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“ Christ he is a new creature.”! As, however, this does not materially affect the argument, I shall not further insist upon it. His Lordship, I am persuaded, does not intend universal salvation ; and to the universality of redemption, in the sense above explained, I do not object.
Nay, we are even told, that “ where sin abounded grace did much more abound:” but · how can this be, if sin extends to all, and grace ' is confined to a part only of mankind.'?
This argument would be equally conclusive for universal salvation. For how can
more abound,” if the effects of Adam's sin extend to all, but final salvation is confined to a ' part only of mankind?' It therefore proves too much, which shews that it proves nothing. “ Grace much more abounds” to those who receive, by faith, “ the abundance of the grace," and are in Christ Jesus; but “how shall they escape “ who neglect so great salvation ?" 1 2 Cor. , 17,
? Ref. 190,
PREDESTINATION, ELECTION, AND REPROBATION.
The doctrine of universal redemption, namely, that the benefits of Christ's passion extend to the whole human race; or, that every man is enabled to attain salvation through the merits of Christ; was directly opposed by Calvin, who maintained, that God from all eternity decreed " that certain individuals of the human race should * be saved, and that the rest of mankind should 'perish everlastingly, without the possibility of
attaining salvation. These decrees of election ' and reprobation, suppose all men to be in the , same condition, in consequence of Adam's fall, equally deserving of punishment from God, and equally unable of themselves to avoid it; and 'that God, by his own arbitrary will, selects a
small number of persons, without respect to · foreseen faith or good works, and infallibly ordains to bestow upon them eternal happiness
through the merits of Christ, while the greater · part of mankind are infallibly doomed to suffer 'eternal misery.'i I am not fully competent to say, exactly, what
Calvin maintained or opposed : but, were he now living, he would, I am confident, bring strong objections against this statement of his sentiments; and no less energetic animadversions on him that made it, He would, for instance, object to the clause, ' without the possibility of attaining'salva* tion:' because the language implies, that some, at least, of the non-elect are truly desirous of the salvation revealed in the gospel, and disposed to use earnestness and diligence in all means of attaining to it; exerting themselves to the utmost, using all needful self-denial, and parting with whatever they are required to renounce; and yet after all are excluded and perish everlastingly, through a natural impossibility, unconnected with their own sin and depravity. Whereas Calvin held, (as most modern Calvinists do, and as we think the apostles, and the Lord himself did,) that there is no impossibility, except total unwillingness, constituting a moral inability, which nothing except regeneration, a new creation unto holiness, can remove. “ If any man thirst,” says the Redeemer, “ let him come to me and drink.” We give the same invitation, and so did Calvin, without in the least thinking it inconsistent with “ the secret things which belong to the Lord our God.” 1
Again, Calvin would have said, all men alike are" by nature children of wrath,” and “ vessels “ of wrath fitted for destruction:" but he would not have said, all men are equally deserving of ' punishment from God;' for he would have allowed that some are vastly more criminal than
See B. I. c. ii. $ 6. On Moral and Natural Inability.
others; and that some will “ be beaten with few, “ and others with many stripes,” though none beyond what they justly deserve.
Again, Calvin, if alive, would indignantly object to the expression ‘arbitrary will, as spoken by him concerning the only wise God. Arbitrary will, in the common use of words, means the will of one who is determined, with or without reason, to have his own way, being possessed of power to enforce his decisions. * Sic volo, sic jubeo ; stet
pro ratione voluntas.' This, generally in men, is unreasonable, capricious, tyrannical ; often it stands in direct opposition to wisdom, justice, truth, goodness, or mercy.
Such thoughts of God's sovereignty were far removed from Calvin's views of the subject; and so they are from ours. God does not, indeed, inform us of the reasons and motives of his decrees or dispensations : but he'assures us that he is “righteous in all his
ways, and holy in all his works ;” that “all his “ works are done in wisdom;" that " GOD IS
LOVE.” We cannot indeed see the wisdom, justice, truth, and goodness, of many things, which undeniably he does ; and it is not wonderful that his decrees should be a depth which we cannot fathom : but faith takes it for granted that “righ“ teousness and judgment are the basis of his
throne,” even when “clouds and darkness are “ round about him.” In the mysterious and awful subject on which we are about to enter, we cannot see the reasons which induce the only wise God, the God of holiness and love, to choose one in preference to another, or to new create one rather than another : but let it not be supposed that there
is no reason, or no adequate reason. Now, if it consist with infinite wisdom and perfection, actually to change the heart of one man, and not that of another; how does it alter the case, whether we suppose that, being infinite in knowledge and foreknowledge, he determined to do this from all eternity; or whether he formed the determination only at the moment when he effected it? On the other hand, if, either in the present dispensations of God, or in the decisions of the great day, any thing should be done inconsistent with perfect wisdom, justice, truth, and love ; would the circumstance, that it was not predestinated, make any difference, in the opinion to be formed of it 2-No doubt Calvin would have allowed, as some of us allow, that ‘God selects a number of persons,' (how large we know not, without re
spect to foreseen faith or good works,’ (both faith and good works being the consequences, not the causes, of his choice ;) and infallibly ordains their 'salvation.' But, in speaking of their being in- fallibly ordained to happiness' as the end, he would have been careful to note that they were, in the
way to that happiness, infallibly predestinated to holiness and obedience as the means. And, whether a greater part of mankind shall perish; and the sense in which these are infallibly
doomed' to suffer eternal misery; are subjects which Calvin would explain more fully, and with many important distinctions, before he would admit them to be a part of his creed. I feel, however, a consciousness of presumption, in venturing to speak of what so eminent and able a theologian would, or would not have admitted.