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sacrifice, rather than be found in the ranks of his opponents. And when in addition to all this I consider, that he has been
best and most efficient EARTIILY instructor in divine things;—that to the doctrine of the divine testimony, when understood, of itself necessarily, infallibly, and for ever, speaking peace to the conscience, so admirably developed and demonstrated by hin from the scriptures, I owe my emancipation from innumerable popular prejudices and delusions;—and, that it is principally by means of weapons furnished by himself, I have been enabled to combat some of his own positions, and to fight my way to views of truth still clearer than those which he himself possessed ;—the pain which I feel in announcing publicly, that I differ froin him on a point of the utmost importance, is such, as only those who have been similarly circumstanced can conceive. But the sacrifice of private feeling must be made. Shall I, a follower of the faithful and the true witness, allow myself to be surpassed by the Heathen, who could proclaim : amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed magis amica veritas? Can I forget, that it is my business as a Christian to call no mun master upon earth? Nay, can I forget, that it was Mr. Barclay's own recommendation to those to whoin he had been rendered useful, that they should be as ready to receive farther measures of light from others, as they had shewn themselves to receive a certain measure of it from him? And that the grand reason upon which lie founded his recommendation was, the circumstance of no man or body of men having yet “penetrated into
the whole counsel of God;" and, of there being “more truth yet to break forth out of His holy word.” True, we are with much propriety cautioned by him, to “take heed what it is that we receive as truth;" and, by a careful examination, consideration, and comparison with the scriptures, of any new views which may
presented to us, to guard against having error palmed on us under specious pretences.* But if really superior views of truth, duly authenticated to be so, should be set before us, however much they may militate against present prejudices, and long-cherished opinions, can we, as new-born babes desiring the sinccre milk of the word, that we may grow thereby, err in welcoming them with avidity; and in doing all that in us lies to communicate the knowledge of them to others ?
These remarks are intended to be introductory to the consideration of a question, which it is probable has already suggested itself to many of my readers, and which it now becomes necessary to discuss. “ If eternal life be the gift of God, or be unconditionally bestoned, must it not be the portion of every human being ? It is commonly supposed both by Arminians and Calvinists, that none but believers, or those by whom the divine testimony is apprehended,—whatever sense may be attached by these parties respectively to the term belief,—shall partake of everlasting life. But is not belief, according to this view of matters, the condition of eternal life and is not eternal life, upon this principle,
1st and 2d editions,
• See Preface to Barclay's assurance of faith vindic towards the end.
conditionally bestowed, just as decidedly, as if ten thousand or ten million conditions of enjoying it were to be interposed ? In reasoning with the Arminian, it will not avail the Calvinist to say, that, according to him, eternal life is not conditionally bestowed, because belief here is, in his apprehension, as much the gift of God as eternal life hereafter : for, as the Arminian, while he contends for good works no less than faith here being essential to eternal life hereafter, does not hesitate to admit, that these good works flow from divine grace, or are the gift of God, who perceives not, that although the Arminian increases the number of the conditions of eternal life, the Calvinist is actually, as to the principle of some condition being requisite, taking up the very same ground with him? The question, be it observed, is, neither as to the number of the qualifications here upon which eternal life is conceived to depend hereafter, nor as to the way in which we come to acquire these qualifications; but, are there any such qualifications at all ? To express the matter simply: is there any thing, over and above the fact of their partaking of human nature, requisite to be possessed by mankind here, in order to their possessing eternal life hereafter? If any such qualification be requisite, call it faith, or call it faith and good works,—suppose it to be the result of the unaided efforts of the creature, or the free gift of the Creator,—is it possible, by any distinctions which may be invented, to do away with the fact, that such a present qualification must be to all intents and
the condition of everlasting life?"
To the question thus put, I find myself obliged to answer, that, as eternal life is unconditionally bestowed upon the children of men, it must be bestowed UPON ALL
For if bestowed hereafter, only upon those who are possessed of faith here, then unquestionably faith is represented to be the condition of everlasting life; or, everlasting life, instead of being unconditionally, is represented as being conditionally bestowed. Here, of course, I shall be interrupted, for the
purpose of being reminded of those passages of scripture, which not merely declare that he that believeth hath everlasting life, but expressly exclude from the possession of the privilege him who believeth not. And, also, of those passages which denounce condemnation and punishment against such persons as do not believe. This leads me to observe,
That the passages in question have not been overlooked by me; and that I have had my own share of doubt and perplexity, respecting the way in which they were to be reconciled with those other passages which speak of eternal life as the gift of God. After much diligent and prayerful examination of the scriptures as a whole, I have been obliged to come to the two following conclusions.
First. That there is a sense, and that, too, a very important one, in which eternal life is exclusively conferred on and enjoyed by those who believe. And yet,
Secondly, It being impossible for the scriptures as the word of God to contradict themselves, while there is one sense in which eternal life is confined
to those who believe, there must be another sense in which as the gift of God it is conferred on the whole family of man.
To this I may add, that the principle so admirably stated and developed by Mr. Barclay, although I confess never intended by him to apply to my present purpose, is that which, when followed out, renders the sacred volume in regard to the point in question consistent with itself. God, he argues, after manifesting to his people, that eternal life is unconditionally bestowed; and, consequently, after manifesting to them, that it is their own certain and indefeasible privilege ; can never contradict himself by manifesting it to them as conditionally bestowed : from which he draws the conclusion, that the conditional promises made to them must have a reference, not to eternity, but to time. By applying this admirable principle to the matter in hand, an easy, complete, and satisfactory solution of all the difficulties connected with it, is at once obtained. The fact of eternal life being in one sense unconditionally bestowed, implies, that ultimately it shall be enjoyed by the whole human race. The fact of its being in another sense conditionally bestowed, implies, that only a portion of the human race shall, while on earth, be admitted to the participation of it.
But although the possession of eternal life now by some, and ultimately by all, is the principle which pervades the sacred volume, and enables us to reconcile one class of its statements with another; were I to content myself with the bare annunciation of it, my readers