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given to us, hy which we are bound to regulate our conduct. To the breach of these commands, there is a penalty or threatening annexed; and when they are broken by the subjects of God's government, the Lord will par. don whom he pleases among the guilty ; and he will pardon all who are willing to submit to his government, and humbly accept of Jesus Christ on the terms of the Gospel ; be, cause none will ever be willing to do this, except the Lord make them so by his special power and grace. Who will be these subjects of mercy among the rebellious, will be, and is, only known to us when they truly repent and believe, and not before. Therefore the reader may see, that all these doctrines of free grace are linked together in one chain, which cannot be broken, without destroying the whole and wresting the government out of the hand of God; because, this decree is made known by God in bis daily government in the world, and is commonly called providence.
But if the reader think, that by a long use of the word decree, it has now got to convey a different meaning from what the Protestants at first intended, we will not dispute with him about words. We
call it a purpose, a design, a determination. By this purpose, or de sign, or whatever else you may call it, we understand that God predetermined to do, or work in his people to will and to do, all the good which ever has or ever will be done, And also, he decreed, purposed or determined,
to permit wicked men and devils to do all the wickedness which they do, and which he knew before he made them that they would do. And also knew it, when they first conceived the de. sign in their hearts, and while they were committing their crimes ; and he had power to crusb all their designs in a moment, but determined not to do it. Concerning many of these wicked men and devils, he determined not to bring them to repentance and salvation, but to punish them for their sins. The Psalmist says, “ Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee : the remainder of wrath thou shalt restrain."*
This is that doctrine of decree which puts God upon the throne of both heaven and earth: and this is the doctrine, against which both the Roman Catholics and the General Conference have violently risen ; and they both misrepresent it in one way, in order to make it so that they can confute it. See an example.
Pope. “ Perhaps you will say, either I shall be saved, or I shall be damned. If I am to be saved, let me do what I please, I shall be saved. But if, on the contrary, I am to be damned, let me do what good I will, nay, if I become the greatest saint in existence, I shall inevitably_be damned. Thus, my lot is already deterioined: I need not, therefore, trouble myself about what is to come.”p Can there be an argument more unjust, and less consistent with reason ?
Pealm lxxvi. 10.
+ Man's Only Affair, p. 157..
And he concludes his argument against it, by calling the doctrine “ the poisonous sophisms used by the libertines of the day,” (no doubt meaning the Protestants.)
Gen. Con. “ From each of these assertions, the whole consequence follows, clear as the noon-day sun. Therefore, the elect shall be saved, do what they will : the reprobate shall be damned, do what they can.
And again, “ But his unchangeable decree, to leave thousands of souls in death, compels them to continue in sin.” Again, “ He forceth us to be damned," &c.t
Here the reader may see the Roman Catho. lic, and the Methodist, both rising together against this distinguishing doctrine of the Protestant church ; and both misrepresenting it in the same way, in order to make it confutable. But the first are more mild in their remonstrances against the Protestants; since they cannot roast them any longer for teaching these doctrines. The others pour forth an awful volley of abuse. Out of the multitude, we will select only a few sentences, for a sample, to lay before the pious reader. They may be found in their book of Doctrinal Tracts, in or near the 40th page.
They say, " Such blasphemy as this, one would think, might make the ears of a Christian to tingle.” Again, " This is the blasphe.
* Tract 7, p. 194.
+ Tract 2, p. 40.
my clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination."
To the devil they say, * Thou fool, why dost thou roar about any longer?"
“ But God, thou art told, by his eternal decree fixed, before they had done good or evil, causes not only children of a span long. but their parents also, to pass through the fire of hell." Then adds, “()! how would the enemies of God and man rejoice to hear that these things were so! how would he
cry aloud, and spare not! how would he lift up his voice, and say, To your tents, O Israel! flee from the face of this God, or ye shall utterly perish.” Again, “ Sing, O hell, and rejoice ye that are under the earth.” They conclude by saying, “Let all those morning stars sing toge. ther, who fell with Lucifer, Son of the Morning. Let all the sons of Hell,* (meaning, us we presume) shout for joy. The decree is past, and who shall disannul it?'
This is another short specimen of a whole book, compiled and published by a body of ministers, in their cool deliberations, who profess to be perfect men, and the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, who is the Prince of peace. The pious reader may judge for himself, how much it savours of the spirit of the Gospel. If they had seen fit to represent the
* They could rationally mean no other than those. who contend for the doctrine ; because the devils were mentioned in the preceding sentence; and men and derils are all the creatures that have fallen
doctrine truly, and then used satire in their arguments, in order to make us see our ab. surdities (as they supposed) then we should have given them some credit. But, instead of that, they first misrepresent, and then pour forth ill-natured abuse, without either wit or argument; besides, these are the men who are always crying, Persecution. Saith the Lord, “ If ye have bitter envyings and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom dependeth not from above; but is earthly, sensual, devilish.'
The reader has now seen the sentiments of the Methodists, the Roman Catholics, and the Protestants, on this point; and has seen some of the abuse the last endure for their belief. He can now see what the word of God says.
Bible. Ps. xlviii. 6. 56 He hath made a de.. cree that shall not pass. [Wbat is that de cree?] Isa. xiv. 24. “ The Lord of hosts bath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass ; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” Again, verse 27. “ For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall, disannul it? his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back ?" Job xxiii. 13. " He is of one mind, and who can turn him ? and what, his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” Therefore, if he desires to bring any sinner to repentance, he does it ; for he is the Lord Almighty, and there is nothing too hard for him.
* James iii. 14.