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'It was possible, therefore, for every one of the 'Jews to abandon his wickedness, and be con'verted and saved.''
Nothing was wanting but the disposition before spoken of.
'The rejection therefore of the gospel, by the 'Jews, was their own voluntary act, and not the 'consequence of any decree of God.'2
It was certainly their own voluntary act; and so was the act of Judas in betraying Christ. None of them did wickedly as compelled by a divine decree, but as instigated by their own sinful passions; nor as induced by a divine decree, of which they neither knew nor thought any thing: but this does not prove that God did not decree to "give them up to their own heart's lusts," and "to send them a strong delusion," as a punishment for their preceding crimes, of which he foresaw they would be guilty. The same answer suffices for several other instances adduced. It is that want of disposition, before acknowledged by his Lordship, (that is, a moral inability, and not a want of physical power,) which renders the conr version of sinners impossible, except by special grace " working in them to will and to do, of his "good pleasure."—Instead of eager disputation, therefore, it behoves us to pray for ourselves, and for each other, in the words of Solomon, that the Lord may " incline our hearts unto him, to walk "in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, "and his statutes, and his judgments."3
'Faith, being the condition upon which sal1 Ref. 192. 'Ibid. * 1 Kings viii. 58.
* vation was offered both to Jews and gentiles, 'and it being inconceivable that a just and mer'ciful God would propose any but a practicable 'condition, it follows, that all to whom the gospel 'has been made known since its first promulga'tion, have had it in their power to obtain eternal 'life through the precious blood of Christ. Those 'who deny this conclusion must maintain that 'God offered salvation to men upon a condition 'which it was impossible for them to perform; 'and that he inflicts punishment for the violation 'of a command which they were absolutely unable 'to obey. Would not this be to attribute to God 'a species of mockery and injustice, which would 'be severely reprobated in the conduct of one 'man towards another ?'l
Repentance, faith, and obedience, are the gifts of God, and " the fruits of the Spirit :"2 because, however active we may be in what is good, (and very active, and indefatigably diligent we ought to be m every good work,) " it is God that worketh "in us to will and to do, of his good pleasure." It is in respect of the same kind of inability, that God "cannot deny himself;" not for want of power, but from his infinite perfection in holiness. Let a man be found earnestly desirous of complying with the requirements of thc.gospel; diligently using every appointed means; submitting to every needful privation and self-denial; exceedingly afraid of coming short of salvation from sin, and all its consequences; who yet is excluded through some impossibility, independent of his own disposition and conduct, and which nothing he might 'Ref. 193, 194. 'Book I. c. ii. § 6. On Natural and Moral Inability.
do, however willing or earnest, could at all remove, and then the objection would be valid. But adduce a proud, ambitious, covetous, sensual, ungodly man, who has nothing to prevent his repentance, faith, and salvation, except his own wicked heart and bad habits, with the temptations of the devil, and the allurements of worldly objects; yet, who is totally averse to the humbling holy salvation of the gospel, in itself; and wholly disinclined to use the appointed means of grace, with diligence, earnestness, and perseverance; who cleaves to his idols, and refuses to forsake them; who shrinks from self-denial; and whose enmity of heart against God is irritated by the very denunciations and requirements of his word, and the declarations of his justice and holiness; in short, who " loves darkness rather than light, because "his deeds are evil:" and then let it be inquired, whether God is bound in justice to give that efficacious grace to this rebel, without which he must continue a proud rebel and enemy for ever. This is the statement, whether well-founded or not, which we make of the subject: and we conclude, that we ought " to speak evil of no man, to "be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meek"ness unto all men—for we ourselves were some"time disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts "and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, "and hating one another;" and should have lived, died, and perished most justly, as " vessels of "wrath fitted for destruction," " but that, after "the loving kindness of God our Saviour toward "man appeared, not by works of righteousness "which we had done, but according to his mercy "he saved us."1—Let it also be understood, that we do not suppose the influence, or special grace, of the Holy Spirit to be vouchsafed to us, either to incline or enable us to do any thing which was not previously our duty, but which we were wholly disinclined to perform.
'And surely these texts are irreconcilable with 'the idea, of God's selecting out of mankind a cer'tain number whom he ordained to save, and of his 'leaving the rest of mankind to perish everlast'ingly. How can God be said to love those, to 'whom he denies the means of salvation; whom 'he destines, by an irrevocable decree, to eternal 'misery ?'l
Let the following proposition, without any of the Calvinistic terms, be substituted:—' Surely 'these texts are inconsistent with God's saving 'a part of mankind, and his leaving the rest to 'perish everlastingly.' The decree is indeed excluded, but the final event is precisely the same: and nothing but universal salvation can possibly alter it. Now, if it would have been just in God, as to the event, to leave all the world to perish everlastingly, when Omnipotence certainly could have prevented it, what injustice can there be in decreeing to do this, though from eternity f If it were inconsistent to ordain that some should be saved, and others left to perish, it must be equally so, to consign the same persons to perdition at the last.—One objection to this, I am aware, may be urged, namely, that in the latter supposition none will be condemned except those who 1 Tit. iii. 2—7. . 'Ref. 195.
deserved it. But if God ordain, that none shall perish but those who he foresees will deserve it; and if he foreknows that all, if left to themselves, will both deserve condemnation for their other sins, and also for rejecting the gospel ; in what respect does this alter the case? In one view, none will perish but those who at the great day/when all secrets will be disclosed, shall be adjudged deserving it; and, in the other view, none will perish but those who God foresaw would deserve it and would be found among his enemies, unless he exerted an omnipotent power in making them willing to accept of his mercy: whereas this act of new creating power was not due to them, and, in his consummate wisdom, he did not think fit to exert it in their behalf.—I can see no material difference, in respect of the divine justice, between the two views of the subject; except on the supposition that God decrees from eternity to consign to everlasting punishment those, who at the day of judgment will be found not to have deserved it. There are, it must be owned, expressions in the works of some Calvinists, which seem to lean towards this conclusion; but I must abhor the idea as direct blasphemy. As to the concluding sentence it is sufficient to say, How can God be said to love those whom he now leaves unsaved, and whom he will at length, by an irrecoverable sentence, doom to eternal misery? If the love of God to mankind be understood in this manner, (setting decrees and predestination wholly out of the question,) God cannot be said to love all men, unless he save all men ; for he certainly is able to do this: but his infinite power is directed by infinite wisdom,