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of conduct, if their conduct was predestinated and predetermined, and therefore admitted of no alteration? To a predestined agent, of what use is the advice of Solomon, to get wisdom and understanding; or to fear God, and keep his commandments, as the whole duty of man? or to parents, to train up a child in the way he should go? And how can we suppose God would declare to old Eli, that he would punish him, and judge his house for ever, because he did not restrain his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, from their evil courses ; which it would have been impossible for him to have done, on the absurd idea of their having been predestined to these evil courses before they were born? The whole history of man in all ages
and nations, whether civilized or not, proves that he is a being possessed of free agency, with a power to do right or wrong at his option : and even Lord Bolingbroke, with all his scepticism, was a firm believer in man's free agency;
And binding nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will. . If we admit any other idea, we make man a mere machine, an absolute automaton, a being merely acted upon; we destroy at once
all rational ideas of vice and virtue, and of all reward and punishment at a future day of judgment. Indeed if we divest the human character of free agency, and consider man as á being predestined before his birth to accomplish an inevitable destiny, there cannot possibly be any use in a future judgment, since, according to this preposterous hypothesis of predestination, every man in reality is judged before he is born.
On other subjects Calvin is deservedly considered a learned and elegant writer ; but his doctrines respecting election and predestination are so indefensible, that his strongest arguments in support of them appear to me to deserve no attention. However, it is but fair that I should give a short specimen of them, (which is all that can be done in a treatise of this kind,) that the reader may judge for himself: at the same time I can assure him, that this specimen is by no means selected as being either better or worse than any other which
Calvin's sentiments on these subjects ; for whenever he writes on them, he is equally confused, weak, and inconclusive.
From Calvin's Institution of the Christian
Religion, in four Books, Quarto. Geneva, Aug. 1, 1559.
1: Extract from the 1st Section of the 22d Chapter of the 3d Book.
" All these things which we have set are “ not without controversy among many, espefosi cially the free election of the faithful, “ which yet cannot be weakened; for the
common sort do think that God, as he “ foreseeth what every man's deservings shall “ be, so maketh difference between men, 4 that therefore whom he foreknoweth that “ they shall be not unworthy of his grace, 4 them he adopteth into place of children; % and whose natures he espieth that they will “ be bent to wickedness and ungodliness, “ them he appointeth to the damnation of " death: so by cloking it with the veil of « foreknowledge, they do not only darken 44 election, but 'feign that it hath beginning «« elsewhere. And this opinion received of " the common sort is not the opinion of the common sort alone, for in all
it hath “ had great maintainers ; which I do plainly “ confess, to the intent that no man should " trust that it shall much hurt our cause if
“ their names be objected against us; for 4 the truth of God herein is more certain “ than that it may be shaken, more clear " than that it may be darkened with the “ authority of men. But some other, nei« ther exercised in the Scripture, nor wor
thy of any voice, do rail at this doctrine “ with greater maliciousness than that their “ forward pride ought to be suffered; be“ cause God, choosing some after his own “ will, leaveth other some, they pick a quar“ rel against him: but if the thing itself be “ known for true, what shall they prevail “ with brawling against God? We teach
nothing but that which is approved by “ experience, that it was alway at liberty for " God to bestow his grace to whom he will. “ I will not enquire whereby the posterity of " Abraham excelled other, but by that vouch" safing whereof there is found no cause “ elsewhere than in God. Let them answer
why they be men rather than oxen or « asses.
When it was in the hand of God “ to make them dogs, he fashioned them " after his own image: will they give leave “ to brute beasts to quarrel with God for “ their estate, as though the difference were "unrighteous?".
Chapter 23. Sections 1. and 2.
“ It is not meet to assign the preparing “ unto destruction to any other thing than “ to the secret counsel of God. These say
ings indeed should be sufficient for the
godly and sober, and them which remem“ ber themselves to be men; but forasmuch “ as these venomous dogs do cast up not
only one sort of venom against God, we will as the matter shall serve answer to
every one particularly. Foolish men do “ divers ways quarrel with God, as though
they had him subject to their accusations: “ first, therefore, they ask, by what right the “ Lord is angry with his creatures, of whom “ he hath not been first provoked by any of“ fence? for to condemn to destruction whom “ he will, agreeth rather with the wilfulness “ of a tyrant, than the lawful sentence of
a judge; therefore they say, that there is
cause why men should charge God, if by “ his bare will, without their own deserving,
they be predestinate to eternal death. If “ such thoughts do at any time come into the “ minds of the godly to break their violent 6 assaults, they shall be sufficiently armed « with this, although they had no more, if
they consider how great wickedness it is