« ZurückWeiter »
or title, above, or in preference to the rest ! And no one will dare to presume, or say, that it was not in the power of God, had it been consistent with his character, to have had mercy on the whole, as well as on part ! Mercy' surely is not a hard task for him who has the goodness to forgive ! And furthermore. If it be consistent with the character of God to reconcile all things unto himself, it is presumed, all will acknowledge that his power is sufficient to accomplish such a design. No just reason therefore can be offered why God will not have mercy upon all, and reconcile all things unto himself, in the most unlimited and universal sense, except it be, that it is inconsistent with his character ! Here we are brought up! What an insurmountable difficulty ! Be astonished, Oye heavens ! Let the earth be clothed in sackcloth! While it is recorded, That, (notwithstanding all mankind were in one predicament, all laying at the mercy of God, and altogether dependent on him who was the author of their existence, then, or what is still worse, even previous to transgression, that is to say,) GOD FROM ALL ETERNITY ELECTED SOME UNTO EVERLASTING LIFE!!" And all this “ without the least foresight of faith, good warks, or any conditions performed by the creature,” but “OUT OF HIS MERE GOOD PLEASURE ! ! !" If man could have performed any thing like this forgive us, fellow mortals, if we say it would have been in character, though we now hope better things even of finite nature-But'to say that God! What shall we name it? God forbid that we should
that he has added insult to injury ! Injury, in giving existence to beings, and placing them under such circumstances, and that well known to the Author of their existence, as would not render their existence a blessing to them, but an eternal curse! Insult, by delivering a part out of these circumstances, not for any peculiar merit in those thus delivered, but out of mere good please ure, thereby giving full proof to those who are not delivered that there is no lack of power, nor were their circumstances irreparable, if God had seen fit !
The wisdom from above is « WITHOUT PARTIALITY.” But if the doctrine we are examining does not attach partiality to the Supreme Jehovah, we know of no sentiment that could.
To say that God chose the elect because he knew they would repent and believe in Christ, as some have said, is no more than saying that he chose them because he chose to chiuse them ; for if he knew that they would repent, he knew what would lead them to repentance ; to wit, the operation of his Spirit, or the manifestation of his goodness; and if he knew that they would believe in Christ, he also knew that the truth originated in himself which they would have to believe, and in order for them to believe it, it would be necessary for him to bring them to the knowledge of it, through the medium of proper evidence, which truth would make them free ; and he must also know that (on the ground of Calvinism) no such truth existed in favour of the non-elect! Hence there would be as much propriety in saying that God now converts souls unto Christ because he knows they are elected, as to say that he elected them because he knew they would be converted !
We have now brought the doctrine, or ourselves, into a sad dilemma. Will our Calvinistic brethren be so kind as to help their doctrine, or us, out of this inexplicable labyrinth ?
The doctrine of election is undoubtly a scriptural doctrine. But the elect, whoever they are, are elected for the benifit of the non-elect; and however honorable it may be to them, yet it is not an exclusive favor. See an illustration of this doctrine in No. 3. page 169. Having this view of the scriptural doctrine of election, there is no difficulty in reconciling it with univesal redemption and reconciliation, or the restitution of all things to holiness and consequent happiness.
The doctrine of Calvinism is not only derogatory to the character of God and destructive to the happiness of man, but it is inconsistent with itself. For notwithstanding it acknowledges that, « God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his, being, wisdom, power holiness, justice, goodness, and truth,” and that the works of his providence are « his most holy, wise and powerful, preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions, yet it denies that all things are governed for good ; i. e. for the good of all the creatures thus governed !
Were not Adam and Eve the creatures of God? Are not all their posterity the creatures of God? And does he most holy, wise and powerfully preserve them all ? Yes, (according to Calvinism) he preserves the greater part of thein in sin and misery, and will to all eternity! How does this agree with his unchangeable goodness? If God most holy, wise and powerfully govern all his creatures and all their actions, who is authorized to say that he will not govern them all for good, as he did the actions of Joseph's brethren, who, themselves, shared in the good which God designed, although they meant it unto evil ?
When it can be proved, first, That “all mankind by the fall lost communion with God, and are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable--to the pains of hell forever ; and secondly, " That God out of his mere good pleasure from all eternity elected some to everlasting life,” to the exclusion of others, and those thus excluded will suffer the wrath and curse of God in hell, i, e. in a place of never ceasing torment, then, and not till then, the doctrine of endless misery will be proved.
It is really curious to see, in the Evangelical Primer, Gen. iii. 8, quoted, to prove that “all mankind by the fall lost communion with God ;" when directly after, verse 9--15, we have an account of a conference which took place between God and man, in which conference, God declared that the SEED of the woman should bruise the serpents head. Also to see Eph. ii. 3, quoted to prove that all are under the wrath of God, which text, in connexion with the context, clearly proves that this wrath was no barrier against their being quickened together with Christ. See the text in its connexion. Also Gal. iii. 10, to prove that all men are under the curse of the law, which curse will apply to the elect as well as the non-elect; and to shew that this curse is not an absolute barrier against salvation, it is said, verse 13, “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.” If Mr. E. could have found any texts in the Bible more to his point, he undoubtedly would have quoted them, in the room of those he has inserted at large.
