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moderated Scheme, let him in words disguise it as he may, virtually brings out the very same result.
4. Furthermore, to say, that All are redeemed, but that A certain number only are elected to eternal life while the remainder are so left as INEVITABLY to perish ; or, in other words, to maintain conjointly the two doctrines of Universal Redemption and Particular Election; this, so far as I can perceive, is to contend for the coëxistence of two matters palpably and necessarily incompatible.
The complete Calvinist will readily tell his semicalvinistic brother: that Universal Redemption, associated with Particular Election, is an inconsistent mockery, which, however speciously disguised, really exhibits the Almighty as even systematically and predeterminately acting in vain. For what can be more fruitless and unmeaning, than A Plan of Universal Redemption, deliberately and advisedly, to a vast extent, rendered ineffective, by its association with a coördinate plan of Particular Election and Particular Preterition ? Such a plan were clearly to pull down with one hand, what is built up with the other.
If the premises of the complete Calvinist be admitted, namely, his defini. tion of the scriptural term Election ; premises be it observed, fully admitted, or rather indeed insisted upon, by the Semicalvinist : we must inevitably, as Calvin himself well argued, either receive his whole System as the truth, or renounce Christianity as a fable. But, from these same premises, it is impossible, with any decent shew of argument, to deduce legitimately the mutilated System of Semicalvinism. The very idea of Election to eternal life involves and supposes the idea of Reprobation to eternal death : and, to say that Redemption can be viewed as extending to persons thus eternally and irrevocably in God's counsels reprobated to misery, is to advance a self-contradictory proposition.
5. In making this remark, I speak of Semicalvinism, as defined by Mr. Milner, and as now advocated by many very excellent individuals. Doubtless, there has been a modification of the mitigated Scheme, which seems to have been contrived for the purpose of removing the obvious charge of inconsistency.
According to such a modification, some persons, by special grace and by the sovereign will of God, are particularly elected to eternal life: while the remainder, inasmuch as Redemption is Universal, are neither absolutely elected to salvation, nor absolutely reprobated to damnation. Hence the individuals, who compose the remainder, either may, or may not, be saved : though, if they be saved, it will not be by a formal decree of Absolute Election ; and, if they be damned, it will not be by a formal decree of Absolute Reprobation.
The present Scheme, so far as I can understand it, may be deemed a sort of Theological Hermaphrodite : on one side of which exhibits the features of Calvinism, while the other dimly shews the masked form of Pelagianism.
I venture to say Pelagianism : for, on no other principles, do I see, how it is to extricate the Semicalvinist from his difficulties.
Some individuals, it tells us, are neither elected nor reprobated : and, as such, these indifferential individuals either may, or may not, be saved.
How, except on pelagian principles, can this be ?
By the very terms of the Scheme, the individuals are left to themselves, either to sink or to swim, as best they may.
Such being the case, if, on the one hand, they at all savingly turn to righteousness; then they must so turn by their own unaided powers; and thus, with Pelagius, the need of prevenient Divine Grace will manifestly be dispensed with.
While, on the other hand, if the assistance of that Divine Grace, which
is alone granted to the Elect, be withheld from them; and if it be admitted, as on sound scriptural principles it must be admitted, that they cannot turn without it: then the inconsistency remains in all its original force ; and we immediately perceive the gross contradictoriness of a Scheme, which, to secure the doctrine of Universal Redemption, vainly alleges, that the mass of the Non-elected either may, or may not, be saved.
There are many persons who fanatically suppose that the opinions they have embraced, concerning Election, were made known to them by divine illumination. Those who have held the most contradictory opinions have been equally positive, that they were made known to them by God. Some, otherwise good and great men, have indulged in the weakness of supposing, that their opinions were divinely made known to them; and have consequently dogmatised as though they were absolutely infallible. Mr. Faber justly rebukes the folly of such conduct. It is proper for us to pray for divine influence and teaching, yet we ought not to suppose that, in answer to prayer we have received infallible theoretical knowledge.
We have already seen, Mr. Faber decides that, the opinions of Arminius, concerning Election, were first propounded by Clement of Alexandria, at the latter end of the second century of the Christian era. The Calvinistic theory he also states to have been unknown in the Church of Christ, until it was first professed by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, in the early part of the fifth century. Mr. Faber admits Augustine denied, that, his theory of Election was an inno. vation ; but he also affirms Augustine was unable to prove, by evidence, the antiquity of his theory of Election. Into this question Mr. Faber enters at very great length. He adduces evidence to prove that Augustine was regarded, by his contemporaries, as holding novel opinions on the subject of Election. He also proves that Augustine endeavoured to repel the charge of innovation, by quoting the authority of Irenèus, Cyprian, and others. Mr. Faber then examines the testimonies adduced by Augustine, and concludes that they do not sanction Augustine's theory of Election.
