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they shall not comply with the expressed con* ditions. And yet his Lordship roundly asserts, that the very idea of a Covenant is inconsist! ent with the Calvinistic system' But how? Because, he thinks, absolute decrees reject all
conditions. - Absolute' decrees say, that it ‘is irreversibly determined by the arbitrary will • of God, that you shall or shall not be saved, ' without any respect to your conduct. '
§ 10. I am very willing that his Lordship's objections should have all the force that can be imagined in this argument, without any palliation or concealment, in hope that the answer to it will be received with equal candour. Do absolute decrees reject' all conditions? It is a plain fact, recorded by divine inspiration, that God had purposed or 'decreed that the crew who sailed with St. Paul in his voyage to Rome, should, with himself, remain in safety. « And now I exhort you to be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar; and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as he told me.”-Here is not only & decree, but one revealed; but does it
"reject all conditions;' No, for St. Paul very rationally and consistently “said to the centurion, and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved."* If his Lordship supposes that Calvinists cannot distinguish between a conditional and an absolute decree, he may
be under a mistake. We believe that the decree, for instance, of creating the first chaos was absolute, for non-existence could furnish no condition. But the decree to adorn existing matter was conditional, because without the condition of substance, there could be no form. Every series or chain of events decreed, implies that one link is to be connected with the other; nor can we admit that free-will is qualified to charm away or to dissolve this connexion, for these reasons, among many others : first, because the infinite wisdom and power of the Decreer is sufficient to maintain it: secondly, because nothing is decreed by God but good, which is therefore worthy of all his perfections: thirdly, because no link in a chain of events can start into existence and occupy its place without an adequate cause: fourthly, because the will itself (though absolutely free from constraint to evil, as well as restraint from good,) is a link of the decreed chain: to which we may add fifthly, that there is no good volition but what is the
# Acts xxvii. 22-25, 31.
effect of a good principle, nor any good principle in a creature but what is from the will of God, and consequently from his purpose or decree.
§ 11. In
every series of decreed events, the last of the series, as to the order of operation, is founded on the condition of the orderly existence of the events preceding. Suppose, for instance, that God has decreed a series of events relative to an individual, the last of which is the enjoyment of himself in heaven. But this is executed under the indispensable condition of holiness; for “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” He has therefore decreed that he shall be holy. But no man can be holy without a vital union to Christ, the true vine, as an indispensable condition. He has therefore decreed this union, and every connecting link of events preceding (worthy of his formation) till we arrive at his first existence. How then can we be said to hold the decree of happiness without conditions ?
§ 12. Will any one object, that this series of decreed events is not a Covenant? I grant it; but the Bishop's objection to our sentiments is that they reject all "conditions, and I have shewn that our view of decrees does not reject all conditions. But it may be said, that he
admits of conditional decrees, but rejects those that are absolute. I reply, that the same event may be absolutely decreed in one respect, while conditionally in another. Thus human happiness may be absolutely decreed, though the condition of faith and obedience precede it; because the condition itself may be decreed with the same absolute certainty. We do not hold, but rather abhor the sentiment which his Lordship imputes to us, that it is irreversibly determined by the • arbitrary will of God, that you shall or shall not be saved, without any respect to your
conduct. Our sentiment is, that if it be irreversibly deterinined by the arbitrary will, or the sovereign pleasure, of God, directed by infinite wisdom and mercy,
any one shall be saved, it is no less irreversibly determined that salvation shall be attained by a right conduct. We hold that every preceding step of the means and conditions connected with the end, is as absolutely secured by God's decretive will, as the end itself.
§. 13. That a federal condition is not incompatible with an absolute decree of its fulfilment, which is the precise point in question, is capable of undeniable proof from acknowledged facts. It must be acknowledged, that Jesus Christ, by his voluntary obedience unto death, performed a federal condition, without which his exaltation
could not follow; and yet who will say, that his exaltation was not absolutely decreed? Here is a series of decreed events, the end of which is Christ's heavenly glory; the condition of it was, his perfect obedience unto death; the condition of that, his incarnation. If his incarnation was not absolutely decreed, neither could his exaltation and glory as Mediator be so decreed. This decidedly proves, not only that one event depending upon another, as an indispensable condition, may be absolutely decreed, or irreversibly determined, but also that an intervening part of the series of events may be a federal condition performed by a voluntary agent, and consequently by the exercise of FreeWill. If the will of “the man Christ Jesus,” than which none could be more free, formed a link in the chain of events, by his voluntary obedience, without which the end, the reward of a glorious exaltation, could not be attained, can any argument be more conclusive than this, that
absolute decrees' do not reject all conditions' of a covenant?
§ 14. If it be urged, that the man Jesus was assisted by his divine nature to perform the condition, I admit this in its amplest force; nay, further, his human nature required that assistance, in order to perform with absolute certainty the stipulated condition,—and this proves, that