripture ; and doubtless the consequent is easily to be gathered by any of his disciples. Doubtless it is high time that the old musty catechisms of prejudicate persons, who scarce so much as once consulted with the Scriptures in their composures, as being more engaged into factions, were removed out of the way and burned, that this mere Christian may have liberty to bless the growing generation with such notions of God, aš the idolatrous pagans of old would have scorned to have received.

But do not the Scriptures ascribe all the particulars mentioned unto God? Can you blame Mr. Biddle without reflection on them? If only what the Scripture affirms in the letter, and not the sense wherein and the manner how it affirms it (which considerations are allowed to all the writings and speakings of the sons of men), is to be considered, the end seeming to be aimed at in such undertakings as this of Mr. B. namely, to induce the atheistical spirits of the sons of men to a contempt and scorn of them, and their authority, will probably be sooner attained, than by the efficacy of any one engine raised against them in the world besides.

As to the matter under consideration, I have some few things in general to propose to Mr. Biddle, and then I shall descend to the particulars insisted on.

1. Then, I desire to know whether the things mentioned, as fear, grief, repentances, trouble, conjecturings, making

Pænitentia infert ignorantiam præteriti, præsentis, et futuri, mutationem voluntatis, et errorem in consiliis, quorum nihil in Deum cadere potest : dicitur tamen ille metaphorice pænitentia duci, quemadmodum nos, quando alicujus rei pænitet, abulemus id quod antea feceramus: quod tieri potest sine tali mutatione voluntatis, qua nunc homo aliquid facit, quod post mutato animo, destruit. Manasseh Ben. Israel.

trials of men for his own information, are ascribed properly to God as they are unto men, or tropically and figuratively, with a condescention to us, to express the things spoken of, and not to describe the nature of God? If the first be said, namely, that these things are ascribed properly to God, and really signify of him the things in us intended in them; then to what hath been spoken in the consideration taken of the foregoing query, I shall freely add, for mine own part, I will not own nor worship him for my God, who is truly and properly afraid what all the men in the world either will or can do; who doth, can do, or hath done any thing, or suffered any thing to be done, of which he doth, or can truly and properly repent himself, with sorrow and grief for his mistake; or that sits in heaven divining and conjecturing at what men will do here below : and do know, that he whom I serve in my spirit, will famish and starve all such gods out of the world. But of this before. If these things are ascribed to God figuratively and in properly, discovering the kind of his works and dispensations, not his own nature or property ; I would fain know what inference can be made, or conclusion be drawn from such expressions, directly calling for a figurative interpretation ? For instance; If God be said to repent that he had done such a thing, because such and such things are come to pass thereupon, if this repentance in God be not properly ascribed to him (as by Mr. B.'s own rule it is not), but denotes only an alteration and change in the works that outwardly are of him, in an orderly subserviency to the immutable purpose of his will; what can thence be gathered to prove, that God foreseeth not the free actions of men ? And this is the issue of Mr. Biddle's confirmation of the thesis, couched in his query insisted on from the Scriptures.

2. I must crave leave once more to mind him of the rule he hath given us in his preface, viz. That where 'a thing is improperly ascribed to God, in some other place it is denied of him ;' as he instances in that of his being weary; so that whatever is denied of him in any one place, is not properly ascribed to him in any other. Now, though God be

conciliat. in Gen. vi. q. 23. Pænitentia, cum mutabilitatem importet, non potest esse in Deo, dicitur tamen pænitere, eo quod admodum pænitentis se habet, quando de struit quod fecerat. Lyra ad 1 Sam. xv. 35.

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