By Richard Watson
THEORIES WHICH LIMIT THE EXTENT OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
WE have, in the foregoing attempt to establish the doctrine of the redemption of all mankind against our Calvinistic brethren, taken their scheme in the sense in which it is usually understood, without noticing those minuter shades with which the system has been varied. In this discussion, it is hoped, that no expression has hitherto escaped inconsistent with candour. Doctrinal truth would be as little served by this as Christian charity; nor ought it ever to be forgotten by the theological inquirer, that the system which we have brought under review has, in some of its branches, always embodied, and often preserved in various parts of Christendom, that truth which is vital to the Church, and salutary to the souls of men. It has numbered, too, among its votaries, many venerable names; and many devoted and holy men, whose writings often rank among the brightest lights of Scriptural criticism and practical divinity. We think the peculiarities of their creed clearly opposed to the sense of Scripture, and fairly chargeable in argument with all those consequences we have deduced from them; and which, were it necessary to the discussion, might be characterized in still stronger language. Those consequences, however, let it be observed, we only exhibit as logical ones. By many of this class of divines they are denied; by others modified; and by a third party explained away to their own satisfaction by means of metaphysical and subtle distinctions. As logical consequences only they are, therefore, in such cases, fairly to be charged upon our opponents, in any disputes which may arise. By keeping this distinction in view, the discussion of these points may be preserved unfettered; and candour and charity sustain no wound.
We shall now proceed to justify the general view we have taken of the Calvinistic doctrine of election, predestination, and partial redemption, by adducing the sentiments of Calvin himself, and of Calvinistic theologians and Churches; after which our attention may be directed, briefly, to some of those more modem modifications of the system, which, though they differ not, as we think, so materially, from the original model as some of their advocates suppose, yet make concessions not unimportant to the more liberal, and, as we believe, the only Scriptural theory.
Calvin has at large opened his sentiments on election, in the third book of his Institutes. (The following quotations are made from Allen's translation. London, 1823.) "Predestination we call the eternal decree of God; by which he bath determined in himself what he would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated, either to life, or to death." After having spoken of the election of the race of Abraham, and then of particular branches of that race, he proceeds, "Though it is sufficiently clear that God, in his secret counsel, freely chooses whom be will, and rejects others, his gratuitous election is but half displayed till we come to particular individuals, to whom God not only offers salvation, but assigns it in such a manner, that the certainty of the effect is liable to no suspense or doubt." He sums up the chapter, in which he thus generally states the doctrine, in these words: (chap. 21, book iii:) "In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God hath once for all determined both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but that to those whom he devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible judgment. In the elect, we consider calling as an evidence of election; and justification as another token of its manifestation, till they arrive in glory, which constitutes its completion. As God seals his elect by vocation and justification, so by excluding the reprobate from the knowledge of his name, and sanctification of his Spirit, he affords an other indication of the judgment that awaits them."
In the commencement of the following chapter (book iii, chap. 22,) he thus rejects the notion that predestination is to be understood as resulting from God's foreknowledge of what would be the conduct of either the elect or the reprobate. "It is a notion commonly entertained, that GOD, foreseeing what would be the respective merits of every individual, makes a correspondent distinction between different persons; that he adopts as his children such as he foreknows will be deserving of his grace; and devotes to the damnation of death others, whose dispositions he sees will be inclined to wickedness and impiety. Thus they not only obscure election by covering it with the veil of foreknowledge, but pretend that it originates in another cause." Consistently with this, he a little farther on asserts, that election does not flow from holiness; but holiness from election. "For when it is said, that the faithful are elected that they should be holy, it is fully implied, that the holiness they were in future to possess, had its origin in election." He proceeds to quote the example of Jacob and Esau, as loved and hated before they had done good or evil, to show that the only reason of election and reprobation is to be placed in God's "secret counsel." He will not allow the future wickedness of the reprobate to have been considered in the decree of their rejection, any more than the righteousness of the elect as influencing their better fate. "God hath mercy on whom be will have mercy; and whom be will lie hardeneth. You see how he (the apostle) attributes both to the mere will of God. If, therefore, we can assign no reason why he grants mercy to his people, but because such is his pleasure, neither shall we find any other cause but his will for the reprobation of others. For when God is said to harden, or show mercy to whom he pleases, men are taught by this declaration, to seek no cause beside his will." (Book iii, chap. 22.)- "Many, indeed, as if they wished to avert odium from GOD, admit election in such a way as to deny that any one is reprobated. But this is puerile and absurd; because election itself could not exist without being opposed to reprobation :-whom God passes by, he therefore reprobates; and from no other cause than his determination to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his children." (Book iii, chap. 28.)
This is the scheme of predestination as exhibited by Calvin; and it is remarkable, that the answers which he is compelled to give to objections did not unfold to this great and acute man its utter contrariety to the testimony of God, and to all established notions of equity among men. To the objection taken from justice, he replies, "They (the objectors) inquire by what right the Lord is angry with his creatures who bad not provoked him by any previous offence; for that to devote to destruction whom he pleases, is more like the caprice of a tyrant, than the lawful sentence of a judge. If such thoughts ever enter into the minds of pious men, they will be sufficiently enabled to break their violence by this one consideration, how exceedingly presumptuous it is, only to inquire into the causes of the Divine will; which is, in fact, and is justly entitled to be, the cause of every thing that exists. For if it has any cause, then there must be something antecedent on which it depends, which it is impious to suppose. For the will of God is the highest rule of justice; so that what he wills must be considered just, for this very reason, because he wills it." The evasions are here curious. 1. He assumes the very thing in dispute, that God has willed the destruction of any part of the human race, "for no other cause than because he wills it;" of which assumption there is not only not a word of proof in Scripture; but, on the contrary, all Scripture ascribes the death of him that dieth to his own will, and not to the will of GOD; and therefore contradicts his statement. 2. He pretends that to assign any cause to the Divine will is to suppose something antecedent to, something above God, and, therefore, "impious;" as if we might not suppose something IN God to be the rule of his will, not only without any impiety, but with truth and piety; as, for instance, his perfect wisdom, holiness, justice, and goodness: or, in other words, to believe the exercise of his will to flow from the perfection of his whole nature; a much more honourable and Scriptural view of the will of GOD than that which subjects it to no rule, even in the nature of God himself. 3. When he calls the will of God, "the highest rule of justice," beyond which we cannot push our inquiries, he confounds the will of God, as a rule of justice to us, and as a rule to himself. This will is our rule; yet even then, because we know that it is the will of a perfect being; but when Calvin represents mere will as constituting God's own rule of justice, he shuts out knowledge, discrimination of the nature of things, and holiness; which is saying something very different to that great truth, that God cannot will any thing but what is perfectly just. It is to say that blind will, will which has no respect to any thing but itself, is God's highest rule of justice; a position which, if presented abstractedly, many of the most ultra Calvinists would spurn. 4. He determines the question by the authority of his own metaphysics, and totally forgets that one dictum of inspiration overturns his whole theory,-God " willeth all men to be saved:" a declaration, which, in no part of the sacred volume, S opposed or limited by any contrary declaration. Calvin is not, however, content thus to leave the matter; but resorts to an argument in which he has been generally followed by those who have adopted his system with some mitigations. "As we are all corrupted by sin, we must necessarily be odious to GOD, and that not from tyrannical cruelty; but in the most equitable estimation of justice. If all whom the Lord predestinates to death are, in their natural condition, liable to the sentence of death, what injustice do they complain of receiving from him 7" To this Calvin very fairly states the obvious rejoinder made in his day; and which the common sense of mankind will always make,-" They object, were they not by the decree of GOD antecedently predestinated to that corruption which is now stated as the cause of their condemnation? When they perish in their corruption, therefore, they only suffer the punishment of that misery into which, in consequence of his predestination, Adam fell, and precipitated his posterity with him." The manner in which Calvin attempts to refute this objection, shows how truly unanswerable it is upon his system. "I confess," says he, "indeed, that all the descendants of Adam fell, by the Divine will, into that miserable condition in which they are now involved; and this is what I asserted from the beginning, that we must always return at last to the sovereign determination of God's will; the cause of which is hidden in himself. But it follows not, therefore, that God is liable to this reproach; for we will answer them in the language of Paul, 'O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?'" "-That is, in order to escape the pinch of the objection, he assumes, that St. Paul affirms that God has "formed" a part of the human race for eternal misery; and that imposing silence upon them, he intended to declare that this proceeding in GOD was just. Now the passage may' be proved from the context to mean no such thing; but, if that failed, and it were more obscure in its meaning than it really is, such an interpretation would be contradicted by many other plain texts of Holy Writ, of which Calvin takes no notice. Even if this text would serve the purpose better, it gives no answer to the objection;' for we are brought round again, as indeed Calvin confesses, to his former, and indeed only argument, that the whole matter, as he states it, is to be referred back to the Divine will; which will, though perfectly arbitrary, is, as he contends, the highest rule of justice. "I say, with Augustine, that the Lord created those whom he certainly foreknew would fall into destruction; and that this was actually so, because he willed it; but of his will, it belongs not to us to demand the reason, which we are incapable of comprehending; nor is it reasonable that the Divine will should be made the subject of controversy with us, which is only another name for the highest rule of justice." Thus he shuts us out from pursuing the argument. When God places fences against our approach, we grant, that we are bound not "to break through and gaze ;" but not so, when man, without authority, usurps this authority, and warns us of from his own inclosures, as though we were trespassing upon the peculiar domains of God himself. Calvin's evasion proves the objection unanswerable. For if all is to be resolved into the mere will of God as to the destruction of the reprobate; if they were created for this purpose, as Calvin expressly affirms; if they fell into their corruption in pursuance of God's determination; if, as he had said before, "God passes them by, and reprobates them, from no other cause than his determination to exclude them from the inheritance of his children," why refer to their natural corruption at all, and their being odious to God in that state, since the same reason is given for their corruption as for their reprobation 7-Not any fault of theirs; but the mere will of GOD, "the reprobation hidden in his secret counsel," and not grounded on the visible and tangible fact of their demerit. Thus the election taught by Calvin is not a choice of some persons to peculiar grace from the whole mass, equally deserving of punishment; (though this is a sophism;) for, in that case, the decree of reprobation would rest upon God's foreknowledge of those passed by as corrupt arid guilty, which notion he rejects. "For since God foresees future events only in consequence of his decree that they shall happen, it is useless to contend about foreknowledge, while it is evident that all things come to pass rather by ordination and decree. It is a HORRIBLE DECREE, I confess; but no one can deny that God foreknew the future fate of man before he created him; and that he did foreknow it, because it was appointed by his own decree." Agreeably to this, he repudiates the distinction between will and permission. "For what reason shall we assign for his permit. ting it, but because it is his will? It is not probable, however, that man procured his own destruction by the mere permission, and without any appointment of God."
With this doctrine he again makes a singular attempt to reconcile the demerit of men :-" Their perdition depends on the Divine predestination in such a manner, that the cause and matter of it are found in themselves. For the first man fell because the Lord had determined it should so happen. The reason of this determination is unknown to us. Man, therefore, falls according to the appointment of Divine providence; but he falls by his own fault. The Lord had a little before pronounced every thing that he had made to be 'very good.' Whence, then, comes the depravity of man to revolt from his GOD? Lest it should he thought to come from creation, God approved and commended what had proceeded from himself. By his own wickedness, therefore, man corrupted the nature he had received pure from the Lord, and by his fall he drew all his posterity with him to destruction." It is in this way that Calvin attempts to avoid the charge of making God the author of sin. But how GOD should not merely permit the defection of the first man, but appoint it, and will it, and that his will should be the "necessity of things," all which he had before asserted, and yet that Deity should not be the author of that which he appointed, willed, and imposed a necessity upon, would be rather a delicate inquiry. It is enough that Calvin rejects the impious doctrine, and even though his principles directly lead to it, since he has put in his disclaimer, he is entitled to be exempted from the charge ;-but the logical conclusion is inevitable.
In much the same manner he contends that the necessity of sinning is laid upon the reprobate by the ordination of GOD, and yet denies God to be the author of their sin, since the corruption of men was derived from Adam, by his own fault, and not from GOD. Here, also, although the difficulty still remains of conceiving how a necessity of sinning should be laid on the descendants of Adam, and that without any counteraction of grace in the case of the reprobate, and that this should be attributable to the will of God as its cause, while yet God, in no sense injurious to his perfections, is to be regarded as the author of sin, we still admit Calvin's disclaimer; but then lie cannot have the advantage on both sides, and must renounce this or some of his former positions. He exhorts us "rather to contemplate the evident cause of condemnation, which is nearer to us, in the corrupt nature of mankind, than search after a hidden, and altogether incomprehensible one, in the predestination of GOD." "For, though, by the eternal providence of GOD, man was created to that misery to which he is subject, yet the ground of it he has derived from himself, not GOD; since he is thus ruined, solely in consequence of his having degenerated from the pure creation of GOD to vicious and impure depravity." Thus, almost in the same breath, he affirms that men became reprobate from no other cause than "the will of God," and his "sovereign determination;"-that men have no reason "to expostulate with God, if they are predestinated to eternal death, without any demerit of their own, merely by his sovereign will ;"-and then, that the corrupt nature of mankind is the evident and nearer cause of condemnation; (which cause, however, was still a matter of "appointment," and "ordination," not "permission ;") and that man is "ruined solely in consequence of his having degenerated from the pure state in which God created him." Now these propositions manifestly fight with each other; for if the reason of reprobation be laid in man's corruption, it cannot be laid in the mere will and sovereign determination of GOD, unless we suppose him to be the author of sin. It is this offensive doctrine only which can reconcile them. For if God so wills, and appoints, and necessitates the depravity of man, as to be the author of it, then there is no inconsistency in saying that the ruin of the reprobate is both from the mere will of God, and from the corruption of their nature, which is but the result of that will. The one is then, as Calvin state, the "evident and nearer cause," the other the more remote and hidden one; yet they have the same source, and are substantially acts of the same will. But if it be denied that God is, in any sense, the author of evil, and if sin is from man alone, then is the "corruption of nature" the effect of an independent will; and if this be the "real source," as he says, of men's condemnation, then the decree of reprobation rests not upon the sovereign will of God, as its sole cause, which he affirms; but upon a cause dependent on the will of the first man. But as this is denied, then the other must follow. Calvin himself indeed contends for the perfect concurrence of these proximate and remote causes, although, in point of fact, to have been perfectly consistent with himself, he ought rather to have called the mere will of GOD THE CAUSE of the decree of reprobation, and the corruption of man THE MEANS by which it is carried into effect: language which he sanctions, and which many of his followers have not scrupled to adopt.
So fearfully does this opinion involve in it the consequences that in sin man is the instrument, and God the actor, that it cannot be maintained, as stated by Calvin, without this conclusion. For as two causes of reprobation are expressly laid down, they must be either opposed to each other, or be consenting. If they are opposed, the scheme is given up; if consenting, then are both reprobation and human corruption the results of the same will, the same decree and necessity. It would be trifling to say that the decree does not influence; for if so, it is no decree in Calvin's sense, who understands the decree of GOD, as the foregoing extracts and the whole third book of his Institutes plainly show, as appointing what shall be, and by that appointment making it necessary. Otherwise he could not reject the distinction between will and permission, and avow the sentiment of St. Augustine, "that the will of God is the necessity of things; and that what he has willed will necessarily come to pass." (Book iii, chap. 23, sec. 8.) So, in writing to Castalio, he makes the sin of Adam the result of an act of God. "You say Adam fell by his free will. I except against it. That he might not fall, he stood in need of that strength and constancy with which God armeth all the elect, as long as he will keep them blameless. Whom God has elected, he props up with an invincible power unto perseverance. Why did he not afford this to Adam, if lie would have had him stand in his integrity?" And with this view of necessity, as resulting from the decree of God, the immediate followers of Calvin coincide; the end and the means, as to the elect, and as to the reprobate, are equally fixed by the decree; and are both to be traced to the appointing and ordaining will of God. On such a scheme it is therefore worse than trifling to attempt to make out a case of justice in favour of this assumed Divine procedure, by alleging the corruption and guilt of man: a point which, indeed, Calvin himself, in fact, gives up when he says, "that the reprobate obey not the word of GOD, when made known to them, is justly imputed to the wickedness and depravity of their hearts, provided it be at the same time stated, that they are abandoned to this depravity, because they have been raised up by a just, but inscrutable judgment of GOD, to display his glory in their condemnation." (Inst. book iii, chap. 24, sec. 14.)
It is by availing themselves of these ineffectual struggles of Calvin to give some colour of justice to his reprobating decree, by fixing upon the corruption of man as a cause of reprobation, that some of his followers have endeavoured, in the very teeth of his own express words, to reduce his system to supralapsarianism. This was attempted by Amyraldus; who was answered by Curcelloeus, in his tract "De Jure Dei in Crea. Luras." This last writer, partly by several of the same passages we have given above from Calvin's Institutes, and by extracts from his other writings, proves that Calvin did by no means consider man, as fallen, to be the object of reprobation; but man not yet created; man as to be created, and so reprobated, under no consideration in the Divine mind of his fall or actual guilt, except as consequences of an eternal preterition of the persons of the reprobate, resolvable only into the sovereign pleasure of God. The references he makes to men as corrupt, and to their corrupt state as the proximate cause of their rejection, are all manifestly used to parry off rather than to answer objections, and somewhat to soften, as Curcelloeus observes, the harsher parts of his system. And, indeed, for what reason are we so often brought back to that unfailing refuge of Calvin and his followers, "the presumption and wickedness of replying against God?" For if reprobation be a matter of human desert, it cannot be a mystery; if it be adequate punishment for an adequate fault, there is no need to urge it upon us to bow with sub. mission to an unexplained sovereignty. We may add, there is no need to speak of a remote or first cause of reprobation, if the proximate cause will explain the whole case; and that Calvin's continual reference to God's secret counsel, and will, and inscrutable judgment, could have no aptness to his argument. Among English divines, Dr. Twiss has sufficiently defended Calvin from the charge, as lie esteems it, of sublapsarianism; and, whatever merit Twiss's own supralapsarian creed may have, his argument on this point is unanswerable.
This then is the doctrine of Calvin, which was followed by several of the Churches of the reformation, who in this respect distinguished themselves from the Lutherans. It was a doctrine, however, unknown in the primitive Churches; and may be ranked among those errors which the pagan philosophy subsequently engrafted upon the faith of Christ.
