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finite power:

109
Review, &c.—On the Prescience of God.

110 either from its own inherent perfec- which may be the object of certain tion, or from the perfection of that knowledge. Eternal Being, of whom it is an attri- If it be true, that all knowledge must bute; but from the nature of that ob- be finite, which is circumscribed by any ject, action, or event, which, while thing that does not include an absolodged in futurity, cannot have any lute impossibility, then it is true, that formal existence.

every species of knowledge which does We have already proved, that the not include certainty in its own nature, creation of beings whose actions may must necessarily fall short of infinite be contingent, as it involves no con- perfection; and in the same proportradiction, is perfectly possible to in- tion that it is defective, it ceases to be

Contingent actions we an attribute of God. This is a concluhave defined to be such as are poised sion, which can only be repelled by upon the possibility of being or not proving, that, for God to have a cerbeing; and it has been argued, that tainty of knowledge of an event or acmany human actions furnish all the tion, which is uncertain in its nature, evidence of their being contingent, that involves a contradiction. But where might be expected from such as we shall we find those contradictory ideas may suppose should be expressly de- which the proposition is supposed to clared to be so. Now if any actions or include? If God has a certain knowevents can be supposed to be uncertain ledge of things as they actually are, in their natures, they must be those and some things are uncertain in their which are contingent. But, if the un- own nature, it follows, that God must certainty of the action, will prevent the have a certain knowledge of uncertain certainty of the divine knowledge, we actions and events; but this implies must make the certainty of infinite dis- neither contradiction nor absurdity. cernment dependent upon the certainty Should it be asserted, that infinite of that action or event, which is the knowledge can discern no action or object of it. This is a conclusion event, unless that action or event be which appears to be undeniable. For, certain, we must then identify the cerif God can have no certainty of know- tainty of the event with the certainty ledge, unless the event or action which of knowledge; and this will lead us is its object be absolutely certain, the to inquire from what primary cause certainty of the event or action becomes the certainty of this action or event is necessary to the certainty of infinite derived. This inquiry will necessarily knowledge; and, consequently, this carry us up to God; since no one, it is knowledge, or discernment, is at once presumed, will pretend to assert, that dependent for its certainty upon that the absolute certainty of actions or action or event from which this cer- events can be derived from any other tainty is derived. But to suppose an primary source. We may, indeed, attribute of Jehovah to exist, without amuse ourselves in our retrospective inherently including the utmost per- | ascent, with volition, disposition, and fection of which its nature is suscep-motive; or we may perplex our intible, is an absurdity which can hardly quiries with the mysterious influence be exceeded by any thing, but the of passive power, or negative energy ; monstrous idea, that its perfection is and endeavour to infer a positive effect to be derived from an extrinsic cause, from causes which have only a negawhich can have no necessary exist- tive existence; but, if an action or an

event be rendered absolutely certain, Nor are these the only absurdities no power could have primarily renwhich will follow from the supposi- dered it so, except that of God. But tion, that certainty in the divine know- to suppose, that the Eternal God has ledge necessarily implies certainty in

so constituted actions and events, as the action or event which is its object. to render them certain, in order that It is not in the nature of simple know- he might know them, is to conclude ledge to give existence to an action, or that he would have been ignorant of an event, because simple knowledge their possible and actual issues, if he can never become the efficient cause had not established a chain of suborof action. And on exactly the same dinate causes, which should finally principle, it is not in the nature of cer- terminate in the certainty that was tainty in knowledge, to give existence required. If the certainty of an acto certainty in an action or an event, tion or event, be necessary to the cer

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knowledge, they contend, that it has shall be.”—Evangelical Mag. Feb. no influence at all on men's future | 1819, p. 49. actions, no more than his afterknow- How this singular, but unequivocal ledge or remembrance can give being passage, is to be reconciled with the to what must have taken place before preceding, in which“ foreknowledge is it could be remembered, or known to merely a spectator, that looks on and be past. But for a man who asserts sees things rise into being,” we will that God views all things as now ex- not stay to inquire ; neither are isting, so that to his mind (and the disposed to unfold“ all the consequences judgment of God is according to truth) of election which follow.These may there is no distinction between past, be fairly submitted, without any devepresent, and future, but all are ac- lopment to the reader's consideratually now in his presence ; for such a tion. There is one point, however, writer to charge others with the blas- which seems to have been assumed phemous consequences of making God without any proof whatever, which, the author of sin, because they main- until some evidence shall be adduced, tain that God foreknows some things as we hesitate to concede, namely, that certainly future, is most marvellous ; " if God foresees every thought, temand such an instance of injustice, ag- per, word, or action of men, from all gravated by effrontery, as is scarcely eternity, then all things are certain, to be matched even by the feats of and no decree can make them more Antinomianism, that brazen bull.” In so." And, it seems to be a duty inthe following paragraph, these pas- cumbent on us, on the present occasages also almost immediately occur. sion, because all who oppose the con

