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Scripture? If it is unscriptural, it ought to be rejected, whatever we may think of it in this respect; if scriptural, evidently scriptural, our thoughts, which may be erroneous, (indeed in that case must be erroneous, nay presumptuous,) should be repressed and silenced.—' The predes'tination of Calvinists, is in my judgment, of the 'latter description.' Is there no danger, in such decisions, of leaning to our own understanding?" —There is much important truth in the rest of the quotation.
'The reconciling the prescience of God with 'the free will of man, Mr. Locke, after much 'thought on the subject, freely confessed he could 'not do, though he acknowledged both. And what 'Mr. Locke could not do, in reasoning upon sub'jects of a metaphysical nature, I am apt to think 'few men, if any, can hope to perform.'l
'Surely there is no want of candour in saying, 'that those who maintain the Calvinistic doctrine 'of election must also admit that of reprobation, 'if it can be proved that reprobation necessarily 'follows from election; and if our adversaries 'confess that the doctrine of reprobation is un'founded, it is strictly logical to shew, that the 'doctrine of election is also unfounded, by proving * that election cannot subsist without reproba'tion: unless it could be shewn, that those who 'are not predestinated to life eternal may be an'nihilated, of which there is no hint in scripture.'2
♦Suppose, however the scripture clearly teaches
1 Lord Lyttlelon's Letter to Mr. West, Ref. 252,253, note. 1 Ref. 254.
the one, and says little or nothing of the other; then what avails this ' strictly logical' reasoning? —It has been stated that the word reprobation is not found in scripture, nor any original word answering to it; and that reprobate and reprobates are never used with relation to this subject. The opposite to elect and election ought not therefore to be called reprobation; but some other word should be employed to convey the idea. Some have used the term preterition, which is more exactly expressive of our meaning; but neither is this scriptural. The truth is, the scriptures say a great deal about the elect, and election, and predestination to life; but are nearly silent, as to those who arc not " chosen unto salvation." Of this the same general reason may be assigned, as for the circumstance that we are not informed by the sacred writers concerning the bodies, which the wicked will resume at " the resurrection both "of the just and of the unjust," or what their appearance will be; while we are expressly assured that the bodies of the righteous shall be spiritual, glorious, and like unto the glorified body of the Lord Jesus himself.l Information concerning the former could only gratify our curiosity, or perhaps excite our horror; that which concerns the latter is intimately connected with our hope and encouragement in life and death. So the scriptural doctrine concerning election is, as Calvinists think, peculiarly suited to produce humility, gratitude, patience, meekness; and to inspire confidence in God, amidst conflicts, temptations, and afflictions: whereas further information concern1 1 Cor. xv. 42-55. Phil. iii. 21.
ing those who are not elected would answer no salutary purpose. And, if Calvinists had been as reserved in speaking on the awful subject as the sacred writers are; only dropping a few occasional intimations in respect of it; probably it would have abated the odium, which, by one means or other, has been attached to their sentiments. This indeed evidently appears, by the earnestness which their opponents manifest to bring them in guilty of reprobation, as well as election; even though many of them avow that they do not believe it.— It must, however, be allowed that, if we believe some, not all, to be elected to eternal life, we cannot consistently do otherwise than believe that others are passed over, and not thus elected. Yet I have known men whose sincerity and piety were unquestionable, who could not see this consequence. They allowed that some are elect and will certainly be saved, but that many others besides these will eventually be saved. The consistency of such a creed is another matter: but they thus held election, and did not hold reprobation, or any thing of that nature: and certainly they are not answerable for the opinions of those who do.1
1 It is certainly inconsistent for those, who steadily maintain the doctrine of personal gratuitous election to eternal life, to deny that they who are not elect 'are left to themselves to • 'perish.' Dr. John Edwards, however, whom no man will deny to have been eminently able and learned; and who maintains both personal election and reprobation, in stronger terms than most modern Calvinists; yet supposes a third sort of persons, who are neither elect nor reprobate, but placed in a state of probation peculiar to themselves. I consider this as a most astonishing instance, of so able a reasoner and divine, and so strong a Calvinist, maintaining a sentiment, at once unscriptural on his own principles, and unphilosophical : and it shews, in a striking manner, how inconsistent the most rational, learned, argumentative, and pious persons are, in some special instances.—Milton also seems to have held the same tenet:
But, supposing that modern students of the scripture are convinced, that the doctrine of personal election to eternal life is not only found in the sacred oracles, but is expressly and particularly insisted on in many parts of them; and that the non-elect are so seldom and so cursorily spoken of, that we want a scriptural name for them: on the other hand, that, reading the works of Calvin or other eminent persons of the same school, they are convinced that these learned men have stated things in a different proportion than is observed in the word of God; and have said a great deal more concerning reprobation, and the reprobate, or nonelect (" the rest," l) than the scripture does: may not the modern students of scripture adhere to the apostolical plan, though they deviate from that of Calvin and Beza, and from many even of our own reformers and eminent writers? must they, whether they will or not, subscribe Calvin's whole creed, because they learn from the word of God, many of his doctrines ?—Nullins addictus jurare in verba magistri, I must decline doing this, in respect of any uninspired man who ever lived, unless I am convinced that his whole creed is scriptural. It may certainly be proved, that election implies non-election; and those who consider the latter as unfounded do not very consistently hold the former. But it is not any man, or number of men, thinking a doctrine unfounded, that deprives of its foundation, either the doctrine itself, or any of those tenets that are connected with it. The foundation of the doctrine of election is in the holy scriptures, not in the sentiments of men; and this " foundation of God standeth sure," however "the faith" of some " may be overthrown."—I am pleased to find his Lordship testify decidedly, that there is no hint in scripture about the wicked being annihilated: indeed there is the most decisive testimony to the contrary. "Their worm "dieth not.'2 "These shall go away into everlast1 'Oi Xmto), Rom. xi. 7. 2 Mark ix. 43—49.
'Some I have chosen of peculiar grace
■ The rest shall hear my call, and oft be warned
'TV incensed Deity, while offer'd grace
» To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
'Though but endeavoured with sincere intent,
'Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
'And I will place within them as a guide
'My umpire conscience ; whom if they will hear,
'Light after light well used they shall attain,
'And to the end persisting safe arrive.
'This my long-sufferance, and my day of grace,
'They who neglect and scorn shall never taste;
'But hard be hardened) blind be blinded more,
'That they may stumble on, and deeper fall:
'And none but such from mercy I exclude.
Paradise Lett, Book HI. 182.
It is evident that the poet had in view three, and not merely two, descriptions of men, 'the chosen of peculiar grace elect 'above the rest;' who would certainly be saved: 'the rest,' many of whom would be saved; and ' those who neglect and 'scorn the day of grace.'—I speak nothing of either the consistency or the soundness of his views; I merely adduce him as an instance of a deeply reflecting man who held as a doctrine, election of grace, and yet supposed that others besides the elect would be saved.