Bishop Tomline's "Refutation of Calvinism," although very erroneous in some of its doctrinal views, has some valuable and conclusive quotations from the ancient fathers, proving "that the peculiar tenets of Calvinism are in direct opposition to the doctrines maintained in the first ages." They also show that there is a great similarity between some points in that system and several of the most prevalent of the early heresies. "The Manicheans denied the freedom of the human will; and spoke of the elect as persons who could not sin, or fail of salvation." The fruitful source of these notions was the Gnosticism of early times, which was the worst part of the speculative pagan philosophy, engrafted on a corrupted Christianity; and was vigorously opposed by the fathers, from the earliest date. In this system of affected and dreaming wisdom it was assumed, that sonic souls were created bad, and others good; and that they sprung; therefore, from different principles, or creators. Origen contended, in opposition to these speculations, that all souls were by nature of the same quality; that the use of the freedom of will made the differences we see in practice; and that this liberty rendered them liable to reward and to punishment; ascribing, however, this recovered freedom of the will, which had been lost in Adam, to the grace of Christ. The Platonism which he mixed up with his system was justly resisted in the Church; but his doctrine of the freedom of the will prevailed generally in the east. It was afterward carried to a dangerous extent by Pelagius, whose doctrine was modified by Cassian. These discussions called Augustine into a controversy, which carried him to the opposite extreme; and appears to have revived the Manichean notions of his youth in such a degree as greatly to tinge many parts of his system with that heresy. He was a powerful, but unsteady writer; and has expressed himself so inconsistently as to have divided the opinions of the Latin Church, where his authority has always been greatest. He held, although his writings afford many passages contradictory of the statement, that "God, from the foundation of the world, decreed to save some men, and to consign others to eternal punishment." Notwithstanding his authority, his views on predestination and grace appear to have made no great impression upon even the western Church, where the Collations of Cassian, a disciple of Chrysostom, a work which has been called semi-Pelagian, was held in extensive estimation; so that substantially no great difference of opinion appeared between the western and the Greek Churches, on these points, for several centuries. In the ninth century St. Austin's doctrines were revived and asserted by Goteschalc, who was as absurdly as wickedly persecuted on that account. His doctrines were condemned in two councils; and the controversy was laid to rest, until the subtle questions contained in it were revived by the schoolmen. Thomas Aquinas and the Dominicans adopted the strongest views of Augustine on predestina. tion and necessity, and improved upon them; Scotus and the Franciscans took the opposite side; and the infallibility of the pope has not yet been employed to settle this point. By condemning Jansenius, however, while it has honoured Augustine, that Church, as Bayle observes, (Dictionary, Art. Augustine,) has involved itself in great perplexities. The authority of this father with the Church of Rome was indeed an advantage which the first reformers did not fail to make use of. From him they supported their views on justification by faith; and finding so much of evangelical truth on this and some other subjects in his writings, they were insensibly biassed to the worst parts of his system. Luther recovered from this error in the latter part of his life; and the Lutheran Churches settled in the doctrine of universal redemption. Augustinism, as perfected and systematized by the able hand of Calvin, was received by several of the reformed Churches; and gave rise to a controversy which has remained to this day, though happily it has of late been conducted with less asperity. The system, as issued by Calvin, has, however, undergone various modifications: some theologians and their followers, having carried out his principles to their full Length, so as to advocate or sanction the Antinomian heresy, while others, either to avoid this fearful result, or perceiving the discrepancy of the harsher parts of the theory with the word of God, have impressed upon it a more mitigated aspect.
The three leading schemes of predestination, prevalent among the reformed Churches previous to the synod of Port, are thus stated in the celebrated Declaration of Arminius before the states of Holland. They comprehend the theories generally known by the names of supralapsa. nan and sublapsarian.
"The FIRST, or Creabilitarian, or supralapsarian opinion, is, 1. That God has absolutely and precisely decreed to save certain particular men by his mercy or grace; but to condemn others by his justice; and to do all this, without having any regard in such decree to righteousness or sin, obedience or disobedience, which could possibly exist on the part of one class of men, or the other. 2. That for the execution of the preceding decree, God determined to create Adam, and all men in him, in an upright state of original righteousness; beside which, he also ordained them to commit sin, that they might thus become guilty of eternal condemnation, and be deprived of original righteousness. 3. That those persons whom God has thus positively wished to save, lie has decreed, not only to salvation, but also to the means which pertain to it; that is, to conduct and bring them to faith in Christ Jesus, and to perseverance in that faith; and that he also leads them to these results by a grace and power that are irresistible; so that it is not possible for them to do otherwise than believe, persevere in faith, and be saved.
4. That to those, whom, by his absolute will, God has foreordained to perdition, he has also decreed to deny that grace which is necessary and sufficient for salvation; and does not, in reality, confer it upon them; so that they are neither placed in a possible condition, nor in any capacity of believing, or of being saved."
The SECOND opinion differs from the former; but is still supralapsarian. It is,-
"1. That God determined within himself, by an eternal immutable decree, to make, according to his good pleasure, the smaller portion out of the general mass of mankind, partakers of his grace and glory. But, according to his pleasure, he passed by the greater portion of men, and left them in their own nature, which is incapable of any thing supernatural; and did not communicate to them that saving and supernatural grace by which their nature, if it still retained its integrity, might be strengthened; or by which, if it were corrupted, it might h)e restored, for a demonstration of his own liberty: yet after God had made these men sinners, and guilty of death, he punished them with death eternal, for a demonstration of his justice."-" As far as we are capable of comprehending their scheme of reprobation, it consists of two acts, that of PRETERITION, and that of PREDAMNATION. PRETERITION is antecedent to all things, and to all causes which are either in the things themselves, or which arise out of them; that is, it has no regard whatever to any sin, and only views man under an absolute and general aspect. Two means are foreordained for the execution of the act of PRETERITION: dereliction in a state of nature which, by itself, is incapable of every thing supernatural; and the non-communication of supernatural grace, by which their nature, if in a state of integrity, might be strengthened, and if in a state of corruption, might be restored. PREDAMNATION is antecedent to all things; yet it does by no means exist without a foreknowledge of the cause of damnation. It views man as a sinner obnoxious to damnation in Adam, and as, on this account, perishing through the necessity of Divine justice."
This opinion differs from the first in this, that it does not lay down the creation or the fall as a mediate cause, foreordained of God for the execution of the decree of reprobation; yet this second kind of predestination places election, with regard to the end, before the fall, as also preterition, or passing by, which is the first part of reprobation. "But though the inventors of this scheme," says Arminius, "have been desirous of using the greatest precaution, lest it might be concluded from their doctrine, that God is the author of sin with as much show of probability as it is deducible from the first scheme; yet we shall discover, that the fall of Adam cannot possibly, according to their views, be considered in any other manner than as a necessary means for the execution of the preceding decree of predestination. For, first, it states that God determined by the decree of reprobation to deny to man that grace which was necessary for the confirmation and strengthening of his nature, that it might not be corrupted by sin; which amounts to this, that God decreed not to bestow that grace which was necessary to avoid sin; and from this must necessarily follow the transgression of man, as proceeding from a law imposed upon him. The fall of man is, therefore, a means ordained for the execution of the decree of reprobation."
"2. It states the two parts of reprobation to be preterition and predamnation. Those two parts, (although the latter views man as a sinner, and obnoxious to justice,) are, according to that decree, connected together by a necessary and mutual bond, and are equally extensive; for those whom God passed by in conferring grace, are likewise damned. Indeed, no others are damned except those who are the subjects of this act of preterition. From this, therefore, it must be concluded, that sin necessarily follows from the decree of reprobation or preterition because, if it were otherwise, it might possibly happen, that a person who had been passed by might not commit sin, and from that circumstance might not become liable to damnation. This second opinion on predestination, therefore, falls into the same inconvenience as the first,-the making God the author of sin." (Declaration.)
The THIRD opinion is sublapsarian; in which man, as the object of predestination, is considered as fallen. It is thus epitomized by Arminius:--
"Because God willed within himself from all eternity to make a decree by which he might elect certain men and reprobate the rest, he viewed and considered the human race not only as created, but likewise as fallen or corrupt; and, on that account, obnoxious to malediction. Out of this lapsed and accursed state God determined to liberate certain individuals, and freely to save them by his grace, for a declaration of his mercy; but he resolved in his own just judgment, to leave the rent under malediction, for a declaration of his justice. In both these cases God acts without the least consideration of repentance and faith in those whom be elects, or of impenitence and unbelief in those whom he reprobates. This opinion places the fall of man, not as a means foreordained for the execution of the decree of predestination, as before explained; but as something that might furnish a proaeresis, or occasion for this decree of predestination." (Declaration.)
With this opinion, however, the necessity of the fall is so generally connected, that it escapes the difficulties which environ the preceding scheme in words only; for whether, in the decree of predestination, man is considered as creatable, or created and fallen, if a necessity be laid upon any part of the race to sin, and to be made miserable, whether from that which rendered the fall inevitable, or that which rendered the fall the inevitable means of corrupting their nature, and producing entire moral disability without relief, the condition of the reprobate remains substantially the same; and the administration under which they are placed, is equally opposed to justice as to grace. For let us shut out all these fine distinctions between acts of sovereignty and acts of justice, preterition and predamnation, and fully allow the principle, that all are fallen in Adam, in what way can even the sublapsarian doctrine be sup ported? It has two objects: to avoid the imputation of making God the author of sin, and to repel the charge of his dealing with his creatures unjustly. We need only take the latter as necessary to the argument, and show how utterly they fail to turn aside this most fatal objection drawn from the justice of the Divine nature and administration.
It is an easy and plausible thing to say, in the usual loose and general manner of stating the sublapsarian doctrine, that the whole race having fallen in Adam, and become justly liable to eternal death, God might, without any impeachment of his justice, in the exercise of his sovereign grace, appoint some to life and salvation by Christ, and leave the others to their deserved punishment. But this is a false view of the case, built upon the false assumption that the whole race were personally and individually, in consequence of Adam's fall, absolutely liable to eternal death. That very fact which is the foundation of the whole scheme, is easy to be refuted on the clearest authority of Scripture; while not a passage can be adduced, we may boldly affirm, which sanctions any such doctrine.
"The wages of sin is death." That the death which is the wages or penalty of sin extends to eternal death, we have before proved. But "sin is the transgression of the law;" and in no other light is it represented in Scripture, when eternal death is threatened as its penalty, than as the act of a rational being sinning against a law known or knowable; and as an act avoidable, and not forced or necessary.
Taking these principles, let them be applied to the case before us.
The scheme of predestination in question contemplates the human race as fallen in Adam. It must, therefore, contemplate them either as seminally in Adam, not being yet born; or as to be actually born into the world.
In the former case, the only actual beings to be charged with sin, "the transgression of the law," were Adam and Eve; for the rest of the human race not being actually existent, were not capable of transgressing; or if they were, in a vague sense, capable of it by virtue of the federal character of Adam; yet then only as potential, and not as actual beings, beings, as the logicians say, in posse, not in essc. Our first parents rendered themselves liable to eternal death. This is granted; and had they died "IN THE DAY" they sinned, which, but for the introduction of a system of mercy and long suffering, and the appointment of a new kind of probation, for any thing that appears, they must have done, the human race would have perished with them, and the only conscious sinners would have been the only conscious sufferers. But then this lays no foundation for election and reprobation ;-the whole race would thus have perished without the vouchsafement of mercy to any.
This predestination must, therefore, respect the human race fallen in Adam, as to be born actually, and to have a real as well as a potential existence; and the doctrine will be, that the race so contemplated were made unconditionally liable to eternal death. In this case the decree takes effect immediately upon the fall, and determines the condition of every individual, in respect to his being elected from this common misery, or his being left in it; and it rests its plea of justice upon the assumed fact, that every man is absolutely liable to eternal death wholly and entirely for the sin of Adam, a sin to which he was not a consenting party, because he was not in actual existence. But if eternal death be the "wages of sin;" and the sin which receives such wages be the transgression of a law by a voluntary agent, (and this is the rule as laid down by God himself,) then on no Scriptural principle is the human race to be considered absolutely liable to personal and conscious eternal death for the sin of Adam; and so the very ground assumed by the advocates of this theory is unfounded.
But perhaps they will bring into consideration the foreknowledge of actual transgression as contemplated by the decree, though this notion is repudiated by Calvin, and the rigid divines of his school; but we reply to this, that either the sin of Adam was a sufficient reason for the actual infliction of a sentence of eternal death upon his descendants, or it was not. If not, then no man will be punished with eternal death, as the consequence of Adam's sin, and that sentence will rest upon actual transgressions alone. If, then, this be allowed, there comes in an important inquiry: Are the actual transgressions of the non-elect evitable, or necessary? If the former, then even the reprobate, without the grace of Christ, which they cannot have, because he died not for them, may avoid all sin, and consequently keep the whole law of God, and claim, though still reprobates, to be justified by their works. But if sin be unavoidable and necessary as to them, in consequence both of the corrupt nature they have derived from Adam, and the withholding of that sanctifying influence which can be imparted only to the elect, for whom alone Christ died, how are they to be proved justly liable, on that account, to eternal death? This is the penalty of sin, of sin as the transgression of the law; but then law is given only to creatures in a state of trial, either to those who, from their unimpaired powers, are able to keep it; or to those to whom is made the promise of gracious assistance, upon their asking it, in order that they may be enabled to obey the will of' God; and in no case are those to whom God issues his commands sup posed in Scripture to be absolutely incapable of obedience, much less liable to be punished, without remedy, for not obeying, if so incapacitated. This would, indeed, make the Divine Being a hard master, "reaping' where he has not sown;" which is the language only of the "wicked servant;" and therefore to be abhorred by all good men. But if a point so obviously at variance with truth and equity be maintained, the doctrine comes to this, that men are considered, in the Divine decree, as justly liable to eternal death, (their actual sins being foreseen,) because they have been placed by some previous decree, or higher branch of the same decree, in circumstances which necessitate them to sin: a doc trine which raises sublapsarianism into supralapsarianism itself. This is not the view which God gives us of his own justice; and it is contradicted by every notion of justice which has ever obtained among men: nor is it at all relieved by the subtilty of Zanchius and others, who distinguish between being necessitated to sin, and being forced to sin; and argue, that because in sinning the reprobate follow the motions of their own will, they are justly punishable; though in this they fulfil the predestination of GOD. The true question is, and it is not at all affected by such merely verbal distinctions, Can the reprobate do otherwise than sin, and could they ever do otherwise? They sin willingly, it is said. This is granted; but could they ever will otherwise? The will is but one of many diseased powers of the soul. Is there, as to them, any cure for this disease of the will? According to this scheme, there is not; and they will from necessity, as well as act from necessity; so that the difficulty, though thrown a step backward, remains in full force.
In support of their notion, that the penalty attached to original sin is eternal death, they allege, it is true, that the Apostle Paul represents all men under condemnation in consequence of their connection with the first Adam; and attributes the salvation of those who are rescued from the ruin, only to the obedience of the second Adam. This is granted; but it will not avail to establish their position, that the human race being all under an absolute sentence of condemnation to eternal death, almighty God, in the exercise of his sovereign grace, elected a part of them to salvation, and left the remainder to the justice of their previous sentence.
For, 1. Supposing that the whole human race were under condemnation in their sense, this will not account for the punishment of those who reject the Gospel. Their rejecting the Gospel is represented in Scripture as the sole cause of their condemnation, and never merely as an aggravating cause, as though they were under an irreversible previous sentence of death, and that this refusal of the Gospel only heightened a previously certain and inevitable punishment. An aggravated cause of condemnation it is; but for this reason, that it is the rejection of a remedy, and an abuse of mercy, neither of which could have any place in a previously fixed condition of reprobation. If, therefore, it is true that "THIS is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light," we must conclude, that the previous state of condemnation was not irremediable and unalterable, or this circumstance, the rejection "of the light," or revelation of mercy in the Gospel, could not be their condemnation.
2. Leaving the meaning of the apostle in Rom. v, out of our consideration for a moment, the Scriptures never place the final condemnation of men upon the ground of Adam's offence, and their connection With him. ACTUAL SIN forms the ground of every reproving charge; of every commination; and, beyond all doubt, of the condemnatory sentence at the day of judgment. To what ought we to refer, as explaining the true cause of the eternal 'punishment of any portion of our race, but to the proceedings of that day, when that eternal punishment is to be awarded? Of the reason of this proceeding, of the facts to be charged, and of the sins to be punished, we have very copious information in the Scriptures; but these are evil works, and disbelief of the Gospel. Nowhere is it said, or even hinted in the most distant manner, that men will be sentenced to eternal death, at that day, either because of Adam's sin or because their connection with Adam made them inevitably corrupt in nature, and unholy in conduct; from which effects they could not escape, because God had from eternity resolved to deny them the grace necessary to this end.
3. The true view of the apostle's doctrine in Rom. v, is to be ascertained, not by making partial extracts from his discourse; but by taking the argument entire, and in all its parts.
The Calvinists assume, that the apostle represents what the penal condition of the human race would have been had not Christ interposed as our Redeemer. Here is one of their great and leading mistakes, for St. Paul does not touch this point. The Calvinist assumes, that the whole race of men, but for the decree of election, would not only have come into actual being, but have been actually and individually punished for ever; and, on this assumption, endeavours to justify his doctrine of the arbitrary selection of a part of mankind to grace and salvation, the ether being left in the state in which they were found. Even thin is contrary to other parts of their own system; for the reprobate are placed in an infinitely worse condition than had they been merely thus left without a share in Christ's redemption; because, even according to Calvinistic interpreters their condemnation is fearfully aggravated; and by that which they have no means of avoiding, by actual sin and unbelief. But the assumption itself is wholly imaginary. For the apostle speaks not of what the human race would have been, that is, he affirms nothing as to their penal condition, in case Christ had not undertaken the office of Redeemer; but he looks at their moral state and penal condition, as the case actually stands: in other words, he takes the state of man as it was actually established after the fall, as recorded in the book of Genesis. No child of Adam was actually born into the world until the promise of a Redeemer had been given, and the virtue of his anticipated redemption had begun to apply itself to the case of the fallen pair; consequently, all mankind are born under a constitution of mercy, which actually existed before their birth. What the race would have been had not the redeeming plan been brought in, the Scriptures nowhere tell us, except that a sentence of death to be executed "in the day" in which the first pair sinned, was the sanction of the law under which they were placed; and it is great presumption to assume it as a truth, that they would have multiplied their species only for eternal destruction. That the race would have been propagated under an absolute necessity of sinning, and of being made eternally miserable, we may boldly affirm to be impossible; because it supposes an administration contradicted by every attribute which the Scriptures ascribe to GOD. What the actual state of the human race is, in consequence both of the fall of Adam and of the interposition of Christ; of the imputation of the effects of the offence of the one, and of the obedience of the other; is the only point to which our inquiries can go, and to which, indeed, the argument of the apostle is confined.