As Calvin adopted the scheme of Election, which Mr. Faber affirms, upon the evidence of the Christian writers of antiquity, was unknown, until it was promulgated, by the Bishop of Hippo, in the fifth century, he, therefore, concludes that the Calvinistic theory of Election does not accord with the doctrines orally delivered by the Apostles, and held by the Primitive Church, nor with the true interpretation of the Scripture doctrine of Election.
Having thus disposed of the before-mentioned several modes of interpreting the Scripture doctrines of Election, Mr. Faber then proceeds to educe, what he conceives to be, the Primitive and only true doctrine of Election. This he expresses in the following terms:
“ The primitive Christians, anterior to the time of Augustine, held, in point of IDEALITY; the doctrine of An Election of certain individuals out of all nations into the pale of the visible church; with the merciful purpose and intention, on God's part, that through faith and holiness they should attain to everlasting life; but (the immediate notion of their
Election respected only an admission into the CHURCH, not an admission into HEAVEN) with a possibility, through their own perverseness, of their not making their calling and Election sure, and of thus failing to obtain the conditionally promised reward.” ***
“ Anterior to the time of Clement, of Alexandria, wlio Aourished about the latter end of the second century, the impelling cause of Election was believed to be The absolute will and sovereign Pleasure of God.”
“ But after the time of Clement, the impelling cause of Election was commonly, though not quite universally, supposed to be God's foreknowledge of man's future fitness.”
To support this exposition of the doctrine of Election, Mr. Faber adduces evidence from the writings of Clement, of Rome; Ignatius, of Antioch; Hermas, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenèus, Clement, of Alexandria, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Jerome.
Mr. Faber next appeals to the testimony of Scripture, and first gives a number of citations from the Old Testament, in which the Israelites are spoken of as the Elect, or chosen people of God. He then maintains that the Election referred to in those passages is obviously not that “of certain individuals, directly and immediately to eternal life; but an Election of various individuals of one family, commencing with Abraham, and finally comprehending the whole house of Jacob, into a particular community, which to the designed purpose of holiness, and thence of happiness, should be separated from the great mass of the unbelieving nations.”
The whole house of Israel were therefore Elected to the possession of certain Ecclesiastical privileges; but the Jews were not, therefore, made certain of eternal life, nor were the non-elected Gentiles excluded from the hope of eternal blessedness.
Mr. Faber is also of opinion, that the Scriptures, which he has quoted, prove the cause of Election of the Jews to have been “ God's sovereign will and pleasure.”
We have now to notice the most important part of the argument,an appeal to the evidence contained in the New Testament, in support of what Mr. Faber describes as the Primitive and Scriptural doctrine of Election. He quotes Rom. ix, 6-26, 30, 31; x. 19-21; xi. 1, 5, 7, and a considerable number of other passages, in which he believes the inspired writers to address whole churches collectively as the Elect of God; and infers, that the New Testament doctrine of Election, is that, of individual Election to the enjoyment of church privileges, designed to lead the Elect to the possession of eternal life; but not absolutely securing to them its possession.
The next enquiry relates to the New Testament doctrine of the CAUSE of Election. On this point Mr. Faber refers to the writings of the Apostles, from which he deduces the conclusion, that Election results from, God's Supreme Will and Uncontroulable Sovereignty.
Mr. Faber next enters upon an examination of the Doctrine of the “ Church of England,” concerning Election, and endeavours to prove that the authors of the Articles of that Church held those opinions on the subject of Election, which he has adopted, and which he believes to be sanctioned by the writings of antiquity, and by the sacred volume.
We have thus given a brief outline of the work before us, and now proceed to offer a few general remarks thereon.
We cannot say, we are convinced, that Mr. Faber has satisfactorily proved, that the Scripture doctrine of Election is that of, Individual Election to Church Privileges; originating in the Absolute Will and Sovereignty of God irrespective of the character of the Elected. Nor are we of opinion that the term Elect, or Chosen, is always used by the sacred writers with only one signification, either as to IDEALITY, or CAUSATION.
