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as relate to those whom“ God from the begin“ ning chose unto salvation, through sanctification “ of the Spirit, and belief of the truth,” were formed on the foresight that he would “ save “ them, and call them with a holy calling, not “ according to their works, but according to his “ own purpose and grace, which was given them “ in Christ before the world began." —It is worthy of the reader's notice, that the sacred writers, speaking on these subjects, continually call our attention to what preceded, or was coeval with “ the foundation of the world.” “ The kingdom “ prepared for you from the foundation of the “ world.” “ He hath chosen us in him before the “ foundation of the world.” “Who verily was “ foreordained before the foundation of the world.” “ The Lamb slain from the foundation of the “ world.” “ Whose names were not written in " the book of life from the foundation of the “ world.”2 “ In hope of eternal life, which God, " that cannot lie, promised before the world be“ gan.”3 This language naturally suits the Calviniştic system ; but it is seldom used, or quoted, by Anticalvinists, except in attempting to prove that it does not countenance our doctrine. The rest of the quotation is very good, and the conclusion of it admirable.

* The effusions of piety and gratitude, and the stings of remorse, would ultimately lead to ex* pressions, which might seem to convey the idea of diyine decrees universally directing and con1 2 Tim. i. 9.

? Matt. xxv. 34. Eph. i. 4. 1 Pet. i. 20. Rev. xiii. 8. xvii. 8. ·

3 Tit. i. 2.

“trolling human conduct and human affairs. The ‘finite derivative agency of man would be lost in

the infinite self-existing power of God; and 'events, foreseen by God, as resulting from the

free exercise of faculties conferred by himself, would be considered as commanded and appointed by him.'?

Had no expressions of this kind been found in the language of the inspired writers, the method here taken of accounting for them as used by pious persons might be admissible: and it certainly is no discredit to them, that they naturally spring from humble convictions of deserving punishment, or are the effusions of piety and

gratitude.' But it cannot be admitted, that they who wrote by immediate inspiration expressed their internal feelings in such language as did not accurately state the truth which they were commissioned to make known to mankind. * Events foreseen by God, as resulting from the 'free exercise of powers conferred by himself:' this at least keeps out of sight the change made in human nature by the fall, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed. Calvinists are far from holding, that God commanded all those actions of men which are done in accomplishing his appointments. .

* There is a great difference between the not 'being able to comprehend the whole or any ' particular part of the divine economy, and the ascribing to the Deity a mode of acting incon

.. . Ref. 249. VOL. VIII.

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sistent with his attributes. Thus I do not at'tempt to explain, or pretend to understand, how the free agency of man is reconcilable with the

prescience of God. I cannot comprehend how * those future contingencies, which depend upon

the determination of the human will, should be 'so certainly and infallibly foreseen, as to be the

objects of the sure word of prophecy: still, how‘ever, I believe both in the prescience of God and free agency of man, for the reasons already stated ; and I see in them no contradiction to each other, or to any acknowledged truth. Here ' is a just exercise of my faith, upon a subject 'which exceeds the limits of my understanding; it is above, but not contrary to, reason."

No man' ascribes to the Deity a mode of acting,' which he himself thinks to be 'inconsistent with the divine attributes.' Here indeed we all are liable to mistake. One man ascribes to God “a mode of acting,' which another man supposes to be inconsistent with his attributes.' But, whatever we may think on any subject, reverence of the infinite Majesty of heaven best becomes us. -Contingencies seems here an ambiguous and improper term. Are contingent events uncertain ? If so, they cannot be certainly and infallibly foreseen. An uncertain event certainly foreseen is a palpable contradiction, which cannot shelter itself behind the veil of human ignorance. On the other hand, if contingencies, or contingent events, be foreseen as certain ; how are the difficulties objected against God's predestination obviated or diminished? The contradiction between certain

Ref. 249, 250.

foreknowledge and free agency, is as great as-between a decree and free agency.-The rest of the passage is very just; but how it consists with what follows, the reader must determine.

* But that God should of his own good pleasure, without any respect to their conduct, irreversibly predestinate one part of mankind to eternal hap*piness, and the other part to everlasting misery, ‘is a doctrine which I consider so inconsistent

with the attributes of infinite justice and infinite mercy, that I cannot bring myself to believe it. * It is not merely that I am unable to reconcile these two things, or to understand how they are consistent with each other; but it appears to me a palpable contradiction to say, that a just and merciful God created some men for the purpose of being eternally miserable, without giving "them the capacity of avoiding that misery. And 'to add, as the Calvinists do, that God acted thus 'to promote his own glory, is so dreadful an as

sertion, that I should not have conceived it pos‘sible to be made by persons calling themselves Christians.'!

After what has been argued and stated on the preceding part of this chapter, it is not needful to mark particularly the misapprehensions of the Calvinistic doctrine, which this passage contains. God indeed irreversibly predestinates one part of 'mankind to eternal happiness :' and, knowing that they would neither deserve it, nor be fit for it, but quite the contrary; nay that, if left to themselves, they would refuse the proffered bles

Ref. 250.

"sistent with his attributes. Thus I do not at"tempt to explain, or pretend to understand, how

the free agency of man is reconcilable with the prescience of God. I cannot comprehend how * those future contingencies, which depend upon the determination of the human will, should be so certainly and infallibly foreseen, as to be the objects of the sure word of prophecy: still, how'ever, I believe both in the prescience of God and free agency of man, for the reasons already stated; and I see in them no contradiction to each other, or to any acknowledged truth. Here is a just exercise of my faith, upon a subject which exceeds the limits of my understanding; it is above, but not contrary to, reason." No man ‘ ascribes to the Deity a mode of acting,' which he himself thinks to be 'inconsistent with the divine attributes. Here indeed we all are liable to mistake. One man ascribes to God

a mode of acting,' which another man supposes to be inconsistent with his attributes.' But, whatever we may think on any subject, reverence of the infinite Majesty of heaven best becomes us. -Contingencies seems here an ambiguous and improper term. Are contingent events uncertain ? If so, they cannot be certainly and infallibly foreseen. An uncertain event certainly foreseen is a palpable contradiction, which cannot shelter itself behind the veil of human ignorance. On the other hand, if contingencies, or contingent events, be foreseen as certain ; how are the difficulties objected against God's predestination obviated or diminished? The contradiction between certain

Ref. 249, 250.

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