There is, it is true, an imputation of the consequences of Adam's sin to his posterity, independent of their personal offences; but we can only ascertain what these consequences are by referring to the apostle himself. One of these consequences is asserted explicitly, and others are necessarily implied in this chapter and in other parts of his writings. That which is here explicitly asserted is, that DEATH passed upon all men, though they have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, that is, not personally; and therefore this death is to be regarded as the result of Adam's transgression alone, and of our having been so far "constituted sinners" in him, as to be liable to it. But then the death of which he here speaks, is the death of the body; for his argument, that "death reigned from Adam to Moses," obliges us to understand him as speaking of the visible and known fact, that men in those ages died as to the body, since he could not intend to say that all the generations of men, from Adam to Moses, died eternally. The death of the body, then, is the first effect of the imputation of Adam's sin to his descendants, as stated in this chapter. A second is necessarily implied; a state of spiritual death,-the being born into the world with a corrupt nature, always tending to actual offence. This is known to be the apostle's opinion, from other parts of his writings; but that passage in this chapter in which it is necessarily implied, is verse 16. "The free gift is of many offences unto justification." If men need justification of " many offences;" if all men need this, and that under a dispensation of help and spiritual healing; then the nature which universally leads to offences so numerous must be inherently and universally corrupt. A third consequence is a conditional liability to eternal death; for that state which makes us liable to actual sin, makes us also liable to actual punishment. But this is conditional, not absolute; for since the apostle makes the obedience of Christ available to the forgiveness of the "many offences" we may commit in consequence of the corrupt nature we have derived from Adam, and extends this to all men, they can only perish by their own fault. Now beyond these three effects we do not find that the apostle carries the consequence of Adam's sin. Of unpardoned "offences" eternal death is the consequence; but these are personal. Of the sin of Adam, imputed, these are 'the consequences,--the death of the body,-and our introduction into the world with a nature tending to actual offences, and a conditional liability to punishment. But both are connected with a remedy as extensive as the disease. For the first, the resurrection from the dead; for the other, the healing of grace and the promise of pardon, and thus though "condemnation" has passed upon "all men," yet the free gift unto justification of life passes upon "all men" also,-the same general terms being used by the apostle in each case. The effects of" the free gift" are not immediate; the reign of death remains till the resurrection; but in Christ shall all be made alive," and it is every man's own fault, not his fate, if his resurrection be not a happy one. The corrupt nature remains till the healing is applied by the Spirit of God; but it is provided, and is actually applied in the case of all those dying in infancy, as we have already showed; (See chapter xviii, p. 3;) while justification and regeneration are offered, through specified means and conditions, to all who are of the age of reason and choice, and thus the sentence of eternal death may be reversed. What then becomes of the premises in the sublapsarian theory which we have been examining, that in Adam all men are absolutely condemned to eternal death? Had Christ not undertaken human redemptions, we have no proof, no indication in Scripture, that for Adam's sin any but, the actually guilty pair would have been doomed to this condemnation; and though now the race having become actually existent, is for this sin, and for the demonstration of' God's hatred of sin in general, involved, through a federal relation and by an imputation of Adam's sin, in the effects above mentioned; yet a universal remedy is provided.
But we are not to be confined even to this view of the grace of God, when we speak of actual offences. Here the case is even strengthened. The redemption of Christ extends not merely to the removal of the evils laid upon us by the imputation of Adam's transgression; but to those which are the effects of our own personal choice-to the forgiveness of "many offences," upon our repentance and faith, however numerous and aggravated they may be; -to the bestowing of "abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness;"-and not merely to the reversal of the sentence of death, but to our "reigning in life by Jesus Christ:" so that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life:"-which phrase, in the New Testament, does never mean less than the glorification of the bodies and souls of believers in the kingdom of God, and in the presence and enjoyment of the eternal glory of Christ.
So utterly without foundation is the leading assumption in the sublapsarian scheme, that the decree of election and reprobation finds the human race in a state of common and absolute liability to personal eternal punishment; and that by making a sovereign selection of a part of mankind, God does no injustice to the rest by passing them by. The word of God asserts no such doctrine as the absolute condemnation of the race to eternal death, merely for Adam's offence; and if it did, the merciful result of the obedience of Christ is declared to be not only as extensive as the evil, in respect of the number of persons so involved; but in "grace" to be more abounding. Finally, this assumption falls short of the purpose for which it is made; because the mere "passing by" of a part of the race, already, according to them, under eternal condemnation, and which they contend inflicts no injustice upon them, does not account for their additional and aggravated punishment for doing what they had never the natural or dispensed power of avoiding,-breaking God's holy laws, and rejecting his Gospel. Upon a close examination of the sublapsarian scheme, it will be found, therefore, to involve all the leading difficulties of the Calvinistic theory as it is broadly exhibited by Calvin himself. In both cases reprobation is grounded on an act of mere will, resting on no reason: it respects not in either, as its primary cause, the demerit of the creature; and it punishes eternally without personal guilt, arising either from actual sin, or from the rejection of the Gospel. Both unite in making sin a necessary result of the circumstances in which God has placed a great part of mankind, which, by no effort of theirs, can be avoided; or, what is the same thing, which they shall never be disposed to avoid; and how either of these schemes, in strict consequence, can escape the charge of making God the author of sin, which the synod of Dort acknowledges to be "blasphemy," is inconceivable. For how does it alter the case of the reprobate, whether the fall of Adam himself was necessitated, or whether he acted freely? They, at least, are necessitated to sin; they come into the world under a necessitating constitution, which is the result of an act to which they gave no consent; and their case differs nothing, except in circumstances which do not alter its essential character, from that of beings immediately created by God with a nature necessarily producing sinful acts, and to counteract which there is no remedy :-a case which few have been bold enough to suppose.
The different views of the doctrine of predestination, as stated above, greatly agitated the Protestant world, from the time of Calvin to the sitting of the celebrated synod of Dort, whose decisions on this point, having been received as a standard by several Churches and by many theologians, may next be properly introduced; although, after what has been said, they call only for brief remark.
"The Judgment of the synod of the Reformed Belgic Churches," to which many divines of note of other Reformed Churches were admitted, "on the articles controverted in the Belgic Churches," was drawn up in Latin, and read in the great church at Dort, in the year 1619; and a translation into English of this "Judgment," with the synod's "Rejection of Errors," was published in the same year. (London, printed by John Bill.) This translation having become scarce, or not being known to Mr. Scott, he published a new translation in 1818, from which, as being in more modern English, and, as far as I have compared it, unexceptionably faithful, I shall take the extracts necessary to exhibit the synod's decision on the point before us.
Art. 1. "As all men have sinned a Adam, and have become exposed to the curse and eternal death, God would have done no injustice to any one, if he had determined to leave the whole human race under sin and the curse, and to condemn them on account of sin; according to the words of the apostle, 'all the world is become guilty before God,' Rom. iii, 19. 'All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,' 23~ and 'the wages of sin is death,' Rom. vi, 23."
The synod here assumes that all men, in consequence of Adam's sin, have become exposed to the curse of "eternal death;" and they quote passages to prove it, which manifestly prove nothing to the point. The two first speak of actual sin; the third, of the wages, or penalty of actual sin, as the context of each will show. The very texts adduced show how totally at a loss the synod was for any thing like Scriptural evidence of this strange doctrine; which, however, as we have seen would not, if true, help them through their difficulties, seeing it leave the punishment of the reprobate for actual sin and for disbelief of the Gospel, still unaccounted for on every principle of justice.
Art. 4. "They who believe not the Gospel, on them the wrath of God remaineth; but those who receive it, and embrace the Saviour Jesus with a true and living faith, are, through him, delivered from the wrath of God, and receive the gift of everlasting life."
To this there is nothing to object; only it is to be observed, that those who are not elected to eternal life out of the common mass, are not according to this article, merely left and passed by; but are brought under an obligation of believing the Gospel, which, nevertheless, is no "good news" to them, and in which they have no interest at all; and yet, in default of believing, "the wrath of God abideth upon them." Thus there is, in fact, no alternative for them. They cannot believe, or else it would follow that those reprobated might be saved, and, therefore, the wrath of God "abideth upon them," for no fault of their own. This, however, the next article denies.
Art. 5. "The cause or fault of this unbelief, as also of all other sins is by no means in God; but in man. But faith in Jesus Christ and salvation by him, is the free gift of GOD. 'By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,' Eph. ii, 8. In like manner, 'it is given to you to believe in Christ, Phil. i, 29."
These passages would be singular proofs that the fault of unbelief is in men themselves, did not the next article explain the connection between them and the premises in the minds of the synodists. A much more appropriate text, but a rather difficult one on their theory, would have been, "ye have not, because ye ask not."
Art. 6. That some, in time, have faith given them by God, and others have it not given, proceeds from his eternal decree; for' know unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,' Acts xv, 18. According to which decree, he gradually softens the hearts of the elect, however hard, and he bends them to believe; but the non-elect he leaves, 'in just judgment, to their own perversity and hardness.- And here, especially, a deep discrimination, at the same time both merciful and just; a discrimination of men equally lost, opens itself to us; or that decree of election and reprobation which is revealed in the word of God; which as perverse, impure, and unstable persons do wrest to their own destruction, so it affords ineffable consolation to holy and pious souls."
To this article the synod appends no Scripture proofs; which if the doctrines it contains were, as the synodists say, "revealed in the word of God," would not have been wanting. The passage which stands in the middle of the article could scarcely be intended as a proof, since it would equally apply to any other doctrine which does not shut out the prescience of God. The doctrine of the two articles just quoted, will be seen by taking them together. The position laid down is, that "the fault" of not believing the Gospel is "in man." The alleged proof of this is, that faith is the gift of God. But this only proves that the fault of not believing is in man, just as it allows that God, the giver of faith, is willing to give faith to those who have it not, and that they will not receive it. In no other way can it prove the faultiness of man; for to what end are we taught that faith is the gift of God in order to prove the fault of not believing to be in man, if God will not bestow the gift, and if man cannot believe without such bestowment? This, however, is precisely what the synod teaches. It argues, that faith is the gift of God; that it is only given to "some;" and that this proceeds from God's "eternal decree." So that, by virtue of this decree, he gives faith to some, and withholds it from others, who are, thereupon, left without the power of believing; and for this act of God, therefore, and not for a fault of their own, they are punished eternally. And yet the synod calls this a "just judgment; affording ineffable consolation to holy souls," and a "doctrine only rejected by the perverse and impure!"
As we have already quoted and commented on the 7th and 8th articles on election, we proceed to
Art. 10. "Now the cause of this gratuitous election is the sole good Pleasure of God; not consisting in this, that he elected into the condition of salvation certain qualities or human actions, from all that were Possible; but in that, out of the common multitude of sinners, he took to himself certain persons as his peculiar property, according to the Scripture, 'for the children being not born, neither having done any good or evil, &c, it is said (that is to Rebecca) the elder shall serve the Younger; even as it is written, Jacob have I loved; but Esau have I hated,' Rum ix, 11-13. 'And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,' Acts xiii, 48."
Thus the ground of this election is resolved wholly into the "good pleasure of God," (est solum Dei bene placitum,) "having no respect, as to its REASON, or CONDITION, though it may have as to its END, to any foreseen faith, obedience of faith, or any other good quality and disposition," as it is expressed in the preceding article. Let us, then, see how the case stands with the reprobate.
Art. 15. "Moreover, Holy Scripture doth illustrate and commend to us this eternal and free grace of our election, in this more especially, that it doth also testify all men not to be elected; but that some arc non-elect, or passed by in the eternal election of God: whom, truly, God, from most free, just, irreprehensible, and immutable good pleasure, decreed to leave in the common misery into which they had, by their own fault, cast themselves, and not to bestow on them lining faith, and the grace of conversion; but having left them in their own ways, and under just judgment, at length, not only on account of their unbelief, but also of all their other sins, to condemn, and eternally punish them for the manifestation of his own justice. And this is the decree of reprobation which determines that God is in no wise the author of sin; (which, to be thought of, is blasphemy;) but a tremendous, irreprehensible, just Judge and avenger."
Thus we hear the synodists confessing, in the same breath in which they plausibly represent reprobation as a mere passing by and leaving men "in the common misery," that the reprobate are punishable for their "unbelief and other sins," and so this decree imports, therefore, much more than leaving men in the "common misery." For this "common misery" can mean no more than the misery common to all mankind by the sin of Adam, into which his fall plunged the elect, as well as the repro bate; and to be "left" in it, must be understood of being left to the a consequences of that offence. Now, were it even to be conceded these consequences extend to personal and conscious eternal punishment, which has been disproved; yet, even then, their decree has a much more formidable aspect, terrible and repulsive as this alone would be~ For we are expressly told, that God not only "decreed to leave them in this misery," but "not to bestow on them living faith, and the grace of conversion;" and then to condemn, and eternally punish them, "on account of their unbelief" which by their own showing, these reprobates could not avoid; and for "all their other sins," which they could not but commit, since it was "decreed" to deny to them "the grace of conversion." Thus the case of the reprobate is deeply aggravated, beyond what it could have been if they had been merely "left in the common misery;" and the synod and its followers have, therefore, the task of allowing, how the punishing of men for what they never could avoid, and which, it was expressly decreed they never should avoid, "is a manifestation of the justice" of almighty GOD.
From the above extracts it will be seen how little reason Mr. Scott had to reprove Dr. Heylin with "bearing false witness against his neighbour," (Scott's Translation of the Articles of the Synod of Dort, p. 120,) on account of having given a summary of the eighteen articles of the synod, on predestination, in the following words :-" That God, by an absolute decree, hath elected to salvation a very small number of men, without any regard to their faith and obedience whatsoever; and secluded from saving grace all the rest of mankind, and appointed them by the same decree to eternal damnation, without any regard to their infidelity and impenitency." Whether Mr. Scott understood this controversy or not, Dr. Reylin shows, by this summary, that he neither misapprehended it, nor bore "false witness against his neighbour," in so stating it; for as to the stir made about his rendering "multitudo" a very small number, this verbal inaccuracy affects not the merits of the doctrine; and neither the synodists, nor any of their followers, ever allowed the elect to be a very great number. The number, less or more, alters not the doctrine. With respect to the elect, the synod confesses, that the decree of election has no regard, as a cause, to faith and obedience foreseen in the persons so elected; and with respect to the reprobate, although it is not so explicit in asserting that the decree of reprobation has no regard to their infidelity and impenitency, the foregoing extracts cannot possibly be interpreted into any other meaning. For it is manifestly in vain for the synodists to attempt, in the 15th article, to gloss over the doctrine, by saying that men "cast themselves into the common misery by their own fault," when they only mean that they were cast into it by Adam and by his fault. If they intended to ground their decree of reprobation on foresight of the personal offences of the reprobate, they would have said this in so many words; but the materials of which the synod was composed forbade such a declaration; and they themselves, in the "Rejection of Errors," appended to their chapter "de divina Praedestinatione," place in this list "the errors of those who teach that God has not decreed, from his own mere just will, to leave any in the fall of Adam, and in the common state of sin and damnation, or to pass them by in the communication of grace necessary to faith and conversion ;" quoting as a proof of this dogma, "He bath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he bardeneth," and giving no intimation that they understand this passage in any other sense than Calvin and his immediate followers have uniformly affixed to it. What Dr. Heylin has said is here, then, abundantly established; for if the decree of reprobation is to be referred to God's "mere will," and if its operation is to leave the reprobate "in the fall of Adam," and "to pass them by in that communication of grace which is necessary to faith and conversion," the decree itself is that which prevents both penitence and faith, and stands upon some other ground than the personal infidelity and impenitency of the reprobate, and cannot have "any regard" to either, except as a part of its own dread consequences: a view of the matter which the supralapsarians would readily admit. How their doctrine, so stated by themselves, could give the synod any reason to complain, as they do in their conclusion, that they were slandered by their enemies when they were charged with teaching, "that God, by the bare and mere determination of his will, without any respect of the sin of any man, predestinated and created the greatest part of the world to eternal damnation," will not be very obvious; or why they should startle at the same doctrine in one dress which they themselves have but clothed in another. The fact is, that the divisions in the synod obliged tire leading members, who were chiefly stout supralapsarians, to qualify their doctrine somewhat in words, while substantially it remained the same; but what they lost by giving up a few words in one place, they secured by retaining them in another, or by resorting to subtilties not obvious to the commonality. Of this subtilty, the apparent disclaimer just quoted is in proof. When they seem to deny that God reprobates without any respect to the sin of any man, they may mean that he had respect to the sin of Adam, or to sin in Adam; for they do not deny that they reject personal sin as a ground of reprobation. Even when they appear to allow that God had, in reprobation, respect to the corruption of human nature, or even to personal transgression, they never confess that God had respect to sin, in either sense, as the impulsive or meritorious cause of reprobation. But the greatest subtilty remains behind; for the synod says nothing, in this complaint and apparent rejection of the doctrine charged upon them by their adversaries, but what all the supralapsarian divines would say. These, as we have seen, make a distinction between the two parts of the decree of reprobation, preterition and PREDAMNATION, the latter of which must always have respect to actual sin; and hence arises their distinction between "destruction" and "damnation." For they say, it is one thing to predestinate and create to damnation, and another to predestinate and create to destruction. Damnation, being the sentence of a judge, must be passed in consideration of sin; but destruction may be the act of a sovereign, and so inflicted by right of dominion. The synod would have disallowed something substantial, bad they denied that God created any man to destruction, without respect to sin, and were safe enough in allowing that he has created none, without respect to sin, unto damnation. But among the errors on predestination, which they formally "reject," and which they place under nine distinct heads, thus attempting to guard the pure and orthodox doctrine as to this point on the right hand and on the left, they are careful not to condemn the supralapsarian doctrine, or to place even its highest branches among the doctrines disavowed.
The doctrine of the Church of Scotland, on these topics, is expressed in the answers to the 12th and 13th questions of its large catechism: "God's decrees are tire wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will; whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men"-" God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory ; and, in Christ, hath chosen some men to eternal life and the means thereof; and also, according to his sovereign power and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, (whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favour as he pleaseth,) hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonour and wrath, to be for their sis inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice."
In this general view there appears a strict conformity to the opinions of Calvin, as before given. All things are the subjects of decree and pre ordination; election and reprobation are grounded upon the mere will of God; election is the choosing men, not only to salvation, but to the means of salvation; from which the reprobates are therefore excluded, passed by, and foreordained to wrath; and yet though the "means of salvation" are never put within their reach, this wrath is inflicted upon them "for their sin;" and to the praise of God's justice! The Church of Scotland adopts, also, the notion that decrees of election and reprobation extend to angels as well as men; a pretty certain proof that the framers of this catechism were not sublapsariafls, for as to angels, them could be no election out of a " common misery;" and with Calvin, therefore, they choose to refer the whole to the arbitrary pleasure and will of God." The angels who stood in their integrity, Paul calls elect; if their constancy rested on the Divine pleasure, the defection of others argues their having been forsaken: (direlectos,) a fact, for which no other cause can be assigned, than the reprobation hidden in the secret counsel of GOD."
The ancient Church of the Vaudois, in the valleys of Piedmont, have a confession of faith, bearing date A. D. 1120; and which, probably, transmits the opinions of much more ancient times. The only article which bears upon tile extent of the death of Christ is drawn up, as might be expected in an age of the Church when it was received, as a matter almost entirely undisputed, that Christ died for the salvation of the whole world. Art. 8. "Christ is our life, truth, peace, and righteousness; also our pastor, advocate, sacrifice, and priest, who died for the salvation of all those that believe, and is risen again for our justification."
Tile Confession of Faith, published by the Churches of Piedmont in 1655, bears a different character. In the year 1630, a plague which was introduced from France into these valleys, swept off all the ministers but two, and with them ended the race of their ancient barbes, or pastors. (See "Historical Defence, &c. of the Waldenses," by Sim's.) The Vaudois were then under the necessity of applying to the reformed Churches of France and Geneva for a supply of ministers; and with them came in the doctrine of Calvin in an authorized form. It was thus embodied in the Confession of 1655. Art. 11. "God saves from corruption and condemnation those whom he has chosen from the foundation of the world, not for any disposition, faith, or holiness, that he foresaw in them, but of his mere mercy in Jest is Christ his Son: passing by all the rest, according to the irreprehensible reason of his free will and justice." The last clause is expressed in the very words of Calvin.
