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If the preceding texts were not sufficient, it is contradicted in terms by St. Peter, “ There shall be false teachers among you, who shall privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that BOUGHT THEM, and bring upon themselves swift DESTRUC
Also by St. Paul, “DESTROY not him with thy meat for whom Christ DIED;” and again, where his remonstrance upon the subject of meats offered to idols turns upon the fact expressed in these words, “Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother PERISH, for WHOM Christ DIED."
Nothing then can be more evident, than the final destruction from the presence of the Lord of many, whose sins were completely atoned for, by the death and sacrifice of the Lamb of God. upon the foundation of a partial atonement, or particular redemption of the elect, and the elect alone, is built the whole theory of election and reprobation. I will give it to you in the words of Cal. vin; “Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which he hath determined in himself, what he would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death."
It is impossible, Brethren, for any language to be easier of comprehension, and if true, our future destiny was unalterably fixed before the worlds were made. Some of us were created for the express purpose of being saved, and some of us for the express purpose of being damned. And that I am not putting a false construction upon the extract from Calvin, whether it regards the one olass or the other, will be apparent from the testimony borne by several of his followers,
In relation to the elect, and the certainty of their salvation, Coles on the sovereignty of God, remarks, “ As it was not any loveliness in elect persons which moved God to love them at first, so neither shall their unlovely backslidings deprive them of it."
The celebrated preacher, Rowland Hill assures us, that “ David stood as completely justified in the everlasting righteousness of Christ, at the time, when he caused Uriah to be murdered, and was committing adultery with his wife, as he was in any part of his life. For all the sins of the elect, be they more, or be they less,
be they past, present, or to come, were forever done away. So that every one of these elect stand spotless in the sight of God."
The same principle is espoused by Mason in his Spiritual Trea-sury, “Suppose a believer to be taken away in his sin, and hath not time to repent of it, there was that in him, that would have repented, and God reckons of a man according to that he would do." The same author, and there are none more highly esteemed among the writers of his class, in another place uses expressions, yet more extraordinary and reprehensible; “Though a believer be black as hell, polluted with guilt, defiled with sin, yet in Christ, he is all fair without a spot; free from sin, as viewed by God in Christ, fully reconciled to God, and standing without trespasses before him." As I have not however been able to find these sentiments in the American edition of Masan, I conclude that an expurgation has been deemed prudent; but they appear in that, published in London by Romaine,
Such then, Brethren, according to these men, may be the character of the elect of God, without in the smallest degree impairing their right and title to look for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and no less strongly, decidedly, and unconditionally are the reprobate consigned to everlasting perdition.
Zanchius, the Swiss reformer, declares, that “the reprobate are bound by the ordinance of God under the necessity of sinning; and Beza his countryman, that “God hath predestinated, not only unto damnation, but also unto the causes of it, whomsoever he saw
Calvin himself pronounces of this benevolent Being, and of his designs in relation to sinners, “ He directs his voice to them, but it is that they may become more deaf; he kindles a light, but it is that they may be more blind; he publishes his doctrine, but it is that they may be made more besotted; he applies a remedy, but it is that they may not be healed."
Perkins, an old English divine, affirms, that “God hath most justly decreed even the wicked works of the wicked;" and Knox, the Scotch reformer, that “The wicked are not only left by God's suffering, but are compelled to sin by his power.”
I shall conclude with Toplady, the most renowned of all the modern advocates of Calvinism, and one of the few of that description
in the Church of England. “God did not barely suffer, but positively intended and decreed them, (the reprobate) to continue in their natural blindness and hardness of heart."
“ He does not only negatively withold from the wicked his grace, which alone can restrain them from evil; but occasionally, in the course of his provi. dence, he puts them into circumstances of temptation, such as shall cause the persons so tempted actually to turn aside from the path of duty to commit sin.” “ The sentence of God, which rejects the reprobates, is so fixed and immutable, that it is impossible they should be saved, though they have performed all the works of the saints; and therefore, it is not true, that those who perish through their own fault, might have been saved through grace, if they had not ceased labouring for saving grace."
