The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination

Stated and Asserted: With A Preliminary Discourse On The Divine Attributes.

Translated, In Great Measure, From The Latin Of Jerom Zanchius:
With Some Account Of His Life.

By: Augustus Toplady

When I consider the absolute independency of God, and the necessary, total dependence of all created things on him their first cause; I cannot help standing astonished at the pride of impotent, degenerate man, who is so prone to consider himself as a being possessed of sovereign freedom, and invested with a power of self-salvation: able, he imagines, to counteract the designs even of infinite wisdom, and to defeat the agency of Omnipotence itself. Ye shall be as gods, said the tempter, to Eve, in Paradise: and you are as gods, says the same tempter, now, to her apostate sons. One would be apt to think, that a suggestion so demonstrably false and flattering, a suggestion the very reverse of what we feel to be our state; a suggestion, alike contrary to scripture and reason, to tact and experience; could never meet with the smallest degree of credit. And yet, because it so exactly coincides with the natural haughtiness of the human heart; men not only admit, but even relish, the deception; and fondly incline to believe, that the father of lies does, in this instance at least, speak truth.

The scripture doctrine of predetermination, lays the axe to the very root of this potent delusion. It assures us, that all things are of God. That all our times, and all events, are in his hand. Consequently, that man’s business below, is to fill up the departments, and to discharge the several offices, assigned him, in God’s purpose, from everlasting: and that, having lived his appointed time, and finished his allotted course of action and suffering; he, that moment, quits the stage of terrestrial life, and removes to the invisible state.

The late deservedly celebrated Dr. Young, though he affected great opposition to some of the doctrines called Calvinistic, was compelled, by the force of truth, to acknowledge, that “there is not a fly, but has had infinite wisdom concerned, not only in its structure, but in its destination.”[1] Nor did the late learned and excellent bishop Hopkins go a jot too far, in asserting as follows: “A sparrow, whose price is but mean, two of them valued at a farthing (which some make to be the 10th part of a Roman penny, and was certainly one of their least coins), and whose life therefore is but contemptible, and whose flight seems giddy and at random; yet it falls not to the ground, neither lights any where, without your father. His all-wise providence hath before appointed what bough it shall pitch on; what grains it shall pick up; where it shall lodge, and where it shall build; on what it shall live, and when it shall die. Our Saviour adds, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. God keeps an account, even of that stringy excrescence. Do you see a thousand little motes and atoms wandering up and down in a sunbeam? It is God that so peoples it; and he guides their innumerable and irregular strayings. Not a dust flies in a beaten road, but God raiseth it, conducts its uncertain motion, and, by his particular care, conveys it to the certain place he had before appointed for it; nor shall the most fierce and tempestuous wind hurry it any farther. Nothing comes to pass, but God hath his ends in it, and will certainly make his own ends out of it. Though the world seem to run at random, and affairs to be huddled together in blind confusion and rude disorder; yet, God sees and knows the concatenation of all causes and effects, and so governs them, that he makes a perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords.—It is most necessary, that we should have our hearts well established in the firm and unwavering belief of this truth: that whatsoever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all, to God.—In respect of God, there is nothing casual, nor contingent, in the world. If a master should send a servant to a certain place, and command him to stay there, till such a time; and presently after, should send another servant to the same [place]; the meeting of these two is wholly casual, in respect of themselves; but ordained and foreseen by the master who sent them. So it is in all fortuitous events here below. They fall out unexpectedly, as to us; but not so as to God. He foresees, and he appoints, all the vicissitudes of things.”[2]

To illustrate this momentous doctrine, especially so far as God’s sovereign distribution of grace and glory is concerned, was the chief motive that determined me to the present publication. In perusing the works of that most learned and evangelical divine, one of whose performances now appears in an English dress, I was particularly taken with that part of his confession of faith (presented A. D. 1502, to the senate of Strasburgh), which relates to predestination. It is, from beginning to end, a regular chain of solid argument: deduced from the unerring word of divine revelation, and confirmed by the coincident testimonies of some of the greatest lights that ever shone in the Christian church. Such were Austin, Luther, Bucer. Names, that will be precious and venerable, as long as true religion has a friend remaining upon earth.