The 12th article in the Confession of the French Churches, 1558, is, in substance, Calvinistic, though brief and guarded in expression. "We believe, that out of this general corruption and condemnation in which all men are plunged, God doth deliver them whom he hath, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel, chosen of his mere goodness and mercy: through our Lord Jesus Christ, without any consideration of their works, leaving the rest in their sins, and damnable estate, that he may show forth in them his justice, as, in the elect, he doth most illustriously declare the riches of his mercy. For one is not better than another, until such time as God doth make the difference, according to his un changeable purpose which he bath determined in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world." (Quick's "Synodwon in Gallia Reformata.") This confession was drawn up by Calvin himself, though not in language so strong as he usually employs; which, perhaps, indicates that the ma? jority of the French pastors were inclined to the sublapsarian theory, and did not, in every point, coincide with their great master.
The Westminster Confession gives the sentiments both of the English Presbyterian Churches, and the Church of Scotland. Chapter iii treats of the predestination.
"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly, and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot either be increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith and good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature as conditions or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace. As God bath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by tine eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ; are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in. due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice."
Here we have no attempts at qualification after the example of the synod of Dort; but the whole is conformed to the higher and most unmitigated parts of the Institutes of Calvin. By the side of the Presbyterian Confession, the seventeenth article of the Church of England must appear exceedingly moderate; and, as to Calvinistic predestination, to say the least, equivocal. It never gave satisfaction to the followers of Calvin, who had put his stronger impress upon the Augustinism which floated in tire minds of many of the divines of the reformation, who generally, as appears from the earliest Protestant confessions and catechisms, thought fit to recommend that either these points should not be touched at all, or so speak of them as to admit great latitude of interpretation, and that, probably, in charitable respect to the varying opinions of the theologians and Churches of the day. It is of the perfected form of Calvinism that Arminius speaks, when he says, "It neither agrees nor corresponds with the harmony of those confessions which were published together in one volume at Geneva, in the name of the reformed and Protestant Churches. If that harmony of confessions be faithfully consulted, it will appear, that many of them do not speak in the same manner concerning predestination; that some of them only incidentally mention it, and that they evidently never once touch upon those heads of the doctrine which are now in great repute, and particularly urged in the preceding scheme of predestination. The confessions of Bohemia, England, and Wirtemburg, and the first Helvetian Confession, and that of the four cities of Strasburgh, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau, make no mention of this predestination: those of Basle and Saxony only take a very cursory notice of it in three words. The. Augustan Confession speaks of it in such a manner as to induce the Genevan editors to think that some annotation was necessary on their part to give us a previous warning. The last of the Helvetian Confessions, to which a great portion of the reformed Churches have expressed their assent, likewise speaks of it in such a strain as makes me very desirous to see what method can possibly be adopted to give it any accordance with that doctrine of the predestination which I have stated. With out the least contention or cavilling it may be very properly made a subject of doubt, whether this doctrine agrees with the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism." (Nichol's Works of Arminius, vol. i, p. 557.)
I have given these extracts to show that nothing in the preceding discussion has been assumed as Calvinism, but what is to be found in the writings of the founder of the system, and in the confessions and creeds of Churches which professedly admitted his doctrine.
With respect to modifications of this system, the sublapsarian theory has been already considered and shown to be substantially the same as the system which it professes to mitigate and improve. We may new adduce another modified theory; but shall, upon examination, find it but little, if at all, removed out of the reach of those objections which have been stated to the various shades of the predestinating scheme already noticed.
That scheme is in England usually called Baxterianism, from the celebrated BAXTER, who advocated it in his Treatise of Universal Redemption, and in his Methodus Theologiae. He was, however, in this theory but the disciple of certain divines of the French Protestant Church, whose opinions created many dissensions abroad, and produced so much warmth of opposition from the Calvinistic party, that they were obliged first to engage in the hopeless attempt of softening down the harsher aspects of the doctrine of Calvin and the synod of Dort, in order to keep themselves in countenance; then to attack the Arminians with asperty, in order to purge themselves of the suspicion of entire hetero doxy in a Calvinistic Church; and, finally, to withdraw from the contest. The Calvinism of the Church of France was, however, much mitigated in subsequent times by the influence of the writings of these theologians; a result which also has followed in England from the labours of Baxter, who, though Inc formed no separate school, has had numerous followers in the Calvinistic Churches of this country. The real author of the scheme, at least, in a systematized form, was CAMERO, who taught divinity at Saumur, and it was unfolded and defended by his disciple Amyraldus, to whom Curcellaeus replied in the work from which I have above made some quotations. Baxter says, in his preface to his Saints' Rest, "The middle way which Camero, Crocios, Martinius, Amyraldus, Davenant, with all tine divines of Britain and Bremen, in the synod of Dort go, I think is nearest the truth of any that I know who have written on these points." This system he laboured powerfully to defend, and his works on this subject, although his system is often spoken of, being but little known to the general reader, the following exhibition of this scheme, from his work entitled "Universal Redemp. tion," may be acceptable. It makes great concessions to that view of the Scriptural doctrine which we have attempted to establish; but, for want of going another step, it is, perhaps, the most inconsistent theory to which tIne varied attempts to modify Calvinism have given rise. Barter first differs from the majority of Calvinists, though not from all, in his statement of the doctrine of satisfaction.
"Christ's sufferings were not a fulfilling of the law's threatening, (though he bore its curse materially;) but a satisfaction for our not fulfilling the precept, and to prevent God's fulfilling the threatening on us."
"Christ paid not, therefore, the idem, but the taniundem, or aequiva lens; not the very debt which we owed and the law required, but the value; (else it were not strictly satisfaction, which is redditio aequivalen tis:) and (it being improperly called the paying of a debt, but properly a suffering for the guilty) the idem is nothing but supplicium delinquens. In criminals, dum alius solvet simul aliud solvitur. The law knoweth no vicarius paenae; though the law maker may admit it, as he is above law; else there were no place for pardon, if the proper debt be paid and the law not relaxed but fulfilled."
"Christ did neither obey nor suffer in any man's stead, by a strict, pro per representation of his person in point of law; so as that the law should take it as done or suffered by the party himself. But only as a third person as a mediator, he voluntarily bore what else the sinner should have borne."
"To assert the contrary (especially as to particular persons considered in actual sin) is to overthrow all Scripture theology, and to introduce all Antinomianism; to overthrow all possibility of pardon, and assert justification before we sinned or were born, and to make ourselves to have satisfied God.
"Therefore we must not say that Christ died nostro loco, so as to personate us, or represent our persons in law sense; but only to bear what else we must have borne." (Universal Redemption, pp. 48-51.)
This system explicitly asserts, that Christ made a satisfaction by his death equally for the sins of every man; and thus Barter essentially differs both from the rigid Calvinists, and also from the sublapsarians, who, though they may allow that tine reprobate derive some benefits from Christ's death, so that there is a vague sense in which Ire may be said to have died for all men, yet they, of course, deny to such the benefit of Christ's satisfaction or atonement which Baxter contends for
"Neither the law, whose curse Christ bore, nor God, as the legislator to be satisfied, did distinguish between men as elect and reprobate, or as believers and unbelievers, de presenti vel de futuro; and to impose upon Christ, or require from him satisfaction for the sins of one sort more than of another, but for mankind in general.
"God the Father, and Christ the Mediator, now dealeth with no man; upon the mere rigorous terms of the first law; (obey perfectly and live' else thou shalt die;) but giveth to all much mercy, which, according to the tenor of that violated law, they could not receive, and calleth them to repentance, in order to their receiving farther mercy offered them. And accordingly he will not judge any at last according to the mere law of works, but as they have obeyed or not obeyed his conditions or terms of grace.
"It was not the sins of the elect only, but of all mankind fallen, which lay upon Christ satisfying. And to assert the contrary, injuriously diminisheth the honour of his sufferings; and hath other desperate ill consequences." (Universal Redemption, pp. 36, 37, and 50.)
The benefits derived to all men equally, from the satisfaction of Christ, he thus states,- "All mankind immediately upon Christ's satisfaction, are redeemed and delivered from that legal necessity of perishing which they were under, (not by remitting sin or punishment directly to them, but by giving up God's jus puniendi into the hands of the Redeemer; nor by giving any right directly to them, but per meram resultantiam this happy change is made for them in their relation, upon the said remitting of God's right and advantage of justice against them,) and they are given up to the Redeemer as their owner and ruler, to be dealt with upon terms of mercy which have a tendency to their recovery.
"God the Father and Christ the Mediator hath freely, without any prerequisite condition on man's part, enacted a law of grace of universal extent, in regard of its tenor, by which he giveth, as a deed of gift, Christ himself, with all his following benefits which he bestoweth; (as benefactor and legislator;) and this to all alike, without excluding any; upon condition they believe, and accept the offer.
"By this law, testament, or covenant, all men are conditionally pardoned, justified, and reconciled to God already, and no man absolutely; nor doth it make a difference, nor take notice of any till men's performance or non-performance of the condition makes a difference.
"In the new law Christ hath truly given himself with a conditional pardon, justification, and conditional right to salvation, to all men in the world, without exception." (Universal Redemption, p. 36, &c.)
On the case of the heathen:--
"Though God hath been pleased less clearly to acquaint us on what terms he dealeth with those that hear not of Christ, yet it being most clear and certain, that he dealeth with them on terms of general grace, and not on the terms of the rigorous law of works; this may evince them to be the Mediator's subjects, and redeemed.
"Though it be very difficult, and not very necessary, to know what is the condition prescribed to them that hear not of Christ, or on what terms Christ will judge them; yet, to me it seems to be the covenant made with Adam, Gen. iii, 15, which they are under, requiring their taking God to be their only God and Redeemer, and to expecting mercy from him and loving him above all, as their end and chief good; and repenting of sin, and sincere obedience, according to the laws promulgated to them, to lead them farther.
"All those that have not heard of Christ, have yet much mercy which they receive from him, and is the fruit of his death: according to the well or ill using whereof it seems possible that God will judge them.
"It is a course to blind, and not to inform men, to lay the main stress in the doctrine of redemption upon our uncertain conclusions of God's dealing with such as never heard of Christ, seeing all proof is per notiora; and we must reduce points uncertain to the certain, and not the certain to the uncertain, in our trial." (Universal Redemption, pp. 37, 38, and 54.)
In arguments drawn from the consequences which follow the denial of "universal satisfaction," Baxter is particularly terse and conclusive.
"The doctrine which denieth universal satisfaction hath all these inconveniences and absurd consequents following: therefore it is not of God, nor true.
"It either denieth the universal promise or conditional gift of pardon and life to all men if they will believe, and then it overturneth the substance of Christ's law and Gospel promise; or else it maketh God to give conditionally to all men a pardon and salvation which Christ never purchased, and without his dying for men.
"It maketh God either not to offer the effects of Christ's satisfaction (pardon and life) to all, but only to the elect; or else to offer that which is not, and which he cannot give.
It denieth the direct object of faith, and of God's offer, that is Chris turn qui satisfecit, (a Christ that hath satisfied.)
"It either denieth the non-elect's deliverance from that flat necessity of perishing, which came on man for sinning against the first law, by its remediless, unsuspended obligation; (and so neither Christ, Gospel, or mercy, had ever any nature of a remedy to them, nor any more done toward their deliverance than toward the deliverance of the devils;) or else it maketh this deliverance and remedy to be without satisfaction by Christ for them.
"It either denieth that God commandeth all to believe, (but only the elect;) or else maketh God to assign them a deceiving object for their faith, commanding them to believe in that which never was, and to trust in that which would deceive them if they did trust it.
"It maketh God either to have appointed and commanded the non-elect to use no means at all for their recovery and salvation, or else to have appointed them means which are all utterly useless and insufficient, for want of a prerequisite cause without them; yea, which imply a contradiction.
"It maketh the true and righteous God to make promises of pardon and salvation to all men on condition of believing, which he neither would nor could perform, (for want of such satisfaction to his justice,) if they did believe.
"It denieth the true sufficiency of Christ's death for the pardoning and saving of all men, if they did believe.
"It makes the cause of men's damnation to be principally for want of an expiatory sacrifice and of a Saviour, and not of believing.
"It leaveth all the world, elect as well as others, without any ground and object for the first justifying faith, and in an utter uncertainty whether they may believe to justification or not.
"It denieth the most necessary humbling aggravation of men's sins, so that neither the minister can tell wicked men that they have sinned against him that bought them, nor can any wicked man so accuse himself; no, nor any man that doth not know himself to be elect: they cannot say, my sins put Christ to death, and were the cause of his sufferings: nay, a minister cannot tell any man in the world, certainly, (their sins put Christ to death,) because he is not certain who is elect or sincere in the faith.
"It subverteth Christ's new dominion and government of the world, and his general legislation and judgment according to his law, which is now founded in his title of redemption, as the first dominion and government was on the title of creation.
"It maketh all the benefits that the non-elect receive, whether spiritual or corporal; and so even the relaxation of the curse of the law, (without which relaxation no man could have such mercies,) to befall men without the satisfaction of Christ; and so either make satisfaction, as to all those mercies, needless, or else must find another satisfier.
"It maketh the law of grace to contain far harder terms than the law of works did in its utmost rigour.
"It maketh the law of Moses either to bind all the non elect still to all ceremonies and bondage ordinances, (and so sets up Judaism,) or else to be abrogated and taken down, and men delivered from it, without Christ's suffering for them.
"It destroys almost the whole work of the ministry, disabling ministers either to humble men by the chiefest aggravations of their sins, and to convince them of ingratitude and unkind dealing with Christ, or to show them any hopes to draw them to repentance, or any love and mercy tending to salvation to melt and win them to the love of Christ; or any sufficient object for their faith and affiance, or any means to be used for pardon or salvation, or any promise to encourage them to come in, or any threatening to deter them.
"It makes God and the Redeemer to have done no more for the remedying of the misery of most of fallen mankind than for the devils, nor to have put them into any more possibility of pardon or salvation.
"Nay, it makes God to have dealt far hardlier with most men than with the devils; making them a law which requireth their believing in one that never died for them, and taking him for their Redeemer that never redeemed them, and that on the mere foresight that they would not believe it, or decree that they should not; and so to create by that law a necessity of their far sorer punishment, without procuring them any possibility of avoiding it.
"It makes the Gospel of its own nature to be the greatest plague and judgment to most of men that receive it, that ever God sendeth to men on earth, by binding them over to a greater punishment, and aggravating their sin, without giving them any possibility of remedy.
"It maketh the case of all the world, except the elect, as deplorate, remediless, and hopeless, as the case of the damned, and so denieth them to have any day of grace, visitation, or salvation, or any price for happiness put into their hands.
"It maketh Christ to condemn men to hell lire for not receiving him for their Redeemer that never redeemed them, and for not resting on him for salvation by his blood, which was never shed for them, and for not repenting unto life, when they had no hope of mercy, and faith and repentance could not have saved them.
"It putteth sufficient excuses into the mouths of the condemned.
"It maketh the torments of conscience in hell to be none at all, and teacheth the damned to put away all their sorrows and self accusations.
"It denieth all the privative part of those torments which men are obliged to suffer by the obligation of Christ's law, and so maketh hell either no hell at all, or next to none.
"And I shall anon show how it leads to infidelity and other sins, and, after this, what face of religion is left unsubverted? Not that I charge those that deny universal satisfaction with holding all these abominations; but their doctrine of introducing them by necessary consequence: it is the opinion and not the men that I accuse."
A thorough Arminian could say nothing stronger than what is asserted in several of the above quotations; and, perhaps, what might not be borne from him, may call attention from Baxter, and happy would it be if every advocate of Calvin's reprobation would give these "CONSEQUENTS," a candid consideration.
The peculiarity of Baxter's scheme will be seen- from the following farther extracts; and, after all, it singularly leaves itself open to almost all the objections which he so powerfully urges against Calvinism itself.
"Though Christ died equally for all men, in the aforesaid law sense, as he satisfied the offended legislator, and as giving himself to all alike in the conditional covenant; vet he NEVER PROPERLY INTENDED OR PURPOSED THE ACTUAL JUSTIFYING AND SAVING OF ALL, nor of but those that come to be justified and saved: he did not, therefore, die for all, nor for any that perish, with a decree or resolution to save them, MUCH LESS DID HE DIE FOR ALL ALIKE, AS TO THIS INTENT.
"Christ bath given FAITH to none by his law or testament, though he hath revealed, that to some he will, as benefactor and DOMINUS ABSOLUTUS, give that grace which shall infallibly produce it; and God hath given some to Christ that he might prevail with them accordingly; yet this is no giving it to the person, nor hath he in himself ever the more title to it, nor can any lay claim to it as their due.
"It belongeth not to Christ as satisfier, nor yet as legislator, to make wicked refusers to become willing, and receive him and the benefits which he offers; therefore he may do all for them that is fore expressed, though he cure not their unbelief.
"Faith is a fruit of the death of Christ, (and so is all the good which we do enjoy,) but not directly, as it is satisfaction to justice; but only remotely, as it proceedeth from that Jus Dominii which Christ has received to send the Spirit in what measure and TO WHOM HE WILL, and to succeed it accordingly; and as it is necessary to the attainment of the farther ends of his death in the certain gathering and saving of THE ELECT." (Universal- Redemption, p. 63, &c.)
Thus, then, the whole theory comes to this, that, although a conditional salvation has been purchased by Christ for all men, and is offered to them, and all legal difficulties are removed out of the way of their pardon as sinners by the atonement, yet Christ hath not purchased for any man the gift of FAITH, or the power of performing the condition of salvation required; but gives this to some, and does not give it to others, by virtue of that absolute dominion over men which he has purchased for himself; so that, in fact, the old scheme of election and reprobation still comes in, only with this difference, that the Calvinists refer that decree to the Sovereignty of the Father, Baxter to the sovereignty of the Son; one makes the decree of reprobation to issue from the Creator and Judge; the other, (which is indeed the more repulsive view,) froth the Redeemer himself, who has purchased even those to whom he denies the gift of faith with his own most precious blood. This is plain from the following quotation :- "God did not give Christ faith for his blood shed in exchange; the
thing that God was to give the Son for his satisfaction, was dominion and rule of the redeemed creature, and power therein to use what means he saw fit for the bringing in of souls to himself, even to send forth so much of his word and Spirit as he pleased; both the Father and Son resolving, from eternity, to prevail infallibly with all the elect; but never did Christ desire at his Father's hands that all whom he satisfied for, should be infallibly and irresistibly brought to believe, nor did God ever grant or promise any such thing. Jesus Christ, as a ransom, died for all, and as Rector per leges, or legislator, he hath conveyed the fruits of his death to all, that is, those fruits which it appertained to him as legislator, to convey, which is right to what his new law or covenant doth promise; but those mercies which he gives as Dominus absolututs, arbitrarily beside or above his engagement, he neither gives nor ever intended to give to all that he died for." (Universal Redemption, p. 425.)
The only quibble which prevents the real aspect of this scheme from being at first seen, is, that Baxter, and the divines of this school, give to the elect irresistible effectual grace; but contend, that others have sufficient grace. This kind of grace is called, aptly enough, by Baxter himself, "sufficient ineffectual grace ;" and that it is worthy the appellation, his own account of it will show.