How disgusting the features, how dreadful the portrait, I have here felt myself compelled to exhibit from the writings of men, with one or two exceptions, the principal leaders and promoters in the ranks of schism. They remind me of the observation of Erasmus, the most learned of those, who flourished at the period of the reformation; "This new gospel, founded upon the doctrine of absolute decrees, has produced a new generation of obstinate, impudent, hypocritical people, who are revilers, liars, deceivers; and who do not agree among themselves, and are very uneasy to others; who are seditious, furious, given to cavilling; and with whom I am so much dissatisfied, that if I knew any town where none of them were, I would go thither, and choose to live in it.” They remind me of what was long since declared, by Bishop Seabury of our own American Church, when exposing the prominent errour of Calvinism; “All objects are said to appear yellow to the jaundiced eye. Predestination is to the mind what the jaundice is to the body. The whole bible appears tinctured with a sickly, yellow hue, when the predestinarian looks into it, especially if he be of a morose and vindictive temper, as most commonly is the case. Το see God consigning the greater part of mankind to eternal misery, in consequence of his own arbitrary decree, just to show that he can do it, and will do it-for the glory of his justice, as they call it seems to be congenial and grateful to his heart: and, in truth, the consequences of this doctrine, carried to its full extent, however the abetters of it may not own or see them, represent Almighty God, the God of goodness and love, to whom be glory for ever, in a
more unamiable light than it is possible for human wit to represent the devil.”
I feel myself therefore, Brethren, fully authorized to repeat, that you cannot but coincide with me, in pronouncing it to be an outrageous libel upon the true character of God, and the mission of Christ. The naked recital of such a system is all that is requisite to ensure its rejection, wherever the mind is unprejudiced, and reason is suffered calmly and dispassionately to investigate the oracles of truth. They afford it no countenance, and the seventeenth article of the Church will hereafter be found to be equally free from the imputation.
Is it then for refusing to adopt a theory so grossly absurd, and even detestable, when expounded by its most zealous partisans? Is it for this, that the great body of our clergy are accused of lukewarmness in the cause of their Redeemer, if a Redeemer they have? Long may they give occasion to endure the reproach. Long may they present our heavenly Father and the Son of his love, in a more inviting and encouraging aspect to the minds and consciences of sinners. Not one of you, Brethren, shall hereafter perish, through any arbitrary, irrespective, and irreversible decree. Not one of you, because your eternal life was never purchased by a Saviour's all-atoning blood. But if ye perish, the fault will be your own; the awful catastrophe will be owing to your own perverse refusal to believe and obey the words of eternal life. And may
these considerations stimulate you to new and more vigorous efforts to make your calling and election sure. If ye will but permit your faith to be active, your repentance to be genuine, and your obedience perfect, not all the preposterous opinions of men will avail to exclude you from the mansions of everlasting felicity. But by his Spirit working in due season, the very God of peace will sanctify you wholly, he will lift up the light of his reconciled countenance upon you, and finally, for Christ's sake, admit you into the presence of his exceeding glory. AMEN.
ISAIAH Ixii. 1.
For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake
I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
THERE are few topicks in divinity less understood than that of predestination. It is owing to the strange conceits and metaphysical species of dialecticks, which have usurped the name, and transformed the pure, intelligible doctrine of the scriptures into a hideous monster of deformity, odious to the eye, and revolting to the mind and heart. I gave you some specimens of this character upon the recent sabbath, and am confident, that no rational being, if left to the free and unrestrained exercise of his own faculties and judgment, would permit himself to be deluded by a system so derogatory to the goodness, and subversive of the justice of the Deity.
To make men for the sole object of damning them everlastingly! To impute such a motive to the benignant Being, who presides over the universe, and whose tender mercies are represented to be over all' his works! The act itself is shocking to our moral feelings, and the imputation, if it had never been hazarded by men of piety and learning; if it had now for the first time been submitted to our examination, would be universally denounced, as impious and even blasphemous to the last degree. It would be considered a new edition of those mythological crudities, which invested the heathen gods and goddesses, with the most ferocious and vindictive passions; which made the earth, the beleagured object of their tyranny, and the bodies and souls of men, the hapless victims of their unrelenting malice.
Never would it be tolerated, that our heavenly Father was capable of forming and publishing a decree, so despotick and unjust, so repugnant to the perfections, with which the bible delights to encircle him, and so hostile to the best and dearest interests of a