THE DIVINE WISDOM AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD
With respect to The divine wisdom and foreknowledge, I shall lay down the following positions:
Position l.--God is, and always was so perfectly wise, that nothing ever did, or does, or can elude His knowledge. He knew, from all eternity, not only what He Himself intended to do, but also what He would incline and permit others to do. "Known unto God are all His works from eternity" (Acts 15:18).
Position 2.--Consequently, God knows nothing now, nor will know anything hereafter, which He did not know and foresee from everlasting, His foreknowledge being co-eternal with Himself, end extending to everything that is or shall be done (Heb. 4:13). All things, which comprises past, present and future, are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Position 3.--This foreknowledge of God is not conjectural and uncertain (for then it would not be foreknowledge), but most sure and infallible, so that whatever He foreknows to be future shall necessarily and undoubtedly come to pass. For His knowledge can no more be frustrated, or His wisdom be deceived, than He can cease to be God. Could either of these be the case, He actually would cease to be God.
Position 4. --The influence which the Divine foreknowledge has on the certain futurition of the things foreknown does not render the intervention of second causes needless, nor destroy the nature of the things themselves.
My meaning is, that the prescience of God does not lay any coercive necessity on the wills of beings naturally free. For instance, man, even in his fallen state, is endued with a natural freedom of will, yet he acts, from the first to the last moment of his life, in absolute subserviency (though, perhaps, he does not know it nor design it) to the purposes and decrees of God concerning him, notwithstanding which, he is sensible of no compulsion, but acts as freely and voluntarily as if he was subject to no control and absolutely lord of himself. This made Luther, after he had shown how all things necessarily and inevitably come to pass, in consequence of the sovereign will and infallible foreknowledge of God, say that "we should carefully distinguish between a necessity of infallibility and a necessity of coaction, since both good and evil men, though by their actions they fulfil the decree and appointment of God, yet are not forcibly constrained to do any thing, but act willingly."
Position 5.--God's foreknowledge, taken abstractedly, is not the sole cause of beings and events, but His will and foreknowledge together. Hence we find (Acts 2:23) that His determinate counsel and foreknowledge act in concert, the latter resulting from and being founded on the former.
Scanned and edited by Michael Bremmer