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DARE WE TO DEDUCE A SYSTEM FROM GOD'S WORD?

To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine. ! DEAR BROTHER,-For so I may call you, though I know you not in the flesh; I have often received comfort, and I believe edification, from reading your Magazine; and feel sure it is a medium of communication between members of the same redeemed family that is greatly blessed. Like many others, I find, that while there is very much religion in this day, there is very little apparent real godliness. Evangelical preaching is much liked while the trumpet gives " an uncertain sound," i. e., while it seemingly sets forth Jesus, yet flatters the sinner with ideas of his own power and free-will. But when the preacher proclaims that Jesus is King, and as such, holds the reins, both of providence and of grace, ordering all things according to his own sovereign will and pleasnre, and especially carrying out the grand scheme of redemption, arranged both as regards persons, times, &c., before the foundation of the world: then numbers draw back, and (as of old) say, "this is a hard saying; who can hear it ?"

Again: numbers of our clergy call themselves Calvinists, and therefore profess to hold the doctrine of election. But I find by their preaching, that these men seem to hold, that while there is" a remnant according to the election of grace," towards whom God's promises of salvation are absolute: yet that, with regard to others, salvation is contingent; depending on something they will do to obtain it. I cannot find two schemes in my Bible; but learn that salvation is of free-grace, bestowed upon chosen vessels of mercy, whom God finds "dead in trespasses and sins" (therefore incapable of even one good or spiritual desire), and "quickens together with Christ."

Now my dear Brother, I have often been blamed by such as these, for proclaiming what are called "the high doctrine of Calvinism :" and when I endeavour to show them both from Scripture and there own personal experience, that my views are true, the usual answer is, "Oh, I don't attempt to make a system from the Bible; when I meet one truth in a text, I preach it; but when I find an apparently opposite one, I give that its full meaning.'

This idea seems so general-it was adopted, I believe, by the late Rev. C. SIMEON-that I doubt not but many of your readers have been opposed by it. I have therefore been led to write these lines of (what I conceive to be) a reply to a wrong view.

That there is no system in the Bible, surely, cannot be true; for this would be asserting, that God is less wise than an earthly author of any reputation. It would be charging Him with being "the Author of confusion," by setting one passage of his word in array against another. But this must not be done. We should remember that "no Scripture is of any private interpretation:"-it stands not alone, but is part of the one great system, or "counsel of God;" and therefore should we "compare spiritual things with spiritual;" or to use the words of the xxth. Article of our established Church, we should not "so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another."

It is, however, mainly, if not entirely with "the doctrine of grace," that good men affirm there is no system; for in other matters of scriptural teaching they say there is a system. Thus they do not put in opposition the two apparently opposite texts that declare, "God is not a Man that He should lie; nor the Son of man that He should repent :" and

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the Lord repented," &c. (Num. xxiii. 19; and 1 Sam. xv. 35). But they show how both these sayings are consistent with the Bible-system, which declares God's character and dealings. So again, there is apparent inconsistency between the declaration of God's foreknowledge of all events; and such a verse as Jer. xxxvi. 7, "it may be," &c., without deducing a system which harmonizes these sayings. So a system is needed (and freely used by all evangelical teachers); in order to show how a believer is "free from the law," yet "under the law to Christ." How cautious such as, "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," are to be held consistently with the positive doctrines for the perseverance of the saints. Or, without a system, as to the nature of a Christian walk, how are we to reconcile the conduct of the Apostle Paul at one time

denouncing circumcision (Gal. v. 2, &c.), while at another time he caused Timothy to be circumcised? or at one time asserting that he pleased not men (Gal. i. 10); at another, "I please all men, in all things ?"

And so we may be sure there is a system throughout God's word. God is too wise to do any thing without a plan or system, whether in providence, or in grace. In the events of providence many wonderful changes may be observed; but we regard them as the gradual unfolding of eternal and unchangeable counsels. So in His Word. Oppositions may seem to exist, but they are not real. Truth is one. Idleness may prevent many from discovering, while fear of seeming to side against many evangelical friends may deter others from acknowledging a system. But such causes ought rather to be fought against as wrong. We are to search the Scriptures;" and have a promise, that "the soul of the diligent shall be made fat." So are we to cease from man;" and though we rightly hesitate to risk the close friendship of those we love as Christian brethren, yet we should be more jealous for the truth of God, and hold that firmly at all risks.

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Believe me, yours for Christ's sake,
ALIQUIS SECUNDUS.