Excellent as Zanchy’s original piece is, I yet have occasionally ventured, both to retrench and to enlarge it in the translation. To this liberty I was induced, by a desire of rendering it as complete a treatise, on the subject, as the allotted compass would allow. I have endeavoured, rather to enter into the spirit of the admirable author; than, with a scrupulous exactness, to retail his very words. By which moans the performance will prove, I humbly trust, the more satisfactory to the English reader: and, for the learned one, he can at any time, if he pleases, by comparing the following version with the original Latin, both perceive wherein I have presumed to vary from it; and judge for himself, whether my omissions, variations, and enlargements, are useful and just.

The Arminians (I know not, whether through ignorance, or to serve a turn) affect, at present, to give out, that Luther and Calvin were not agreed in the article of predestination. A more palpable mistake was never advanced. So far is it from being true, that Luther (as I can easily prove, if called to it) went as heartily into that doctrine, as Calvin himself. He even asserted it with much more warmth, and proceeded to much harsher lengths in defending it, than Calvin ever did, or any other writer I have met with, of that age. In the following performance, I have for the most part, carefully retained Zanchy’s quotations from Luther; that the reader, from the sample there given, might form a just idea of Luther’s real sentiments concerning the points in question.

Never was a publication of this kind, more seasonable than at present. Arminianism is the grand religious evil of this age and country. It has more or less, infected every protestant denomination amongst us; and bids fair for leaving us, in a short time, not so much as the very profession of godliness. The power of Christianity has, for the most part, taken its flight long ago; and even the form of it seems to be on the point of bidding us farewell. Time has been, when the Calvinistic doctrines were considered and defended as the palladium of our established church, by her bishops and clergy; by the universities and the whole body of the laity. It was during the reigns of Edward VI. queen Elizabeth, James I. and the greater part of Charles I. as difficult to meet with a clergyman, who did not preach the doctrines of the church of England; as it is now, to find one who does. ‘Ye have generally forsaken the principles of the reformation; and Ichabod, or thy glory is departed, has been written, on most of our pulpits and church doors, ever since.

Thou, O God, hast brought a vine out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root; and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs to the sea, and her branches unto the river. “Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they who pass by the way, do pluck her? The boar, out of the wood, doth waste it; and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine; And the vineyard, which thy right hand hath planted; and the branch that thou makest strong for thyself! So will we not go back from thee: quicken us, and we shall call upon thy name. Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts! cause thy face to shine, and we shall yet be saved. Psal. 80.

Never was description more strikingly expressive of the state our national church is at present in! Never was supplication more pertinently adapted to the lips of her genuine sons!

In vain do we lament the progress of popery; in vain do we shut up a few private mass-houses; while our presses teem, and our pulpits ring, with the Romish doctrines of merit and free-will: doctrines, whose native and inevitable tendency is to smooth the passage for our fuller coalition with antichrist. If we are really desirous to shun committing spiritual adultery with the mother of harlots and abominations, we must withdraw our feet from the way that leadeth to her house.

Blessed be God, the doctrines of grace are again beginning to lift up their heads amongst us: a sign, it is to be hoped, that the holy Spirit hath not quite forsaken us; and that our redemption, from the prevailing errors of the day, draweth near. Now, if ever, is the time, for all who love our church and nation in sincerity, to lend a helping hand to the ark; and contribute, though ever so little, to its return.

The grand objection usually made to that important truth, which is the main subject of the ensuing sheets, proceeds on a supposition of partiality in God, should the Calvinistic doctrine be admitted. If this consequence did really follow, I see not how it would authorize man to arraign the conduct of Deity. Should an earthly friend make me a present of £10,000 would it not be unreasonable, ungrateful, and presumptuous in me to refuse the gift, and revile the giver, only because it might not be his pleasure to confer the same favour on my next door neighbour? In other cases, the value of a privilege, or of a possession, is enhanced by its scarceness. A virtuoso sets but little esteem on a medal, a statue, or a vase, so common, that every man who pleases may have one of the same kind; he prizes that alone as a rarity, which really is such; and which is not only intrinsically valuable, but which lies in few hands. Were all men, here upon earth, qualified and enabled to appeal as kings, the crown, the sceptre, the robe of state, and other ensigns of majesty, would presently sink into things hardly noticeable. The distinguishing grandeurs of royalty, by ceasing to be uncommon, would quickly cease to be august and striking. Upon this principle it was, that Henry IV. of France, said, on his birth-day, “I was born as on this day; and, no doubt, taking the world through, thousands were born on the same day with me: yet, out of all those thousands, I am perhaps the only one, whom God hath made a king. How signally am I indebted to the peculiar bounty of his providence!”—Similar are the reflections, and the acknowledgments, of such persons, as are favoured with the sense of their election in Christ to holiness and heaven.

