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Obscurus on Predestination, &c.
persons care not to distinguish between terms of salvation, and terms of admission to the ministry.”
I am, Gentlemen, your's, &c. Rempstone, Jan. 18, 1804.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCIMAN’S MAGAZINE.
Y give a plain and satisfactory explanation of a controverted text
of scripture so as to restle it from being applied in the cause of heresy mast at all times be useful, and especially in times like the present. With this view I send you an extract from a sermon first preached near thirty years ago, on Rom. viii. 29, 30. For whom he this foreknow he also did predestinate to le conformed to the image of his Son, that he may be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called them he also justified ; and whom he justified them he also glorified. To this passage, though some of the commentators have given the proper meaning, ye. they do not seem to have sifted it thoroughly; nor is it, I believe, precisely or generally linderstood. There were, at the conclusion, some observations on the 17th Article, which, to avoid prolixity, I shall reserve for another communication.
After expatiating on the extreme absurdity, or rather blasphemy, of supposing that a beneficent Creator would irreversibly doom some of his creatures to eternal happiness, and others to eternal misery, and afterwards give them a rule of life, and even a redemption, by adfering to wlrich, all alike had a promise of salvation, &c. The sermon goes on thus :
---" But, as the best method of refuting a doctrine so repugnant to the whole tenor of Scripture, will be to examine most minutely the principal passages on which it seems to rest, I shall proceed to consider à few of them with what attention I am able, and especially the very remarkable assertions of the apostle in my text. This famous passage, to make it countenance the doctrine of Predestination, must, 1
presuine, be thus interpreted. God could not but foreknow who would truly obey his laws, and arrive at his glory, even before they were born; whom, therefore, he did thus foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son in glory ; but if he foreknew that they would inevitably deserve and attain this glory, it seems unnecessary to foredoom them to it. Then comes the reason, that he (the Son) might be the first-born among many brethren ; that is, all those who shall be saved everlastingly; as, however, we have grounds to hope that this number will be infinite, since it is represented as a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” (Rev. vii. 9) the expression, many brethren, appears to be too weak to convey such an idea, Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called : and whom he called, them he also justified: but both these seem rather superfluous if their salvation was irreversibly decreed : and whom he justified, them he also glorified: but if their being predestined to glory was meant by the first article, it surely need not be repeated here.
Such is the confusion and tautology that must arise in this passage if it be construed according to the predestinarian system. Let us examine then what the present passage does, and necessarily must mean. St. Paul is here addressing himself to the Christian converts that lived at Rome at the very centre and fountain of persccutions, against which impending calamities it was necessary that he should strengthen and comfort them. He sets off by asserting that “ there is now no condem nation to them that are in Christ Jesus." “ The spirit itselt” says he“ beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”-but how ?---not unconditionally, much less by any arbitrary decree, but on the following very severe condition--- if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified togetlier." The encouragement be holds out to them is that their future reward would infinitely outweigh their present afflictions, “jor I reckon,” says he, " that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us;” and we know that this consideration, through the grace of God, did actually support them under all the torments that a wicked world could devise. To the same effect he says in the verse immediately preceding my text, that“ all things work together for good,” in the end, " to them that love God" to such a degree as to suffer such afflictions, “ to them who are called according to his purpose :” which was that they should glorify his name, and prove the truth of his religion---by laying down their lives in support of it.--Carrying forward this idea, the meaning of the iextis strikingly obvious and proper. For whom he did foreknow that they would suffer all things for his sake, he also did predestinate or pre-ordain, to be conformed to the image of his Son.---But what image ? the whole train of reasoning shews that the image or likeness not of his glory, for that comes afterwards, but of his sufferings, is what is bere intended; that he (the Son of God) might be the first-born among many brethren, namoly, the martyrs who suffered after the example of their blessed Vaster and to whom the words, many brethren, may be aptly applied. Moreover whom he did thus predestinate, or select and appoint for this fiery trial, then he also called, he did not controul their freedom of choice, much less bind them by any irresistible decrec, but he invited them to undertake the task, fairly apprising them of the sufferings on the one hand, and of the high rewards on the other: and whom he called, them he also justified. On their accepting and fulfilling these conditions, he approved and accounted them as perfectly just and righteous: and whom he justified, them he also glorified, on their thus laying down their lives for his sake, he immediately received them into glory, as he did his first martyr St. Stephen, and exalted them to a supreme degree of happiness in heaven, near to his beloved Son, whose example they so nobly imitated upon earth. Here every thing is easy and natural, the glory to be acquired is mentioned last as it ougħt to be, and not, as in the former case, before they had acquired the victory, or even undergone the trial. The whole remaining verses of this chapter confirm the sense here given, but I need say no more to convince you that this passage, at least, has nothing at all to do with the doctrine of uncondigional Election, or Reprobation.
I am, &c.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE
sending you an extract, concluded with some short remarks on the 17th article. Those remarks contained the substance of the following commentary, which I have now drawn ont in a new form, as I thought it would be best and most intelligible to give the whole of the Article, accompanied by its explanation.
But we are told, that the doctrine of Predestination, or of unconditional Election and Reprobation is expressly established by the 17th Article of our Church. To me, I am free to own, this Article appears to establish exactly the reverse, as I hope to evince by reciting it, with the interpretation which I presume it ought to bear.
Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, (before the foundations of the world were laid he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen av Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by CHRIST, to cverlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. That is, predestination to life is by no means, as the followers of Calvin absurdly dream, an arbitrary or unconditional dooming of some to eternal blessedness, but it is that everlasting purpose of God, whereby it was pre-ordained in his secret counsel, before the foundation of the world, that a most gracious redemption should be prepared for the sins of mankind, because it was fore-known how much they would stand in need of it. By this redemption, rlen, and by this alone, did God pre-determilie to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind---but here observe---not arbitrarily chosen, but chosen in Christ, or those of whom God could not but foreknow that they would embrace the redemption of his Sonny and therefore, in respect to his prescience, he might be said to have chosen, or approved, and accepted them, even before they were born. These he pre-letermined to bring---not arbitrarily, but---by Christ, to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour---yet not so as to be independent of this redemption, for “ there is none other name given unto even the best of men, by which they may be saved, but only the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Therefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be .called according to God?'s purpose, by his Spirit working in due season: they through grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption : they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ : they walk religiously in good works: and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting fclicity. Here we have the whole progress of justification, every word of which excludes the idea of there being any fore-dooming to life or death. These chosen vessels are invited, (not predestinated) according to the everlasting purpose of God above described, by the silent though not irresistible
working of the Spirit: they, through this assisting grace, (not any compulsory decree) obey this invitation; they are justified freely (not through necessity, which would exclude freedom, but) through the free gift of God, as opposed to their own works or deservings: they are then adopted to be the sons of God, and conformed to the image of his only-begotten Son by a patient endurance of afflictions : nor must they only suffer wrong, but also do what is right, by walking religiously in good works : till at length, by God's mercy on the sins they may commit, and by no means through any unconditional decree, they attain to everlasting felicity.
The next part of the article meerly displays the blessedness of such as are thus chosen, and justified. As the godly consideration of (this only true) Predestination, and our Election (not arbitrary but) IN CHRIST, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakablc comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things; as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed THROUGH CHRIST, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God;---as this is the happy case of the true believers---so, fon the other hand) for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of (what is called) God's (eternal, unconditional) Predestination (either to life, which would render them careless how they lived, or to death, which must plunge them into the deepest despair; which latter, meaning the word sentence, in this place, seems principally to point out) is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them (here the Calvinistic dactrine, or at least the damnatory part of it, secms plainly to be attributed to the father of lies) either into desperation, or into wretchedness (restlessness, abandoned heedlessness) of most unclean lịving, mo less perilous than desperation.
The conclusion strongly corroborates this interpretation. Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be GENERALLY set forth to us in holy scripture: and in our doings, that will of God is to be followed, which we have eXPRESSLY declared to us in the word of God. That is, we are not to take our notions either of the promises, or the commands of God, (as the Calvinists, and, we might add, all other Sectarists do,) from any strained meanings which may seem deducible from here and there a difficult or doubtfui text; but we should always be guided in our interpretations of scripture by those numberless passages which are plain and perspicuous beyond all controversy, and to which the doubtful ones, if any, should be made to conform."
I am, &c.
Supplem. to Church .. dog. Fol. V.
ADMONITION AGAINST CRUELTY TO BRUTE ANIMALS.
TO THE EDITORS OF TIIE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE,
a tract, entitled, “ Thoughts on the duty of mercy and sin of cruelty to the brute creation,” you have sufficiently manifested your desire to repress the shameful vice of cruelty towards brute animals. I fatter myself, therefore, that you will indulge me in the insertion of the following admonition. My further wish respecting it is, that those of your benevolent readers, who live in places where the vice referred to is more peculiarly prevalent, may have it: printed separately on an open sheet, and either distributed among the lower classes of people, or pasted up in situations of public resort.
I learn with pleasure, from Mr. Legh Richmond's excellent “ Sera mon on the sin of cruelty towards the brute creation, that a benevolent gentleman, the Rev. Henry Brindley, of Lacock, in Wiltshire, has instituted an annual Lecture on the subject. It is preached at the Abbey Church, Bath, on Shrove Sunday. It is my earnest wish, that a sermon on the same subject may be annually preached, on the same day, in every church throughout the united kingdom; or, at least, that kindness towards brute animals may be represented as a part of the charity, which the service of that day is peeuliarly calculated to recommend.
I am, Gentlemen, your's, &c. Rempstone, Nov. 1, 1803.
E. PEARSON. AN ADMONITION AGAINST CRUELTY TO BRUTE BEASTS. Some people seem to think, at least if we may judge of their thinking by their behaviour, that brute animals have no feeling: whereas our immortal Shakspeare, that accurate observer of nature, declares,
-The poor.beetle, that we tread upon,
As when a giant dies. God is a God of mercy, and his mercy is over all his works. He made the inferior creatures, not only that they might administer to the good of man, but that they might be happy, cach in his way, according to their several capacities of happiness. Whoever, therefore, treats brute animals with cruelty, while it is proper to keep them alive, or puts them to any unnecessary pain, when it is proper to destroy them, counteracts the will of God, and must expect to bring down upon himself the divine displeasure. It hence necessarily follows, that the exaction of all unreasonable exertions of the strength of brute animals, the exercise of all unnecessary severity of discipline upon them, whether in anger or in wantonness; and, above all, the indulgence, if indulgence it inay be called, in all such diversions, as are attended with cruelty to them, are so many instances of disobedience to the divine will, and must be accounted for at the day of judg. ment. Besides, it is very clear, that whoever is guilty in any of these respects, is greatly deficient in that universal lore or charity, which is a necessary qualification for the kingdoin of heaven; that love or cha