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“ to break their violent assaults, they shall be suf“ ficiently armed with this, although they had no “ more, if they consider how great wickedness it 6 is even so much as to enquire of the causes of “ the will of God, since of all things that are it " is the cause, and worthily so ought to be; for “ if it have any cause, then somewhat must go 66 before it whereto it must be as it were bound, “ which it is unlawful once to imagine; for the
will of God is so the highest rule of righteous“ ness, that whatsoever he willeth, even for this " that he willeth it, it ought to be taken for righ“ teous. When therefore it is asked, why the 6 Lord did it? it is to be answered, because he “ willed it. But if you go further in asking, why “ he willed it? thou askest some greater and “ higher thing than the will of God, which can
not be found. Wherefore if any man assail us “ with such words, why God hath from the be“ ginning predestinated some to death, which, when they were not, could not yet deserve the
judgment of death? we, instead of answer, may " again on our side ask of them, what they think " that God oweth to man, if he will judge him “ by his own nature ?”
This hateful doctrine of absolute decrees was never thought of in the three first centuries, or before the time of Augustin; an indisputable proof that Scripture does not naturally suggest it;
for had it done so, some of the Fathers, who were as learned and as conversant in the Scriptures as Augustin, would have taken notice of and enforced it; but they never did. Mosheim observes, that it was eagerly adopted into the Romish Church; and no wonder, for it is easy to perceive how much the doctrine of peculiar election is calculated to gain proselytes to any communion. Would to God the corrupt doctrines of absolute and unconditional decrees had ever been confined to the Romish communion, and that they had never found their way into the reformed Church, especially into the writings of those great men, Luther and Calvin'; men to whom the world are so highly indebted for the noble and courageous stand they made against the impiety, domination, and wicked encroachments of the Church of Rome, and whose names on this account will be transmitted to the latest ages with everlasting honour: but, at the same time, it is ever to be lamented that they should have tarnished their great and illustrious talents, by retaining so much as they did of the spirit of Popery; for Mosheim informs us, that the doctrines of absolute predestination, irresistible grace, and human impotence, were never carried to a more excessive length, or maintained with more violent obstinacy, than they were by Luther*: and that Calvin maintained, that the
* Vol. ii. p. 173. Maclaine's translation.
everlasting condition of mankind in a future world was determined from all eternity by the unchangeable order of the Deity; and that this absolute determination of his will and good pleasure was the only source of happiness or misery to every individual*: and that God, in predestinating from all eternity one part of mankind to everlasting happiness, and another to endless misery, was led to make this distinction by no other motive than his own good pleasure and free willt. All that Mosheim advances is entirely confirmed in the 21st, 22d, and 23d chapters of Calvin's Institution of the Christian Religion. Alas! poor human nature ! that a man of such eloquence, learning, genius, and piety, of such temperance in diet, of such disinterestedness, and contempt for wealth, (as the best writers of his age ascribe to Calvin,) either by the perusal of any book, by any association of his own ideas, or by any suggestions from those of other men, should have been induced to allow his great mind to imbibe such erroneous opinions as he did respecting the mercy and goodness of his gracious Creator! This indeed is a subject for just lamentation, such as should make men of lesser talents tremble, least they should err and misinterpret the word of God as he did;
* Vol. ii. p. 194, 195.
+ Vol. ii. p. 200.
and should influence them to pray earnestly and fervently to God to give thein a right judgment in all things, and, above all, with respect to a knowledge of his truth and attributes.
One of the capital errors of Calvin was his applying to the whole human race parts of Scripture intended only for partial application : thus the arguments he has chiefly adverted to in support of his doctrine of election and reprobation are selected from St. Paul's 9th chapter to the Romans; which whole chapter, in the judgment of Grotius, Whitby, Hammond, and Locke, is not of general application, and by no means applies or refers to the universal election of reprobation of the human species, but is entirely applicable to the election of those heathens into Christ's Church, who sought that election by faith in Christ, and to the rejection of such unbelieving Jews, as trusted for their justification in the legal ordinances of the Mosaic law: men who despised Jesus Christ and his doetrine, persecuted his religion, stumbled at it, and would not believe in it, or that he was the Messiah, because he lived and died among them in a mean condition; and who filled up the measure of their iniquity and infidelity by resisting the preaching of the Apostles after Christ's resurrection : these profane men were given up by God to obduration, to a reprobate mind, and the Apostles departed from them to the Gentiles. That St. Paul never intended what he wrote in the above chapter should be applied generally to all mankind, is abundantly to be collected from what he writes in the subsequent chapter to the Romans, in these words, which are and were meant to be of universal application : “ If thou shalt confess 56 with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt be" lieve in thine heart that God hath raised him 66 from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with " the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and 56 with the mouth confession is made unto salva“ tion. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever bee lieveth on him shall not be ashamed. For there
" is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: ." for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that $ call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon
the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And this assertion of St. Paul's is strongly corroborated and confirmed by our blessed Saviour himself, in these words, at the 16th chapter of St. Mark's Gospel; “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gos"s pel to every creature. He that believeth and « is baptized shall be saved; but he that be“ lieveth not shall be damned.” So that election to the kingdom of God is not restricted or confined to any particular class of men, but is offered indiscriminately to all who are baptized into the