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ñeither Calvinism nor Arminianism nor Nationalism, (the system of Mr. Locke,) could as systems combining severally a well-defined scheme of CAUSATION with a well-defined scheme of ideaLITY be any where discovered." Under this conviction, he resolved to endeavour to ascertain, what were the opinions held, on the subject of Election, by the primitive church, as recorded by uninspired Christian writers of the highest antiquity; including those who had received verbal instruction from the apostles. The researches which he made for this purpose resulted in a conviction, satisfactory to himself, that he had discovered the true key by which to unlock the meaning of the sacred Scriptures, concerning, the “ IDEALITY and CAUSATION” of Election. Or in language which some of our readers will better understand, the NATURE and CAUSE of Election.
In the commencement of the work, Mr. Faber very properly specifies what he regards, as, the distinguishing sentiments held on the subject of Election by those he designates, Arminians, Calvinists, and Nationalists. He describes them in the following manner :
1. By the Remonstrants or Arminians, the IDEA of Election is pronounced to be The Election of certain individuals, out of the great mass of mankind, directly and immediutely, to eternal life: and its MOVING CAUSE is asserted to be God's eternal Prevision of the future persevering holiness and consequent moral fitness of the individuals themselves, who thence have been thus elected.
2. By the Nationalists (if, for the convenience of brief nomenclature, I may employ the term.) the idea of Election is determined to be The Election of certain whole nations into the pale of the visible Church Catholic, which Election, however, relates purely to their privileged condition in this world, extending not to their collective eternal state in another world : and its MOVING CAUSE is pronounced to be That same absolute Good Pleasure of God, which, through the exercise of his sovereign power, led him to choose the posterity of Jacob, rather than the posterity of Esau, that upon earth they should become his peculiar people, and be made the depositaries and preservers of the true religion. ,
3. By the Calvinists or Austinists, the idea of Election is judged to be The Election of certain individuals out of the greut mass of mankind, directly and immediately lo eternal life, while all other individuals are either passively left or actively doomed to a certainty of eternal death : and its MOVING CAUSE is defined to be God's unconditional and irrespective Will and Pleasure, inherent in, und exercised in consequence of, his absolute and uncontroulable Sovereignity."
Admitting, as we do, that this statement of the sentiments held by the parties referred to, is substantially correct, yet, we must remark, that, the majority of those persons, who are now usually, designated Arminians, do not hold the opinions which were held by Arminius on the subject of Election. They do not profess to believe, that the Scriptures teach the doctrine of, “ The Election of certain individuals out of the mass of mankind, directly and immediately, to eternal life.” On the contrary, modern Arminians believe, that no one, who is capable of understanding the offers of salvation made by the Gospel of Christ, is individually elected to eternal life, until he becomes obedient to the faith of Christ. Modern Arminians believe God's purpose of Election to eternal life to have respect, not to certain individuals, whose moral fitness was foreknown, and who were therefore elected previous to their existence; but to all who answer the description of character to which God, of his
Sovereign will and good pleasure, has given the promise of eternal life. It follows therefore, that the remarks made, by Mr. Faber, upon the Arminian theory of Election, do not apply to the opinions, now usually adopted by those who are called Arminians; but only to the theory which was acknowledged by Arminius and the Remonstrants.
It is justly observed, by Mr. Faber, that the adherents to the respective schemes of Election, to which he refers, are all alike positive in inaintaining, that, they have the exclusive support of the authority of Holy Writ. Upon the interpretation which they severally adopt, each scheme is correct; the question, therefore, confessedly is, which adopts, or does either of them adopt, the correct interpretation ? *
To assist in ascertaining what is the Scripture doctrine of Election, Mr. Faber strongly urges that, recourse must be had to “ The yet existing documents of Christian Antiquity.” In urging the importance of this species of evidence, he expresses himself in language which may be understood as improperly substituting the authority of uninspired tradition, for knowledge educed from the study of the Holy Scriptures. We regard it as the solemn duty of every man, to exercise, what is designated, “ Private Judgment,” in ascertaining what is the meaning of the word God; and we disapprove of any statement which seems to countenance the doctrine, that men ought to adopt human opinions as, authoritative expositions of God's word. We know that the right of Private Judgment may be exercised in an improper manner, and that erroneous interpretations have thus been frequently adopted. This, however, does not constitute a reason why Private Judgment should not be exercised; it only bespeaks the necessity of caution, so as not hastily to determine any question, and to use all the means of obtaining informatiou elucidatory of the subject matter of enquiry. We believe that Mr. Faber does not intend to substitute traditional authority for the exercise of Private Judgment: some of his statements are, however, likely to produce such an impression on the mind; although they are considerably qualified by explanatory notes. We must, however, add, that we strongly object to the following statement:
“ SCRIPTURE and ANTIQUITY are, indeed, the pillars of all rationally established Faith, though neither in the same mode, nor in the same sense. Each has its distinct office in the temple of God: the one oracular; the other hermeneutically attestative. If the oracle be silent, we know nothing; if the attested interpretation be silent, we learn nothing.”