We still, however, adhere to the old-sequences of the critic's system, are fashioned doctrine, that present know- challenged, “ either to get rid of foreledge does not give present existence, knowledge, or to shew that it does not nor past knowledge or recollection of involve all the consequences of Calevents give them their past existence, vinistic decrees." nor foreknowledge give future exis- In proceeding to examine this imtence. The futurition of an event is portant question, “ whether on all octhe ground of foreknowledge, which casions the Almighty beholds with may be said to be a mere spectator, absolute certainty, the event or action, that looks on and sees things rise into which is the object of his discernbeing.” p. 289.

ment," it will be particularly necessary Now, admitting the statement given to understand, to what the term cerin the last sentence to be correct, tainty is referred. If it refers to the namely, that “the futurition of an divine knowledge, the fact will not be event is the ground of foreknowledge, disputed; but, if it be referred to the which may be said to be a mere spec- action or event which is foreseen, sevetator, that looks on and sees things ral things must be ascertained, before rise into being,” we are at a loss to the conclusion can be either adopted conceive how this can imply certainty or rejected. in the action or event, which rises into It is a most unquestionable fact, being ; much less can we comprehend, that the knowledge of the Almighty, how " the foreknowledge of God, can in every form in which it can be involve all the consequences of Cal- viewed, includes certainty in its own vinistic decrees.” But whether we can nature, independently of all foreign comprehend this certainty, and these causes, actions, or events, whatever. consequences, or not, we are assured This certainty of the divine knowby the same critic, that these must in- ledge, arises from its inherent perfecevitably follow. Hence he observes, tion; and the truth of the position will “ If God foresees every thought, tem- be equally immutable, whatever may per, word, or action of men, from all be the object of the divine discerneternity, then all things are certain, ment. It follows, therefore, that the and no decree can make them more certainty of God's discernment, cannot, so; then all the consequences of elec- in itself, be affected by any action or tion follow, that God views every man event which is the object of it. For as he comes into the world as an heir should we refuse to admit this conof life or death ; and creating and clusion, we shall be under the necessupporting them with these views is sity of granting, that the certainty of equivalent to a decree that thus it the divine knowledge does not arise

finite power:

109
Review, &c.On the Prescience of God.

110 either from its own inherent perfec- which may be the object of certain tion, or from the perfection of that knowledge. Eternal Being, of whom it is an attri- If it be true, that all knowledge must bute; but from the nature of that ob- be finite, which is circumscribed by any ject, action, or event, which, while thing that does not include an absolodged in futurity, cannot have any lute impossibility, then it is true, that formal existence.

every species of knowledge which does We have already proved, that the not include certainty in its own nature, creation of beings whose actions may must necessarily fall short of infinite be contingent, as it involves no con- perfection; and in the same proportradiction, is perfectly possible to in- tion that it is defective, it ceases to be

Contingent actions we an attribute of God. This is a concluhave defined to be such as are poised sion, which can only be repelled by upon the possibility of being or not proving, that, for God to have a cerbeing; and it has been argued, that tainty of knowledge of an event or acmany human actions furnish all the tion, which is uncertain in its nature, evidence of their being contingent, that involves a contradiction. But where might be expected from such as we shall we find those contradictory ideas may suppose should be expressly de- which the proposition is supposed to clared to be so. Now if any actions or include? If God has a certain knowevents can be supposed to be uncertain ledge of things as they actually are, in their natures, they must be those and some things are uncertain in their which are contingent. But, if the un- own nature, it follows, that God must certainty of the action, will prevent the have a certain knowledge of uncertain certainty of the divine knowledge, we actions and events; but this implies must make the certainty of infinite dis- neither contradiction nor absurdity. cernment dependent upon the certainty Should it be asserted, that infinite of that action or event, which is the knowledge can discern no action or object of it. This is a conclusion event, unless that action or event be which appears to be undeniable. For, certain, we must then identify the cerif God can have no certainty of know- tainty of the event with the certainty ledge, unless the event or action which of knowledge; and this will lead us is its object be absolutely certain, the to inquire from what primary cause certainty of the event or action becomes the certainty of this action or event is necessary to the certainty of infinite derived. This inquiry will necessarily knowledge; and, consequently, this carry us up to God; since no one, it is knowledge, or discernment, is at once presumed, will pretend to assert, that dependent for its certainty upon that the absolute certainty of actions or action or event from which this cer- events can be derived from any other tainty is derived. But to suppose an primary source. We may, indeed, attribute of Jehovah to exist, without amuse ourselves in our retrospective inherently including the utmost per- ascent, with volition, disposition, and fection of which its nature is suscep- motive; or we may perplex our intible, is an absurdity which can hardly quiries with the mysterious influence be exceeded by any thing, but the of passive power, or negative energy; monstrous idea, that its perfection is and endeavour to infer a positive effect to be derived from an extrinsic cause, from causes which have only a negawhich can have no necessary exist- tive existence; but, if an action or an

