Discourse on the Five Points [of Calvinism]

Daniel Whitby

"It's Better To Deny Prescience [i.e., Foreknowledge]
Than Liberty"

This is the text which led Jonathan Edwards to write The Freedom of the Will, which was the best selling philosophical treatise of an American author in the 18th century. Edwards argued that if God knows the future with certainty, then the future is already predestined. Here, Whitby says that it is better, therefore, to just say the God does not know the future, or that God both does and doesn't know the future.

Discourse VI, Chapter 1.1

If there were any strength in this argument [i.e., that foreknowledge implies determinism], it would prove that we should not deny the liberty supposed in all the arguments we have used against these decrees, but rather prescience itself; for if those two things were really inconsistent, and one of them must be denied, the introducing of absolute necessity of all our actions, which evidently destroys all religion and morality, would tend more of the two to the dishonor of God, than the denying of him a fore-knowledge.

"Foreknowledge And Free Will Are Both True:
Though I know not how it is so"

Discourse VI, Chapter 1.2

If you puzzle me with these enquiries, "How then can God certainly know I will do what he sees I may not do?" or "How can that be certainly known which neither in itself, nor in its causes, hath any certain being; but may as well not be, or not be done, as be, or be done?" this brings me, lastly, to observe, That this argument only opposeth arising from a mode of knowledge in God, of which we have no idea, against all the plain declarations of his revealed will, produced in great abundance, against the imaginary decrees which men have imposed upon God without just ground. The judicious Le Blanc, after he had considered all the ways of the wit of man to rid their hands of this difficulty, how Godís prescience could consist with manís liberty, breaks forth into this ingenuous confession,

Such darkness everywhere surrounds us, such inextricable difficulties occur in this matter, that I think it safest for us here to confess our ignorance, and seriously to profess ëthe knowledge of this is too excellent for me, and so sublime, that I cannot attain unto it;' and to believe this is one of those mysteries of which the Son of Syrach saith, 'seek not after that which is too hard for thee; and search not into the things that are above thy strength.'
"Nor is it any shame," saith Mr. Thorndyke,
for a christian or a divine to profess ignorance, when the question is how a matter of faith is or may be true; but that in a matter so subject to common understanding, at the determination of the will by its own choice, experience justifying that which faith makes the ground of christianity, and reason of morality, I should make the whole tenor of the Bible, the tender of christianity, the whole treaty of God with man concerning his happiness, delusory and abusive, as conditioning for that which no man can stir hand or foot for, till being determined he cannot do otherwise, because I cannot answer an objection arising from Godís prescience of future contingencies, of which I can have no idea, seems to me very reasonable.
I answer therefore to these objections, that God's foreknowledge is well consistent with the freedom of man's will and the contingency of events (since otherwise all men's actions must be necessary), though I know not how it is so, and it is therefore well consistent with his power to do the contrary, and therefore his foreknowledge that what may not be, certainly will be, though I know not how it is so, and it is therefore consistent with his commands and prohibitions, exhortations, admonitions and motives to engage me to do what I will not do, and with all his commands and admonitions to abstain from that which I will not abstain, because the same scripture which ascribes this foreknowledge to God, doth also assert my liberty to do or to refuse these things, charges menís sins and final ruin on themselves, and 'sets before them life and death, blessing and cursing,' requiring them to chuse the one, and avoid the other, though I know not how both these things are consistent; the reason of my inability to discern this consistency being only my ignorance of what this foreknowledge of God is.