Page images
[ocr errors]

' their efficacy, however, depends upon the spirit

of regeneration.” The means, as such, áre sufficient, and such as becomes a moral governor to afford; but the other kind of ability, which consists in a sincere disposition to obey,' proceeds from the sovereign grace of God, whereby they are, properly speaking, ' enabled to obey.

$ 5. Sometimes the word cause is confounded with occasion, and an argument is drawn from the equivocal use of the first of these terms. Thus, for example, in the following passage: Can we then suppose that God sees his ' rational creatures not only in need, but obnoxious 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 determination, that they should add to 'their guilt, and increase their condemnation.

Instead of raising us from 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.'t His Lordship must allow, on the most indubitable evidence of plain facts, that the gospel does not raise from a death in sin to a life of righteousness the greater part' even of those who

[blocks in formation]

read and hear it. With what consistency then can he say, that God refuses his aid' to those who are not raised from a life of sin to a life of righteousness by its aid? If the gospel' would ' be the cause of more heinous wickedness, and a

sorer punishment,' because it does not so 'raise' them, then on his own principle, it is such a cause. But, how can a proclamation of mercy be a cause of wickedness and punishment ? Surely on no scheme can it be more than the occasion of these consequences.

The gospel, like its divine author, is “ a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” to the wicked: but to them who are well disposed, it is precious. To the one, it is “a savour of death unto death,” to the other, "a savour of life unto life." In short, in whatever sense we understand the word 'cause' in his Lordship's argument, without changing its import, it turns against himself,

§ 6. The idea of salvation, again, is often confounded with the means of salvation, especially when connected with election, and a conclusion is drawn from the one to the other, which has no force except from an assumed equivocal use of the terms, thus rendering his Lordship's argument incompatible with his

professed sentiments. Thus he states and infers ; "At the close of his first epistle, St. Peter says, "The church that is at Babylon, elected

* together with you;' here the apostle calls the ' whole church of Babylon also elect, which

again proves that the word is applied generally 'to collective bodies of Christians, to all who in

one or more cities or countries professed Chris'tianity, without any discrimination; and that it ' is not confined to individuals who must neces

sarily be saved, or who were predestinated by • God to certain salvation; or even to those

who will actually be saved.' * What is this but saying, that to be 'elected' to the means of salvation, is not to be predestinated to certain salvation itself? We all know that to be elected' to the participation of the means of happiness, is not the same thing as to be 'elected to happiIn the former sense,

• collective bodies, even 'all who profess Christianity without any • discrimination’ may be elected,' and yet the greater part of them, through their own fault, not saved. Now, his Lordship’s own account of election is, that the actual enjoyment of the means of salvation, consisting in ' Christianity

professed,' constitutes the persons “elected;' and therefore with what consistency can he urge, that 'those who will actually be saved,' are not in another, that is, the Calvinistic sense, • elected?' If the fact of superior means and privileges imply election, as he allows, how can


* Refut. p. 205.

he consistently oppose the Calvinists, who say, that those who are in fact saved, are elected” to that salvation? Divest the terms of their ambiguity, and the case will appear plain; collective bodies, because they are favoured with the means of salvation, are elected' to those means, and individuals, because they are favoured with salvation itself in heaven, are * elected to that salvation. For his Lordsbip to oppose this, is to buffet himself.

§ 7. Of the same complexion is the following passage: "St. Paul says to Timothy, “I 'endure all things for the elect's sake, that - they may also obtain salvation,' &c. --- This is perfectly consistent with the idea of the 'elect being Christian converts in general, who

might or might not be saved, but cannot be ' reconciled with the Calvinistic notion, that 'the elect are persons infallibly destined to salvation.'* His Lordship allows that ' Chris'tian converts in general' are elected' that they may obtain the means of salvation, and we allow the same; but then this is by no means inconsistent with some of these converts being · elected' to still higher blessings. And if it were inconsistent for St. Paul to “ endure all things for the elect's sake” in the latter sense,

* Refut. p. 212.

was it not equally so in his Lordship’s acceptation? The Calvinists may turn his argument upon himself; of what use was it for Paul to travel from country to country and suffer all things for the sake of Christian converts in general,' seeing they were elected to become such in the purpose of God, and included in the plan of his providence? If they were “chosen” to become such in the divine purpose, why should St. Paul endure so many hardships to secure what was already fixed? In this case, also, while his Lordship argues against the Calvinists, he is equally the opponent of himself.

§ 8. A similar confusion of terms occurs in the use of the words denial, preterition, and reprobation. If God of his own good pleasure 'elected certain 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 power. This denial or preterition is in fact reprobation; for both * Calvinists and ourselves believe, that *by his own natural strength and good works

cannot turn to faith,' the only appointed mean of salvation; and that the fault and corrup* tion of every man that is naturally engendered



« PreviousContinue »