event be rendered absolutely certain, Nor are these the only absurdities no power could have primarily renwhich will follow from the supposi- dered it so, except that of God. But tion, that certainty in the divine know- to suppose, that the Eternal God has ledge necessarily implies certainty in so constituted actions and events, as the action or event which is its object. to render them certain, in order that It is not in the nature of simple know- he might know them, is to conclude ledge to give existence to an action, or that he would have been ignorant of an event, because simple knowledge the possible and actual issues, if he can never become the efficient cause had not established a chain of suborof action. And on exactly the same dinate causes, which should finally principle, it is not in the nature of cer- terminate in the certainty that was tainty in knowledge, to give existence required. If the certainty of an acto certainty in an action or an event, ) tion or event, be necessary to the cer

ence.

tainty of infinite discernment, it fol- the Almighty knows all things, actions, lows, that the certainty of the event or and events, exactly as they are, we action must be presupposed, as the may deliver our own sentiments in the ground on which the certainty of the language of Dr. Clarke. “ God,” he divine knowledge rests. Under these observes,

“ has ordained some things circumstances we would ask, -When as absolutely certain, – these he knows the power of the Almighty primarily as absolutely certain.

He has orrendered all events and actions cer- dained other things as contingent,tain, through the establishment of con- these he knows as contingent. It stitution, motive, disposition, and voli- would be absurd to say, that he foretion, did his knowledge coexist with knows a thing as only contingent, it, and perceive with certainty the which he has made absolutely certain. issues of his power, or not? If it did And it would be absurd to say, that thus coexist and perceive these issues, he foreknows a thing to be absolutely we have certainty associated with in- certain, which he has made continfinite knowledge, respecting an event, gent.” before that event was rendered cer

(To be continued.) tain; but if it did not thus perceive these issues, power must have operated without knowledge, and have caused Review.-—" Scripture and Calvinism at actions and events to become certain variance, clearly evinced by a philoloin order that they might be render- gical consideration of some texts which cd objects of infinite discernment! are perverted from their original If we admit the former, the position meaning by the disciples of Calvin." must be granted for which we con- By the Rev. Edward Smyth. Mantend ; namely, that the certainty of an chester. pp. 66. 12mo. cvent is not absolutely necessary to The passages of scripture, on which the give certainty to infinite knowledge; Rev. Author of this pamphlet professes and, if we admit the latter, we must to animadvert, are the following. “For conclude, that God, without having who maketh thee to differ from another? any certain knowledge of future actions and what hast thou that thou didst not and events, provided for their exist- receive? Now if thou didst receive it, ence and certainty, and that when this why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst was done, they became the objects of not received it? 1 Cor. iv. 7.” “Thy infinite discernment.