"I say it again, confidently, all men that perish (who have the use of reason) do perish directly, for rejecting sufficient recovering grace. By grace, i mean mercy contrary to merit: by recovering, I mean such as TENDETH in its own nature toward their recovery, and leadeth or helpeth them thereto. By sufficient, I mean, NOT SUFFICIENT DIRECTLY TO SAVE THEM; (for such none of the elect have till they are saved;) NOR YET SUFFICIENT TO GIVE THEM FAITH OR CAUSE THEM SAVINGLY TO RELIEVE. But it is sufficient to bring them NEARER Christ than they are, though not to put them into immediate possession of Christ by union with him, as faith would do. It is an easy truth, that all men naturally are far from Christ, and that some, by custom in sinning, for want of informing and restraining means, are much farther from him than others, (as the heathens are,) and that it is not God's usual way (nor to be expected) to bring these men to Christ at once, by one act, or without any preparation, or first bringing them nearer to him. it is a similitude used by some that oppose what I now say: suppose a man in a lower room should go no more steps than he in the middle room, he must go many steps before he came to be as near you as the other is. Now, suppose you offer to take them by the hand when they come to the upper stairs, and give them some other sufficient help to come up the lower steps: if these men will not use the help given them to ascend the first steps, (though entreated,) who can be blamed but themselves if they came not to the top? It is not your fault but theirs, that they have not your hand to lift them up at the last step. So is our present case. Worldlings, and sensual ignorant sinners, have many steps to ascend before they come to justifying faith; and heathens have many steps before they come as far as ungodly Christians, (as. might easily be manifested by enumeration of several necessary particulars.) Now, if these will not use that sufficient help that CHRIST gives them to come the first, or second, or third step, whose fault is it that they have not faith 1" (Universal Redemption, p. 434.)
But we have no reason to conclude, from this system, that if they took the steps required, it would bring them "nearer to Christ than they are," or, at least, bring them up to SAVING FAITH, which is the great point, since Mr. Baxter's own doctrine is, that Christ "never properly intended or purposed the actual justifying, and saving of all, and did not, therefore, die for all, nor for any that perish, with a design or resolution to save them, much less did he die for all, as to this intent." Those, then, for whom Christ died, not with intent to give saving faith, cannot be saved; yet we are told that to these sufficient grace is given, to take a step or two which would bring them "nearer to Christ." Suppose such persons, then, to take these steps, yet, as Christ died not for them, with intent to give them saving faith, without this intent they cannot have saving faith, since it is not a part of Christ's purchase, but his arbitrary gift. The truth then is, that their salvation is as impossible as that of the reprobates under the supralapsarian scheme, and the reason of their doom is no act of their own, but an act of Christ himself, who, as "absolute Lord," denies that to them which is necessary to their salvation.
It is, however, but fair that Mr. Baxter should himself answer this objection.
" Objection.-Then, they that come not the first step are excusable; for, if they had come to the step next believing, they had no assurance that Christ would have given them faith.
"Answer.-No such matter: for though they had no assurance, they bad both God's command to seek more grace, and sufficient encouragemeat thereto; they had such as Mr. Cotton calls HALF PROMISES, that is, a discovery of a possibility, and high degree of PROBABILITY of obtaining; as Peter to Simon, pray, if perhaps the thoughts of thy heart may be forgiven. They may think God will not appoint men vain means, and he hath appointed some means to all men to get more grace, and bring them nearer Christ than they are. Yea, no man can name that man since the world was made, that did his best in the use of these means, and lost his labour. So that if all men have not faith it is their own fault; not only as originally sinners, but as rejecting sufficient grace to have brought them nearer Christ than they were; for which it is that they justly perish, as is more fully opened in the dispute of sufficient grace."
One argument from Scripture accomplishes this whole scheme. Mr. Baxter makes the condemnation of men to rest upon their not coming "nearer to Christ" than they are in their natural state; but the Scripture places their guilt in not fully "coming to him;" or, in other words, in their not believing in Christ "to salvation," since it has made faith their duty, and has connected salvation with faith. That they must take previous steps, such as consideration and repentance, is true, and that they are guilty for not taking them; but then their guilt arises from their rejection of a strength and grace to consider and repent which is imparted to them, in order to lead them, through this process, to saving faith itself; and they are condemned for not having this faith, because not only the preparatory steps, but the faith itself is put within their reach, or they could not be condemned for unbelief. If Baxter really meant that any steps these non-elect persons could take, would actually put them into possession of saving faith, he would have said so in so many plain words, and then between him and the Arminians there would have been no difference, so far as they who perish are concerned. But coming nearer to Christ, and nearer to saving faith are with him quite distinct. His concern was not to show how the non-elect might be saved, but how they might with some plausibility be damned.
"What then," says Dr. Womack, "is the universal redemption you or they speak of? Doth it consist in the oblation of the curse or pain, the impetration of grace and righteousness, and the collation of life and glory? Man's misery consists but of two parts, sin and punishment. Doth your universal redemption make sufficient prevision to free the non-elect from both, or from either of these? From the wrath to come the damnation of hell, or from iniquity and their vain conversation? Indeed, in your assize sermons, you did very seasonably preach up Christ to be a Lord Chief Justice to judge the reprobate; but I cannot find that ever you declare him to be their Lord Keeper, or their Lord Treasurer, to communicate his saving grace for their conversion, or to secure them against the assaults and rage of their ghostly enemy. These last offices you suppose him to bear in favour of the elect only, so that your universal redemption holds a very fair correspondence with your sufficient grace, (as to the non-elect,)-there is not one single person sanctified by this, or saved by that." (Calvinistic Cabinet Unlocked.)
The remark of Curcellatus on the same system, as delivered by Amyraldus, is conclusive.
"Beside, since faith is necessary, in order to make us partakers of the benefits which are procured by the death of Christ, and since no one can obtain it by his natural powers, (for it is imparted through a special gift, from which God, by an absolute decree, has excluded the greatest portion of mankind,) of what avail is it that Christ has died for those to whom faith is denied? Does not the affair revert to the same point, as if he had never entertained an intention of redeeming them?" (De lure Dei Creaturas, &c.)
This cannot consistently be denied. Mr. Baxter, indeed, says, that "none can name the man since the world was made, that did his best in the use of the means to obtain more grace, and lost his labour." So we believe, but this helps not Mr. Baxter. One of his main principles Is, that there is a class of men to whom Christ has resolved to give saving faith; to the rest he has resolved not to give it. The man, who seeks more than common grace, and obtains saving grace, is either in the class to whom Christ has resolved, by right of dominion, to give saving grace, or he is not. If the former, them he is one of the elect and so the instance given proves nothing as to the case of time non-elect but, if he be of the latter class, then one of those to whom Christ nevotj resolved to give saving grace, by some means obtains it,-how, it will be difficult to say. In fact, it was never allowed by Mr. Baxter, or his followers, that any but the elect would be saved.
The remarks of a Calvinist upon the "middle scheme" of the French divines, the same in substance as that which was afterward advocated by Baxter, may properly close our remarks.
"This mitigated view of the doctrine of predestination has only one defect; but it is a capital one. It represents God as desiring a thing (that is, salvation and happiness) for ALL, which, in order to its attainment, requires a degree of his assistance and succour, which he refuseth to MANY. This rendered grace and redemption UNIVERSAL only in words, but PARTIAL in reality; and, therefore, did not at all mend the matter. The supralapsarians were consistent with themselves; but their doctrine was harsh and terrible, and was founded on the most unworthy notions of the Supreme Being; and, on the other hand, the system of Amyraut was full of inconsistencies: nay, even the sublapsarian doctrine has its difficulties, and rather palliates than removes the horrors of supralapsarianism. What, then, is to be done? From what quarter shall the candid and well disposed Christian receive that solid satisfaction and wise direction which neither of these systems is adapted to administer? These he will receive by turning his dazzled and feeble eye from the secret decrees of God, which were neither designed to be rules of action, nor sources of comfort to mortals here below; and, by fixing his view upon the mercy of God, as it is manifested through Christ, the pure laws and sublime promises of his Gospel, and the equity of his present government and future tribunal." (Maclaine's Notes on Mosheim History.)
The theory, to which the name of Baxter has given some weight in this country, has been introduced more at length, because with it stands or falls every system of moderated or modified Calvinism, which by more modem writers has been advocated. The scheme of Dr. Williams, of Rotherham, is little beside the old theory of supralapsarian reprobation, in its twofold enunciation of PRETERITI0N, by which God refuses help to a creature which cannot stand without help, and his consequent DAMNATION for the crimes committed in consequence of this withholding of supernatural aid. The dress is altered, and the system has a dash of Cameronism, but it is in substance the same. All other mitigated schemes rest on two principles, the sufficiency of the atonement for all mankind, and the sufficiency of grace to those who believe not. For the first, it is enough to say, that the synod of Port and the higher Calvinistic school will agree with them upon this point, and so nothing is gained; for the second, that the sufficiency of grace in these schemes is always understood in Baxter's sense, and is mere verbiage. It is not "the grace of God which BEINGETH SALVATION ;" for no man is actually saved without something more than this "sufficient grace" provides. That which is contended for, is, in fact, not a sufficiency of grace in order to salvation; but, in order to justify the condemnation which inevitably follows. For this alone the struggle is made, but without SUCcess. The main characteristic of all these theories, from the first to the last, from the highest to the lowest is, that a part of mankind are Shut out from the mercies of God, on some ground irrespective of their refusal of a sincere offer to them of salvation through Christ, made with a communicated power of embracing it. Some power they allow to the reprobate, as natural power, and degress of superadded moral power; but in no case the power to believe unto salvation; and thus, as one well observes, "when they have cut some fair trenches, as if they would bring the water of life unto the dwellings of the reprobate, on a sudden they open a sluice which carries it off again." The whole labour of these theories is to find out some decent pretext for the infliction of' punishment on them that perish, independent of the only reason given by Scripture, their rejection of a mercy free for all.
Having exhibited the Calvinistic system on its own authorities, it may be naturally asked from what mode or bias of thinking a scheme could arise so much at variance with the Scriptures, and with all received notions of just amid benevolent administration among men; properties of government which must be found more perfectly in the government of God, by reason of the perfection of its author, than in any other. That it had its source in a course of induction from the sacred Scriptures, though erroneous, is not probable; for, if it had been left to that test, it is pretty certain it would not have maintained itself. It appears rather to have arisen from metaphysical hypotheses and school subtilties, to which the sense of Scripture has been accommodated, often very violently; and by subtilties of this kind, it has, at all times, been chiefly supported.
It has, for instance, been assumed by the advocates of this theological theory, that all things which come to pass have been fixed by ETERNAL DECREES; and that as many men actually perish, it must, therefore, -have been decreed that they should perish: and, consistently with such a scheme, it became necessary to exclude a part of the human race from all share in the benefits of Christ's redemption. The argument: employed to confirm the premises is, "that it is agreeable to reason and to the analogy of nature, that God should conduct all things according to a deliberate and fixed plan, independent of his creatures, rather than that he should be influenced, even in his purposes, by the foresight of their capricious conduct." (Dr. RANKIN's Institutes.) "It is not easy to reconcile the immutability and efficacy of the Divine counsel which enters into our conceptions of the first cause, with a purpose to save all,' suspended upon a condition which is not fulfilled with regard to many." (Dr. HILL'S Lectures.) This has, indeed, all along been the main stress of the argument for absolute decrees, that a conditional decree reflects dishonour upon the Divine attributes, "by leaving God, as it were, in suspense, and waiting to see what men will do, before he passes a firm' and irrevocable decree;" which, as they say, seems to imply want of power and prescience in God, and to be inconsistent with other of his Divine perfections. They especially think, that this is irreconcilable' with the immutability of God, and that to subject his decrees to the changes of a countless number of mutable beings, must render him the most mutable being in the universe.
The whole of this objection, however, seems to involve a petitio principii It is taken for granted, either that the decrees of God-are absolute appointments from eternity, and then any change of his decrees, dependent upon the acts of creatures, would be a contradiction; or else, hat the acts of creatures being free, it follows, that God had from eternity no plan, and conducts his own government only as circumstances may arise. But, that either the decrees of God are fixed and absolute, or, that God can have no plan of government if that be denied, is the very alternative to be proved, the matter which is in debate. It becomes necessary, therefore, in order to ascertain the truth, to fix the sense of the favourite term "decrees," and for this we have no sound guide but the Holy Scriptures, which, as to what relates to man's salvation at least, contain the only exposition of the purposes of God.
The term "decree" is nowhere in Scripture used in the sense in which it is taken in the theology of the Calvinists. It is properly a legislative or judicial term, importing the solemn decision of a court, and was adopted into that system, probably, because of the absolute meaning it conveys, which quality of absoluteness is, in fact, the point debated. The "purpose" and "counsel" of God are the Scriptural terms applicable to this subject; one of which, "counsel," expresses an act of wisdom, and the other necessarily implies it, as it is the "purpose," design, or determination of a Being of infinite perfection, who can purpose, design, will, and determine nothing but under the direction of his intelligence, and the regulation of his moral attributes.
Terms are not indeed to be objected to merely because they are not found in the word of GOD; but their signification must be controlled by it, otherwise, as in the case of the term decrees, a meaning is often silently brought in under covert of the term, which becomes a postulate in argument: a practice which has been a fruitful source of misapprehension and error. The decrees of God, if the phrase then must be continued, can only Scripturally signify the determinations of his will in his government of the world be has made; and those determinations are plainly, in Scripture, referred to two classes, what he has himself determined to do, and what be has determined to permit to be done by free and accountable creatures. He determined, for instance, to create man, and he determined to permit his fall; he determined also the only method of dispensing pardon to the guilty, but he determined to permit men to reject it, and to fall into the punishment of their offences. Calvin, indeed, rejects the doctrine of permission. "It is not probable," he Says, "that man procured his own destruction by the mere permission, and without any appointment of GOD." He had reason for this; for to have allowed this distinction would have been contrary to the main principles of his theological system, which are, that "the will of God is the necessity of things," and that all things are previously fixed by an absolute decree; so that they must happen. The consequence is, that he and his followers involve themselves in the tremendous consequence of making God the author of sin; which, after all their disavowals, and we grant them sincere, will still logically cleave to them: for it is obvious, that by nothing can we fairly avoid this consequence but by allowing the distinction between determinations TO DO, On the part of God, and determinations TO PERMIT certain things to be done by others. The principle laid down by Calvin is destructive of all human agency, seeing it converts man into a mere instrument; while the other maintains his agency in its proper sense, and, therefore, his proper accountability. On Calvin's principle, man is no more an agent than the knife in the hand of the assassin; and he is not more responsible, therefore, in equity, to punishment, than the knife by which the assassination is committed, were it capable of being punished. For if man has not a real agency, that is, if there is a necessity above him so controlling his actions as to render it impossible that they should have been otherwise, he is in the hands of another, and not master of himself, and so his actions cease to be his own.
A decree to permit involves no such consequences. This is indeed acknowledged; but then, on the other hand, it is urged that this imposes an uncertainty upon the Divine plans, and makes him dependent upon the acts of the creature. In neither of these allegations is there any weight; for as to the first, there can be no uncertainty in the principles of the administration of a Being who regulates the whole by the immutable rules of righteousness, holiness truth, and goodness; so that all the acts of the creature do but call forth some new illustration of his unchangeable regard to these principles. Nor can any act of a creature render his plans uncertain by coming upon him by surprise, and thus oblige him to alter his intentions on the spur of the moment. What the creature will do, in fact, is known beforehand with a perfect prescience, which yet, as we have already proved, (Part ii, c. 4,) interferes not with the liberty of our actions; and what God has determined to do in consequence, is made apparent by what he actually does, which with him can be no new, no sudden thought, but known and purposed from eternity, in the view of the actual circumstances. As to the second objection, that this makes his conduct dependent upon the acts of the creature, so far from denying it we may affirm it to be one of the plainest doctrines of the word of GOD. He punishes or blesses men according to their conduct; and he waits until the acts of their sin or their obedience take place, before he either punishes or rewards. The dealings of a sovereign judge must, in the nature of things themselves, be dependent upon the conduct of the subjects over whom he rules: they must vary according to that conduct; and it is only in the principles of a righteous government that we ought to look, for that kind of immutability which has any thing in it of moral character. Still it is said, that though the acts of God, as a sovereign, change, and are, apparently, dependent upon the conduct of creatures, yet that he, from all eternity decreed, or determined to do them: as for instance, to exalt one nation and to abase another; to favour this individual, or to punish that; to save this man, to destroy the other. This may be granted; but only in this sense, that his eternal determination or decree was as dependent and consequent upon his prescience of the acts which, according to the immutable principles of his nature and government, are pleasing or hateful to him, as the actual administration of favour or punishment is upon time actual conduct of men in time. This brings on the question of decrees absolute or conditional; and we are, happily, not left to the reasonings of men on this point; but have the light of the word of God, which abounds with examples of decrees, to which conditions are annexed, on the performance or neglect of which, by his creatures, their execution is made dependent. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? but if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." If this was God's eternal decree concerning Cain, then it was plainly conditional from eternity; for his decrees in time cannot contradict his decrees from eternity, as to the same persons and events. But Cain did "not well;" was it not, then, says a Calvinist, eternally and absolutely decreed that he should not "do well ?" The reply is, No; because this supposed absolute decree of the Calvinist would contradict the revealed decree or determination of God, to put both the doing well and the doing ill into Cain's own power, which is utterly inconsistent with an absolute decree that he should have it in his power only to do ill; and the inevitable conclusion, therefore, is, that the only eternal decree, or Divine determination concerning Cain in this matter was, that he should be conditionally accepted, or conditionally left to the punishment of his sins. To this class of conditional decrees belong also all such passages, as, " If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel ye shall be devoured by the sword." "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." This last, especially, is God's decree or determination, as to all who hear the Gospel, to the end of time. It professes to be so on the very face of it, for its general and unrestricted nature cannot be denied; but if we are told, that there is a decree affecting numbers of men as individuals, by which God determined absolutely to pass them by, and to deny to them the grace of faith, such an allegation cannot be true; because it contradicts the decree as revealed by God himself. His decree gives to all who hear the news of Christ's salvation, the alternative of believing and being saved, of not believing and being damned; but there is no alternative in the absolute decree of Calvinism: as to the reprobate, no one can believe and he saved who is under such decree: God never intended lie should; and, therefore, he is put by one decree in one condition, and by another decree in an entirely opposite condition, which is an obvious contradiction.
But we have instances of the revocation of GOD's decrees, as well as of their conditional character, one of which will be sufficient for illustration. In the case of Eli, "I said indeed that thy house and the house of thy father should walk before me for ever; but now the Lord saith, be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shalt be lightly esteemed." No passage can more strongly refute the Calvinistic notion of God's immutability, which they seem to Qlace in his never changing his purpose, whereas, in fact, the Scriptural doctrine is, that it consists in his never changing the principles of his administration. One of those principles is laid down in this passage. It is, "them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." To this principle God is immutably true; but it was his unchangeable regard to that very principle which brought on the change of his conduct toward the house of Eli, and induced him to revoke his former promise. This is the only immutability worthy of GOD, or which can be reconciled to the facts of his government. For either the advocate of absolute predestination must say that the promises and threatenings are declarations of his will and purposes, or they are not. If they are not, they contradict his truth; but if the point, that they do in fact declare his will is conceded, that will is either absolute or conditional. Let us then try the case of Eli by this alternative. If the promise of continuing the priesthood in the family of Eli were absolute, then it could not be revoked. If the threatening expressed an absolute and eternal will and determination to divert the priesthood from Eli's progeny, then the promise was a mockery; and God is in this, and all similar instances, made to engage himself to do what is contrary to his absolute intention and determination: in other words, he makes no engagement in fact, while he seems to do it in form, which involves a charge against the Divine Being which few Calvinists would be bold enough to maintain. But if these declarations to Eli be regarded as the expressions of a determination always taken, in the mind of God, under the conditions implied in the fixed principles of his government, then the language and the acts of God harmonize with his sincerity and faithfulness, and, instead of throwing a shade over his moral attributes, illustrate his immutable regard to those wise, equitable, and holy rules by which he conducts his government of moral agents. Nor will the distinction which some Calvinists have endeavoured to establish between the promises and threatenings of God and his decrees, serve them; for where is it to be found except in their own imagination? We have no intimation of such a distinction in Scripture, which, nevertheless, professes to reveal the eternal "purpose" and "counsel" of God on those matters to which his promises and threatenings relate,-the salvation or destruction of men. That counsel and purpose has, also, no manifestation in his word, but by promises and threatenings; these make up its whole substance, and, therefore, in order to make their distinction good, those who hold it must discover a distinction not only between God's promises and threatenings and his decrees; but between the eternal "counsels and purposes" of God and his decrees, which they acknowledge to be identical.
