« AnteriorContinuar »
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.”—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 everlastingly. 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
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? 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
? Ref. 195,
Tit. iij. 2-7.
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,
which we cannot fathom, but which we ought to adore with profound and silent reverence.
It seems impossible to say, that he loved those to whom he would afford no assistance, and who 'he knew, from want of that assistance, must ' inevitably suffer all the horrors of guilt and · the pain of eternal punishment. " Whoso hath ‘this world's good, and seeth his brother have - need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion ' from him, how dwelleth the love of God in ' hinı?” Can we then suppose that God sees his ' rational creatures not only in need, but ob'noxious to death and misery, and yet refuses his ` aid to rescue them from impending ruin? The
gospel instead of being a proof of God's “ good'will towards men,” would rather shew his deter'mination that they should add to their guilt, and increase their condemnation. Instead of raising us froin a death in sin to a life of righteousness, it would be the inevitable cause of more heinous ' wickedness, and of sorer punishment, to the greater part of mankind. It was considered as an act of the greatest injustice to require the Israel• ites to make bricks, when no straw was given to 'them; and how then can we imagine that God calls
upon men to believe and obey the gospel, under 'the penalty of eternal misery, when he denies 'them the possibility of belief and obedience? Does ' an earthly master punish his servant for not 'doing that which it was impossible for him to do?
and shall we ascribe to God a conduct which would * be esteemed the height of cruelty in man? “Go 'ye,” says Christ to his apostles, “ into all the
'world, and preach the gospel to every creature: here the precept is universal, without any limi'tation, any exception : but is it to be supposed, ‘that the blessings of that gospel, which was to 'be preached“ to every creature in all the world,"
were necessarily confined to a few ? that the “apostles should be commanded to promise to all, * what God had irreversibly decreed should be enjoyed only by a small number?'1
This whole passage goes upon the supposition, ; that God is in some way bound to shew mercy to his rebellious creatures, and to do certain things, if not all that he is able, for their salvation : so that, if he do not this, it is inconsistent with his love, if not .with his justice. Now it is certain, that God for ages “suffered all nations to walk in “ their own ways.
“ He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and judgments unto Israel : “ He hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for “ his judgments they have not known them.” 3 Even to this very day an immense majority of the human race are destitute of those' means of
grace, for which we particularly thank God, as for a special and inestimable benefit, every time we meet for public worship. But“ they that have “sinned without law shall also perish without “law.” 4 “We have before proved both Jews " and gentiles, that they are all under sin.” “ For “all have sinned and come short of the glory of “ God.” 5 Unless, therefore, any one will openly avow the sentiment, against which, or against those who hold it, our Articles pronounce an ana
* Ref. 196, 197. ? Acts xiv. 16. * Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. * Rom. ii. 12. * Rom. iii. 9-23.