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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 some“ what must go 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 righteousness, that whatso
ever. he willeth, even for this that he will" eth it, it ought to be taken for righteous. “ When therefore it is asked, why the 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, 66 which cannot be found. Wherefore if
any “ man assail us with such words, why God “ hath from the beginning 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 centum ries, 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 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-t: 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 will I. 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
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
* Vol. ii. p. 173. Maclaurin's translation.
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 ; and should influence them to pray earnestly and fervently to God to give them 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 or 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 doctrine, 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 with
thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt be6 lieve in thine heart that God hath raised him “ from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For “ with the heart man believeth unto righte
ousness ; and with the mouth confession is “ made unto salvation. For the Scripture
saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not 66 be ashamed. For there is no difference be6 tween the Jew and the Greek: for the same