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of God, as those promises are clearly and unequivocally expressed and set forth in Scripture, is a mère delusion of the brain, and utterly inconsistent with that humility which the Christian religion every where inculcates and requires of each human being to possess. This imaginary and unwarrantable idea of its election often puffs up the human mind to think itself something, when it is nothing; to think itself the favourite of heaven, when it is probably devoid of that humility and holiness of character, which are essential and indispensable requisites to that favour. But since this spurious idea of election, this idea of election of a man's own making, is neither countenanced or supported by reason or Scripture, however any man may be infatuated by it during life, he will consider it of no sort of value either on his death-bed, or at the day of judgment; for at those awful periods he will find, that the consciousness of his having administered a cup of cold water in charity to his fellowcreature will avail him much more than that proud distinction he has arrogantly assumed to himself of being a predestinated Elect of God: and he will miserably deceive himself if he trusts to any predestinated
election, or to any other justification than faith in the-mercy of his Redeemer; a faith supported and adorned by such a course of virtuous and pious actions, as the Articles of our Church declare, "shew and demon"strate its genuineness, as a tree is known "by its fruit." As men therefore value the eternal welfare of their souls, they should be exceedingly careful how they presume to consider themselves as the Elect of God, or as entitled to his preference and favour in any other way than from a compliance with the will and commandments of God, as both these are determined and prescribed to them in such plain and incontrovertible texts of Scripture, as are beyond all dispute addressed to the whole human race. And we ought not to permit our minds to be overruled or controlled from this decision by such texts in. St. Paul's Epistles as are of doubtful interpretation; such as were by no means universally addressed to the whole species, but were meant to denote the election and rejection not of individuals, but of nations and kingdoms, or else were of local and partial application. Our Saviour expressly tells us, that the whole of our duty is contained in these two commandments; "Thou
"shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy "heart, and with all thy soul, and with all "thy mind. This is the first and great com"mandment. And the second is like unto it; "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. "On these two commandments hang (or de"pend) all the law and the prophets." Now to confuse and confound these two great commandments with various obscure texts in the Epistles, and to consider these latter as of equal force, reference, and importance with the former, betrays a weak mind, and the greatest want of judgment; for, as Dr. Clarke observes in his Sermon on the Justice of God, "obscure passages in Scripture are al*' ways to be interpreted by the plain ones, "and not the plain ones made doubtful by w those that are obscure."
It is clear, from the preceding quotations which have been made from Scripture, that the promises of God's favour, of his peace, and of his blessing, are made to the whole species; to all those of the human race who love, honour, and obey him; and, excepting in particular instances, to answer and accomplish his own views and purposes; such as in the cases of Pharaoh, Cyrus, and some others, and which do not apply to our pre
sent argument, which merely relates to God's general conduct to the species. God is no respecter of persons; but, as St. Peter observes, “in every nation, he that feareth “ God, and worketh righteousness, is ac“ cepted with him.” And likewise we are thus informed in the Book of Job; “ Hear “ my words, 0 ye wise men; and give ear “ unto me, ye that have knowledge. God " accepteth not the persons of princes, “ nor regardeth the rich more than the poor, “ for they are all the work of his hands." Further in Isaiah; “ Let the wicked forsake “ his way, and the unrighteous man his 6 thoughts, and let him return unto the “ Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; “ and to our God, for he will abundantly “ pardon.” And God Almighty thus addresses the human race by his prophet Ezekiel; “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die. 6. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the “ father, neither shall the father bear the ini“ quity of the son: the righteousness of the “ righteous shall be upon him, and the wick“ edness of the wicked shall be upon him. “ But if the wicked will turn from all his sins " that he hath committed, and keep all my “ statutes, and do that which is lawful and
"right, he shall surely live, he shall not die: "because he considereth, and turneth away "from all his transgressions that he hath "committed, he shall surely live, he shall not "die." Notwithstanding all these plain and strong texts in Scripture, which oppose and declare so forcibly against the doctrine of unconditional and unchangeable decrees, against election and predestination, Calvin expressly asserts, that the fate of every man before his creation is determined and predestinated by God; by which assertion he entirely destroys the free agency of human beings, though every man, by an appeal to his own feelings, must be sensible he possesses that free agency. All legislators in the composition of their laws consider men as free agents, and as capable of keeping or violating those laws; and I fancy it would little avail a culprit in any court of justice to plead predestination or inevitable necessity in excuse for his crime: and, if Calvin's property had been stolen, he himself would have objected to such plea in common with other persons. That men possess the power of free agency, is proved at all times and ages by their conduct: for example, it suited the interest of a great many men in the time