As to IDEALITY, we conceive, that the term Elect, has various significations. Abraham was Elected to be the progenitor of a people who were to be admitted to possess peculiar advantages, national and religious. The posterity of Abraham were therefore elected in him to those advantages. Again, certain individuals have been ELECTED or chosen by God, for the accomplishment of certain purposes : thus Saul and David were chosen by God to be kings over Israel, and Cyrus was chosen to rebuild Jerusalem. Jesus Christ also is designated God's Elect, and the apostles of Christ were CHOSEN or Elected to be his witnesses.
We observe also that the Jews ultimately forfeited the peculiar national and ecclesiastical advantages, which they as the Elect people of God had possessed. They were given up by Jehovah into the hands of their enemies, their temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed, and they became scattered among the nations of the earth.
The general application of the word Elect, in the New Testament, is, we conceive, to believers in Jesus Christ, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. All such, are the chosen of God. We regard it as the “ foreknown," or fore-appointed purpose of God, to receive into covenant relation with Himself, all who should become obedient unto the Gospel of Christ.” All such and only such persons, we believe to be intended in those passages of the New Testament, which speak of “ The Elect.” Such are “ Elect according to the fore-knowledge, or fore-ordination, decree, or determination, “of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Mr. Faber regards, all who are admitted into formal union with the Church by baptism, as Elected persons. We confess however, that the evidences adduced by him in support of this sentiment, do not lead us to the opinion which he maintains. Alas, there are many who are formally members of the Church of Christ, whose conduct does not evidence, that they believe in Christ, or that they have derived any advantage from their professed church-membership. Mr. Faber rejects the opinion, that the people and nations to whom the Gospel is preached are Elected; but he believes, that all who are admitted into the Church by baptism, are numbered among those who, in Scripture language, are designated the Elect. He does not believe, that they are thereby made certain of eternal life, but that they are put into possession of advantages designed to bring them to enjoy salvation. They may, nevertheless, live wickedly and perish for ever.
Mr. Faber, in support of his opinion, as to the IDEALITY of Election, refers us to the following passages of Scripture :-Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. i. 3, 26–30; Eph. i. 1-13; Col. i. 1, 2; iii. 12; 1 Thess. i. 1-4. 2 Thess. i. 1; ii. 13, 14; 1 Pet. i. 2; ii. 9, 10; and especially to Eph. i. 1–13.
We have examined these passages, and must say, that, to us, they do not appear to harmonise with the IDEALITY of Election maintained by Mr. Faber. We cannot see that they apply to ALL who have been formally admitted into the professing church of Christ, whether they are living according to the requirements of the Gospel, or in violation of them. The persons addressed in the passages referred to, were acknowledged by the writers, to have believed in Christ - to have been made partakers of Christ Jesus, who of God was made unto them wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption—they had redemption in the blood of Christ, even the forgive. ness of sins—they had trusted in Christ and were sealed with the Holy Spirit—they had put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of God.
There are many members of, the Church of England, and, other churches, who are not such persons, as the apostles, in the passages before referred to, designate The ELECT. The terms employed apply only to those who are truly believers in Jesus Christ. We conclude therefore, that God's Elect are those who have accepted Christ as their Saviour.
We agree with Mr. Faber, that, the Scripture doctrine of Election does not teach, that all the Elect are necessarily made sure of eternal life. Their eternal salvation depends upon, their giving diligence, to make their calling and election sure.
Mr. Faber holds the doctrine of individual Election; by which is meant that God has from the beginning Elected certain persons to the possession of peculiar advantages, irrespective of any good foreseen in them. We conceive, that if we could now enter upon an examination of this opinion, we could prove, that many of the objections so forcibly urged by Mr. Faber, against the Calvinistic scheme, apply also to his doctrine of predetermined individual Election - the individuality resulting exclusively from the Sovereignty of God.
We fully admit, that Election results from God's Sovereignty, but we do not understand the Divine Sovereignty to have been exercised in the way of pre-determining, that certain particular individuals should be made to possess the advantages of Election. If the individuals have been predetermined, the number of the Elect must be absolutely fixed-and cannot be increased beyond the predetermined number, by any effort which may be made to add to the number of God's Elect. Nor can any neglect on the part of the Church of Christ, in not making known the Gospel, lessen the number of those who are by Divine Sovereignty, prede. termined to be of the number of the Elect.
Admitting, as we do, that Divine Election must be resolved into the Absolute Will and Sovereignty of God; nevertheless, we do not conceive that, God in Electing always acts without any regard to the character and conduct of those whom He Elects.