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had it in his power to convert and save sinners, but did not do it ; when their own daily practice declares that it is a fact, that God can convert and save as many as he pleases, and yet does not save all sinners ?
Obj. Ist. They say it is unjust, because it is partiality : and the scriptures say, that God is no respecter of persons. But we have already shown, that according to both their language and practice, at cap-meeting, they say that God is a respecter of persons.
But as to this scripture, we have already proven, that there are many words, and sometimes in he Bible, which are capable of being literally understood in different senses :* this text of scripture is among them. We call it a respecting of persons, when a Judge or Prince is disposed unjustly to palliate the crimes of a great man, or favoar him more than he would a poor man; and that, barely because he is a great man: this is the common meaning of that expression, and it is in this sense that God is no respecter of persons. If the reader will examine the Bible, he will find, that every time this expression occurs, it is used in that view. When Paul was directing masters how to treat their servants, he adds, “knowing that your master is in heaven ; neither is there respect of persons with him ;" that is, you will fare no better there, for your being a master. So again, when he spoke to the Jews
• See Section 2. p. 67.
+ Eph. vi. 8,
who were in the habit of despising the Geu. tiles, he uses the same expression, to let them know, that they were all the rebellious creatures of God; and that he would dispose of his favours among them as be pleased; for with him there was no respect of persons ; whether they be Jew or Gentile, high or low, rich or poor.
The inspired writers never intended to be understood, that God meant to bestow his favours equally alike, on all the undeserving children of men ; because this idea would not only be contrary to other scriptures, but also to plaio facts. We see that one man is born blind, and another with sight ; one is born wise, and another a fool ; one man is cut down at Camp-meeting, and made a Christian, (they say,) and another is left to die in his sins. Some have the gospel given to them, and others have not. In short, there are scarcely two persons with whom the Lord has dealt exactly alike. How then can any man suppose, that God ever intended to teach us otherwise ?
When our Governor goes into the State Prison, and pardons some convicts, and not others, we do not call him partial or unjust ; but if he should exert the utmost of the power delegated to him, and pardon the whole band, and turn them loose on society; then we would say
he had been partial, in showing favour to the guilty, at the expense of the innocent. The criminals might find fault with him for making that distinction which he did ; and say that one had as good a right to his favour as another. They might not remember that none of them had any claim; but were only left to suffer what they justly deserved. Nay, they might think, and even say of the Governor, that he was worse than the devil, because he showed mercy to some, and not to others, when he had it in his power.
Almost all the kings of the earth have ever been in the practice of pardoning some offen
ders, and executing others, when they were all I equally guilty. This power they have exerci
sed according to their pleasure, and pardoned whom they would, and as many as they thought would comport with the good of the commonwealth. Neither did humane Princes have any pleasure in seeing the rest executed ; it was done barely because the general good required it.
The Legislature of the State of New York, not long since, acted upon this principle. Four men in Orange County were convicted of murder; the Legislature by an act pardoned two of them, 'and the other two they left to be executed ; passing no act in their favour.
Now, what objections can there be made against this principle, as it applies to the dealings of God towards sinful men ? If you say " the Legislature ought to have pardoned none :” according to that, if God had dealt on this principle with fallen men, we should all
have been damned ; for we are all transgress.
If, on the other hand, you say, they ought to have pardoned them all-We answer, this would not be either wise or just ; because it might jeopardize every man's life in the country. Villains would have said, “ the law, to be sure, condemos murderers ; but the Legislature will pardon them all; therefore, we may venture to take our neighbour's life, if we have a desire to do so. Obj. 2nd. But
God made me, True, God made you a man, and you have made yourself a sinner: you were an active moral agent when you did so, and felt yourself free to do evil. God's knowing before he made you, and bis determining to permit you to do these evils, did not, neither could it have any influence upon your conduct. Let conscience speak. You knew his commands, but have not kept them.
This doctrine,we know,may make the wicked feel how they stand before God: yet there is nothing in it which is in the least calculated to discourage the humble believer. Because if he has a will, or is at present willing to depart from iniquity, and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is God the Holy Ghost hath given bim this will; and all the promises of the Gospel meet him., Whosoever will, let him come and take of the waters of life freely." Consequently, he may know, that he will be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Yea, he
will be so kept by that same power, which first quickened him when dead in sin, that he will ever be willing to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and keep his commandments.
But, methinks I hear one say, “ I am willing to believe ; I am a Methodist, and intend to remain so, let the Bible say what it will.” If this be the language of thy heart, know, Oman ! that, let thy experience be what it may, thou art not a true believer. Because they who receive Christ, take him in all his offices, not only as their Priest, but also for their Prophet and King ; and they are willing and even desire to know his will, and
of it. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.* We beseech such, by the tender mercies of our God, to give up their vain hopes, and hearken to what the Lord hath said.
But to return. As we pass along we have noticed some of the real objections, which may appear to be found in our system of divinity. Because we are perfectly willing to know what is the truth, we are well assured, that if we do not find it now, we shall one day find it to our cost. Therefore, we trust that the humble inquirer, who often hears, and is led to view the objections against our system, will be willing to hear the objections which rest upon the other.
Accordingly we ask, li. God has such a desire to bring as many sinners to repentance and
* Rev. xiv. 4.