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In the next place, likewise, it deserves SER M.
to be considered, that the difficulty in this XIII.
case arises not properly from any natural
repugnancy between freedom of action and
foreknowledge, but from our incapacity to ·
understand the nature of foreknowledge
itself, or explain how God Mould be able
to discern that which depends upon the fu-
ture will and option of his creatures. For,
knowledge, of what kind foever, is not any
cause or ground of the thing known, which
would be nevertheless certain and real, if
there were no one to know, or be apprized
of it. For, as our knowledge of the things
that are done to day, does not make us the
Authors or the Actors, fo could we have
foreknown or foreseen them yesterday, this
had been an argument of our perfection,
or our privilege, but it had laid no necessity
upon the Agents ; it had only thewn us in
what manner they would use their liberty.
When our Lord foretold the treason of Ju-
das, the disciples who were present were
before-hand certain of the fact. But this
knowledge or certainty of theirs, could be
no occasion of his crime. And why then
should God be charged as the Author of
our sins, only for foreknowing them, when
mere knowledge has manifestly no influ-
ence upon our practice, but leaves our ac-
tions as much the subject of our own choice
as if they were not known at all.
VOL. III.

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SERM. It may indeed be difficult to account how
XIII. that should be the object of any certain

knowledge, which is itself properly contin-
gent. But, it is no less difficult to con-
ceive the immensity and omnipresence of
God, his eternal existence, and his watch-
ful Providence. If therefore we think our-
selves obliged to confess these mysteries,
tho' far above our comprehension, his Pre-
science may fairly have a place with the
rest, and they must arrogantly measure the
Divine perfections by their own, who can
presume to conclude, that God either does
not foreknow the actions of men, or that,
if he does, those actions are made neceffa-
ry and determined by him.

Nor is the matter altered by what was farther suggested, that the sins or evil actions thus foreknown are sometimes made subfervient to the Divine decrees. That God should thus bring good out of evil, is an argument indeed of his great wisdom and perfection, but not of any approbation or allowance of that evil itself. Whilst he foreknows the wickedness of men, he will not utterly restrain it, because that would be inconsistent with the condition of rational and free Agents, capable of virtue and vice, and therefore of reward and

punishment. But so does he ordain it in the wise counsels of his Providence, that it may serve to accomplish some great and bene

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ficial end. This is in no instance more con- SERM.
spicuous than in the death of Christ, ap- XIII.
pointed by God for our redemption, but
contrived and compassed by the malice of
the Jews, as St. Peter sets it forth, in these
remarkable words ;-Him (says he) being
delivered by the determinate counsel and fore-
knowledge of God, ye have taken, and with
wicked bands have crucified and sain *. It
was God's act to deliver him into their
power, but their ill treatment of him was
wholly the effect of their own spite and
wickedness.

(VI.) SIXTHLY, The last objection mentioned against St. James's doctrine, is this, that the strong propensity to evil implanted in our nature, cannot be otherwise accounted for than by referring its original to God, who is the Author of our Being, and with that of our faculties and dispositions; that, by a secret tendency of nature we are borne down unawares to sin, and involved in the guilt of criminal imaginations and delires, even before we have time to recollect ourselves, or consider what we are about.

I shall not, for the full solution of this difficulty, detain you with a tedious metaphysical enquiry into the nature and origin of evil, to reconcile the doctrine of one Supream Author and principle of all

Acts ii. 23
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things,

Serm. things, with the visible disparity of the ef* XIII. fects that are produced, the necessary and

eternal difference of good and evil, but shall content myself with the scriptural account of the matter, that God hath made man upright, but they have fought out many inventions * Our first Parents were created

pure and innocent, and without those irregularities of appetite and affection which are justly complained of by their late pofterity. And they had that constant communication and assistance of the Spirit, which might guide them in the ways of perfect purity and holiness.

But then, withal, they were indued with liberty of Will, they were left to chuse and act for themselves, without which there had been no more virtue in obedience than in the necessary motions of any artificial engine. Their privilege it seems, they abused, and from henceforth their nature being corrupted and impure, thro' their own fault and demerit, they could do no otherwise than transmit the contagion to their offspring, and convey the seeds of that corruption and impurity down to their late posterity. Here then is the foundation of that tendency to ice, not implanted in human nature, by its great Author and Creator, but superadded by the folly of mankind themselves, disobeying the law of their Creator.

* Ecclef. vii. 29.

How

However, as this must be reckoned a Serm. misfortune to Posterity, there is a remedy XIII. provided, at once to save us from the punishment of fin, and rescue us from its power and dominion. Though the seeds of concupiscence cannot be entirely eradicated in the present life, yet they may be kept from growing up and ripening into habits of sin; and though they deserve to be esteemed a strong biass and temptation, they lay us under no necessity of actual sinning, but remain only as the trials of our christian bravery and resolution.

and resolution. So that, instead of charging God with being the Author of our sins, by reason of that propensity to evil inherent in our nature, we have the clearest and most convincing proofs of the contrary, in that ample provision he has made against it, to enable us to conquer the corruptions of nature, that we may not remain under the dominion of fin, without a fresh and voluntary surrendry of ourselves to it.

Let the blame then be laid where it really is due, upon the naughtiness and malice of our own breasts; and let God be justified in all his dispensations, who willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he thould turn from bis wickedness and live. Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth be any

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