“But what becomes of the non-elect?” You have nothing to do with such a question, if you find yourself embarrassed and distressed by the consideration of it. Bless God, for his electing love; and leave him to act as he pleases by them that are without. Simply acquiesce in the plain scripture account; and wish to see no farther, than revelation holds the lamp. It is enough for you to know, that the Judge of the whole earth will do right. Yet will you reap much improvement from the view of predestination in its full extent, if your eyes are able stedfastly to look at all, which God hath made known concerning it. But if your spiritual sight is weak, forego the enquiry, so far as reprobation is concerned; and be content to know but in part, till death transmits you to that perfect state, where you shall know even as you are known. Say not, therefore, as the opposers of these doctrines did in St. Paul’s days; “Why doth God find fault with the wicked? For who hath resisted his will? If he who only can convert them, refrains from doing it, what room is there for blaming them that perish, seeing it is impossible to resist the wiII of the Almighty?” Be satisfied with St. Paul’s answer: Nay, but who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? The apostle hinges the matter entirely on God’s absolute sovereignty. There he rests it; and there we ought to leave it.[3]

Were the whole of mankind equally loved of God, and promiscuously redeemed by Christ; the song, which believers are directed to sing, would hardly run in these admired strains: To him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, &c. Rev. 1:5,6. An hymn of praise like this, seems evidently to proceed on the hypothesis of peculiar election, on the part of God; and of a limited redemption, on the part of Christ: which we find still more explicitly declared, Rev. 5:9. where we have a transcript of that song, which the spirits of just men made perfect are now singing, before the throne, and before the Lamb: Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God, by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. Whence the elect are said to have been redeemed from among men. Rev. 14:4.

In short, there is no such thing as casualty, or accident, even in things of temporal concern: much less, in matters spiritual and everlasting. If the universe had a maker, it must have a governor: and if it has a governor, his will and providence must extend to all things, without exception. For my own part, I can discern no medium between absolute predestination, and blank atheism.

Mr. Rollin,[4] if I mistake not, has somewhere, a fine observation, to this effect: that “It is usual, with God, so carefully to conceal himself, and to hide the agency of his providence behind second causes, as to render that, very often, undiscernable, and indistinguishable from these.” Which wisdom of conduct, and gentleness of operation (not less efficacious, because gentle and invisible), instead of exciting the admiration they deserve; have, on the contrary, given occasion to the setting up of that unreal idol of the brain, called chance. Whereas, to use the lovely lines of our great moral poet,

All nature is but art unknown to thee;
All chance, direction which thou canst not see.

Words are only so far valuable, as they are the vehicles of meaning. And meaning, or ideas, derive their whole value, from their having some foundation in reason, reality, and fact. Was I, therefore, to be concerned in drawing up an expurgatory index to language, I would, without mercy, cashier and prescribe such words as chance, fortune, luck, casualty, contingency, and mishap. Nor unjustly. For, they are voces et preterea nihil. Mere terms, without ideas. Absolute expletives, which import nothing. Unmeaning cyphers, either proudly invented to hide man’s ignorance of real causes, or sacrilegiously designed to rob the Deity of the honours due to his wisdom, providence, and power.

Reason and revelation are perfect unisons, in assuring us, that God is the supreme, independent, first cause; of whom, all secondary and inferior causes are no more the effects. Else, proper originality and absolute wisdom, unlimited supremacy and almighty power, cease to be attributes of Deity.—I remember to have heard an interesting anecdote of king William, and bishop Burnet. The Arminian prelate affected to wonder, “How a person, of his majesty’s piety and good sense, could so rootedly believe the doctrine of absolute predestination.” The royal Calvinist replied; did I not believe absolute predestination, I could not believe a providence. For, it would be most absurd, to suppose, that a being of infinite wisdom would act without a plan: for which plan, predestination is only another name.

