Page images
PDF
EPUB

favoured than Judas, though what he had in common with the others, and wickedly abused, rendered him altogether inexcusable.

§ 37. We are again told, that the general terms of God's love are irreconcilable with his electing some and leaving others to perish. «God so loved the world, that he

gave

his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in · him should not perish, but have everlasting • life.” In this and many other passages of the · New Testament, relating to the motive and design of Christ's Advent, God's love for the world is declared in general terms; and surely • these texts are irreconcilable with the idea, of

God selecting out of mankind a certain number whom he ordained to save, and of his

leaving the rest of mankind to perish everlast‘ingly.'* The difficulty here, is to find out some degree of plausibility in the objection. For what is there like inconsistency, between a general love to mankind, and a more special love to some of them, under the direction of unerring wisdom? Love and hatred indeed are irreconcilable, except when used in a comparative sense, as they are often used in scripture; as when hatred denotes a less degree of love. Thus a true disciple should hate(i. e. love in a less

Refut. p. 195.

degree) his father and mother, &c. for the sake of Christ: and thus God loved Jacob, but did not love Esau to the same degree, or in the same respect. It was a great instance of divine love that God should give his son as an allsufficient ransom for the sins of mankind; but great as it was, if nothing more were done, every soul of man might perish ererlastingly. We have need, in order to have a good hope through grace, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified, to be redeemed by power as well as by price. The sacrifice of Christ is the ransom, but the Spirit of Christ is the redeeming power that makes “ free from the law of sin and death.”

§ 38. Leaving the rest of mankind to perish ' everlastingly.' Is it conceivable that God could not save one soul more than will be eventually saved? Then that soul which will not be found among the saved eventually, will be

left' by him to perish everlastingly, on the Bishop's own system. If it be said, that in the latter case it was their own fault, and no arbitrary decree, which denied them the means of salvation ; I return precisely the same answer respecting the former case. There is no arbitrary decree, as before shewn at large, to the injury or the annoyance of any portion of God's universe of intelligent beings, (or indeed particle

of created existence of any kind, if that expréssion be more acceptable,)without previous demerit. If any one of the human race be disposed to go to heaven, on the declaration and assurance of God's general love to the world of mankind, I am fully satisfied that there neither is, nor can be, any decree of God to prevent him. Jesus Christ has “opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers;" nor is there any decree to prevent any one from believing in Christ as the way to the kingdom. But God, foreseeing that none will believe, repent, obey, or fall in with his general love and proclamation of mercy, if left to themselves, will ensure a “ seed to serve him," both on earth and in heaven,

§ 39. Finally, his Lordship insists, that election is not confined to those who will actually be saved. “The word [elect] is applied generally to collective bodies of Christians, to all

who in one or more cities or countries professed ' Christianity, without any discrimination; and ' it is not confined to individuals who must necessarily be saved, or who were predestinated by God to certain salvation; or even to those . who will actually be saved.'* Now, admitting all this, what is the fair inference, but that the

[ocr errors]

Refut. p. 206.

word “ elect,” in common with many others, admits of different significations. There is an election to gospel privileges, to church fellowship and a participation of sacraments, &c.; but this is no argument against an election to partake of special grace and future glory. A choice made of collective bodies, does not exclude another more special choice of individuals among them, who were “redeemed from among men,” and from that collective body, to partake of a divine principle, a lively saving faith, to “ walk in white,” and “ by patient continuance in well-doing,” to inherit eternal life and glory.

- These are his Lordship’s principal objections, and virtually the whole of his objections, as far as I can perceive. The reader will judge whether they have been fairly answered.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »