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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 mortals 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 goodness, 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
1 Job xiii. 7-10.
purpose of doing!'-There is indeed no ground of difference whatever, in man's deservings, between those who are chosen to salvation, and those who are not; but all deserve to perish: they who are left deserve their doom, as it will appear "in "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;" and they who are saved are saved by mercy and grace, in all respects undeserved, and contrary to their deservings.
'If a law be made, that death shall be the consequence of the commission of any particular 'crime, (theft for example,) is not a man who 'steals as much sentenced to the punishment of 'death, by a decree promulgated by absolute authority, as a slave condemned to die by the order of his master, without having done any thing worthy ' of death? The slave had no means of escaping 'death. The thief, if he had not stolen, would 'not have been punished by the law. In one case, the death of the man proceeds from the 'will of a capricious tyrant; in the other, from 'the transgression of a known law: but this law originated in the will of the Sovereign.' 2
This illustration, of what his Lordship supposes (groundlessly) is forgotten by Calvinists,' shews
His Lordship seems to substitute power instead of right, when he says afterwards We know that the power of God is competent to every thing, which contains not in it the idea of impossibility or contradiction. But because God was able to 'create man for this or that purpose, it does not follow that he actually hath done it.'-Ref. 259. But power and right are perfectly distinct things.
indeed very perspicuously the difference between that arbitrary capricious tyranny, which we abhor to think of in connexion with the divine sovereignty, but which we are most unjustly, supposed to maintain; and that just and equitable and wise and holy sovereignty which we ascribe to God; except that no example from human affairs can give an adequate view of the perfection of all the decrees and dispensations of JEHOVAH.
'God might have acted in this manner, had his only attribute been that of almighty power. But 'the question is, whether such a conduct would 'have been consistent with infinite justice and 'infinite mercy, which every Christian acknow'ledges to be attributes of the Deity.'1
'Almighty power,' if it could possibly exist apart from justice, wisdom, truth, and love, would be as dreadful and odious, as the divine character is adorable and lovely: but how could God' have a right, founded on the uncontrollable will of the 'Creator over his creatures,' to adopt a conduct, concerning which there can reasonably be a question whether it would be consistent with infinite 'justice and infinite mercy?'-"The Lord is righ"teous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." "Clouds and darkness are round about him; righ"teousness and judgment are the basis of his "throne."2 Many absolute princes, indeed, have taken the liberty, and claimed the privilege, of being unjust; yet no power can give a right to do what is wrong: and our almighty Sovereign
1 Ref. 259.
2 Ps. xcvii. 2. from 5, to establish, to prepare.
"cannot lie," "he cannot deny himself." Indeed the word right is wholly improper for the subject; being as distinct from power as the authority of a lawful prince, legally exercised, is from the lawless dominion of a successful usurper; yet his Lordship strangely seems to confound them in his reasonings. The Lord indeed "doeth accord
ing to his will, in the army of heaven, and among "the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay "his hand, or say to him, What doest thou?” But "the King's power loveth judgment:" and surely it is unmeaning to speak of a right to do what it is impossible should ever be done.
Could a just and merciful God endow men with the admirable faculties of perception and 'reason, place them in a transitory world abound'ing with enjoyments and temptations, and, by an arbitrary and irreversible decree, deny them the 'means of escaping everlasting torment in a life 'to come?'l
If God had made man as he now is, this reasoning might be admitted: but, if " God made man "in his own image" and pronounced him " very
good;" and if man by wilful apostacy and rebellion became very wicked, even so as to resemble the devil in all the grand outlines of his character; and if one generation after another wilfully repeats and perpetuates the original rebellion; the whole of the argument falls to the ground. The doctrine of the fall and of original sin (one main subject of the first Book,) is here completely lost sight of; and, by a similar method of arguing, if