Nov. 1st, 1855. [There is a circumstance recorded (if we mistake not), of Dr. Doddridge, that ought to be a standing lesson, more especially to young divines. He was engaged one day to preach to two distinct congregations-the one Calvinistic, the other Arminian. He had prepared sermons for each-a Calvinistic and an

Arminian discourse, forsooth! But, as God would have it-and to teach his servant a lesson, it is to be hoped, he never forgot, he, unwittingly, took the Arminian sermon for the Calvinistic congregation! and, in the evening, finding he had some of his morning hearers, he felt compelled to preach the Calvinistic sermon to the Arminian assembly. So much for consistency! so much for endeavouring "to sew pillows to all arm-holes ;"- -so much for striving to please man! God, in mercy, keep his Ministers, in these days of rebuke and blasphemy, from this awful snare.

As intimated by our correspondent, a system necessarily must be deduced from the Scriptures by every attentive, prayerful reader. Whatever may appear on the surface, and in the mere letter of the word, it is one of the grossest insults that can be offered to the Holy Ghost to imagine that he speaks two things, adverse to each other. There is nothing that a consistent writer or preacher dreads more, than to contradict himself. How great an insult then to suppose such a thing upon the part of the all-wise God! The contradiction is in ourselves. The apparent discrepancy is in the want of light and discernment upon the part of the creature. The greater the spiritual intelligence with which, under the gracious teachings and revealings of the Holy Ghost, the simple searcher after truth, is indulged, the clearer, more forcible, and strictly harmonious that line or system of truth which he deduces-not from abstract portions, or the mere letter of the word-but from the hidden depths of the whole book or counsel of God.—EDITOR.]

CALVINISM!-WHY UNPOPULAR?

"As concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against."Acts xxviii. 22.

SUCH, beloved readers, was the observation concerning Christianity, made by certain chief men amongst the Jews at Rome, whom Paul had summoned to hear the reason for his visit to that city. Observe, this was what was commonly said of the religion of Jesus Christ. It was everywhere spoken against. The Jews, both high and low, rich and poor, edu

cated and uneducated, spoke against it. And the Gentiles, of all classes (as we know from other sources) ridiculed it as a monstrous absurdity.

I think I can hear some evangelical professor of the present day exclaim,

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Oh, how shocking! how truly pitiable, that there should have been such ignorant prejudices against the religion of Jesus

Christ! But thank God, it is not so now: those were dark and uncivilized times; people are better educated now, and can appreciate the religion of Jesus Christ. It is not now everywhere spoken against "

To whom I reply: Is it not? and pray what magic power has education now over the natural man, that it failed to exercise then? What is there in civilization to make men appreciate the religion of Jesus Christ? Were the Jews uneducated? Were the Romans uneducated ? Were the Greeks uneducated or uncivilized? Surely you will not say so! Why, then, I ask did not education and civilization do their alleged work

then?

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'Ah, but," it will be said, "this religion took people by surprise-it was quite a new thing. The Jews were prejudiced against it."

Well, but I ask, are the Jews less prejudiced against it now? And why should it have taken them by surprise? Had they not the Scriptures in their hands to tell them all about Jesus Christ's religion? about what was to be expected, &c. ?

all men for my name's sake." And, further, if the religion we profess is not everywhere spoken against, we may rest assured that we are not in the Lord's secret.

Now taking it for granted, for the sake of brevity, that the doctrines which are advocated in this Magazine are identical with those of Jesus Christ and his apostles; taking it for granted, that Calvinism represents those doctrines (I use "Calvinism" as a conventional term; I wish I could do without it; but there is no other term through which I can convey so clearly and unmistakably what I mean-indeed it is no more derogatory to the dignity of truth, than is the term "Trinity," which is not to be found in the Seriptures); taking it for granted, I say, that" Calvinism" represents the doctrines of Jesus Christ and his apostles, I want 1st., to draw attention to the notorious fact, that it is everywhere spoken against. 2ndly. I would inquire the reason? 3rdly. Address a few encouraging observations to the holders of these doctrines.

I. It requires no ingenious or elaborate proof to convince that Calvinism is Why did not they understand their every where spoken against. Our every own Scriptures? Can our so-called evan- day observation assures us of the fact. gelical friends answer these questions? The pulpit, the press, and the platform Will they say, "Well, certainly, it is un-unite in denouncing Calvinism. All denoaccountable. We wonder at the Jews; but we Gentiles understand the Scriptures. Besides which, we have been accustomed to hear of Jesus Christ and his religion from our infancy, so that we are happily saved from those prejudices which so fatally interfered with the Jews' reception of Christianity."

