I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure.
Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or Fatalism.
That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.
If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.
These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
This should be enough about God’s absolute sovereignty. I believe that I have given a satisfactory case for the things contained in paragraph 1 as I understand them.
- Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, 1 yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. 2
- 1 Sam. 23:11-12; Matt. 11:21, 23; Acts 15:18
- Isa. 40:13-14; Rom. 9:11-18; 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16
God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass. He does not merely know what is going to come to pass, but what may come to pass. He does not merely know the actual, but also the plausible if the circumstances were different whatever the supposed conditions (1 Sam. 23:11-12; Matt. 11:21-23) would be. God decreed all things in Himself (paragraph 1) and this means that He hath not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future. His decree grounds the future and gives shape to the future. God is not influenced by things not yet existent or have not been decreed. The only thing God is influenced by is Himself.
Everything God has decreed He has done so because of his “most wise and holy counsel of his will,” not because He saw X do it or looked in the corridors of time. God is independent and such a thing would make Him dependent on something that He has not even yet brought into being. It is an absurdity. The Scriptures teach us that the Lord takes counsel from no one and is independent (Isa. 40:13-14; Rom. 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16), but such an idea that God would be dependent upon some actions of man and that’s why He decrees it goes against the concept of God’s freedom and independence. This is why the whole idea of “God looking down the corridors of time and saw who would freely choose Him, and those God chose” is messed up ...