What, indeed, is predestination, but God’s determinate plan of action? and what is providence, but the evolution of that plan? In his decree, God resolved within himself, what he would do, and what he would permit to be done: by his providence, this effective and permissive will passes into external act, and has its positive accomplishment. So that the purpose of God, as it were, draws the outlines; and providence lays on the colours. What that designed, this completes: what that ordained, this executes. Predestination is analogous to the mind and intention; providence to the hand and agency of the artificer. Hence, we are told, that God worketh [there is his providence] all things, after the counsel of his own will [there is his decree], Eph. 1:11. And again, he doth according to his will, in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand [i. e. his will, and the execution of it, are irresistible], nor say unto him, what dost thou? i. e. his purpose and providence are sovereign, and for which he will not be accountable to his creatures. Dan. 4:35.

According, therefore, to the scripture representation, providence neither acts vaguely and at random, like a blind archer, who shoots uncertainly in the dark, as well as he can; nor yet pro re nata, or as the unforeseen exigence of affairs may require: like some blundering statesman, who plunges (it may he) his country and himself into difficulties, and then is forced to unravel his cobweb, and reverse his plan of operations, as the best remedy for those disasters, which the court spider had not the wisdom to foresee. But shall we say this of God? It were blasphemy. He that dwelleth in heaven, laugheth all these miserable after thoughts to scorn. God, who can neither be over-reached, nor overpowered, has all these wretched post-expedients in derision. He is incapable of mistake. He knows no levity of will. He cannot be surprised with any unforeseen inconveniences. His throne is in heaven, and his kingdom ruleth over all. Whatever, therefore, comes to pass, comes to pass as a part of the original plan: and is the offspring of that prolific series of causes and effects, which owes its birth to the ordaining and permissive will of him, in whom we all live, and are moved[5], and have our being. Providence in time, is the hand that delivers God’s purpose, of those beings and events with which that purpose was pregnant from everlasting. The doctrine of equivocal generation is not more absurd, in philosophy; than the doctrine of unpredestinated events is, in theology.

Thus, the long train of things is, though
A mighty maze, yet not without a plan.

God’s sovereign will is the first link; his unalterable decree is the second; and his all-active providence the third; in the great chain of causes. What his will determined, that his decree established, and his providence, either mediately or immediately, effects. His will was the adorable spring of all: his decree marked out the channel: and his providence directs the stream.

“If so,” it may be objected, “it will follow, that whatever is, is right.” Consequences cannot be helped. No doubt, God, who does nothing in vain; who cannot do any thing to no purpose, and still less to a bad one; who both acts and permits with design; and who weighs the paths of men; has, in the unfathomab1e abyss of his counsel, very important (though to us, secret) reasons, for permitting the first entrance of moral evil, and for suffering both[6] moral and natural evil still to reign over so great a part of the creation. Unsearchable are his judgments (decrees) and his ways (the methods and dispensations of his providence) past finding out. Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? For, of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. Rom. 11:33,34,36.—As to myself, I can through grace, most heartily adopt the maxim of Bengelius, non plus sumere, non minus accipere[7]: I neither wish to know more than God has revealed; nor to remain ignorant of what he has revealed. I desire to advance, and to halt, just when and where the pillar of God’s written word stays, or goes forward. I am content, that the impenetrable veil, divinely interposed, between his purposes and my comprehension, be not drawn aside, until faith is lost in sight, and my spirit return to him who gave it.—But of this I am assured, that echo does not reverberate sound so punctually, as the actual disposal of things answers to God’s predetermination concerning them. This cannot be denied, without dethroning providence, as far as in us lies, and setting up fortune in its room. There is no alternative. I defy all the sophistry of man, to strike out a middle way. He that made all things, either directs all things he has made, or has consigned them over to chance. But, what is chance? a name for[8] nothing. Arminianism, therefore, is atheism.

I grant, that the twin doctrines of predestination and providence, are not without their difficulties. But the denial of them is attended with ten thousand times more and greater. The difficulties, on one side, are but as dust upon the balance: those on the other, as mountains in the scale. To imagine, that a being of boundless wisdom, power and goodness, would create the universe, and not sit at the helm afterwords, but turn us adrift, to shift for ourselves, like a huge vessel without a pilot; is a supposition, that subverts every notion of Deity, gives the lie to every page in the Bible, contradicts our daily experience, and insults the common reason of mankind.

Say’st thou, the course of nature governs all?
The course of nature is the art of God.

The whole creation, from the seraph down to the indivisible atom, ministers to the supreme will, and is under the special observation, government, and direction of the omnipotent mind: who sees all, himself unseen; who upholds all, himself unsustained; who guides all, himself guided by none; and who changes all, himself unchanged.

“But does not this doctrine tend to the establishment of fatality?” Supposing it even did, were it not better to be a Christian fatalist, than to avow a set of loose Arminian principles, which, if pushed to their natural extent, inevitably terminate ill the rankest atheism? For, without predestination, there can be no providence; and, without providence, no God.

After all, what do you mean by fate? If you mean a regular succession of determined events, from the beginning to the end of time; an uninterrupted chain, without a single chasm; all depending on the eternal will and continued influence of the great first cause: if this is fate, it must be owned, that it and the scripture predestination are, at most, very thinly divided; or, rather, entirely coalesce.—But if, by fate, is meant, either a constitution of things antecedent to the will of God; by which he himself was bound, ab origine; and which goes on, of itself, to multiply causes and effects, to the exclusion of the all-pervading power and unintemitting agency of an intelligent, perpetual, and particular providence: neither reason nor Christianity allows of any such fate as this. Fate, thus considered, is just such an extreme on one hand, as chance is, on the other. Both are alike unexistable.

It having not been unusual, with the Arminian writers, to tax us with adopting the fate of the ancient Stoics; I thought it might not be unacceptable to the English reader, to subjoin a brief view of what those philosophers generally held (for they were not all exactly of a mind) as to this particular. It will appear, to every competent reader, from what is there given, how far the doctrine of fate, as believed and taught by the Stoics, may be admitted, upon Christian principles. Having large materials by me, for such a work, it would have been very easy for me to have annexed a dissertation of my own, upon the subject: but I chose to confine myself to a small extract from the citations and remarks of the learned Lipsius; who seems, in his Physiologia Stoicorum, to have almost exhausted the substance of the argument, with a penetration and precision, which leave little room either for addition or amendment. In a cause, therefore, where the interest of truth is so eminently concerned, I would rather retain the ablest counsel, when it can be had, than venture to be, myself, her sole advocate.

For my own particular part, I frankly confess, that, as far as the coincidence of the Stoical fate, with the Bible predestination[9], holds good; I see no reason, why we should be ashamed to acknowledge it. Austin, and many other great and excellent men, have not scrupled to admit both the word [viz. the word fate] and the thing, properly understood[10]. I am quite of Lipsius’ mind: “et vero non aversabor Stoici nomen; sed Stoici Christiani: I have no objection to being called a Stoic, so you but prefix the word Christian to it.”[11]

Here ended the first lesson: i. e. here ended the preface to the former edition of this tract. A tract, whose publication has raised the indignant quills of more than one Arminian porcupine.

Among those enraged porcupines, none has hitherto bristled up so fiercely, as the high and mighty Mr. John Wesley. He even dipt his quills in the ink of forgery, on the occasion; as Indians tinge the points of their arrows with poison, in hope of their doing more effectual execution. The quills, however, have reverberated, and with ample interest, on poor Mr. John’s own pate. He felt the unexpected pain, and he has squeaked accordingly. I will not, here, add to the well-deserved chastisement he has received: which, from more than one quarter, has been such, as will probably keep him sore, while his surname begins with W. Let him, for his own sake, learn, as becomes a very sore man, to lie still. Rest may do him good: motion will but add to his fever, by irritating his humours already too peccant. Predestination is a stone, by rashly falling on which, he has more than once been lamentably broken. I wish him to take heed, in due season, lest that stone, at length, fall on him. For, notwithstanding all his delinquencies, I would still have him avoid, if possible, the catastrophe of being ground to powder.

