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these questions: Do you think the God who made heaven and earth is a God of mercy and goodness, and inclined to favour and make happy those men who serve him faithfully and to the best of their power, or not?— Can it be at all questioned but that at least nine tenths of these people would answer in the affirmative?
If a man serves God as well as he can, and is exceedingly anxious to love, honour, and obey him; is a good father, husband, master, and friend; is kind to the poor, and leads a sober and orderly life: do you conceive it possible that such a man should be doomed before he was born to suffer eternal damnation?—To this question the inevitable answer must be, that it was impossible God should act so unjustly. .
Is not, in your opinion, such a man as has been just described, a man who sincerely endeavours to fulfil his duty to God and man, more likely to be approved, accepted, and chosen by God, than a man who considers the discharge of the moral and social duties of no vital consequence, and who rests his ideas of being accepted and approved by God solely on the persuasion of his being one of his Elect, though he can produce no warrant, nor assign any just or reasonable cause for the preference he proudly assumes ?—The natural reply to this question would be, We think God to be a righteous judge, and that he will reward every man according to his works.
Do you think it possible that a God, who has planted the love of justice and the necessity of adhering to its laws so strongly in the human heart, that all mankind, in every age and nation, whether barbarous or civilized, agree that the violation of it deserves infamy and punishment; who has in the most decided manner,' by his prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah, declared, that he himself will punish its infraction, and who, in one of his three great injunctions to his creatures, has in the most express terms required of them to do justly—do you think it possible that the same God, who has thus strictly required all men to do justly and to love mercy, should himself so infringe both, as to decree that a multitude of human beings should be doomed to suffer eternal punishment before they were born, and had in no respect offended him?—I believe every rational candid person will be of opinion, the people so met and interrogated, of whatever
religion or persuasion they might be, would unanimously say, such conduct on the part of God was incredible, was impossible. I believe, if they were even infidels as to other points of natural or revealed religion, they would say the same; therefore we may fairly conclude this wicked doctrine of Calvin's to be disclaimed equally by reason and common sense.
But the arguments of the greatest weight and authority against this vile superstition are to be collected from the Scriptures, because their premises establish in the mind conclusions diametrically opposite to those of Calvin. It is allowed by all the writers of his age, that Calvin was a man of a haughty, gloomy, and intolerant temper: of such people Mr. Addison, in one of his Spectators*, observes as follows; "People of gloomy "uncheerful imaginations, or of envious ma"lignant tempers, whatever kind of life they "are engaged in, will discover their natural "tincture of mind in their thoughts, words, "and actions; and the most religious thoughts "often draw something that is particular "from the constitution of the mind in which "they arise: thus when folly or superstition
*Vol. vii. No. 4S9.
"strike in with this natural depravity of tem"per, it is not in the power even of religion "itself to preserve the character of the per"son who is possessed with it from appear"ing highly absurd and ridiculous." Calvin's natural temper thus soured his religious opinions, and made him combine and associate in his mind conclusions quite contrary to Scripture; for that holy record gives no warrant to any man to wrong and insult the merciful name and nature of the Deity, by a supposition which charges God with acting in a cruel and unjust manner towards his creatures. Archbishop Tillotson in his Sermon*, and likewise Dr. Samuel Clarke in his Sermon f, both observe, that there are no such decrees in the Scriptures as absolute reprobation and predestination: on the contrary, they every where declare and express the goodness of God, and his intentions of making his creatures happy, if they love, honour, and obey him. Does not God proclaim this in the character he condescended to give of himself to Moses? " And the Lord "passed by before him, (Moses,) and pro"claimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful "and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant
* Vol. i, p. 231. 12mo. t Vol. i. p. 93. 12mo.
•* in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for "thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgres"sion and sin*,"&c. Further, "I am the "Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judg** ment, and righteousness, in the earth: for "in these things I delight, saith the Lord -f\" Further, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, "slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He "will not always chide, neither will he keep "his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with "us after our sins, nor rewarded us accord"ing to our iniquities. For as the heaven is "high above the earth, so great is his mercy "towards them that fear him. God is love. "He is the God of peace, the father of "mercies, and the God of all comfort and "consolation. The goodness of God endureth "continually. There is none good but one, "that is God." These plain texts incontestibly assert the goodness of God, as the following do his justice: "The Lord is righte"ous, he is a just God, he is excellent in "judgment, and in plenty of justice. The "statutes of the Lord are right, just and true "are his ways, and we are sure that the judg"ment of God is according to truth. The