The preceding statement represents the Bible as a sealed book, from which we cannot learn unless we are taught by the attested interpretation of the writers of antiquity. If such be the fact, the Bible is not a sufficient rule of faith and practice; it cannot make those who diligently read it, wise unto salvation ! We do not think that Mr. Faber intended to convey such a meaning; and yet, such we conceive, is the legitimate meaning of his words, before quoted. The passages cited by Mr. Faber, from Chillingworth, do not authorise the sentiment, that, “if the attested interpretation " (of antiquity) “ be silent we learn nothing.” If this were true, we should be equally, or more dependent upon the interpretations of uninspired men, than upon the word of God. We maintain that, without the assistance of the interpretations given by either ancient or modern expositors, those who are capable of reading the word of God, may from that word learn all the doctrines on which salvation depends. Our faith is to stand upon the word of God, and not upon the expositions of uninspired men: and although we ought not to despise the aid offered by those who have written upon divine things, yet we ought to prove for ourselves the truth of what they advance, by comparing it with the word of God.
From our preceding observations, it will be perceived, that Arminius, equally with Calvin, held the doctrine of individual Election to eternal life: the former stating the CAUSE of Election to be God's foreknowledge of the obedience of the elect; the latter stating, as the CAUSE, God's sovereign will, exclusive of any regard to foreseen moral fitness in the elect. The difference, therefore, between Arminius and Calvin, related not to the nature of Election, but only to its CAUSE.
Mr. Faber states that the “ theory of CAUSATION” adopted by Arminius may be traced up to Clement, of Alexandria, who flourished at the latter end of the second century : but that the Calvinistic “ theory of IDEALITY," namely, “God's Election of certain indivi. duals, directly and immediately, to eternal life," he has not found in the expositions of the early ecclesiastical writers."
The celebrated Mr. Locke, when writing on Election, makes the following statement:_" He that will, with moderate attention, read this ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, will see, that what is said of God's exercising of an absolute power, according to the good pleasure of his will, relates only to nations or bodies politic of men incorporated in civil societies, which feel the effects of it only in the prosperity or calamity they meet with in this world, but extends not to their eternal state in another world." From this and some other passages in the writings of Mr. Locke, Mr. Faber concludes, that, Mr. Locke held the doctrine of “ The Election of certain whole nations into the pale of the visible Church Catholic.” Mr. Faber then appeals to the testimony of antiquity, and produces evidence to prove that the doctrine of Election, as held by the Primitive Church, was not in accordance with the scheme held by those whom he denominates - Nationalists,” and he concludes, therefore, that this scheme is untrue.
A large proportion of those who, at the present time, are designated Calvinists do not hold the opinion held by Calvin, on Reprobation ; which is the cognate doctrine of Election. Hence Calvinists are now distinguished into High Calvinists, and Moderate Calvinists. The former are sometimes said to be more calvinistic than Calvin himself. “ This, however,” Mr. Faber affirms, “is a mistake. The great Genevan Reformer, with consistent intrepidity, was, in truth, so far as doctrine is concerned, the highest of the high. He at once maintained, without any restriction or disguise, both the dogma of Reprobation, and the theory of Supralapsarianism.” Mr. Faber furnishes several references to Calvin's Institutes, in proof of this statement.
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Moderate Calvinism is designated, by Mr. Faber, Semicalvinism. Of this system he gives the following doctrinal statement, which is from the pen of Mr. Milner, the late pious church historian :
“ God's Predestination and Election of some souls to glory is so far from narrowing (as is often thought) the way to heaven, that, remove it really, and the way to heaven is shut altogether. All others have just as good an ability for obtaining salvation by Christ, as they would have had, were there no Election of Grace. If the Lord bring some effectually to heuren, that, surely, is not ercluding others.
All men may be saved, if they please. There rants the will only. But such is our natural enmity against God, that though the blood of his Son wus freely spilt for ALL MEN WITHOUT EXCEPTION, not one soul would return to God by true repentance, were it not for his blessed and adorable purpose of Election, which, before the foundation of the world, determined that Some souls should be benefited by his UNIVERSAL REDEMPTION and led to repentance toward God and to faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The gift of his Son is as well a gift to others, as to them: but, by the special influence of the Holy Ghost, the Elect People of God are inclined to receive what the Lord freely gives.
In thus making the work of God the Son UNIVERSAL, and the work of God the Holy Ghost PARTICULAR, I speak with our Church-Reformers, who understood our present subject much better than many, either Calvinists or Arminians, in our days. And if, in speaking with the Church-Reformers, I seem, to some, to speak inconsistently: I am the more confirmed thereby thut I state the doctrine aright, and that they who find fault err themselves in one extreme or other.
