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petent to obtain God's favour here, and by condign the fruition of his glorious Godhead hereafter; while it was conceived, that on account of both we were predestined to salvation. Fascinated, therefore, by the potent magic of the schools, when the soul of man surveyed her powers and her prospects, instead of viewing herself as a sinful and fallen creature, contaminated by original, and ruined, beyond all hope of human remedy, by actual depravity, she beheld herself transformed into an angel of light. Contemplating the approbation of Heaven, not as a boon to be supplicated, but as a reward to be deserved, she disdained to accept it gratuitously, but claimed it as the recompense of her virtues, and challenged it as her due. To, her own merits she imputed her justification in this life, and her proud title to bliss in the life to come, unmindful of those which the Christian ought alone to plead at the throne of mercy, and which by repentance and faith he makes his own. Nor did her complacency in her own good qualities and superior endowments rest even here. Arrayed in all the dignity of moral excellence, and the graces of genuine piety, she beheld herself eternally present to the eye of God, elected before others for her intrinsic worth, and predestinated to everlasting felicity, because deserv ing of it. Where, in such a system, is to be found a place for the full, perfect, and sufficient oblation and satisfaction of Him who came to seek and to save that which was lost?
On the other hand, when contrasted with the
scholastical doctrine, in how advantageous a point of view, how much more consistent with Gospel truth, and declarative of Gospel beneficence, appears that of the Church of England! The ever-memorable divines who compiled her offices, and reformed her creed, instead of exercising their talents in abstruse theory and vain speculation, directed their attention wholly to the word of God. Upon this grounding every position which they established, they taught, with no less simplicity than sincerity, that we possess by nature a tendency to evil, which in itself is no innocuous quality, but one offensive to a just and holy God, when abstractedly considered; that we cannot ourselves in any way atone for sin; but that an atonement has been once made for all by the common Saviour of mankind; and that, consequently, instead of attempting to expiate it by our own merits, whether congruous or condign, we ought rather, with a lively faith, united to a truly penitent and contrite heart, to trust in the expiation of Christ alone, because something more is requisite than we can perform, to appease the displeasure and satisfy the justice of heaven. Thus while their adversaries laboured to promote pharisaical pride, and render the cross of Christ of no effect, they solely endeavoured to inculcate Christian humility, and to demonstrate the inestimable value of Christian redemption, not indeed in a Calvinistical sense, as if faith were appropriated to the elect only, for that would have been to exchange one species of personal conceit for another; but in a sense, which both
Scripture and reason approve, which makes the light of the evangelical as general in its influences as that of the natural day. For upon the subject of predestination, as well as upon every other which has been alluded to, their prudence was not less conspicuous than their piety. Approaching it with reverence, and treating it with circumspection, they indulged not, like many in the Church of Rome, and like some who were enumerated among the friends of reformation, in abstruse disquisitions upon the nature of the Divine will; they boasted not of a philosophy, which affected to soar above vulgar view, and fix its sublime abode in the bosom of God himself. That he, whom the wonders of created being perplex, who knows not half the wisdom of the meanest insect, that man, equally imperfect as im pure, should presume to investigate the arcana of the Omniscient Mind, appeared to them the height of extravagance and crime. Their feelings recoiled at the idea of passing the boundary which the Scriptures have prescribed, and of exploring without an infallible guide the abyss of the unrevealed Godhead; what no human intellect can comprehend, they were contented in silence to adore. Every attempt, therefore, to explain the will of the unknown God, as he exists in his native majesty, amid clouds of impenetrable darkness, they utterly disclaimed, and spoke only of that consolatory effect of it, which the sacred volumes disclose to us, and represent as certain, the predestination of Christians to eternal life. With this express object in view, they inti
mately blended the doctrine of election with the holy ordinance of baptism, including all in the universal promise, and regulating the decrees of God by our assumption or rejection of the Christian character; persuaded that the contrary tenet of a predestination by individual destiny is attended with the worst of consequences; that while it furnishes the profligate sinner with a pretext for his vices, it increases the agony of the desponding, whose petitions for mercy and forgiveness seem never to reach the throne of grace, but return to his afflicted soul disregarded, if not despised; adding tenfold horror to his despair.
To conclude; we perceive with much concern, and feel perhaps with some resentment, that upon the subjects which have been considered in these Lectures, the creed of our Church has been often ignorantly misconceived, or maliciously misrepresented. Contemplated as the inflexible advocate of fatalism, by some she has been extravagantly applauded, and by others unreasonably traduced. The Socinian, in particular, has been often gratified in imputing to her obnoxious opinions, has sometimes added insult to injury, and, where her liberality should have been commended, has insidiously held up her supposed bigotry to public scorn and detestation. Let us not, however, on this account, abandon her cause, or cease to vindicate her real sentiments; but rather persevere in our efforts with the firmness of men, and the temper of Christians, sup
ported by the consoling assurance, that truth will not hang for ever suspended between calumny and falsehood, but will at length assert its genuine character: "Non semper pendebit inter latrones Christus; resurget aliquando crucifixa Veritas.”
END OF THE FOURTH VOLUME.
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