To whom I reply: Do you understand the Scriptures? How comes it, then, that there are such divers interpretations of Scripture amongst you? And as for the fact of your having been accustomed to hear of Jesus Christ and his religion from your youth, being potential in overcoming or preventing prejudices, it is a delusion and a snare! For as the Jews, who knew the Scriptures from their youth (and far better than most Gentile children now), were notwithstanding ignorant of their meaning, so may Christians be thoroughly ignorant of the religion of Jesus Christ.

But enough of this introduction. Suffice it to say, that if Jesus Christ and His doctrine had not been everywhere spoken against, the fact would have been damning to the AUTHOR, who unmistakably averred, "Ye shall be hated of

minations of professing Christians (though in other respects, as wide as the poles asunder), unite in this-viz., denouncement of Calvinism ! It seems not to be fit to name to ears polite. The middle classes will have none of it. The lower classes curse it, or ridicule it as an absurdity! This is a fact-an indisputable fact!

No matter what piece of letter-press you take up, whether it be a newspaper, or a sermon, or tract, or a story-book; a Church publication, or a dissenting production, Calvinism is sure to be sneered at!

No matter whom you meet, whether a religious or irreligious person-a moral or an immoral man—a clergyman or a clerk-an artizan or an ambassador-a scholar or a schoolmaster-a marquis or a manufacturer-a peer or a peasanta statesman or a shopkeeper-a bishop or a bookseller, Calvinism is under a ban!

No matter where you go, whether to the next town, or to the Antipodes, or how you travel-whether by rail or steam-boat-by coach or waggon-on foot or on horseback, you are certain to hear Calvinism called hard name s!

Yes, I defy contradiction. Whether, Augustine, Zanchius, Cocceius, the men are high-church, or low-church, or learned Witsius, the deep-thinking Archbroad-church, or no church-whether bishop Usher, the clear-headed Calvin, English, Irish, or Scotch-whether they the intrepid Knox, Toplady, Scott, Gill, are Protestants or Catholics-Unitarians amd a whole host of stars of minor magor Swedenborgians-Methodists or Mor- nitude. Many bishops of our Own monites-Ranters-or Quakers-Jum- Church-many, very many ministers of pers or Johannahs-Moravians or Mountebanks-Evangelicals_or TractariansBishops or Deacons -Rectors or Vicars -Incumbents or Curates-all with one mouth, and one voice condemn Calvinism!

Now this is a notorious fact! Whether it can be accounted for or not, it is a great FACT!

dissenting congregations-the giants
amongst the Puritans have held the doc-
rines of Calvinism! Surely it cannot
be because of its sheer absurdity or want
of scriptural warrant, that it is every-
whnre spoken against? No, no. Is it
because of its dangerous tendency? Be-
cause it is likely to tempt men to lead
reckless lives? Nay. It is no more dan-
gerous than its very opposite-than the
doctrine of making one's peace with God.
I will take upon me to assert that a belief
in the power of free-will to turn at any
to repentance and faith, has deceived and
deluded thousands upon thousands, for
every single one whom Calvinism has in-
duced to lead a reckless life!

time

Is it because of its awful nature? Because it shocks men to think that each

There is a most remarkable conspiracy against this form of doctrine; and it strikes me very forcibly that I might aptly quote part of the 83rd Psalm, as graphically allusive to our united opponents. There we read of all sorts of sects and parties, though disunited on many points, making common cause against the Church of God. How wonderful if it should turn out that the Psalmist had an eye upon the persecu-individual is elected or reprobated withtion of God's truth by loud-sounding pro- out appeal? It is no more awful than fessors of religion in company with infi- the reflection that every individual is to dels of the present day! pass eternity in hell, if he does not come To me it is a wonderful, thought-im-up to a certain standard, that standard pressing fact. I am often asking myself Why are not other sects as generally disliked as this? How comes it that what is plainly error and imposture is not universally execrated? But that it is not so is a suggestive fact. If I had no other proof of the probable truth of Calvinism, I should be inclined to think favourably of it from the unanimous derision and hatred it provokes.

I should reason thus

The Scriptures tell us that the followers of Christ should be hated of all. Here is a sect literally up to the mark!

Therefore this must be composed of Christ's followers.

This reasoning I conceive to be sound, especially when we include in either proposition, that Calvinists are moral practicists as well as scriptural doctrin

ists.

II. What is the reason that Calvinism is everywhere spoken against?

Is it because of its utter folly or want of scriptural proof? Nay. It can be more readily proved by Scripture than the doctrine of the Trinity. It is far less repugnant to reason than that wonderful mystery. Many great and gifted men have believed and defended it.

being erected by an all-holy God, and poor wretched, fallen man, left to himself, whether he will or will not take advantage of the aid of the Holy Spirit. What can a fallen being like man do? Nothing, but sin! So if left to himself

if left to his own free-will to choose between good and evil, assuredly he will take to that which suits his views, his tastes, and conceptions; and will associate himself with the evil, and subsequently be lost for ever!

