The Foreknowledge of God - L. D. McCabe
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DURING a period of thirty-years teaching I have met with many earnest and gifted minds so confounded with the difficulties lying between human freedom and the divine foreknowledge that I was finally induced, actuated by the simple desire of relieving honest inquirers, to attempt some solution of this mystery of the ages. "The main positions of a work may be impregnable," says Dr. Whately, "and yet it will be strange, indeed, if some illustration, or some subordinate parts of it, will not admit of a plausible objection. The sophist, in such a case, joins issue on one of these incidental questions, and then comes forward with his 'Reply to the Work.' But the other arguments remaining unrefuted, the conclusion may stand as firmly as if the answerer had urged nothing by way of refutation. For unanswerable arguments may be brought against that which is, nevertheless, true, and which is established by the greater probabilities."
Inspired only by a desire to contribute, so far as I might be able, toward the removal of the difficulties that environ humanity and theology in connection with this subject, I commit this volume to the public, with an earnest prayer that it may in some degree accomplish its purpose. If it has any value I desire that it may receive the candid attention of theologians and of all those inquiring after divine truth.
It has been my aim to assume nothing that is not axiomatic to universal consciousness or admitted by theologians who accept the freedom of the will without at the same time embracing contradictory doctrines. If what I here present to the public shall be received without unreasonable prejudice, and candidly considered under the controlling influence of a profound desire for the advancement of elevated thought and of a profounder love for God's eternal truth and will, I can ask no more. Free discussion is not only the palladium of liberty, but also the necessary condition of progress. I am not in sympathy with those who discuss only for victory, or criticise without taking sufficient pains to comprehend the matter in hand; nor with those who insist on objections without paying due attention to counter objections, and who merely dogmatize; for who can convince a dogmatist that is controlled absolutely by authorities and has no confidence in his own deductions?
To any lover of sound doctrine in theology I would simply say, in the language of Job, "That which I see not teach thou me." Surely the writer's unwavering devotion to every doctrine regarded essential by all orthodox branches of the Christian Church entitles him to be heard, if heard at all, without misrepresentation; and this may well be conceded to any one who tentatively proposes a solution of difficulties in what is now acknowledged to be the most perplexing subject in philosophy, namely, the conflict between freedom and necessity.
After my manuscript was written, knowing from years of intimacy my friend, Rev. F. S. Hoyt, D. D. to be an accurate and varied scholar and an able theologian, I placed it in his hands for revision and criticism. When it passed into the hands of the publishers I also requested him to watch its passage through the press and guard it from mistakes and blemishes. With these requests he has most kindly and fraternally complied. I wish, therefore, here to acknowledge my great obligations to him, and, as strongly as words can, express my gratitude for his brotherly kindness and invaluable criticisms.
L. D. M'CABE.
DELAWARE OHIO, March 18, 1878
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