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the holy profession which he had made before angels and men? When did the Orthodox professor improve the earliest opportunity to visit the dissenter from the faith, mildly to admonish the rashness of his conduct, notify him of an offence which would be joyfully forgiven on seeing a reformation, or warn him of an attack, which he might expect from envy, ambushed in secret slander? We interrogate in vain. The night is speechless, and the morning blushes to acknowledge the truth. Religion is the motto; calumny, the essay. If reformation take place, defamation is certain to follow. Ah me! and are these the features of the renowned offspring of Paradise regained ? Does this reflect the light of him, whose life was a continued demonstration of the purest benevolence, and his kingdom not of this world? The laborers have neglected the vineyard for the cultivation of stony places, or sowed tares instead of wheat, or the good ground has become sterile and unfruitful! Charity, the plant of celestial growth, has not received proper attention. Briars and thorns have been watered and sunned, while the rose of Sharon was injured with a pruning-hook. It has been shaded in a forest of brambles ! I adjure you, O Christians! by the sacred ensign of our profession, and the echo of groans from Calvary, and the memory of all which is dear and glorious in the history of the risen Sa-. viour, that you henceforward add to your other christian graces, charity. Then shall the neglected exile return to her native residence, the hearts of Christians, and smile with mild radiance in every section of the christian church.
A fair and definite Statement of the different Views now enter
tained by Christians, in relation to the great plan of Redemption, through a crucified Saviour : with the relation these Doctrines have to each other, and to Christianity in general.
It may not be improper to offer a few preparatory remarks, before we formally engage in this article. We do not propose to exhibit the several systems of divinity, now taught in Christendom, including the history of their risę
and progress, as the limits of our work would not admit it, with any propriety, though but mere sketches were attempted. Nor does the writer conceive it necessary for the reader to be bewildered and perplexed with all the unscriptural vagaries of restless system-makers, the hair-breadth distinctions of sectarian leaders, and the numerous all-essential articles of Faith, with which our holy religion has been dishonored, in order to judge of the different views of Redemption through Jesus Christ. To enter upon an examination of the several particulars.interwoven in many cob-web systems of religion, would be an unreasonable and unjust tax on the time and patience of the christian reader.
Much more has been said and written, upon such subjects, which are, in reality, unessential, and of little or no consequence in the profession of religion, whether true or false, than upon the main points in the Gospel of the Son of God. The world has been agitated and convulsed about 6 trifles light as air,” while the visionary schemes of self-inspired teachers, have been caught and embraced with an avidity and enthusiasm, hardly admissible in the profession of an immediate and positive revelation from heaven. The light of those, who were but comparatively glow-worms, has excited as much gaze and admiration, as though it was a comet flying through the midst of heaven.
- The glorious plan of Redemption,” as it is usually called, is the grand point to which an attention should be directed, in forming an opinion of a religious system. In many things, as we hope hereafter to show, christians are generally agreed; and unwilling as many are to declare their views, in relation to the mediation of the Son of God, it is almost the only thing, which causes an essential difference, among the various denominations of christian professors. A moment's critical attention to this point, will evince the propriety of restricting our inquiries to the schemes of Redemption.
Men, as philosophers, without any tincture of the Christian revelation, would not be likely to form widely different opinions, respecting the character, desert and future destiny of the human family. Doubtless they would be unable to imagine a sufficient remedy for the evil and wickedness existing in the world; nor would they entertain any rational
hope, that the most virtuous would be entirely free from the vices, with which the best of men are chargeable : or, the openly vicious be reclaimed, from the exercise of their sinful passions. Though a thousand queries might arise in the mind, why we were made imperfect as we are-why some possess from their mother's arms, a disposition much better than others—why many are made wretched by seemingly unavoidable misfortunes, such as sickness, losses, accidents, famine, wars, pestilence, &c.—why infants should be born into the world, to draw every breath in agony till death kindly liberates them from their unpropitious fortune-why a benevolent Creator might not have made us, susceptible of pleasure without pain, and removed us from earth, at his pleasure, without the inexpressibly dreadful pangs of death, and have been unable to assign a satisfactory reason in their own understanding, still, it would by no means follow, as a consequence, that they would entertain as different views of the characters and destination of the human family, as we now do under the profession of Christianity. What is the conclusion ? Every one must allow it is the following: That the opinion or belief of men, in relation to the mediation of the Lord Jesus, is immediately connected with their sentiments, respecting the moral character, desert and final destination of man. Among christians, that belief is the pivot, on which all the dispensations of Jehovah turn. Hence, the necessity of using the utmost caution, in giving a statement of the different views of our fellow Christians, on this important and highly interesting doctrine, lest we do them much injustice. Corresponding with the importance of the doctrine, is the interest we feel in its promulgation, and the aversion with which we see it misrepresented; and with the same solicitude that we should examine the works of others, who should propose the task we have now undertaken, we hope to be governed in our present labors. A full conviction, that a definite and clear statement of this subject, is not easily found, has been a cause for attempting it in this publication. It will not be expected that this number will embrace but a part of the general object we have in view; the subject to be continued in future. If any mistake should be discovered, we hope it will be attributed to inadvertency, rather than design.
THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION AND REPROBATION.
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There is a portion of the christian world, respectable for tal-, ents, literature, piety and numbers, in whose religious Creed, the following doctrine holds a most conspicuous place. First. All men, without exception, having fallen in Adam, and by the justice of God being condemned to suffer the pains of hell forever; God, of his mere good will and pleasure, and according to an immutable purpose, without the least forseight of faith and good works, or any conditions whatever on the part of the creature, did, before the foundation of the world, elect and ordain a certain number of the fallen family, to eternal glory, through a Mediator; and the rest he left in the wretched and helpless condition in which they were born, and ordained them to endless dishonor, wrath and woe.
Secondly. Pursuant to this immutable purpose and decree, Jehovah sent his Son into the world, to expiate for the sins of the elect, and by suffering the full desert of their crimes, which was endless misery, to redeem them from the infinite curse of his own wrath. The death of Jesus was of infinite value, and every way adequate to the redemption of the whole world; but it was the pleasure and good will of God, to save, or efficaceously redeem, a few, viz. his elect, and have the many miserable eternally.
Thirdly. That man in a state of nature, is totally depraved, inheriting a descending corruption from Adam, which. extends to the whole soul, and renders every act, previous to regeneration, infinitely criminal and hateful to God. That those whom he has elected to be saints, are as hell-deserving and as righteously exposed to his displeasure, both in this, and the world to come, as the rest of mankind, until renewed by the sovereign and irresistible grace of God.
Fourthly. Since by an eternal and immutable counsel, God hath once for all, determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction, totally irrespective of all human merit, he effectually calls and finally saves all whom he was pleased to choose in Christ; but that the gate of life is closed by an incomprehensible judgment, against all the non-elect. And when
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ministers make a general invitation for sinners to come to Christ, it is not supposable that any can obey it, till they are irresistably moved to do it, by the effectual grace of Almighty God. And the reprobates are not left to perish, because their opposition to the general call is insurmountable or invincible ; but because God does not mean to save them. Augustine's quotation from Ambrose on Predestination is full to the point-"Whom Christ has mercy on, him he calls. Those who were indevout he could, if he would have made devout. But God calls whom he pleases and makes whom he will religious."
Fifthly. The decree of God to save whom he will, and make endlessly miserable whom he will, admitting of no consideration of works, he effectually calls and regenerates his elect, including every individual of those redeemed by the Lord Jesus, whom he is as certain to make holy and happy, as he is to remaịn unchangeable in his purpose and decrees. When it is stated, that by gratuitous election, a certain number are to be saved, the truth is but half displayed, till we come to particular individuals, to whom God not only offers salvation, but assigns it in such a manner, that the certainty of the effect is liable to no suspense or doubt. The elect, therefore, are as certain to persevere and be saved, as God is of not being frustrated in his eternal and immutable counsel. The non-elect are doomed, by an equally unalterable decree, to suffer the fury of infinite, implicable wrath, in the flames of hell forever. The only reason which God assigns, or which could be given for the election of a part to everlasting life through a Redeemer, and the rejection of the rest is, because he willed to do it. The will or pleasure of God, being the highest, and indeed the only rule of his justice ; so that the election of some, and the reprobation of others, must be considered just, for this very reason, because God wills it. To seek for any other reason, would be to inquire for the cause of the divine will, which can never be found. It is furthermore evident, that the decrees of God will illustrate the highest glory and honor of God; and as the endless misery of reprobates, is a part of the plan of predestination, their endless damnation is as necessary to complete the divine purpose, and effect