Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

"ing punishment."l—I hope that we may amicably argue the point with those who differ from us in opinion, without being numbered among their 'adversaries'

''No medium,' says Dr. Davenant, himself a 'distinguished Calvinist, and of those who at'tended the Synod of .Dort, 'can be assigned, 'either on God's part, betwixt the decrees of pre'destinating some men, and not predestinating 'some others; or on men's part, betwixt men ab'solutely predestinated to the attainment of life 'eternal, and absolutely pretermitted, and left 'infallibly to fail of the obtainment of eternal life, 'which we call absolute reprobation. As for ex'ample, let us suppose the number of mankind to 'be two millions of men; if out of these one 'million only, by the decree of election, be infal'libly appointed to eternal life, and these certainly 'and absolutely distinguished from others, not 'only as to their number, but their persons also; 'who can deny, but that one million also, and 'those certain as to their persons, are as absolutely 'comprised under the decree of non-election or 'reprobation, as the others were under the decree * of election or predestination?' 'So that,' says 'Dr. Whitby, ' there is no possibility of asserting 'one of these decrees, without owning the other 'also; and so whatsoever argument holds good 'against an absolute decree of reprobation, must 'certainly destroy the opposite decree of absolute 'election."2

Dr. Davenant, a distinguished Calvinist, and 'Matt. xxv. 46. • Ref. 255, 256.

VOL. VIII. N

Dr. Whitby as distinguished an Anticalvinist, are here introduced as agreeing in the same conclusion: yet, after all, some men are so inconsistent, as to believe election and disbelieve ' the absolute 'decree of reprobation.' I however have no other objection to either of these statements, except what respects the language. It has been shewn that the decree of election is absolute, and implies an express engagement of God to exert omnipotence in carrying it into effect, by regenerating or new creating unto holiness; by bringing to repentance, faith, love and obedience; by upholding and protecting, and rendering finally victorious; and by bringing to heavenly glory all those whom he has elected. "Whom he did foreknow, he "also did predestinate to be conformed to the "image of his Son; that he might be the first "born among many brethren. Moreover, whom "he did predestinate, them he also called; and "whom he called, them he also justified; and "whom he justified, them he also glorified." l But we find no where in scripture so particular an account given concerning the non-elect. God determined to leave them unregenerate; that is, not to give them what they had no right to. He would do them no wrong, but he would not exert omnipotent power in new creating them to holiness. Thus he determined to leave them to "walk "in their own ways, and to be filled with their "own devices." It was a negative decree; a determination not effectually to interpose; not an absolute decree of reprobation. Granting a pardon to some, out of a company of condemned

1 Rom. viii. 29, 30. See also Art. xvii.

malefactors, is a positive act; but leaving the rest to suffer the sentence of the law is prceterition, and nothing more; whether any previous determination had been made on the subject, or not. Both these writers, however, lose sight of this circumstance, that these two millions (or two millions of millions, if they choose,) of men were viewed, in the divine prescience, " as children of wrath," and " vessels of wrath fitted for destruction;" and the decree was, effectually to interpose to rescue some of them from this awful condition, in which all might most justly have been left; and to leave the rest to suffer the just punishment due to their rebellions. Now, if this will be just when carried into effect at the day of judgment, why should it not be just in the great Governor of the universe previously to decree it? Whatever argument holds good against the non-election of some, holds good also against the election of others. But no scriptural argument holds good against either of them, when properly stated and explained.

'If God of his own good pleasure elected cer', tain persons exclusively to be eternally happy, by 'furnishing them, through his especial grace, with 'his own appointed means of faith in the death of 'Christ; it is implied that those means are denied 'to the rest of the human race, who are passed * over and left to their own unassisted powers. '•This denial or praeterition is in fact reprobation; 'for both Calvinists and ourselves believe, that '' man by his own natural strength and good 'works cannot turn to faith,' the only appointed 'mean of salvation; and that ' the fault and cor

'ruption of every man that is naturally engendered 'of Adam deserveth God's wrath and damnation,' 'which he is of himself unable to avert; and, con'sequently, in the words of the 4th Lambeth 'Article, ' Those who are not predestinated to 'salvation shall be necessarily or inevitably 'damned for their sins.' This was unquestionably 'the doctrine of former Calvinists, who were fully 'sensible that election and reprobation are inse'parably connected. If therefore reprobation be 'unfounded, which some modern Calvinists allow, 'it follows, upon their own principles, that elec'tion also is unfounded, since the latter cannot 'exist without the former.'l

The expression, ' furnishing them, through his 'special grace, with the appointed means of faith,' by no means conveys our sentiment. It is a special grace, or favour, to be furnished with the means of believing; which God grants to the inhabitants of this favoured island, but not to those of China or Japan. And, in fact, the divine conduct might as justly be objected to in this respect as in the other. But' means of faith' do not always bring men to believe in Christ to salvation; indeed never, without the regenerating grace of his holy Spirit: and this grace God is pleased, for wise and holy purposes, which he has not seen good to reveal, to give to some and not to others. This indeed is implied in what is stated to be the common belief both of Calvinists and their opponents. It follows from the concessions of those who consider the doctrine of non-election unfounded, that they cannot consistently hold the doctrine of election: but their concessions prove nothing as to the doctrine itself, whether it be scriptural or not.

1 Ref. 256,257.

* It being contended that reprobation is utt'founded, because it is obviously inconsistent with 'the mercy and goodness of God, it may be

• asked, Whether it be not also inconsistent with 'the mercy and goodness of God, to create men

* who he saw would be hereafter miserable? I 'answer, Certainly not, and for this plain reason; 'because, according to the system which we main

* tain, God has enabled every man born into the 'world to work out his own salvation. Whoever 'therefore is finally unhappy, is unhappy through 'his own fault; and the mercy of God is fully 'vindicated by his giving to every individual

• of the human race the means of happiness."'

God created the angels who fell, and became most wicked and miserable. Did he not foresee this when he created them? But was this ' incon'sistent with his goodness and mercy,' or with his justice? 'the angels who sinned not are called "the elect angels :"2 let fallen angels then be called the non-elect or reprobate. Now, after their fall, did God give to 'every individual,' or to any, of them ' the means of happiness?' "He "spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them "down to hell, and delivered them into chains of "darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."3 But will any man plead their cause, or impeach the divine perfections on their accoimt? Had he not spared man when he sinned, or any of the fallen

* Kef. 257. 2 1 Tim. v. 21. '2 Pet. ii. 4. Jude 6.

« AnteriorContinuar »