The fallacy which seems to mislead them appears to be the following: They allege that of two consequences, say the obedience or disobedience of Eli's house, we acknowledge,, on both sides, that one will happen. That which actually happens we also see taken up into the course of the Divine administration, and made a part of his subsequent plan of government, as the transfer of the priesthood from the house of Eli: they, therefore, argue that the Divine Being, having his plan before him, and this very circumstance entering into it, it was fixed from eternity as a part of that general scheme by which the purposes of God were to be accomplished, and which would have been uncertain and unarranged but for this preordination. The answer to this is,
1. That the circumstance of an event being taken up into the Divine administration, and being made use of to work out GOD'S purposes, is no proof that he willed and decreed it. He could not will the wickedness of Eli's sons, and could not, therefore, ordain and appoint it, or his decrees would be contrary to his will. The making use of the result of the choice of a free agent, only proves that it was foreseen, and that there are, so to speak, infinite resources in the Divine mind to turn the actions of men into the accomplishment of his plans, without either willing them when they are evil, or imposing fetters upon their freedom.
2. That though an event be interwoven with the course of the Divine government, it does not follow that it was necessary to it. The ends of a course of administration might have been otherwise accomplished; as, in the case before us, if Eli's house had remained faithful, and the family of Zadok had not been chosen in its stead. The general plan of God's government does not, therefore, necessarily include every event which happens as a necessary part of its accomplishment, since the same results might, in many cases, have been brought out of other events; and, therefore, it cannot be conclusively argued, that as God wills the accomplishment of the general plan, he must will in the same manner the particular events which he may overrule to contribute to it. But,
3. As to the general plan, it is also an unfounded assumption, that it was the Subject of an absolute determination. From this has arisen the notion that the fall of Adam was willed and decreed by God. To this doctrine, which, for the sake of a metaphysical speculation, draws after it so many abhorrent and antiscriptural consequences, we must demur. God could not will that event actively without willing sin: be could not absolutely decree it without removing all responsibility, and, therefore, all fault from the first offender. If God be holy, he could not will Adam's offence, though he might determine not to prevent it by interfering with man's freedom, which is a very different case; and if in guarding his law from violation by a severe sanction, he proceeded with sincerity, he could not appoint its violation. We may confidently say, that he willed the contrary of Adam's offence; and that he used all means consistent with his determination to give and maintain free agency to his creatures, to secure the accomplishment of that will. It was against his will, therefore, that our progenitors sinned and fell; and his "purpose" and "counsel," or his decree, if the term please better, to goberal the world according to the principles and mode now in operation, was dependent upon an event which he willed not; but which, as being foreseen, was the plan he in wisdom, justice, and mercy, adopted in the view of this contingency. And suppose we were to acknowledge with some, that the result will be more glorious to him, and more beneficial to the universe, through the wisdom with which he overrules all things, than if Adam and his descendants had stood in their innocency, it will not follow, even from this, that the present was that order of events which God absolutely ordered and decreed. We are told, indeed, that if this was the best of possible plans, God was, by the perfection of his nature, bound to choose it; and that if he chose it, his will, in this respect, made all the rest necessary. But, to say nothing of the prosumption of determining what God was bound to do in any hypothetic case, the position that God must choose the best of possible plans is to be taken with qualification. We can neither prove that the state of things which shall actually issue is the best among those possible; nor that among possible systems there can be a best, since they are all composed of created things, and no system can actually exist, to which the Creator, who is infinite in power, could not add something. Were no sin involved in the case it would be clearer; but it is not only un supported by any declaration of Scripture, but certainly contrary to many of its principles, to assume that God originally, so to speak, and in the first instance, willed and decreed a state of things which should necessarily include the introduction of moral evil into his creation, in order to manifest his glory, and work out future good to the creature; because we know that sin is that "abominable thing" which he hateth.
A monarch is surely not bound secretly to appoint and decree the circumstances which must necessarily lead to a rebellion, in order that his clemency may be more fully manifested in pardoning the rebels, or the strength of his government displayed in their subjugation; although his subjects, upon the whole, might derive some higher benefit. We may, therefore, conclude that God willed with perfect truth and sincerity that man should not fall, although he resolved not to prevent that fall by interfering with his freedom, which would have changed thee whole character of his government toward rational creatures; and that his plan, or decree, to govern the world upon the principle of redemption and mediation was no absolute ordination, but conditional upon man's offence; and was an "eternal purpose," only in the eternal foresight of the actual occurrence of the fall of man, which yet, it is no contradiction to say, was against his will.
So fallacious are all such notions as to God's fixed plans. Fixed they may be, without being absolutely decreed; because fixed, in reference to what takes place, even in opposition to his will and intention; and as to the argument drawn by Calvinists from the perfections of God, it is surely a more honourable view of him to suppose that his will and his promulgated law accord and consent, than that they are in opposition to each other; more honourable to him, that he is immutable in his adherence to the principles, rather than in the acts of government; more honourable to him, that he can make the conduct of his free creatures to work out either his original purposes, or purposes more glorious to himself and beneficial to the universe, than that he should frame plans so fixed as to have no reference to the free actions of creatures, whom, by a strange contradiction, he is represented as still holding accountable for their conduct; plans which all these creatures shall be necessitated to fulfil, so as to be capable of no other course of action whatever, or else that his government must become loose and uncertain. This is, indeed, to have low thoughts, even of the infinite wisdom of GOD; and either involves his justice and truth in deep obscurity, or presents them to us under very equivocal aspects. Which of these views is the moat consonant with the Bible, may be safely left with the candid reader.
The PRESCIENCE OF GOD is also a subject which Calvinists have endeavoured to give some plausibility to their system. The argument as popularly stated, has been, that, as the destruction or salvation of every individual is foreseen, it is, therefore, certain, and, as certain, it is inevitable and necessary. The answer to this is, that certainty and necessity are not at all connected in the nature of things, and are, in fact, two perfectly distinct predicaments. Certainty has no relation to an event at all as evitable or inevitable, free or compelled, contingent or necessary. It relates only to the issue itself, the act of any agent, not to the quality of the act or event with reference to the circumstances under which it is produced. A free action is as much an event as a necessitated one, and, therefore, is as truly an object of foresight, which foresight cannot change the nature of the action, or of the process through which it issues, because the simple knowledge of an action, whether present, past, or to come, has no influence upon it of any kind.
Certainty is, in fact, no quality of an action at all; it exists, properly speaking, in the mind foreseeing, and not in the action foreseen; but freedom or constraint, contingency or necessity qualify the action itself, and determine its nature, and the rewardableness, or punitive demerit of the agent. When, therefore, it is said, that what God foresees, will certainly happen, nothing more can be reasonably meant, than that HE is certain that it will happen; so that we must not transfer the certainty from God to the action itself, in the false sense of necessity, or, indeed, in any sense; for the certainty is in the Divine mind, and stands-there opposed, not to the contingency of the action, but to doubtfulness as to his own prescience of the result. There is this certainty in the Divine mind as to the actions of men, that they will happen: but that they must happen cannot follow from this circumstance. If they must happen, they are under some control which reveals a different result; but the most certain knowledge has nothing in it which, from its nature, can control an action in any way, unless it should lead the being endow ed with it, to adopt measures to influence the action, and then it be comes a question, not of foreknowledge, but of power and influence, which wholly changes the case. This is a sufficient reply to the popular manner of stating the argument. The scholastic method requires a little more illustration.
The knowledge of possible things, as existing from all eternity in the Divine understanding, has been termed "scientia simplicis intelligen tiae," or by the schoolmen, "scientia indefinita," as not determining the existence of any thing. The knowledge which God had of all real existences is termed "scientia visionis," and by the schoolmen, "scientia definita," because the existence of all objects of this knowledge is determinate and certain. To these distinctions another was added by those who rejected the predestinarian hypothesis, to which they gave the name "scientia media," as being supposed to stand in the middle between the two former. By this is understood, the knowledge, neither of things as possible, nor of events appointed and decreed by God; but of events which are to happen upon certain conditions.
The third kind of knowledge, or scientia media, might very well be included in the second, since scientia visionis ought to include not what God will do, and what his creatures will do under his appointment, but what they will do by his permission as free agents, and what he will do, as a consequence of this, in his character of Governor and Lord. But since the predestinarians had confounded scientia visionis with a predestinating decree, the scientia media well expressed what they had left quite unaccounted for, and which they had assumed did not really exist,- the actions of creatures endowed with free will, and the acts of Deity which from eternity were consequent upon them. If such actions do not take place, then men are not free; and if the rectoral acts of God are not consequent upon the actions of the creature in the order of the Divine intention, and the conduct of the creature is consequent upon the foreordained rectoral acts of GOD, then we reach a necessitating eternal decree, which, in fact, the predestinarian contends for: but it unfortunately brings after it consequences which no subtilties have ever been able to shake off,-that the only ACTOR in the universe is GoD himself; and that the only distinction among events is, that one class is brought to pass by GOD directly, and the other indirectly; not by the agency, but by the mere instrumentality of his creatures.
The manner in which absolute predestination is made identical with scientia vision is, will be best illustrated by an extract from the writings of a tolerably fair and temperate modern Calvinist. Speaking of the two distinctions, scientia simplicis intelligentiae and scientia visionis, he says,- "Those who consider all the objects of knowledge as comprehended under one or other of the kinds that have been explained, are naturally conducted to that enlarged conception of the extent of the Divine decree, from which the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination unavoidably follows. The Divine decree is the determination of the Divine will to produce the universe, that is, the whole series of beings and events that were then future. The parts of this series arise in succession; but all were, from eternity, present to the Divine mind; and no cause was, at any time, to operate, or no effect that was at any time to be produced in the universe, can be excluded from the original decree, without supposing that the decree was at first imperfect and afterward received accessions. The determination to produce this world, under standing by that word the whole combination of beings, and causes, and effects, that were to come into existence, arose out of the view of all possible worlds, and proceeded upon reasons to us unsearchable, by which this world that now exists appeared to the Divine wisdom the fittest to be produced. I say, the determination to produce this world proceeded upon reasons; because we must suppose, that in forming the decrees, a choice was exerted, that the Supreme Being Was at liberty to resolve either that he would create or that he would not create; that he would give his work this form or that form, as he chose; otherwise we withdraw from the Supreme Intelligence, and subject all things to blind fatality. But if a choice was exerted in forming the decree, the choice must have proceeded upon reasons; for a choice made by a wise Being, without any ground of choice, is a contradiction in terms. At the same time it is to be remembered, that as nothing then existed but the Supreme Being, the only reason which could determine him in choosing what he was to produce, was its appearing to him fitter for accomplishing the end which he proposed to himself than any thing else which he might have produced. Hence scientia visionis is called by theologians scientia libera. To ecientia simpiwis intelligentiae, they gave the epithet naturalis, because the knowledge of all things possible arises necessarily from the nature of the Supreme mind; but to scientig visionis they gave the epithet libera, because the qualities and extent of its objects are determined, not by any necessity of nature, but by the will of the Deity. Although in forming the Divine decree there was a choice of this world, proceeding upon a representation of all possible worlds, it is not to be conceived, that there was any interval between the choice and representation, or any succession in the parts of the choice. In the Divine mind there was an intuitive view of that immense subject, which it is not only impossible for our minds to comprehend at once, but in travelling through the parts of which we are instantly bewildered; amid one decree, embracing at once the end and means, ordained with perfect wisdom all that was to be.
"The condition of the human race entered into this decree. It is not, perhaps, the most important part of it when we speak of the formation of the universe, but it is a part which, even were it more insignificant than it is, could not be overlooked by the Almighty, whose attention extends to all his works, and which appears, by those dispensation of his providence that have been made known to us, to be interesting in his eyes. A decree respecting the condition of the human race includes the history of every individual: the time of his appearing upon the earth; the manner of his existence while he is an inhabitant of the earth, as it is diversified by the actions which he performs, and by the events, whether prosperous or calamitous, which befall him, and the manner of his existence after he leaves the earth, that is, future happiness or misery. A decree respecting the condition of the human race also includes the relations of the individuals to one another: it fixes their connections in society, which have a great influence upon their happiness and their improvement; and it must be conceived as extending to the important events recorded in Scripture, in which the whole species have a concern. Of this kind is the sin of our first parents, the consequence of that sin reaching to all their posterity, the mediation of Jesus Christ appointed by God as a remedy for these consequences, the final salvation, through his mediation, of one part of the descendant of Adam, and the final condemnation of another part, notwithstanding the remedy. These events arise at long intervals of time, by a gradual preparation of circumstances, and the operation of various means. But by the Creator, to whose mind the end and means were at once pro.. sent, these events were beheld in intimate connection with one another, and in conjunction with many other events to us unknown, and consequently all of them, however far removed from one another as to the time of their actual existence, were comprehended in that one decree by which he determined to produce the world." (Hill's Lectures, vol. iii, page 38.)
Now some things in this statement may be granted; as for instance, that when the choice, speaking after the manner of men, was between creating the world and not creating it, it appeared fitter to GOD to create than not to create; and that all actual events were foreseen, and will take place, so far as they are future, as they are foreseen; but where is the connection between these points, and that absolute decree which in this passage is taken for either the same thing as foreseeing, or as necessarily involved in it? "The Divine decree," says Dr. Hill, "is the determination of the Divine will to produce the universe, that is, the whole series of BEINGS and EVENTS that were then future." If so, it follows, that it was the Divine will to produce the fall of man, as well as his creation; the offences which made redemption necessary, as the redemption itself: to produce the destruction of human beings, and their vices which are the means of that destruction; the salvation of another part of the race, and their faith and obedience, as the means of that salvation: -for by "one decree, embracing at once the end and the means, he ordained, with perfect wisdom, all that was to be." This is in the true character of the Calvinistic theology; it dogmatizes with absolute confidence on some metaphysical assumption, and forgets for the time, that any such book as the Bible, a revelation of GOD, by GOD himself, exists in the world. If the determination of the Divine will, with respect to the creation of man, were the same kind of determination as that which respected his fall, how then arc we to account for the means taken by God to prevent the fall, which were no less than the communication of an upright and perfect nature to man, from which his ability to stand in his uprightness arose, and the threatening of the greatest calamity, death, in order to deter him from the act of offence? How, in that case, are we to account for the declarations of GOD's hatred to sin, and for his own express declaration that "he willeth not the death of him that dieth?" How, for the obstructions he has placed in the way of transgression, which would he obstructions to his own determinations, if they can be allowed to be obstructions at all? How, for the intercession of Christ? How, for his tears shed over Jerusalem. Finally, how, for the declaration that "he willeth all men to be saved," and for his invitations to all, and the promises made to all? Here the discrepancies between the metaphysical scheme and the written word are most strongly marked; are so totally irreconcilable to each other, as to leave us to choose between the speculations of man, as to the operations of the Divine mind, and the declared will of God himself The fact is, that Scripture can only be interpreted by denying that the determination of the Divine will is, as to "beings and events," the same kind of determination; and we are necessarily brought back again to the only distinction which is compatible with the written word, a determination in GOD to do, and a determination to permit. For if we admit that the decree to effect or produce is absolute, both "as to the end and means," then, beside the consequences which follow as above stated, and which so directly contradict the testimony of God himself, another equally revolting also arises, namely, that as the end decreed is, as we are told, most glorious to God, so the means, being controlled and directed to that end, are necessarily and directly connected with the glorification of God; and so men glorify God by their vices, because by them they fulfil his will, arid work out his designs according to the appointment of his "wisdom." That this has been boldly contended for by leading Calvinistic divines in former times, and by some, though of a lower class, in the present day, is well known: and that they are consistent in their deductions from the above premises, is so obvious, that it is matter of suprise, that those Calvinists who are shocked at this conclusion should not either suspect the principles from which it so certainly flows, or that, admitting the doctrine, they should shun the explicit avowal of the inevitable consequence.
The sophistry of the above statement of the Calvinistic view of prescience and the decrees, as given by Dr Hill, lies in this, that the determination of the Divine will to produce the universe is made to include a determination as absolute "to produce the whole series of beings and events that were then future;" and in assuming that this is involved in a perfect prescience of things, as actually to exist and take place. But among the "BEINGS" to be produced, were not only beings bound by their instincts, and by circumstances which they could not control, to act in some given manner; but also beings endowed with such freedom that they might act in different and opposite ways, as their own will might determine. Either this must be allowed or denied. If it is denied, then man is not a free agent, and, therefore, not accountable for his personal offences, if offences those acts can be called, to the doing of which there is "a determination of the Divine will," of the same nature as to the "producing of the universe" itself. This, however, is so destructive of the nature of virtue and vice; it so entirely subverts the moral government of God by merging it into his natural government; and it so manifestly contradicts the word of God, which, from the beginning to the end, supposes a power bestowed on man to avoid sin, and on this establishes his accountableness; that, with all these fatal consequences hanging upon it, we may leave this notion to its own fate. But it any such freedom be allowed to man, (either actually enjoyed or placed within his reach by the use of means which are within his power,) that he may both will and act differently, in any given case, from his ultimate volitions and the acts resulting therefrom, then cannot that which he actually does, as a free agent, say some sinful act, have been "determined" in the same manner by the Divine will, as the "production" of the universe and the "beings" which compose it. For if man is a being free to sin or not to sin; and it was the "determination of the Divine will" to produce such a being; it was his determination to give to him this liberty of not doing that which actually he does; which is wholly contrary to a determination that lie should act in one given manner, and in that alone. For here, on the one hand, it is alleged that the Divine will absolutely determines to produce certain "events," and yet on the other it is plain that he absolutely determined to produce "beings" who should, by his will and consequent endowment, have in themselves the power to produce contrary events; propositions which manifestly fight with each other, and cannot both be true. We must either, then, give up man's free agency and true accountability, or this absolute determination of events. The former cannot be renounced without involving the consequences above stated; and the abandoning of the latter brings us to the only conclusion which agrees with the word of God,-that the acts of free agents are not determined, before seen and permitted; and are thus taken up, not as the acts of God, but us the acts of men, into the Divine government. "Ye devised evil against me," says Joseph to his brethren, "but God meant it for good." Thus the principle which vitiates Dr. Hill's statement is detected. Grotius has much better observed, "When we say that God is the cause of all things, we mean of all such things as have a real existence; which is no reason why those things themselves should not be the cause of some accidents, such as actions are. God created men, and some other intelligences superior to man, with a liberty of acting; which liberty of acting is not in itself evil, but may be the cause of something that is evil; and to make GOD the author of evils of this kind, which are called moral evils, is the highest wickedness." (Truth of the Christian Religion, s. 8.)