[1] Centaur not Fab. Letter II.
[2] Sermon upon Providence: from Matth. 10:29,30.
[3] Some of the more considerate heathens treated God’s hidden will with an adoring reverence, which many of our modern Arminians would do well to imitate. Thus Bion. It is not for man, to sit in judgment of the actions of God. So Theognis.—We men are foolish in our imaginations, and know nothing: but the gods accomplish all things according to their own mind. It is not lawful for mortals, to enter the lists with the gods, nor to bring in an accusation against them.
[4] Since the above was written, I have met with the fine passage to which it refers. “Providence delights to conceal its wonders under the veil of human operations.” Rollin’s Arts and Sciences of the Ancients, vol. III. p. 480. Mr. Hervey has likewise a most beautiful and judicious paragraph to the sam effect; where, speaking of what is commonly termed accidental death, this admirable writer asks: Was it then a random stroke? doubtless, the blow came from an aiming, though invisible hand. God presides over the armies of heaven. God ruleth among the inhabitants of the earth. And God conducteth what men call chance. Nothing, nothing comes to pass, through a blind and undiscerning fatality. If accidents happen, they happen according to the exact foreknowledge, and conformably to the determinate counsels of eternal wisdom. The Lord, with whom are the issues of death, signs the warrant, and gives the high commission. The seemingly fortuitous disaster, is only the agent, or instrument, appointed to execute the supreme decree. When the king of Israel was mortally wounded it seemed to be a casual shot. A certain man threw a bow at a venture, (I Kings 22:14.) At a venture, as he thought. But his hand was strengthened by an omnipotent aid; and the shaft levelled by an unerring eye. So that, what we term casualty, is really providence; accomplishing deliberate designs, but concealing its own interposition. How comforting this rflection! Admirably adapted to sooth the throbbing anguish of the mourners, and compose their spirits into a quiet submission! Excellently suited to dissipate the fears of godly survivors; and create a calm intrepidity, even amidst innumerable perils!” Hervey’s Meditations, vol. I. P. 27,28.
[5] Acts 17:28.
[6] Grotius himsclf is forced to own, “qua vero permittuntur Scelera, non carent interim suo fructu,” i. e. even the crimes which God permits the perpetration of, are not without their good consequences. (De Veritat. Rul. I. I. sect. 19.)—A bold saying, this! But the sayer was an Arminian: and, therefore, we hear no outcry
on the occasion.
[7] Ordo Temporum, cap. P. 302.
[8] The late learned and indefatigable Mr. Chambers has in his valuable Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, under the word Chance, two or three observations, so pertinent and full to this remark, (viz. of chance being a name for nothing) that I cannot help transcribing them. “Our ignorance and precipitancy lead us to attribute effects to chance, which have a necessary and determinate cause.
“When we say a thing happens by chance, we really mean no more, than that its cause is unknown to us: and not, as some vainly imagine, that chance itself can be the cause of any thing. From this consideration, Dr. Bentley takes occasion to expose the folly of that old tenet, The World was made by Chance.
“The case of the painter, who, unable to express the foam at the mouth of the horse he had painted, threw his sponge in despair at the piece, and by chance did that which he could not before do by design, is an eminent instance of the force of chance. Yet, it is obvious, all we here mean by chance, is that the painter was not aware of the effect: or, that he did not throw the sponge with such a view. Not but that he actually did every thing necessary to produce the effect. Insomuch that, considering the direction wherein he threw the sponge, together with its form, and specific gravity; the colours wherewith it was smeared, and the distance of the hand from the piece; it was impossible, on the present system of things, that the effect should not follow.”
[9] Now I am in some measure enlightened” (says the Rev. Mr.
Newton of Olney) “I can easily perceive, that it is in the adjustment and concurrence of seemingly fortuitous circumstances, that the ruling power and wisdom of God are most evidently displayed in human affairs. How many such casual events may we remark in the history of Joseph, which had each a necessary influence in his ensuing promotion!—If the Midianites had passed by a day sooner, or a day later;—If they had sold him to any person, but Potiphar; If his mistress had been a better woman;—If Pharaoh’s officers had not displeased their lord; or, if any, or all these things had fallen out in any other manner, or time, than they did; all that followed, had been prevented: the promises and purposes of God concerningIsrael, their bondage, deliverances, polity, and settlement, must have failed: and as all these things tended to and centred in Christ, the promised Saviour; the desire of all nations would not have appeared. Mankind had been still in their sins, without hope; and the counsels of God’s eternal love, in favour of sinners, defeated. Thus we may see a connection between Joseph’s first dream, and the death of our Lord Christ, with all its glorious consequences. So strong, though secret, is the concatenation between the greatest and the smallest events!—What a comfortable thought is this to a believer, to know, that, amidst all the various, interfering designs of men, the Lord has one constant design, which he cannot, will not miss: namely, his own glory, in the complete salvation of his people! And that he is wise, and strong, and faithful, to make even those things, which seem contrary to this design, subservient to promote it!” See p. 96. and seq. of a most entertaining and instructive piece, entitles, An authentic Narrative of some remarkable and interesting Particulars in the life of ********, in a Series of Letters. 1765.
[10] For a sample, the learned reader may peruse the judicious chapter, De Fato, in Abp. Bradwardin’s immortal book De Causa Dei. Lib. I. Cap. 28.
[11] Oper. Tom. Def. Posthum, cap. II. P. 118.


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