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not come into the land, &c. I the Lord have said, I will surely do it; Wtiere God Almighty himself does plainly enough teach us, that his Veracity is concern'd to Inflict the punishments .which he hath absolutely threatned, that the Evil Denounced against the Israelites must be Infallibly Executed, because he had absolutely Denounced it.
As for the case of Nineveh here urged to shew, that is God Almighty should not; Inflict the Eternal punishments which he hath threatned, it would be no violation of his Truth, 'tis altogether foreign to the business. For the threatning denounced against that City was Conditional and therefore Revocable; whereas the Threatnings of Future punishment are Absolute and Irreversible.
* Jonah was sent to threaten the Ninevites with destruction, because their wickedness was great and came up before the Lord; but before the time appointed for their destruction, they repented and f turned from their evil way, and upon
• Jonah. i. z. t. iii. 10,
this this account God repented of the Evil that he had said that he would do unto them, and he did it not. The Reason and Condition of the punishment were removed; and Thesefore the Threatning did of course become void. The conclusion then to be drawn from the case of Nineveth, with respect to' Future punishment is this, that if we Repent and forsake our sins as the Ntnevies did, we shall escape Eternal punishment, as they did the Temporal destruction denounced against them. This is all that can be concluded from that Example, and I need not urge any thing further to shew, that this is nothing to the purpofe. For God Almighty hath pofitively declared, that all Habitual Impenitent Sinners shall suffer Everlasting misery, and his Truth is as directly and strictly concem'd, that the punishments thus Threatn'd shall be executed, as that the Eternal rewards, which are Promised, shall be bestowed upon the Faithful and Obedient.
There are some other suggestions in
the discourse that I have been examining,
which likewise seem to give occasion of
l- Diibelief; Disbelief; but they are coincident with the mistakes already represented, and may be answer'd from the considerations already laid down.
Having thus endeayour'd to prove and vindicate the Article in the Text, I shall conclude with two or three Inferences from this discourse. And
if?, 'Tis hence observable, that no man should entertain the less Honourable thoughts of Religion and the Holy Scriptures, because they admit of some Objections, so long as those objections can be satisfied, and the Truth made manifest, notwithstanding all that can be urged in opposition to it. For the very Best things may be excepted against, as the very Worst do admit of some Vindication. God Almighty does not Necessitate our Understandings to embrace the Truth, any more than he does Overrule our Wills by Irresistible grace. If there were no room left for Errour, where would be the Excellency of abiding in the Truth? And if there were no Possibility of Doubt or Disbelief, Faith would cease to be a Virtue. ^ zty
l/y, We may hence observe with St. Paul-> that the Wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. When men set up their own Imperfect and corrupt thoughts in opposition to the jevealed Will of God, the notions they are so fond off, as appearing to be highly Rational, are nothing but the effects of some wild Passion or worldly Interest: For nothing that is Really Wife and True can be opposed to the will and pleasure of him, who is Infinite in Wisdom and Truth. When we call in question the Certainty or Equity of what God hath positively declared, our Wisdom degenerates into Folly, and our Reason into Madness.
God indeed hath been graciously pleased so to contrive and dispose his dispensations, that the Reason and Equity of them are much more certain and clear, even to our Narrow capacities, than any thing that can be objected against them. And when notions are advanced to the Dishonour of God, and the Detriment of Religion, 'tis Indispensably incumbent upon us to oppose Right reason to the Corruptions of it, and vindicate the Di
vine Dispensation: Otherwise 'tis not our business to search into the Reasons of God's proceedings; and much more Unwarrantable is it, much more Insolent and Impious to make our Reason the Judge of him who bestowed it upon us, whofe * 'Judgments are Unsearchable and his ways past finding out. An unbelieving Pharisee questions, -j- How can these things be? and our Blessed Saviour replies, Eerily verily I fay unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen, and ye receive not our Witness. It is the Divine Testimony that we ar,e to depend upon, and stedsastly acquiesce in. We find it recorded to the very great honour of the Bereans, % That they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so. It was the perfection of Sincerity and Piety in them, that they indulged no vain scruples, admitted of no vain Curiosity about the Reasons of the Divine Administration, but searched only whether those things were Jo, only en
| * Rom. xi. 33. t Joh. iii. 9,11. % Acts. xvii. 11,