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· Now, I would ask, at the very first blush of the question, which of these two suppositions accords best with cominon sense; with the moral feelings of man ; with the wisdom, the justice, the goodness, the mercy of God; with the reason of : the thing, when man is considered as a responsible being; with all moral laws, divine, and human ; with the thousand calls. to repentance with which the Scriptures abound ; with the general scope and tenour of the sacred writings ! And I think there can be but one reply.
Again, if the Calvinistic hypothesis were cordially embraced, would it not be, if man have no option, no free power, to reject grace and salvation granted, or to obtain them, when withheld ; would it not, I say, be the most palpable solecism, the grossest violation of all fair deduction from premises, to regard and treat man as an accountable creature, a moral agent, which the Calvinists (excepting the Antinomians) do every Lord's day, in calls, warnings, exhortations, encouragements, promises, threats ? all of which, if absolute decrees are once admitted, would be superfluous, whether to the elect or to the reprobate. Faith would be vain, and preaching would be vain. Why should men be entreated to do what they cannot do ? or to shun what it is unalterably de. termined they shall fall into? Let the Calvinists act consistently. Let thein be all gospellers ; all Crisps, Saltmarshes, Huntingtons, and Hawkers.
Every individual call of theirs to repentance, is an implied doubt and distrust of their own principles. Prayer in like' manner is often recom, mended in Scripture. But prayer would be superfluous and altogether unmeaning, on the hypothesis of unconditional election and reprobation ; since no prayer 'could save the reprobate, and no omission of it could ever ruin the elect.
Again, God is represented by natural and revealed religion to be just, holy, merciful, and true.
The doctrine of absolute decrees is in opposition " to all these attributes. For is it justice to condemn individuals to eternal misery, for what they never committed ? even dying infants, who have committed no actual sin being numbered by the Calvinists as left to punishment, if they be not of the elect.' Is it justice in God to punish men for · what he decreed they should do? Is that a holy
Being, who fixes beforehand, the commission of many sins by an absolute decree? Does to reprobate many, comport with the character of God, as merciful, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, desiring that no man should perish, taking no pleasure in the death of sinners ? Is God not willing that any should perish ; and yet willing that some should perish ? He cannot have two contending wills: Ezek. xxxiii. it, and xviii. 12. 2 Peter, iii. 9. - Exod. xxxiv. 6. God must take pleasure in his own decrees: in the supposed * decree, therefore, of unconditional reprobation, he takes pleasure ; how comes it then, that, according to Ezekiel, xxxiii. 11, he takes no pleasure in the perishing of any? God is true: now, gene-'. ral offers of mercy are often made in his word to returning sinners : " Turn, ye, tum, ye; why will ye die ?” But if these offers are false, if some sinners cannot return, and must eternally die, God is not true...", ii, i
i i . We are required to be holy as God is holy; merciful as he is merciful. But were we to imitate this conduct in our dealings towards our brethren, we should be justly, execrated as cruel, capricious, and profligate. We know what holiness, and mercy are, Scripture and conscience tell us what they are. We therefore know and feel it to be absolutely impossible that God should act in a manner so unholy and so unmercifu). Abraham knew this, when, referring to the standard of his own moral feelings, he remonstrated with God, " That be far from thee, to destroy the righteous with the wicked:, shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”. This rule is infallible : for, if God were to deal forth a reprobation, which hardly the most worthless among mankind would inflict; man, dreadful conclusion! would be more holy and merciful than God. It were absurdity,
it were, blasphemy, to conceive this possible. ! " Shall man be more just than God? a mortal
more pure than his Maker ?” Job, iv. 17, 'Contradictions crowd upon us at every step of
our progress, in examining this tissue of inconsistencies. Independently of the admission of some free agency, some power to reject or accept; our actions are neither good nor evil, neithér capable of reward nor punishment. It is the intent, the will, that constitutes a virtue or a crime, Even human tribunals do not put the maniac to death as a punishment for the mischief he commits: and who but a' màniac would think of punishing the dagger,--the INSTRUMENT with - which the blow was struck'? Yet man sinning, is,
by the Calvinistic system, this instrument, this -blind, urresisting dagger in the hands of God, the decreer of the blow, Away with remorse if the sin was-unavoidable: Away with penitence if it be never to avail. Why should we strive to
enter in ať the strait gate, if we Myßt either - enter in thither by force, or MUST go forward by
necessity to destruction? . But it is impossible to drive self-approbation and compunction from the breast. We know, we feel; thuit we have a cer:tain agency ; that some" circumstances are more favourable to our virtue than others and that we can iaboly ourselves to these, or can turn away from them. ilang! . icón:63110 25'ini in PuOnce more: all attempts to moderate and soften • Whis “horribile decretum" (as Calvin' himself con1 - fesses it to be), by the admission of election and
denial of reprobation, by the admission of general and denial of special grace, or by whatever other language the same nonsense' may be expressed (excepting the hypothesis of Mr. Baxter, which is noqCalvinism at iall), are vain, delusive, and unfounded. There is no middle way. If we adopt this system, in any degree or respect, we must take it with all its monstrous and fearful consequences. It is to no purpose that we close our eyes. If we admit of absolute election, we must admit of absolute ireprobation. It is a cruel mockery of those who are supposed to be passed -by? to tell them that they enjoy 1(although they
cannot inherit) the benefit of God's promises, *Every argument, therefore, every reason, every <text, revery feeling, which militates against absôlute and unconditional reprobation, is valid by consequence against absolute election, and is a death-blow to the whole system, . ?
Tordescend now to particulars, we affirm, in the first place, that there is no foundation in Scrip:ture, 'for a decree of absolute reprobation. Let iany.man.consult the passages in which the word Vreprobate, adorei pios, occurs, and he will invariably
find it toi signify a rejection in consequence of -actual disobedience. This is the case with re, * spect to the texts which follow :12 Tim. jii. 8, * Rom.".1120-28. Tit.! 1.:1602 Héb, vi 8. - 1 Cordrix: 27*. 1.180' ": 17111! " --- * Seel Purkhurst's Lexicon, and Macknight on the Epistles. Adox.pos has a passive sense, disapproved after trial, like dross in refining metals (see the Seventy on Isaiah, i. 22; and Prov. XXV. 4); and an active sepse, viz. undiscerning.