people shall be willing in the day of thy If the certainty of the divine know-power. Psal. cx. 3." “ For thereledge, respecting any future action or fore we both labour and suffer reproach, event, depend upon the certainty of because we trust in the living God, that future action or event, (and this who is the Saviour of all men, espewe think must be granted, by all who cially of those that believe. 1 Tim. iv. make the certainty of actions and 10." Nevertheless the foundation of events necessary to the certainty of the God standeth sure, having this seal, divine knowledge,) it is evident that The Lord knoweth them that are his. the divine knowledge of actions and And, Let every one that nameth the events, could not be coexistent with name of Christ, depart from iniquity. those operations of power which ren- 2 Tim. ii. 19.” dered them absolutely certain. And, The primary design of this pamphlet consequently, as power in this case appears to be, what the title page exmust have operated without know- presses; a philological consideration ledge, in the giving of certainty to of the above passages. In its final these events and actions, all the train result it leads to conclusions which are of subordinate causes, stretching on- not friendly to Calvinism. The Author ward to their most remote issues, must seems well acquainted with the subject have been established in progressive that he has taken in hand. To the uncertainty, even though they were routine of argumentation, he is no effected by omnipotence. These are stranger; and he well knows how to some of the consequences which ap- enforce with becoming energy, the evipear inevitably to follow, from the sup-dence which he has adduced. But position, that the certainty of future unhappily, like most other works writactions and events, is necessary to the ten on these long-controverted doccertainty of God's knowledge of them. trines, this pamphlet will be viewed in But admitting, on the contrary, that different lights. Those who are friendly

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113
Doubtful Interpretation of Signs.

114 to its sentiments will discover many ing more nearly to plausible absurdity, things to commend; and those who are than that which would persuade us to hostile will find many things to con- discard artificial language, and to subdemn.

stitute, in its stead, those Signs which Taking up the subject on a popular arise from the dictates of nature. “To ground, the pamphlet is not badly writ- the most superficial observer,” it has ten. The Author, however, though a been argued, “many of these signs are strenuous advocate for the Arminian too distinctly marked to be misundercause, does not advert to the modern stood. They are the sure indications improvements which have been made of pain, of pleasure, of grief, and of joy, in that system which he opposes. On and, in short, of almost every passion the great controverted question, re- by which the individuals of the human specting the determining cause of the race are affected.” Hence it has been will, nothing is said. One passage in- inferred, that if a minute attention deed, which seems to have a bearing were paid to events and circumstances, on this question, is introduced; namely, as they rise into being, and pass before “How often would I have gathered, &c. us, the expressions of nature might but ye would not.” Hence it is in- be caught on most occasions; and ferred, that the will of Christ was not in process of time a desirable species exerted to subdue the wills of his op- of universal language would be found posers, and that the event proved quite to result from repeated observations. contrary to that which he willed. But the importance of theory is best

To the Author's expositions, his appreciated, by seeing it reduced to opponents will, no doubt, raise many practice, as it appears before us in the objections. But the difficulties he has following tale: started, upon a supposition that the King James VI. on his removal to Calvinistic interpretation of these scrip- London, was waited on by the Spanish tures is correct, are far from being Ambassador, who was a man of some unworthy of regard. To confirm his erudition; but who had strangely inown opinion, he adverts to numerous corporated with his learning, a whimpassages which assert general redemp- sical notion, that every country ought tion. These he has arranged in a com

to have a school, in which a certain manding order. He has then finally order of men should be taught to inclosed his remarks, with such pious terpret signs; and that the most exsentiments, as wage an irreconcileable pert in this department ought to be war with antinomianism. The obser- dignified with the title of Professor of vations are in general sensible and ju- Signs. If this plan were adopted, he

and the whole pamphlet ap-contended, that most of the difficulties pears to have been written in an excel- arising from the ambiguity of language, lent spirit.

and the imperfect acquaintance which Into those abstract and speculative people of one nation had with the arguments, from which the wisest and tongue of another, would be done best of men have not been able finally to away. Signs, he argued, arose from draw any satisfactory conclusions, the the dictates of nature, and, as they Author has not entered. His reason- were the same in every country, there ings are founded on scriptures, and on could be no danger of their being mishis interpretation of them. The prac

understood. tical tendency, however, of what he has Full of this project, the Ambassador advanced, will amply compensate for was lamenting one day before the any deficiencies in profundity which King, that the nations of Europe were may appear. In this, both those whom wholly destitute of this grand desiderahe opposes, and those whom he de- tum; and he strongly recommended fends, may alike find some salutary and the establishment of a college founded profitable employment. Under these upon the simple principles he had considerations, we feel no hesitation in suggested. James, either to humour recommending it to public notice. this Quixotic foible, or to gratify his

own ambition at the expense of truth,

observed in reply, “Why, Sir, I have DOUBTFUL INTERPRETATION OF SIGNS. a Professor of Signs in one of the

AMONG the wild speculations in northernmost colleges in my domiwhich theorists have occasionally in- nions; but the distance is perhaps dulged, there is scarcely one approach-six hundred miles, so that it will No, 2.--VOL. 1.

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dicious;

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