« PreviousContinue »
nt iridh nod postla
• denied that God had a right, founded on the
uncontrovertable will of the Creator over his creatures, to consign the far greater part of men to eternal misery, and to bestow eternal
happiness on a chosen few, although there ' was in themselves no ground whatever for
such distinction.—But the question is, whether 6 such a conduct would have been consistent with infinite justice and infinite
This last quotation appears to me very singularand very objectionable—as containing the most exceptionable part of Hypercalvinism! That must be a very anomalous and strange kind of
right which is not consistent with infinite justice. If men were consigned to, eternal misery without desert, and this founded in right, what is it but saying that the Creator had a right to be unjust! But if men so consigned, deserved it, by previous delinquency, how would it be inconsistent with justice? Is it not of the essence of justice to give to every one his due? To ascribe to the Creator, preserver, and benefactor of his creatures a right, an' arbitrary’ right, of conferring benefits upon them beyond their due, is infinitely worthy of him; but to ascribe to him the same right to render the undeserving miserable, is to offer him a compliment which he must needs reject with infinite disdain,
Sup with Cal
cause nk it ss of
* Refut. pp. 258, 259.
-a right to be unjust, were he not infinitely just, good, and merciful !
r $ 3. But what is the Predestination of modern Calvinists, and how is it irreconcilable with the justice and goodness of God? What we maintain is, that all mankind are in a state of guilt and sinful imbecility—that God foresaw this from eternity--that he therefore predestinated an adequate remedy in the sacrifice of Christ--that this should be announced to men, as commensurate to the evil. - We further maintain that there was not in the present state of man any ground of certainty, that any one, without preventing gracious influence, would avail himself of the proposed remedy—and therefore, that God predestinated, under the direction of infinite wisdom, to influence. the hearts of some, i. e. those who are finally glorified, to repent, believe, obey, and persevere in a holy course, as the way to everlasting happiness. Heaven is the end, but holy obedience is the way to it. We hold no Predestination that separates the end and the means. We do not presume to conjecture, a priori, who are predestinated to eternal life; but rather infer, from the imbecility of man, that if any one is penitent, faithful, diligent, persevering, and finally glorified, these great effects are from the special and distinguishing energy of God; and
that whatever he does in time he purposed to do from eternity. This is our Predestination.
§ 4. And what is there in this “ irreconcilable with the justice and goodness of God?' Is it unjust to shew favour to the unworthy? We own it is not the proper effect of justice, but this is far from implying that it is unjust. Mercy, a species of divine goodness, is sovereign; but to confer a favour arbitrarily, under the direction of wisdom, does injury to no one. If God were just only, there would be no room for mercy. If he had not a right to act the part of a sovereign benefactor, there could have been no plan of redemption and salvation. What is required by justice, is to give to every one his due; but in the plan of redeeming mercy, justice is honoured, while “
grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In this Calvinistic Predestination, therefore, it is difficult to find even the semblance of infringement of either justice or goodness. It is not inconsistent with goodness, that some should be made holy and happy, who did not deserve it, nor inconsistent with justice, that God should “have mercy on whom he will have mercy.”
§ 5. In the next place, his Lordship maintains, that absolute election and reprobation are
inseparable. That Calvin and other eminent divines before and after him, have drawn this inference is allowed, as their writings testify;-and it is equally manifest that their opponents have seized the concession with avidity and triumph. But if the concession has been erroneously made, which I am fully satisfied was the case, and shall endeavour to substantiate; the strongest objection ever made to the doctrine of Calvinistic Election, falls.
While a decree of Reprobation, Preterition, or Nonelection, is admitted, as the inseparable concomitant of a decree of Election, it is not to be wondered at that the latter should have so many opponents, or that the Bishop of Lincoln should be of the number. “If reprobation be unfounded, ' which some modern Calvinists allow, it follows, • upon their own principles, that election is also
unfounded, since the latter cannot erist without ! the former.'* “So that, says Dr.Whitby, there is no possibility of asserting one of these decrees, without owning the other also; and so whatsoever argument holds good against an absolute decree of Reprobation, must certainly destroy the opposite decree of absolute Election." **
ġ 6. It might appear an adventurous attempt, to encounter what Dr. WHITBY, and with him
* Refut. p. 256.
+ lb, p 255.
the Bishop of Lincoln, deem impossible; or to assert that " which there is no possibility of asserting.” But the reader will be pleased to recollect, that many things have been for a time considered as impossible paradoxes, which after all were great truths, and which have been fairly demonstrated to be such. For want of patient investigation and the use of proper means, with which God has furnished us, we are too apt to pronounce one thing unfathomable, and another impossible to be surmounted, -as a person in a labyrinth asserts that there is no possibility of his getting out of it. Many, for example, throw into the way of truth such a stumbling-block as the following: “Let us suppose the number of mankind to be two millions of men; if out of these, one million only, by the decree of Election, be infallibly appointed to eternal life, and these certainly and absolutely distinguished from others, not only as to their number, but their
persons also; who can deny, but that one million also, and those certain as to their persons, are as absolutely comprized under the decree of Non-Election or Reprobation, as the others were under the decree of Election and Predestination.” As this argument, borrowed by his Lordship to refute Calvinism, contains a summary
nmary of many scattered objections, I shall now attempt to shew its fallacy.