Perhaps the notions which Calvinists form as to the will may be regarded as a consequence of the predestinarian branch of their system; but whether they are among the metaphysical sources of their error, or consequents upon it, they may here have a brief notice.
If the doctrine just refuted were allowed, namely, that all events are produced by the determination of the Divine will; and that the end and means are bound up in "one decree;" the predestinarian had sagacity enough to discern that the volitions, as well as the acts of men, must be placed equally under bondage, to make the scheme consistent; and, that whenever any moral action is the end proposed, the choice of the will, as the means to that end, must come under the same appointment and determination It is, indeed not denied, that creatures may lose the power to will that which is morally good. Such is the state of devils, and such would have been the state of man, had he been left wholly to the consequences of the fall. The inability is, however, not a natural, but a moral one; for volition, as a power of the mind, is not destroyed, but brought so completely under the dominion of a corrupt nature, as not to be morally capable of choosing any thing but evil. If man is not in this condition, it is owing, not to the remains of original goodness, as some suppose, but to that "grace of God" which is time result of the "free gift" bestowed upon all men; but that the power to choose that which is good, in some respects, and as a first step to the entire and exclusive choice of good in the highest degree, is in man's possession, must be certainly concluded from the calls so often made upon him in the word of God to change his conduct, and, in order to this, his will. "Hear, ye deaf, and see, ye blind," is the exhortation of a prophet, which, while it charges both spiritual deafness and blindness upon the Jews, supposes a power existing in them both of opening the eyes, and unstopping the ears. Such are all the exhortations to repentance and faith addressed to sinners, and the threatenings consequent upon continued impenitence and unbelief; which equally suppose a power of considering, willing, and acting, in all things adequate to the commencement of a religious course. From whatever source it may be derived, and no other can be assigned to it consistently with the Scriptures than the grace of God, this power must be experienced to the full extent of the call and the obligation to these duties. A power of choosing only to do evil, and of remaining impenitent, cannot be reconciled to such exhortations. This would but be a mockery of men, and a mere show of equitable government on the part of God, without any thing correspondent to this appearance of equity in point of fact. The Calvinistic doctrine, however, takes another course. As the sin and the destruction of the reprobate is determined by the decree, and their will is either left to its natural proneness to the choice of evil, or is, by coaction, impelled to it; so the salvation of the elect being absolutely decreed, the will, at the appointed time, comes under an irresistible impulse which carries it to the choice of good. Nor is this only an occasional influence, leaving men afterward, or by intervals, to freedom of choice, which might be allowed; but, in all cases, and at all times, the will, when directed to good, moves only under the unfrustrable impulses of grace. That man, therefore, has no choice, or at least no alternative in either case, is the doctrine assumed; and no other view can be consistently taken by those who admit the scheme of absolute predestination. To one class of objects is the will determined; no other being, in either case, possible; and thus one course of action, fulfilling the decree of God, is the only possible result, or the decree would not be absolute and fixed.
Some Calvinists have adopted all the consequences which follow this view of the subject. They ascribe the actions and volitions of man to God, and regard sinful men as impelled to a necessity of sinning, in order to the infliction of that punishment which they think will glorify the sovereign wrath of him who made "the wicked" intentionally "for the day of evil." Enough has been said in refutation of this gross and blasphemous opinion, which, though it inevitably follows from absolute predestination, the more modest writers of the same school have endeavoured to hide under various guises, or to reconcile to some show of justice by various subtilties.
It has, for instance, been contended, that as in the case of trangressors, the evil acts done by them are the choice of their corrupt will, they are, therefore, done willingly; and that they are in consequence punishable although their will could not but choose them. This may be allowed to be true in the case of devils, supposing them at first to have voluntarily corrupted an innocent nature endowed with the power of maintaining its innocence, and that they were under no absolute decree determining them to this offence. For, though now their will is so much under the control of their bad passions, and is in itself so vicious, that it has no disposition at all to good, and from their nature, remaining in its present state, can have no such tendency; yet the original act, or series of acts, by which this state of their will and affections was induced, being their own, and the result of a deliberate choice between moral good and evil, both being in their own power, they are justly held to be capable for all that follows, having had, originally, the power to avoid both the first sin and all others consequent upon it. The same may be said of sinful men, who have formed in themselves, by repeated acts of evil, at first easily avoided, various habits to which the will opposes a decreasing resistance in proportion as they acquire strength. Such persons, too, as are spoken of in the Epistle to the Hebrews, those whom "it is impossible to renew unto repentance," may be regarded as approaching very nearly to the state of apostate spirits, and being left without any of the aids of that Holy Spirit whom they have "quenched," cannot be supposed capable of willing good. Yet are they themselves justly chargeable with this state of their wills, and all the evils resulting from it. But the case of devils is widely different to that of men who, by their increditary corruption, and the fall of human nature, to which they were not consenting parties, come into the world with this infirm, and, indeed, per. verse state of the will, as to all good. It is not their personal fault that they are born with a will averse from good; and it cannot be their personal fault that they continue thus inclined only to evil if no assistance has been afforded, no gracious influence imparted, to counteract this fault of nature, and to set the will so far free, that it can choose either the good a urged upon it by the authority and exciting motives of the Gospel, or, making light" of that, to yield itself, in opposition to conviction, to the evil to which it is by nature prone. It is not denied, that the will, in its purely natural state, and independent of all grace communicated to man through Christ, can incline only to evil; but the question is, whether it is so left; and whether, if this be contended for, the circumstance of a sinful act being the act of a will not able to determine otherwise, from whatever cause that may arise, whether from the influence of circum stances or from coaction, or from its own invincible depravity, renders him punishable who never had the means of preventing his will from lapsing into this diseased and vitiated state; who was born with this moral disease; and who, by an absolute decree, has been excluded from all share in the remedy? This is the only simple and correct way of viewing the subject; and it is quite independent of all metaphysical hypothesis as to the will. The argument is, that an act which has the consent of time will is punishable, although the will can only choose evil: we reply, that this is only true where the time of trial is past, as in devils and apostates; and then only, because these are personally guilty of having so vitiated their wills as to render them incapable of good. But the case of men who have fallen by the fault of another, and who are still in a state of trial, is one totally different. The sentence passed upon devils, and it is as good as passed upon such apostates as the apostle describes in the Epistle to the Hebrews; but the mass of mankind are still probationers, and are appointed to be judged according to their works, whether good or evil. We deny, then, first, that they are in any case, left without the power of willing good; and we deny it on the authority of Scripture. For, in no sense, can "life and death be set before us," in order that we may "choose life," if man is wholly derelict by the grace of God, and if he remains under his natural, and, but for the grace of God given to all mankind, his invincible inclination to evil. For if this be the natural state of mankind, and if to a part of them that remedial grace is denied, then is not "UFE" set before them as an object of "choice;" and if to another part that grace is so given, that it irresistibly and constantly works so as to compel the will to choose predetermined and absolutely appointed acts, no "death" is set before them as an object of choice, If, therefore, according to the Scriptures both life and death are set before men, then have they power to choose
or refuse either, which is conclusive, on the one hand, against the doctrine of the total dereliction of the reprobate, and on the other, against the unfrustrable operation of grace upon the elect. So, also, when our Lord says, "I WOULD have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and YE WOULD not," the notion that men who finally perish have no power of willing that which is good, is totally disproved. The blame is manifestly, and beyond all the arts of cavilling criticism, laid upon their not WILLING IN A CONTRARY MANNER, which would be false upon the Calvinistic hypothesis. "I would not, and ye COULD not," ought, in that case, to have been the reading; since they are bound to one determination only, either by the external or internal influence of another, or by a natural and involuntary disease of time will, for which no remedy was ever provided.
Thus it is decided by the word of GOD itself, that men wino perish might leave "chosen life." It is confirmed, also, by natural reason; for it is most egregiously to trifle with the common sense of mankind to call that a righteous procedure in God which would by all men be condemned as a monstrous act of tyranny and oppression in a human judge, namely, to punish capitally, as for a personal offence, those who never could will or act otherwise, being impelled by an invincible and incurable natural impulse over which they never had any control.- Nor is the case at all amended by the quibble that they act willingly, that is, with consent of the will; for since the will is under a natural and irresistible power to incline only one way, obedience is full as much out of their power by this state of the will, which they did not bring upon themselves, as if they were restrained from all obedience to the law of God by an external and irresistible impulse always acting upon them.
The case thus kept upon the basis of plain Scripture, and the natural reason of mankind, stands, as we have said, clear of all metaphysical subtilties, and cannot be subjected to their determination; but as attempts have been made to establish the doctrine of necessity, from the actual phenomena of the human will, we may glance, also, at this philosophic attempt to give plausibility to the predestinarian hypothesis.
The philosophic doctrine is, that the will is swayed by motives; that motives arise from circumstances; that circumstances are ordered by a power above us, and beyond our control; and that, therefore, our volitions necessarily follow an order and chain of events appointed and decreed by infinite wisdom. President Edwards, in his well known work on the will, applied this philosophy in aid of Calvinism; and has been largely followed by the divines of that school. But who does not see that this attempt to find a refuge in the doctrine of philosophical necessity affords no shelter to the Calvinian system, when pressed either by Scripture or by arguments founded upon the acknowledged principles of justice? For what matters it, whether the will is obliged to one class of volitions by the immediate influence of God, or by the denial of his remedial influence, the doctrine of the elder Calvinists or that it is obliged to a certain class of volitions by motives which are irresistible in their operation, which result from an arrangement of circumstances ordered by God, and which we cannot control? Take which theory you please you are involved in the same difficulties; for the result is, that men can neither will nor act otherwise than they do, being, in one case, inevitably disabled by an act of GOD, and in the other bound by a chain of events established by an almighty power. The advocates for this philosophic theory of the will must be content to take this conclusion, therefore, and reconcile it as they can with the Scriptures; but they have the same task as their elder brethren of the same faith, and have made it no easier by their philosophy.
It is in vain, too, that they refer us to our own consciousness in proof of this theory. Nothing is more directly contradicted by what passes in every man's mind; and if we may take the terms human language has used on these subjects, as an indication of the general feelings of mankind, it is contradicted by the experience of all ages and countries. For if the will is thus absolutely dependent upon motives, and motives arise out of uncontrollable circumstances, for men to praise or to blame each other is a manifest absurdity; and yet all languages abound in such terms. So, also, there can be no such thing as conscience, which, upon this scheme, is a popular delusion which a better philosophy might have dispelled. For why do I blame or commend myself in my inward thoughts, any more than I censure or praise others, if I am, as to my choice, but the passive creature of motives and predetermined circumstances?
But the sophistry is easily detected. The notion inculcated is, that motives influence the will just as an additional weight thrown into an even scale poises it and inclines the beam. This is the favourite metaphor of the necessitarians; yet, to make the comparison good, they ought to have first proved the will to be as passive as the balance, or, in other words, they should have annihilated the distinction between mind and matter. But this necessary connection between motive and volition may be denied. For what are motives, as rightly understood here? Not physical causes, as a weight thrown into a scale; but reasons of choice, views and conceptions of things in the mind, which, themselves, do not work the will as a machine; but in consideration of which, the mind itself wills and determines. But if the mind itself were obliged to determine by the strongest motive, as the beam is to incline by the heaviest weight, it would be obliged to determine always by the best reason; for motive being but a reason of action considered in the mind, then the best reason, being in the nature of things the strongest, must always predominate. But this is, plainly, contrary to fact and experience. If it were not, all men would act reasonably, anti none foolishly; or, at least, there would be no faults among them but those of the understanding, none of the heart and affections. The weakest reason, however, too generally succeeds when appetite and corrupt affection are present; that is to say, the weakest motive. For if this be not allowed, we must say, that under the influence of appetite the weakest reason always appears the strongest, which is also false, in fact; for then there would be no sins committed against judgment and convict ion, and that many of our sins are of this description, our consciences painfully convict us. That the mind wills and acts generally under the influence of motives, may, therefore, be granted; but that it is passive, arid operated upon by them necessarily, is disproved by the fact of our often acting under the weakest reason or motive, which is the character of all sins against our judgment.
But were we even to admit that present reasons or motives operate irresistibly upon the will, the necessary connection between motive and volition would not be established; unless it could be proved that we have no power to displace one motive by another, nor to control those circumstances from which motives flow. Yet, who will say that a per. son may not shun evil company, and fly from many temptations? Either this must be allowed, or else it must be a link in the necessary chain of events fixed by a superior power, that we should seek and not fly evil company; and so the exhortations, "when sinners entice thee consent thou not," and "go not into the way of sinners," are very impertinent, and only prove that Solomon was no philosopher. But we are all conscious that we have the power to alter, and control, and avoid the force of motives. If not, why does a man resist the same temptation at one time, and yield to it at another, without any visible change of the circumstances? He can also both change his circumstances by shunning evil company; and fly the occasions of temptation; and control that motive at one time to which he yields at another, under similar circumstances. Nay, he sometimes resists a powerful temptation, which is the same thing as resisting a powerful motive, and yields at another to a feeble one, and is conscious that he does so: a sufficient proof that there is an irregularity and corruptness in the self-determining, active power of the mind, independent of motive. Still, farther, the motive or reason for an action may be a bad one, and yet be prevalent for want of the presence of a better reason or motive to lead to a contrary choice and act; but, in how many instances is this the true cause why a better reason or stronger motive is not present, that we have lived thoughtless and vain lives, little considering the good or evil of things? And if so, then the thoughtless might have been more thoughtful, and the ignorant might have acquired better knowledge, and thereby have placed themselves under the influence of stronger and better motives. Thus this theory does not accord with the facts of our own consciousness, but contradicts them. It is, also, refuted by every part of the moral history of man; and it may be, therefore, concluded that those speculations on the human will, to which the predestinarian theory has driven its advocates, are equally opposed to the words of Scripture, to the philosophy of mind, to our observation of what passes in others, and to our own convictions.
Our moral liberty manifestly consists in the united power of thinking and reasoning, and of choosing and acting upon such thinking and reasoning; so that the clearer our thought and conception is of what is fit and right, and the more constantly our choice is determined by it, the more nearly we rise lo the highest acts and exercises of this liberty. The best beings have, therefore, the highest degree of moral liberty, since no motive to will or act wrong is any thing else but a violation of this established and original connection between right reason, choice, and conduct; and if any necessity bind the irrational motive upon the will, it is either the result of bad voluntary habit, for which we are accountable; or necessity of nature and circumstances, for which we are not accountable. In the former case the actually influencing motive is evitable, and the theory of the necessitarians is disproved: in the latter it is confirmed; but then man is neither responsible to his fellow man, nor to God.
Certain notions as to the DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY have also been resorted to by Calvinists, in order to render that scheme plausible which cuts off the greater part of the human race from the hope of salvation by the absolute decree of God.
That the sovereignty of God is a Scriptural doctrine no one can deny; but it does not follow that the notions which men please to form of it should be received as Scriptural; for religious errors consist not only in denying the doctrines of the word of God, but also in interpreting them fallaciously.
The Calvinistic view of God's sovereignty appears to be, his doing what he wills, only because he wills it. So Calvin himself has stated the case, as we have noticed above; but as this view is repugnant to all worthy notions of an infinitely wise Being, so it has no countenance in Scripture. The doctrine which we are there taught is, that God's sovereignty consists in his doing many things by virtue of his own supreme right and dominion; but that this right is under the direction of his "counsel" or "wisdom." The brightest act of sovereignty is that of creation, and one in which, if in any, mere will might seem to have the chief place; yet, even in this act, by which myriads of beings of diverse powers and capacities were produced, we are taught that all was done in "wisdom." Nor can it be said that the sovereignty of God in creation, is uncontrolled by either justice or goodness. If the final cause of creation had been the misery of all sentient creatures, and all its contrivances had tended to that end: if, for instance, every sight had been disgusting, every smell a stench, every sound a scream, and every necessary function of life had been performed with pain, we must necessarily have referred the creation of such a world to a malignant being; and if we are obliged to think it impossible that a good being could have employed his almighty power with the direct intention to inflict misery, we then concede that his acts of sovereignty are, by the very perfection of his nature, under the direction of his goodness, as to all creatures potentially existing, or actually existing while still innocent. Nor can we think it borne out by Scripture, or by the reasonable notions of mankind, that the exercise of God's sovereignty in the creation of things is exempt from any respect to justice, a quality of the Divine nature, which is nothing but his essential rectitude in exercise. It is true, that as existence, under all circumstances in which to exist is better upon the whole than not to exist, leaves the creature no claim to have been otherwise than it is made; and that God has a sovereign right to make one being an archangel and another an insect; so that "the thing formed" may not say "to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus ?" it could deserve nothing before creation, its being not having commenced: all that it is, and has, (its existent state being better than non.existence,) is, therefore, a boon conferred; and, in matters of grace, no axiom can be more clear, than that he who gratuitously bestows has the right "to do what he will with his own." But every creature, having been formed without any consent of its own, if it be innocent of offence, either from the rectitude of its nature, or from a natural incapacity of offending, as not being a moral agent, appears to have a claim, in natural right, upon exemption from such pains and sufferings, as would render existence a worse condition than never to have been called out of nothing. For, as a benevolent being, which God is acknowledged to be, cannot make a creature with such an intention and contrivance, that, by its very constitution, it must necessarily be wholly miserable; and we see in this, that his sovereignty is regulated by his goodness as to the commencement of the existence of sentient creatures; so, from the moment they begin to be, the government of God over them commences, and sovereignty in government necessarily grounds itself upon the principles of equity and justice, and "the Judge of the whole earth" must and will "do right."
This is the manifest doctrine of Scripture; for, although Almighty God often gives "no account of his matters," nor, in some instances, admits us to know how he is both just and gracious in his administration, yet are we referred constantly to those general declarations of his own word, which assure us that he is so, that we may "walk by faith," and wait for that period, when, after the faith and patience of good men have been sufficiently tried, the manifestation of these facts shall take place to our comfort and to his glory. In many respects, so far as we are concerned, we sec no other reason for his proceedings, than that he so wills to act. But the error into which our brethren often fall, is to conclude, from their want of information in such cases, that GOD acts merely because he wills so to act; that because he gives not those reasons for his conduct which we have no right to demand, he acts without any reasons at all; and because we are not admitted to the secrets of his council chamber, that his government is perfectly arbitrary, and that the main spring of his leading dispensations is to make a show of power: a conclusion which implies a most unworthy notion of God, which he has himself contradicted in the most explicit manner. Even his most mysterious proceedings are called "judgments;" and he is said to work all things "according to the counsel of his own will," a collation of words, which sufficiently show that not blind will, but will subject to "counsel," is that SOVEREIGN WILL which governs the world.
"Whenever, therefore, God acts as a governor, as a rewarder, or punisher, he no longer acts as a mere sovereign, by his own sole will and pleasure, but as an impartial judge, guided in all things by invariable justice.
