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doctrine of election: but their concessions prove nothing as to the doctrine itself, whether it be scriptural or not.
It being contended that reprobation is unfounded, because it is obviously inconsistent with 'the mercy and goodness of God, it may be asked, Whether it be not also inconsistent with 'the mercy and goodness of God, to create men 'who he saw would be hereafter miserable? I
answer, Certainly not, and for this plain reason; because, according to the system which we maintain, God has enabled every man born into the 'world to work out his own salvation. Whoever 'therefore is finally unhappy, is unhappy through 'his own fault; and the mercy of God is fully 'vindicated by his giving to every individual of the human race the means of happiness."1
God created the angels who fell, and became most wicked and miserable. Did he not foresee this when he created them? But was this 'incon'sistent with his goodness and mercy,' or with his justice? The angels who sinned not are called "the elect angels: "2 let fallen angels then be called the non-elect or reprobate. reprobate. Now, after their fall, did God give to every individual,' or to any, of them' the means of happiness?'" He spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them "down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."3 But will any man plead their cause, or impeach the divine perfections on their account? Had he not spared man when he sinned, or any of the fallen 1 Tim. v. 21.
32 Pet. ii. 4. Jude 6.
race, he would not have acted inconsistently with his justice; nor even with his goodness, as Creator, towards his obedient creatures. All the advantages afforded to fallen man are from unmerited grace and mercy; and what is of grace cannot be of debt; and might therefore be justly withheld. To suppose that God would not have acted towards us as it became him, had he not given us the gospel, is to take away the very foundation of the gospel; and to suppose that, instead of the gift ' of free mercy,' it is a sort of amends made to those who would otherwise have been injuriously treated. It does not appear, in what sense 'God ' hath enabled every man born into the world to ' work out his own salvation.' A vast majority of the human race have hitherto not had the means ' of grace,' or of happiness; but have been " with"out Christ, without hope, and without God in the "world." They have been and are nearly, though not exactly, in the case in which all would have been, if God had left the whole human race, without any interposition, to walk " in their own ways,' without a Saviour, a gospel, a Sanctifier. And it will be as hard (if fallen man have any claim on his offended Creator,) to clear up this difficulty, as that which attends the election of some and not others among the same fallen creatures, to eternal life. Whoever, on the Calvinists' system, as well as on that of their opponents, 'is finally unhappy, is unhappy through his own fault.' Whoever, being favoured with the gospel, lives and dies rejecting it, perishes through his own fault. No decree of God compelled him to sin, or prevented his repentance; but the love of the world and of sin,
with the pride, enmity and wickedness of his own heart. God merely determined not to work in him a new creation to prevent this. And the question is, whether, if he had determined thus to leave us all, with or without the means of grace, to ourselves, we should not universally have broken his commandments, and lived, and died, and perished in obstinate rebellion against him. This Calvinists firmly believe they think that, according to the testimony of scripture, this would have been the case and that election, and efficacious calling as the consequence, alone make any man to differ, in this essential manner, from others of his fellow creatures.1
'Thus the Calvinist, in maintaining the doctrine ' of partial redemption, without any regard to merit 'or demerit in the objects of God's favour or re'jection, triumphantly asks, 'Had not the glorious
Being, who created the universe, a right to create 'it for what purpose he pleased :' 'It is not denied that God had a right, founded on the un'controllable will of the Creator over his creatures, 'to consign the far greater part of men to eternal 'misery, and to bestow eternal happiness on a 'chosen few, although there was in themselves no 'ground whatever for such a distinction.'2
Calvinists certainly think (however it may appear to others,) that their views are not only consistent with all the perfections of God, but that they peculiarly display the harmonious glory of his whole character; the glory of his infinite justice and mercy, power and wisdom, holiness and faithEph. ii. 1-5. Tit. iii. 2-7.
2 Ref. 257, 258.
fulness, condescension and compassion; and of every attribute, which can be conceived of, as admirable, adorable, and lovely: and, could they be convinced of the contrary, they would (at least many of them) renounce their principles. For they cannot conceive, that a scriptural creed should exhibit the glorious God any otherwise than as acting in character: not merely as not doing what is inconsistent with his perfections; but as doing every thing which, (when properly understood,) is suited to display the glory of them, to all holy creatures, and to all eternity, in the most advantageous manner imaginable; and indeed far beyond created imagination or conception. We may be mistaken, for we are fallible, as well as our opponents: but (I can answer only for myself, though I am assured numbers can say the same,) we read every thing that is supposed by the public most ably to combat our sentiments; we compare what these publications say with the scriptures: and we pray to the Giver of all wisdom to enlighten our minds, and open our understandings to understand the scriptures and yet, we are so far from being convinced that our sentiments are dishonourable to God, that we feel an increasing assurance that they are directly the contrary. Either some more effectual method, therefore, must be taken of setting us right, or the difference must be left to be settled at the day of judgment, and by the light of the eternal world.-Quotations from those Calvinists who triumphantly ask, Had not 'the glorious Being who created the universe a right, &c.;' would have given an energy to the whole passage which it now wants. No doubt
some men have used this kind of language: but it is very unbecoming such poor, erring, sinful mor tals as we are, to speak in this manner concerning God. Indeed even where we do not see his justice and mercy, it behoves us to be silent: but to allow that the Judge of all the earth dooms men to hell without their demerit; and then to step forward to justify this, on the ground of the divine sovereignty, is highly reprehensible. “Will ye "speak wickedly for God, and talk deceitfully for " him? Will ye accept his person? Will ye ❝contend for God?" Indeed I should be far less liberal in concession on this subject than his Lordship is. I am sure that the glorious Sovereign of the universe has a right to do whatever he pleases: but I am equally sure that it is absolutely impossible he can please to consign his rational creatures to any kind or degree of misery which they have not deserved. "Shall not the "judge of all the earth do right?" His sovereignty is that of infinite wisdom, justice, truth, goodness, and mercy. It is far more possible for the sun to produce cold and darkness, than for any thing unjust to proceed from God: and to speak of a sovereign'right' to do what, when done, would be wrong, and inconsistent with the good'ness, and mercy, and justice of God,' is inconsistent with sound logic and sober reasoning. In many things, it is our duty to be silent, and to adore the depths which we cannot fathom: but surely we ought never to step forward, as claiming a right for God to do what it is impossible he should do; and which he no where has so much as intimated a
4 Job xiii. 7-10.