Obj. 17. But it may be that God has decreed to, and so will, condemn me, do what I can.

Ans. Abhor such an opinion or thought. This, all sides disown: The utmost that is pretended by any moderate men, about this we are now speaking, is, “That there is a positive Decree to permit some to undo, or not hinder them from thus undoing themselves.” And this I shall not deny, but with them, that are better able to judge, to consider (since such conceptions help our understandings, that our imperfect notions may be in some measure rationally consistent), whether it be necessary to conceive, and so to affirm any such positive Decree to permit, whether a conception of a mere negation of a will in him to hinder, not a decreeing to hinder, be not enough: For you use to found this positive decree not to hinder, upon his fore-sight of what men would do if not hindered; now if they would do it without, and antecedently, to such a positive decree, what need is there? Nay is it not to conceive a vain positive act, to affirm such a positive decree to permit that which men would do without such a positive decree to permit, if he do not positively decree to hinder? But to let this pass, and suppose such a positive decree (he giving men means enough, and more than enough) not to go any further in hindering them from going in their impenitency.

How comes it about, that men make stops and exceptions about the decrees in God in reference to their soul-concernments, and never make such questions about them in other concerns, wherein learned men that differ about these things, seem better agreed about positive decrees? Men plow and sow, and never question whether God has decreed, whether there shall be any increase. When yet God has reserved to himself a liberty here, and may, for any thing they now, blast all their corn, and does sometimes (and therefore decreed it), notwithstanding their good husbandry. Yet none here says, “I will plow or sow: for if he have decreed a good crop, I shall have one, if not, I shall not have it.”  But this satisfies men here, “Though God, it may be, will blast all, do what I can; yet God uses to succeed diligent endeavors. But here, in the case in hand, you have far more reason to be consistent, for God has reserved to himself here no liberty to blast at all. All agree in this, that none shall fail, or not find who heartily seek, and so continue, nor shall so choose and pursue this better part, and miss of it: “He that comes to him, he will in no wise cast off.”

All agree, that there are no decrees but what are well consistent with the truth of those promises, and all notions of decrees really inconsistent with such promises are false. As also all those notions of decrees that are not consistent with his threatenings as he “He that repents not, shall perish.” But one may perceive how it comes about, that men fly to decrees here, and not in worldly concernments, but have a mind to go in their sins, and would fain find out some excuse for their sloth, and to lay the fault on God that they perish.

But it would be a wiser, and easier course, “To be making your calling and election sure,” than be making objections from such things as you do not understand, to hinder you. You in vain expect to be carried to Heaven, or to escape Hell without diligent endeavors of your own. Had those now in Heaven, continued while they were here on earth to make such objections, so as to be by them hindered from giving up themselves to the obedience of faith, if they had never come there.

Joseph Truman, A Discourse of Natural and Moral Impotency (London: Printed for Robert Clavel; and are to be sold at the Sign of the Peacock in St. Pauls Church yard, 1675), 205-208.   [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; and underlining mine.]

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 9:42 am and is filed under Divine Permission of Sin. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed at this time.