"Yet it is true, that in some cases, mercy rejoices over justice, although severity never does. God may reward more, but he will never punish more than strict justice requires. It may be allowed, that God acts as sovereign in convincing some souls of sin, arresting them in their mad career by his resistless power. It seems also, that, at the moment of our conversion, he acts irresistibly. There may likewise be many irresistible touches in the course of our Christian warfare; but still, as St. Paul might have been either obedient or 'disobedient to the heavenly vision,' so every individual may, after all that God has done, either improve his grace, or make it of none effect.
"Whatever, therefore, it has pleased God to do, of his sovereign pleasure, as Creator of heaven and earth; and whatever his mercy may do on particular occasions, over and above what justice requires, the general rule stands firm as the pillars of heaven. 'The Judge of all the earth will do right:' 'he will judge the world in righteousness,' and every man therein, according to the strictest justice. He will punish no man for doing any thing which he could not possibly avoid; neither for omitting any thing which he could not possibly do. Every punishment supposes the offender might have avoided the offence for which he is punished, otherwise to punish him would be palpably unjust, and inconsistent with the character of God our governor." (Wesley's works, vol. vi, p. 136.)
The case of HEATHEN NATIONS has sometimes been referred to by Calvinists, as presenting equal difficulties to those urged against their scheme of election and reprobation. But the cases are not at all parallel, nor can they be made so, unless it could be proved that heathens, as such, are inevitably excluded from the kingdom of heaven; which is not, as some of them seem to suppose, a conceded point. Those, in. deed, if there be any such, who, believing in the universal redemption of mankind, should allow this, would be most inconsistent with them selves, and give up many of those principles on which they successfully contend against the doctrine of absolute reprobation; but the argument lies in small compass, and is to be determined by the word of God, and not by the speculations of men. The actual state of pagan nations is affectingly bad; but nothing can be deduced from what they are in fact against their salvability; for although there is no ground to hope for the salvation of great numbers of them, actual salvation is one thing, and possible salvation is another. Nor does it affect this question, if we see not how heathens may be saved; that is, by what means repentance, and faith, and righteousness, should be in any such degree wrought in them, as that they shall become acceptable to God. The dispensation of religion under which all those nations are to whom the Gospel has never been sent, continues to be the patriarchal dispensation. That men were saved under that in former times we know, and at what point, if any, a religion becomes so far corrupted, and truth so far extinct, as to leave no means of salvation to men, nothing to call forth a true faith in principle, and obedience to what remains known or knowable of the original law, no one has the right to determine, unless he can adduce some authority from Scripture. That authority is certainly not available to the conclusion, that, in point of fact, the means of salvation are utterly withdrawn from heathens. We may say that a murderous, adulterous, and idolatrous heathen will be shut out from the kingdom of heaven; we must say this, on the express exclusion of all such characters from future blessedness by the word of God; but it would be little to the purpose to say, that, as far as we know, all of them are wicked and idolatrous. As far as we know they may, but we do not know the whole case; and, were these charges universally true, yet the question is not what the heathen are, but what they have the means of becoming. We indeed know that all are not equally vicious, nay, that some virtuous heathens have been found in all ages; and some earnest and anxious inquirers after truth, dissatisfied with the notions prevalent in their own countries respectively; and what these few were, the rest might have been likewise. But, if we knew no such instances of superior virtue and eager desire of religious information among them, the true question, "what degree of truth is, after all, attainable by them?" would still remain a question which must be determined not so much by our knowledge of facts which may be very obscure; but such principles and general declarations as we find applicable to the case in the word of GOD.
If all knowledge of right and wrong, and all gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, and all objects of faith, have passed away from the heathen, through the fault of their ancestors "not liking to retain God in their knowledge," and without the present race having been parties to this wilful abandonment of truth, then they would appear no longer to be accountable creatures, being neither under law nor under grace; but, as we find it a doctrine of Scripture that all men are responsible to GOD, and that the "whole world" will be judged at the last day, we are bound to admit the accountability of all, and with that, the remains of law and the existence of a merciful government toward the heathen on the part of GOD. With this the doctrine of St. Paul accords. No one can take stronger views of the actual danger and the corrupt state of the Gentiles than he; yet he affirms that the Divine law had not perished wholly from among them; that though they had received no revealed law, yet they had a law "written on their hearts;" meaning, no doubt, the traditionary law, the equity of which their consciences attested; and, farther, that though they had not the written law, yet, that "by nature," that is, "without an outward rule, though this, also, strictly speaking, is by preventing grace," (Wesley's Notes, in loc.) they were capable of doing all the things contained in the law. He affirms, too, that all such Gentiles as were thus obedient, should be "justified, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, according to his Gospel." The possible obedience and the possible "justification" of heathens who have no written revelation, are points, therefore, distinctly affirmed by the apostle in his discourse in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and the whole matter of God's sovereignty, as to the heathen, is reduced, not to the leaving of any portion of our race without the means of salvation, and then punishing them for sins which they have no means of avoiding; but to the fact of his having given superior advantages to us, and inferior ones only to them; a proceeding which we see exemplified in the most enlightened of Christian nations every day; for neither every part of the same nation is equally favoured with the means of grace, nor are all the families living in the same town and neighbourhood equally circumstanced as to means of religious influence and improvement. The principle of this inequality is, however, far different from that on which Calvinistic reprobation is sustained; since it involves no inevitable exclusion of any individual from the kingdom of GOD, and because the general principle of God's administration in such cases is elsewhere laid down to be, the requiring of much where much is given, and the requiring of little where little is given :-a principle of the strictest equity.
An unguarded opinion as to the IRRESISTIBILITY OF GRACE, and the passiveness of man in conversion, has also been assumed, and made to give an air of plausibility to the predestinarian scheme. It is argued, if our salvation is of God and not of ourselves, then those only can be saved to whom God gives the grace of conversion; and the rest, not having this grace afforded them, are, by the inscrutable counsel of God, passed by, and reprobated.
This is an argument a posteriori; from the assumed passiveness of man in conversion to the election of a part only of mankind to life. The argument a priori is from partial election to life to the doctrine of irresistible grace, as the means by which the Divine decree is carried into effect. The doctrine of such an election has already been refuted, and it will be easy to show that it derives no support from the assumption that grace must work irresistibly in man, in order that the honour of our salvation may be secured to God, which is the plausible dress in which the doctrine is generally presented.
It is allowed, and all Scriptural advocates of the universal redemption of mankind will join with the Calvinists in maintaining the doctrine, that every disposition and inclination to good which originally existed in the nature of man is lost by the fall; that all men, in their simply natural state, are "dead in trespasses and sins," and have neither the will nor the power to turn to God; and that no one is sufficient of himself to think or do any thing of a saving tendency. But, as all men are required to do those things which have a saving tendency, we contend, that the grace to do them has been bestowed upon all. Equally sacred is the doctrine to be held, that no person can repent or truly believe except under the influence of the Spirit of GOD; and that we have no ground of boasting in ourselves, but that all the glory of our salvation, commenced and consummated, is to be given to God alone, as the result of the freeness and riches of his grace.
It will also be freely allowed, that the visitations of the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit are vouchsafed in the first instance, and in numberless other subsequent cases, quite independent of our seeking them or desire for them; and that when our thoughts are thus turned to serious considerations, and various exciting and quickened feelings are produced within us, we are often wholly passive; and also, that men are sometimes suddenly and irresistibly awakened to a sense of their guilt and danger by the Spirit of God, either through the preaching of the word instrumentally, or through other means, and sometimes, even, independent of any external means at all; and are thus constrained to cry out, "What must I do to be saved 1" All this is confirmed by plain verity of Holy Writ; and is, also, as certain a matter of experience as that the motions of the Holy Spirit do often silently intermingle themselves with our thoughts, reasonings, and consciences, and breathe their milder persuasions upon our affections.
From these premises the conclusions which legitimately flow, are in direct opposition to the Calvinistic hypothesis. They establish,
1. The justice of God in the condemnation of men, which their doc. trine leaves under a dark and impenetrable cloud. More or less of these influences from on high visit the finally impenitent, so as to render their destruction their own act by resisting them. This is proved, from the Spirit" having "strove" with those who were finally destroyed by the flood of Noah; from the case of the finally impenitent Jews and their ancestors, who are charged with "always resisting the Holy Ghost;" from the case of the apostates mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews, who are said to have done "despite to the Spirit of grace;" and from the solemn warnings given to men in the New Testament, not to "grieve" and "quench" the Holy Spirit. If, therefore, it appears that the destructiun of men is attributed to their resistance of those influences of the Holy Spirit, which, but for that resistance, would have been saving, according to the design of God in imparting them, then is the justice of GOD manifested in their punishment; and it follows, also, that his grace so works in men, as to be both sufficient to lead them into a state of salvation, and even actually to place them in this state, and yet so as to be capable of being finally and fatally frustrated.
2. These premises, also, secure the glory of our salvation to the grace of God; but not by implying the Calvinistic notion of the continued and uninterrupted irresistibility of the influence of grace and the passiveness of man, so as to deprive him of his agency; but by showing that his agency, even when rightly directed, is upheld and influenced by the superior power of GOD, and yet so as to be still his own. For, in the instance of the mightiest visitation we can produce from Scripture, that of St. Paul, we see where the irresistible influence terminated, and where his own agency recommenced. Under the impulse of the conviction struck into his mind, as well as under the dazzling brightness which fell upon his eyes, he was passive, and the effect produced for the time necessarily followed; but all the actions consequent upon this were the results of deliberation and personal choice. lie submits to be taught in the doctrine of Christ; "he confers not with flesh and blood ;" "he is not disobedient to the heavenly vision ;" "he faints not" under the burdensome ministry he had received; and he "keeps his body under subjection, lest, after having preached to others, he should himself become a castaway." All these expressions, so descriptive of consideration and choice, show that the irresistible impulse was not permanent, and that he was subsequently left to improve it or not, though under a powerful but still a resistible motive operating upon him to remain faithful.
For the gentler emotions produced by the Spirit, these are, as the experience of all Christians testifies, the ordinary and general manner in which the Holy Spirit carries on his work in man; and, if all good desires, resolves, and aspirations, are from him, and not from our own nature, (and, if we are utterly fallen, from our own nature they cannot be,) then if any man is conscious of having ever checked good desires, and of having opposed his own convictions and better feelings, he has in himself abundant proof of the resistibility of grace, and of the super ability of those good inclinations which the Spirit is pleased to impart. He is equally conscious of the power of complying with them, though still in the strength of grace, which yet, while it works in him "to will and to do," neither wills nor acts for him, nor even by him, as a passive instrument. For if men were wholly and at all times passive under Divine influence; not merely in the reception of it, for all are, in that respect, passive; but in the actings of it to practical ends, then would there be nothing to mark the difference between the righteous and the wicked but an act of God, which is utterly irreconcilable to the Scriptures. They call the former "obedient," the latter "disobedient;" one "willing," the other "unwilling;" and promise or threaten accordingly. They attribute the destruction of the one to their refusal of the grace of God, and the salvation of the other, as the instrumental cause, to their acceptance of it; and to urge that that personal act by which we receive the grace of Christ, detracts from his glory as our Saviour by attributing our salvation to ourselves, is to speak as absurdly as if we should say that the act of obedience and faith required of the man who was commanded to stretch out his withered arm, detracted from the glory of Christ's healing virtue, by which, indeed, the power of complying with the command, and the condition of his being healed, was imparted.
It is by such reasonings, made plausible to many minds by an affectation of metaphysical depth and subtilty, or by pretensions of magnifying the sovereignty and grace of God (often, we doubt not, very sincere) that the theory of election and reprobation, as held by the followers of Calvin with some shades of difference, but in all substantially the same, has had currency given to it in the Church of Christ in these latter ages. How unsound and how contrary to the Scriptures they are, may appear from that brief refutation of them just given; but I repeat what was said above, that we are never to forget that this system has generally had interwoven with it many of the most vital points of Christianity. It is this which has kept it in existence; for otherwise it had never, probably, held itself up against the opposing evidence of so many plain scriptures, and that sense of the benevolence and equity of God, which his own revelations, as well as natural reason, has riveted in the convictions of mankind. In one respect the Calvinistic and the Socinian schemes have tacitly confessed the evidence of the word of God to be against them. The latter has shrunk from the letter and common sense interpretation of Scripture within the clouds raised by a licentious criticism; the other has chosen rather to find refuge in the mists of metaphysical theories. Nothing is, however, here meant by this juxtaposition of theories, so contrary to each other, but that both thus confess, that the prima facie evidence afforded by the word of God is not in their favour. If we intended more by thus naming on the same page systems so opposite, one of which, with all its faults, contains all that truth by which men may be saved, while the other excludes it, "we should offend against the generation of the children of GOD."
 Quoted in Bishop Womack's Calvinist Cabinet Unlocked, p. 34.
 Amyraldus tamen, ut eum infra lapsum substitisse probet, in constituendo reprobationis objecto, profert quwdam loca in quibus ille corruptae massae meminit, et hujus decreti oquitatem ab originali peccato arcessit. Sed faciis est responsio. Nam Calvinus ipse, qua ratione ista curn iis quae attuli sint concilianda nos docet nimirum adhibita distinctione inter propinquarn reprobationis causam, quam real. dentern in nobis corruptionem ease vult, et remotam, quae sit unicum Dol beneplacitum. Et quanquam variis in locis causam propinquam, veluti ad sententiae suae duritiem emofliendam aptiorem, magis videatur urgere; ita tamen id facit ut non raro consilii arcani, voluntati8 occultae, judicii inscrutabiliR, et similium, qui bus primam rejectionis causam solet designare, ibidem simul meminerit. (De Jure Dei, &c, cap. x.)
 "The Reformed Church, in the largest import of the word, comprises all the religious communities which have separated themselves from the Church of Rome. In this sense the words are often used by English writers; but having been adopted by the French Calvinists to describe their Church, this term is most commonly used on the continent as a general appellation of all the Churches who profess the doctrines of Calvin. About the year 1541, the Church of Geneva was placed by the magistrates of that city under the direction of Calvin, where his learning, eloquence, and talents for business, soon attracted general notice. By degrees his fame reached to every part of Europe. Having prevailed Upon the senate of Geneva to found an academy, and place it under his superintendence; and having filled it with men, eminent throughout Europe for their learning and talent, it became the favourite resort of all persons who leaned to the new principles, and sought religious and literary instruction. From Germany, France, Italy, England, and Scotland, numbers crowded to the new academy, and returned from it to their native countries, saturated with the doctrine of Geneva; and burning with zeal to propagate its creed." (Butler's Life of Grotius.)
 This was the view of Melancthon, who, in writing to Peucer, says, "Loelius writes to me, and says, that the controversy respecting the STOICAL FATE is agitated with such uncommon fervour at Geneva, that one individual is Cast prison because he happened to differ from Zeno."
 "It is pleasing," says Dr. Copleston, "and satisfactory, to trace the progress of Melancthon's opinions upon the subject. In the first dawning of the reformation he, as well as Luther, had been led into those metaphysical discussions which Calvin afterward moulded into a system, and incorporated with his exposition of the Christian doctrine. But so early as the year 1529 he renounced this error, and expunged the passages that contained it from the later editions of his Loci Theotogici. Luther, who had in his early life maintained the same opinions, after the controversy with Erasmus about free will, never taught them; and although he did not, with the candour of Melancthon, openly retract what he had once written, yet he bestowed the highest commendations on the last editions of Melancthon's Work, containing this correction. (Preface to the first volume of Luther's Works, A D. 1546.) He also scrupled not to assert publicly, that at the beginning of the reformation, his creed was not completely settled: (Laur. Bampt. Lect. note 21 to Sermon ii:) and in his last work of any importance, he is anxious to point out the qualifications with which all he had ever said, on the doctrine of absolute necessity, ought to be received." "Vos ergo, qui nunc me audistis, memineritis me hoc docuisse, non esse inquirendum do Praedesinatione Del absconditi, sed in illis acquiescendum, quae revelantur per vocationem et per ministerium verbi.Haec eadein alibi quoque in meis libris protestatus sum, et nuno etiam viva voce trado: Jdeo sum excusatus. (Op vol. vi, p. 325.)
 This statement of the supralapsarian and sublapsarian theories, as given by Arminius, might be illustrated and verified by quotations from the elder Calvinistic divines: the reader will, however, find what is amply sufficient in those given in Bishop Womack's Calvinistic Cabinet Unlocked.
 The question as to the object of the decrees has gone out, as Goodwin says, among our Calvinistic brethren into "endless digladiations and irreconcilable divisions :-some of them bold, that men simply and indefinitely considered, are the object of these decrees. Others contend, that men considered as yet to be created, are this object. A third sort stands up against both the former with this notion, that men considered as already created, and made, are this object. A fourth disparageth the conjectures of the three former with this conceit, that men considered as fallen, are this object. Another findeth a defect in the singleness or simplicity of all the former opinions, and compoundeth this in opposition to them, that men considered both as to be created, and as being created and as fallen, together, are the proper object of these troublesome decrees. A sixth sort formeth us yet another object, and this is, man considered as salvable, or capable of being saved. A seventh not liking the faint complexion of any of the former opinions, delivereth this to us as strong and healthful, that men considered as damnable, are this object. Others yet again, superfancying all the former, conceit men, considered as creable, or possible to be created, to be the object so highly contested about. A ninth party disciple the world with this doctrine, that men considered as labiles, or capable of falling, are the object; and whether all the scattered and conflicting opinions about the objects of our brethren's decrees of election and reprobation, are bound up in this bundle or not, we can not say." (Agreement of Brethren, &c.) In modern times these subtile distinctions have rather fallen into desuetuds among Calvinists, and are reducible to a much smaller number
 "Non solent enim supralasarii dicere Deum quosdain ad aeternam damns. twnem creasse et praedestinasse; eo quod damnatio actum jucicialem designet, ac proinde peccati meritum praesupponat; sed malunt uti voce exitii, ad quod Deus, tanquam absolutus Dominus, jus habeat creandi et destinandi quoscunque volu. erit." (Curcellaeus De Jure Dei, &c, cap. a. See also Bi8hop Womack's Calvinistic Cabinet, &c, p. 394.)
 The title of it is, "The Confession of Faith agreed upon by tire Assembly of Divines at Westminster, with the assistance of Commissioners from the Church of Scotland." The date of the ordinance for convening this assembly is 1643. The Confession Was approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1647
 Of Camero, or Cameron, Amyraldus, Curcellaeus, and the controversy in which they were engaged, see an interesting account in Nichol's Arminianisnn and Calvinism Compared, vol i, appendix c; a work of elaborate research, and abounding with the moat curious information as to the opinions and history of those times.
 "Ordo autem bic ut recte intelligi possit, observandum est triplicem Dee scientiam tribui solere: unam necessariam, quae omnem voluntatis liberae actum naturae ordine auntecedit, quae etiam practica et 8implicis intelligentirz dici potest, qua seipsum et alia omnia possibilia intelligit. Alteram liberam, quw consequitut actum voluntatis liberae, quay etiam visionis dici potest; qua Deus omnia, quae facere et permittere decrevit ita distincte novit, uti ea fieri et permittere voluit. Tertiam mediam, qua sub conditione novit quid homines aut angeli facturi essenst pro sua libertate, si cum his aut illis circumstantiis, in hoc vel in illo rerum ordine, constituerentur." (Disputat. Episcopii. part i, disp. V.)