What can be the reason why Calvinism is everywhere spoken against? I can answer the question in five words!

Because of its HUMBLING nature!

It casts man down; and man will not be cast down. It makes man nothing and man will be something. It rules and governs man according to the dictates of arbitrary power; and man will not submit to such treatment. HERE IS THE SECRET. The enmity of the natural heart is at the bottom of all the countless reasons and objections against Calvinism ! It is this awful rebellion against GODthis blasphemous pride that incites us to be "as gods," which we all inherit from our first parents, that is hidden beneath the most plausible, and apparently charitable

reasons for speaking against the truth as misrepresentation. "These things will it is in Jesus! they do unto you, because they have not Hence it is that it is counted danger-known the Father nor me: but I have told ous by one, inexpedient by another, awful by a third, unjust by a fourth, tyrannical by a fifth, cold bloody and cruel, by a sixth, and so on.

Man will not submit to the God of the Scriptures; he wants a god of his own; a Bible of his own interpretation; a christ of his own invention. Man will give everybody a ehance, though there is no such thing as chance. Man will have all to be saved, though God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. Man will convert the world; though such an idea never entered the DEITY'S mind. In short, man will not harbour Calvinism, because he has shrewdness enough to see that if it be the truth, the great mass of religionists are going to perdition; and sooner than acknowledge this awful and humbling fact he will mangle and mutilate-yea, burn, and ignore the Scriptures.

Believe me, no man would object to Calvinism, if he knew he himself was an elect vessel of mercy.*

you them, that when the time shall come, ye may remember," &c. (John xvi. 3, 4). Such were His words and warnings. If they call the Master" Beelzebub," the servants cannot expect more honorable titles. If the Prince of glory were scoffed and jeered at-if they said He had a devil and was mad-is it very strange that you and your creed are everywhere spoken against; Surely not. Oh remember this, and take courage, and thank God for such privileged association, such speaking evidences of your being of the little flock," such manifest marks of the true Church!

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Look around you, and behold the whole world lying in the wicked one; ministers and people setting up a dagon, an image of their own imagination, and calling upon their fellow-sinners to fall down and worship it. See, there it stands with eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear-an accursed impostor,

FREE-WILL TO DO GOOD;

III. But, dearly-beloved in the Lord" Bow down and worship it, all nations, and -fellow-pilgrims-fellow-sufferers-you languages," cry the miserable heralds!

who believe that the Lord has an elect people, and who know and feel that if God has thought proper to reveal Himself to you, it is all of mercy, grace, pity, unmerited love-you who are unconscious of deserving anything but wrath -you whose belief is everywhere spoken against, listen and reflect. It is hard for flesh and blood to bear up against the taunts and jeers of the profane and the ungodly—and hardest of all, to be set aside by high-sounding professors as eccentric, rash, or enthusiastic. You are men and women of like passions with your adversaries, and you often feel your proud nature writhing beneath unmerited insult—perhaps feeling inclined to retort upon your maligners as Job, and say, They have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock;" but let me remind you, that all these persecutions were foretold.

Your Lord and Master told you plainly when He took you into his service, that you were to expect hatred, persecution,

* Reader, if thou art an opposer of so-called Calvinism, we pray thee endeavour to test thy self by this simple suggestion. We know of no; thing so calculated to break down the natural prejudices of the human heart to the Scripture doctrine of election, as the sealing conviction

"Come, and lay hold," exhort the demented servants of Satan, the wretched fanatics who dance and rave before their idol, and cut themselves with the lancets of natural excitement, till tears are actually shed, and groans sent forth-the plunging efforts of artificial life!

Would you be as these! Surely not. Your cry is," The Lord, He is God!" Sovereign august, who calls whom He wills, aud gives power when He calls to submit, to worship and adore. Your cry is," We will never bow the knee to the Baal of man's opinion; we will not know a wicked person; we will not worship any but the God of the Scriptures; and however our opponents may try to forge his image and superscripton, we can at all times test the imposition by asking, "Is He everywhere spoken against ?"

If not, then we come to the conclusion, Whosoever worships this god, whosoever holds this doctrine, is deceiving himself, and has neither part nor lot in the matter of truth!

WILLIAM PARKS.

of personal interest. If a messenger were sent from the court of heaven to say to a man, “O, greatly beleved," however opposed to God's sovereign electing love previously, he would serenously advocate it from that moment.-ED.

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