One passage, in the Church Catechism, shews their peculiar view of the subject. God the Son, who hath redeemed me and ALL MANKIND. Here is UNIVERSAL REDEMPTION,
God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and ALL THE ELECT PEOPLE OF GOD.
Here is ELECTING GRACE.
For once I have set forth the Scripture doctrine of Election at large. It is intended, by the Father of mercies, to afford strong comfort to his tempted, yet sincere children. Let them take the comfort from it that is intended : and may the Lord bless it to them! Let those, who cannot receive the doctrine, be quiet and patient at present : saying, What I see not, teach thou me. This is more proper, thun to cuvil and dispute."
Mr. Faber most forcibly comments upon the preceding passage, and shows that the doctrine of Election, as held by Calvinists, can only be consistently held in connexion with the doctrine of individual Reprobation ; and that it is utterly inconsistent with the doctrine of “ Universal Redemption.” Moderate Calvivists do not profess to believe that, the non-Elect are Reprobated, and they generally profess to believe the doctrine which Mr. Faber, according to old established usage, designates Universal Redemption, but which is now, and we think more properly, designated “Universal Atonement.” The following are Mr. Faber's remarks on the quotation last given :-
1. Semicalvinism, like perfect Calvinism, plainly rests upon the basis : that Election, as propounded and explained alike by each Scheme, is the undoubted doctrine of Scripture.
Such being the case, on what satisfactory principles Semicalvinism can be maintained, I own myself unable to comprehend.
Genuine Calvinism, viewed as starting from the dogma of its own well
defined Election, is a System preëminently round and compact. Not a stone can be displaced without shaking the whole edifice. Grant to a true Calvinist his premises ; namely, The strict correctness of his definition of the scriptural term ELECTION : and his entire Scheme, so far as I can perceive, will be irrefragrable. All the rest, if we except perhaps the nice distinction of Supralapsarianism or Sublapsarianism, will follow by a sort of logical necessity. But, the moment this rotundity is invaded, the chaotic reign of Doctrinal Inconsistency commences.
2. If some are Elect, the remainder must inevitably be Non-Elect. Hence, to say, that the Non-Elect are only passed over by God; and to deny, that they are formerly reprobated by him : is, at least practically to the sufferers, a distinction without a difference.
Whether the mass are left to inevitable eternal damnation, or whether they are specifically doomed to it, may peradventure enable a disputant to set forth some subtle distinction between two possible operations of the divine mind; the operation, to wit, of Simple Prevision; and the operation of Active Predestination; though it may be doubted, whether even this distinction can be legitimately sustained. For, to leave a person to INEVITABLE damnation, when such leaving is altogether spontaneous, is an act of volition, no less than an act of prevision : and, if once the idea of volition be introduced or admitted, there can be no real difference between spontaneously leaving a person to INEVITABLE damnation, and spontaneously dooming a person to INEVITABLE damnation. Be this, however, as it may, still, let us employ what mere terms we most affect, if the mass of the Non-Elect be either left or doomed to INZVITABLE destruction (and, I believe, neither Calvinist nor Semicalvinist denies the destruction of the Non-Elect to be INEVITABLE,) the result will equally be : that None, save the elect, either will or can be saved ; and consequently, that All the Non-Elect, whether verbally we may choose to describe them as the Pretermitled or the Reprobated, neither will nor cun escape eternal dam
So again : to say, as the Semicalvinists say; that All men may be saved if they please, and that In order to u finally beneficial acceptance of the Gospel there wants the will only: strikes me, I must freely confess, as being little better than a disingenuous paltering with ambigious phraseology.
Doubtless, there wants only the will : but, if the good Spirit of God strives with the Elect exclusively that they may have the will, and if (as all, save Pelagians, acknowledge) no person ever can have the will without the prevenient striving of God's Spirit ; it is mere trifling and absolute mockery to tell the Non-Elect, that All men may be saved if they please.
I myself greatly prefer the open and undisguised language of unadulterated Calvinism.
That System, through the mouth of the uncompromising Reformer of Geneva, fearlessly and distinctly states: that, so far from the Spirit of God striving with the Reprobate to give them a good will, every ordinance designedly works only to their eternal ruin.
Those persons, whom the Lord, in order that they may be organs of his wrath and examples of his severity, has created to contumely of life and to destruction of death : those persons, I say, in order that they may come duly to their end, he, one while, deprives of the faculty of hearing his word; and, another while, even by the very preaching of it, the more blinds and stupefies.
Lo, he directs, indeed, his voice to them ; but only that they may be the more deaf: he kindles light before them ; but only that they may be made the more blind: he propounds doctrine to them; but only that, by it, they may be the more stupefied: he applies the remedy to them ; but only that they may not be healed.
However this may sound in the ears of a Semicalvinist, his own apparently