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souls, they should be exceedingly careful how they presume to consider themselves as the Elect of God, or as entitled to his preference and favour in any other way than from a compliance with the will and commandments of God, as both these are determined and prescribed to them in such plain and incontrovertible texts of Scripture, as are beyond all dispute addressed to the whole human race. “And we ought not to permit our minds to be overruled or controlled from this decision by such texts in St. Paul's Epistles as are of doubtful interpretation, such as were by no means universally addressed to the whole species, but were meant to denote the election and rejection not of individuals, but of nations and kingdoms, or else were of local and partial application. Our Saviour expressly tells us, that the whole of our duty is contained in these two commandments; “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy * heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy “ mind. This is the first and great command* ment. And the second is like unto it; Thou “shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these “ two commandments hang (or depend) all the “ law and the prophets.” Now to confuse and, confound these two great commandments with various obscure texts in the Epistles, and to consider these latter as of equal force, reference, and importance with the former, betrays a weak mind,

and the greatest want of judgment; for, as Dr. Clarke observes in his Sermon on the Justice of God, “obscure passages in Scripture are always " to be interpreted by the plain ones, and not the “ plain ones made doubtful by those that are ob« scure.”

It is clear, from the preceding quotations which have been made from Scripture, that the promises of God's favour, of his peace, and of his blessing, are made to the whole species; to all those of the human race who love, honour, and obey him; and, excepting in particular instances, to answer and accomplish his own views and purposes; such as in the cases of Pharaoh, Cyrus, and some others, and which do not apply to our present argument, which merely relates to God's general conduct to the species. God is no respecter of persons; but, as St. Peter observes, “in every na“ tion, he that feareth God, and worketh righ“ teousness, is accepted with him.” And likewise we are thus informed in the Book of Job; “ Hear “ my words, () ye wise men; and give ear unto “ me, ye that have knowledge. God accepteth “ not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the s rich more than the poor, for they are all the “ work of his hands.” Further in Isaiah; “ Let “ the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous “ man his thoughts, and let him return unto the “ Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and

4 to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." And God Almighty thus addresses the human race by his prophet Ezekiel ; “The soul that sinneth, " it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity “ of the father, neither shall the father bear the " iniquity of the son : the righteousness of the “ righteous shall be upon him, and the wicked

ness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if “ the wicked will turn from all his sins that he “ hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and “ do that which is lawful and right, he shall “ surely live, he shall not die: because he con"sidereth, and turneth away from all his trans"gressions that he hath committed, he shall “ surely live, he shall not die.” Notwithstanding all these plain and strong texts in Scripture, which oppose and declare so forcibly against the doctrine of unconditional and unchangeable decrees, against election and predestination, Calvin expressly asserts, that the fate of every man before his creation is determined and predestinated by God; by which assertion he entirely destroys the free agency of human beings, though every man, by an appeal to his own feelings, must be sensible he possesses that free agency. All legislators in the composition of their laws consider men as free agents, and as capable of keeping or violating those laws; and I fancy it would little avail a culprit in any court of justice to plead predestination or inevitable necessity in excuse for his crime: and, if Calvin's property had been stolen, he himself would have objected to such plea in common with other persons. That men possess the power of free agency, is proved at all times and ages by their conduct: for example, it suited the interest of a great many men in the time of that arch hypocrite, Oliver Cromwell, to adopt a fanatical and hypocritical conduct; and they did so : in the next reign a conduct directly opposite was observed by as many men, whose interest it suited to become libertines, in compliance with the manners of the reigning monarch. Now

I believe predestination was not at all concerned - in this arrangement of hypocrites and libertines; but these men might or might not have adopted the conduct they did at their own will and pleasure, and as they were respectively swayed by the different motives and propensities of their own minds; and over which motives and propensities reason possesses an absolute and decided power, if men will allow her that control and supremacy which God intended, and for that purpose has endued the mind of man with that free will and free agency, which it is the glory of man to possess. Does not God himself impute the sins of the Jews to their not making use of their reason and free agency as they ought to have done? “My ” people do not consider.” But of what use would

it have been to them to consider, if, whether they did or did not consider, they were predestined to act as they did ? Our Saviour enjoins man to strive to enter in at the straight gate; but if his destiny is unalterably fixed, his striving must be useless and in vain. Again, the Ten Commandments are worded clearly and unquestionably under the complete idea of free agency in the people to whom they are delivered, and who were to obey them. The whole history of Job infers, that God considered him as a free agent; for to what purpose did God Almighty permit the Devil to torment him for a trial of his patience and resignation, if God had predestined him to an inevitable course of conduct. However it may be reconcileable to Calvin's ideas of God's proceedings, it is not reconcileable to our ideas of his justice and goodness, to punish so just and righteous a man in such a manner, and this, as the Scripture expressly declares, for a trial of him, if God, by having predestined him to an inevitable course of conduct, knew the manner in which he must necessarily act, and had thus in fact precluded all free agency on his part, and of course

all real trial of his integrity. And the relation : given in Scripture, of God's commanding Abraham to offer up his son Isaac for a trial of his faith and obedience, is of the same nature, and cannot be rationally accounted for, if we suppose the

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