As to mankind's being liable to the pains of hell forever, we do not object to the words, if we may be allowed to apply a passage from the prophecy of Jonah, by way of explanation. “ And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights-the earth with her bars was about me for ever—yet I will look again toward thy holy temple-out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardst my voice !" Jonah i. 17. ii. 2, 4, 6.
MORAL REFLECTIONS. Man, with all other animals is amenable to the laws of nature. He must suffer in common with the brutal creation, the incon- . veniences, as well as enjoy the blessings of life : and in this respect, man has no preeminence above a beast. (Eccl. iii. 19.)-But how long shall man be a slave to fanatacism? How long shall he fancy himself exposed to, and that millions of his fellow-nature must inevitably suffer, infinite evils, from which the brutal creation are entirely exempt? How long shall the most noble creature of this lower world be degraded below the reptiles of the dust? Is there no antidote to this deadly poison of fanatacism? « Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there?" Or
have the physicians all become « physicians of no value ;" liko the shepherds of Israel, which “ caused” the sheep to stray ?” Who can wonder at the morbid apathy of human nature, when they have been taught from their cradles, yea, have drank in the idea, as it were, with their mother's milk, that all, even the best of them, are by nature totally depraved ! and that millions, and perhaps they among the number, were destined to endless misery even before they were born ! How long shall children be taught the dreadful idea that God is their enemy! and that man, in a state of nature, (which, to say the least, is the state of all children) is obnoxious to Deity! And of course, liable to be sunk, at any moment, beyond the reach of mercy! Who made the wonderful discovery that a state of grace is something distinct from a state of nature ? Is grace any thing less or more than mere faror ? And does not man, even in a state of nature, enjoy the favor of God? To what source, except it be to the heated imagination and blind zeal of infuriated bigots, may be traced the origin of ideas so derogatory to the character of God, and hostile to the happiness of man? Have not fanatics, instead of remembering that “ GOD CREATED MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE,” created gods in their own image, and thereby “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man--aud served the creature more than the CREATOR, who is blessed forever more ?" Return, O, child of hu. manity ! to the contemplation of nature-take for thine assistant the pure light of divine revelation---lay out of the scale the dogmas of human authority-behold things as they are, and not as they appear to be through the medium of a false glass-and remember that all facts that cannot be supported with such evi-. dence as would support any other fact in a similar case, are not worth contending for. There are many sources of evidence that are permanent and may be relied on. The same, sun, from time immemorial, has given us light and warınth. The revolving seasons continue in the same order and succession. The fruitified earth continues to reward the labors of the husbandman. And nature herself is unbosoming her treasures on every side to render us happy. How then shall we say that God is inimical to man? And how shall we say that he is not so, if millions were destined to endless misery, even before they were endued with a conscious existence! When human nature shall have learned that all-important lesson, necessary for every one to know, that in very deed all mankind are born free and equal;" that no beings in this lower creation can claim exclusive privileges ; neither by birth, foreordination, or predestination ; that all re
zgion consists in doing good; that the happiness of all moral nalure is made of the happiness of all the individuals that compose it ; that the more any one can contribute to the general welfare, the more he will increase his individual happiness; that every idea of distinction amongst men, excepting that which proteeds from real merit, is destructive to genias, and inimical to virtue ; and that every idea of merit, excepting that which is derived from actual deeds of justice and benevolence, and not from
any outward profession, or degrees of honor conferred by a privileged order, is anti-christian, and destructive to improvement--then-and not till then-shall we see the fulfilment of those scripture prophecies which speak of UNIVERSAL PEACE! Then the lion and the lamb, (the strong and the weak) will lay down together," and mankind will make one grand advance towards human perfection.
A radical change in the mode of thinking must be produced before man will learn his true interest. To produce which event, we must begin with children ; for it cannot be expected that those who have already growu old in error, will be very easily turned from their vain notions and superstitious ideas.
I say we must begin with the rising generation ; for so long as children arc early impregnated with the idea that thousands and millions are born into the world under such circumstances that they must be inevitably miserable as long as God exists, (or that such an event is possible, ) they will grow up in a state of slavish fear, with about as much liberty to think, as a man “bound hand and foot," would have to walk ; not daring to exercise that noble faculty which alone distinguishes in an from the brutal creation.,
The first impressions which children receive, are very lasting; they continue to influence their conduct, in a great degree, thro' life ; and though they should afterwards be rationally convinced that
of them were false, yet they continue more or less to feel their baneful effects. It is therefore a matter of the greatest importance that children should be early taught to have some just views of the character of God, as the creator of the universe ; the reverential homage due to that character, as the Father of the spirits of all flesh; their continual dependence on him, as children of the most high God; the relation which exists between God and all moral nature, by creation and providence ; and the moral obligations they are continually under, to God, and to one another, in consequence of those manifold blessings which they mutually receive, and reciprocally enjoy, under the auspices of divine Love. To produce such an effect, the “Child's Scriptural Catechism” is earnestly recommended as a suitable book to be taught to children.