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not to have deserved it, this pathetic representation will appear to be founded on truth and fact. But, if this will not be the case, it must of course fall to the ground. The concluding part, as detached from the preceding statement concerning the decrees of God, might serve the purpose of one who believed the doctrine of universal salvation. An irrevocable sentence of everlasting torment
is itself a whole, and open to no misconception : endless irremediable pain, known by the suf« ferers to be such, admits of no palliative, no
consolation, no hope.' Now suppose this spoken, not concerning an eternal decree, but concerning the sentence of the Judge at the last day,
Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,
prepared for the Devil and his angels ;” in order to excite men's passions against the sentence and the Judge, or to induce them to conclude, that it will never be pronounced and inflicted ; how would an Anticalvinist, who firmly believed that the sentence will be both pronounced and inflicted, answer such a pathetic declaimer? Would he not say, The only question is, Whether the wicked deserve their doom : if they do “ their “ mouths must be stopped,” and they must "be “ silent in darkness.” Now, will any more crimes be proved against the wicked at the day of judgment, when “God shall bring to light the hidden “ things of darkness, and manifest the counsels of “all hearts,” than he foreknew that they would commit, when he decreed to leave them to the consequences and punishment of their sins ? And in what respect is the decree more liable to objection, as grounded on this foreknowledge, than the
sentence will be, as at length pronounced and executed by the Judge himself ?
*As God from eternity foreknows all things 'which shall actually take place; and therefore
knows that this man would believe in Christ unto ' the end, but that man would not so believe; it is
certain that God decreed to this man, thus considered, life, to that eternal death. For what'soever he doeth in time, that he decreed to do ' from eternity : but in time he saveth this man 'who believes, and damns that man who believes 'not. Therefore, to speak with Fulgentius, he * predestinated those unto punishment, who, he 'foreknew, would depart from him by the fault
of a wicked will; and he predestinated to the
kingdom those who, he foreknew, by the help of ' his preventing mercy, would believe, and, by the ' aid of his following mercy, would remain in him. * And this decree of saving individual persons, ' through faith foreseen, but not on account of ' faith foreseen, all the catholic writers understood by the name of predestination, before the times of Augustine.''
This note, from such a man as Grotius, is of great importance; for we are quite sure, that he would not concede more, on our side of the argument, than he was constrained by unanswerable argument to concede.
Yet he here expressly allows that predestination to life,' nay, predestination to death eternal, is personal and individual; and not that of nations, or collective bodies as maintained in the preceding pages of the Refuta
Translation of Latin Note from Grotius, Ref. 251, 252.
tion : that predestination, as he here explains it, was known to all the Catholic fathers, before the * times of Augustine :' that the preventing mercy' of God concurred in producing that faith, and his 'subsequent mercy,' that continuance in the faith which were foreseen in those, predestinated to * life:' and that though it was through faith fore
seen,' yet' not on account of foreseen faith,' that they were thus predestinated. Surely Grotius, in this passage, approximates to a Calvinistic creed ! -It may be asked, indeed, in what does he differ from the Calvinists ? at least from modern Calvinists ? In nothing that I can perceive, but in speaking of 'preventing mercy,' instead of 'spe
cial and efficacious regenerating grace.' He also means to establish that co-operation of man with God, in the first instance, in producing the willing mind to believe in Christ, which has already been fully considered. As to the rest, we are of opinion that the non-elect are decreed to destruction, on account of their foreseen wickedness, impenitence, and unbelief ; and that God in decreeing the
eternal salvation of the elect, decreed also, by his
grace to render them penitent, believing, and holy. Had he left them without his special grace, they too would have lived and died impenitent, unbelieving and unholy.
* I reject the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, not because it is incomprehensible, but * because I think it irreconcilable with the justice
and goodness of God. I do not reject the doc* trine of the prescience of God, though I profess myself incapable of comprehending how it con
sists with the other attributes of the Deity, and
with the free agency of man. I do not say that 'God's prescience is not consistent with his other • attributes and the free agency of man, but I say * that I am incapable of comprehending how they consist. The fact I believe, but the manner of accomplishing it I do not understand. This is a very material distinction in theological subjects. Incomprehensibility is not a just ground for re‘jecting a doctrine ; but, if a doctrine contradicts
any plainly revealed truth, it ought to be rejected. * The predestination of Calvinists is, in my judg'ment, of the latter description ; the prescience of God, considered with reference to the free agency
is of the former description : I 'therefore reject the one, and admit the other. It
is our duty, in a great variety of cases, to believe ' what we do not comprehend. We are called
upon to exercise caution and humility in judging ' of the mysterious dispensations of God, and of his
incomprehensible attributes, as a part of the trial 'to which we are subjected in this probationary state. The pride of the understanding, as well as the pride of the heart, is to be repressed. We ' are not to imagine that we have "searched out
God,” or that we comprehend the reasons and designs of all that “ he doeth in the armies of ' heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” "“Such knowledge is too wonderful for us ; we cannot attain unto it." I
I reject the doctrine, because I think it irre'concilable with the justice and goodness of God.' The great question is, Is the doctrine taught in 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
1 Ref. 252-254.
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.
« few men,
· The reconciling the prescience of God with ' the free wilt 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 subjects of a metaphysical nature, I am apt to think
if any, can hope to perform.'1 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 unfounded, 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 annihilated, of which there is no hint in scripture.'2 Suppose, however the scripture clearly teaches Lord Lyttleton's Letter to Mr. West, Ref. 252, 253, note.
2 Ref. 254.