can alter it. Now, if it would be just in God, as to the event, to leave all the world to perish everlastingly; when Omnipotence certainly could have prevented it: what injustice can there be, in decreeing to do this, though from eternity? If it were inconsistent to ordain, that some should be saved, and others left to perish ; it must be equally so, to consign the same persons to perdition, at the last. One objection to this I am aware, may be urged, namely, that in the latter supposition, none will be cons demned, except those who deserved it. But if God ordain, that none shall perish, but those, whom he foresees, will deserve it, and if he foreknows, that all, if left to themselves, will both deserve condemnation for their other sins, and also for rejecting the gospel ; in what respect does this alter the case ? In one view, none will perish, but those, who at the great day, when all secrets will be disclosed, shall be adjudged deserving it; and, in the other view, none will perish but those, whom God foresaw would deserve it, and would be found among his enemies unless he exerted an omnipotent power, in making them willing to accept of his mercy: whereas this act of new creating power was not due to them; and in his consummate wisdom, he did not think fit to exert it in their behalf. I can see no material difference, in respect of the divine justice, between the two views of the subject ; except on the supposition, that God decrees from eternity to consign to everlasting punishment, those, who at the day of judginent will be found not to have deserved it. There are, it must be owned, expressions in the works of some Calvinists, which seem to lean towards this conclusion ; but I must abhor the idea as direct blasphemy. As to the concluding sentence, it is sufficient to say, How can God be said to love those, whom he now leaves unsaved, and will at length, by an irrecoverable sentence doom to eternal misery? If the love of God to mankind, be understood in this manner, (setting decrees and predestination out of the question,) God cannot be said to love all men, unless he save all men; for he certainly is able to do this : but his infinite

power is directed by infinite wisdom, which we cannot fathom, but which we ought to adore with profound and silent reverence.

P. cxcvi. I. 3. ! It seems, &c.'' This whole pas.

'.' It seems impossible to say, that he loved those, to whom ? he would afford no assistance, and who he knew, from want of

that assistance, must inevitably suffer all the horrors of guilt and • the pain of eternal punishment. “Whoso hath this world's

good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his ¢ bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God ” in him?" 'Can we then suppose that God seeth his rational I creatures not only in need, but obnoxious to death and misery, ' and yet refuses his aid to rescue thein from impending ruin? The gospel, instead of being a proof of God's “good-will ď towards men,” ! would rather shew his determination, that { they should add to their guilt, and increase their condemnation,

Instead of rassing us from a death in sin to a life of righteousness, it would be the inevitable cause of more heinous wicked. ness, and of sorer punishment, to the greater part of mankind. It was considered as an act of the greatest injustice to require the Israelites to make bricks, when no straw was given to them; and how then can we imagine that God calls upon men to believe

and obey the gospel, under the penalty of eternal misery, when ! he denies them the possibility of belief and obedience ? Does an

[ocr errors]

sage goes upon the supposition, that God is in some way bound to shew mercy to his rebellious creatures, and to do certain things, if not all that he is able, for their salvation : so that, if he do not this, it is inconsistent with his love, if not his justice. Now it is certain, that God for ages, “ suffered all nations “ to walk in their own ways.

“ He sheweth his " word unto Jacob; his statutes and judgments unto “ Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation, and “ as for his judgments they have not known them."? Even to this very day, an immense majority of the human race are destitute of those' means of grace, for which we particularly thank God, as for a special and inestimable benefit, every time we meet for publick worship. But “they that have sinned without “ law, shall also perish without law." “ We have " before proved, both Jews and Gentiles that they

are all under sin.” “For all have sinned and “ come short of the glory of God."4 Unless, there fore, any one will openly avow the sentiment, against



* earthly master punish his servant for not doing that which it * was impossible for him to do? And shall we ascribe to God a ' conduct which would be esteemed the height of cruelty in manli “Go ye,'' says Christ to his apostles, “ into all the world, and "preach the gospel to every creature :" here the precept is uni.. versal, without any limitation, any exception : but is it to be supposed, that the blessings of that gospel which was to be • preached "to every creature in all the world," were necessarily confined to a few? that the apostles should be commanded

to promise to all, what God had irreversibly decreed should be ' enjoyed only by a small number?"

'Acts xiv. 16. Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. 3 Rom, ii. 12. * Rom. iii. 9. 23.

which, or on those who hold it, our articles pronounce an anathema :8 all these persons must be destitute of the means of salvation. Some may choose to speak of this, as inconsistent with the divine perfections ; but I must be silent; and adore those depths, which I cannot fathom: or, at most say, “ Shall not the

Judge of all the earth do right?”. If the nations, to whom the gospel has not been preached, be indeed, “ without Christ, without hope, and without « God in the world :" do not the words, quoted below, apply to the divine dispensations towards them, as much as to election, and the doctrines connected with it? It is impossible to say that he loved

those, to whom he would afford no assistance, and ! who he knew, for want of that assistance, must

infallibly suffer all the horrors of guilt, and the pain of eternal punishment.' The decree is not, in this passage, at all mentioned; but, merely the actual conduct of the glorious God. On the other hand, how can we be truly thankful for our religious advantages, and means of salvation : if we do indeed believe, that they, who have not “ the oracles of “God” sent, nor the gospel preached, to them, are in no very deplorable condition? How shall we be stimulated, to communicate our blessings to “ those " who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death ?” Why did our Lord command his disciples to go “ mto all the world, and preach the gospel to every

creature?" Or, why did apostles, and evangelists, and martyrs, not "count their lives dear to them

· Art. xviii,

* selves,” in executing this commission ?-Certainly the argument of this passage proves, if it prove any thing, that God, in order to act consistently with his love and mercy, if not his justice, must actually send the means of salvation to all men, in every part of the world. This he has not done: and shall we venture to arraign our Creator, at the tribunal of our purblind reason ?-If God cannot be said to love those, to whom he does not send the means of salvation; though he knows they are perishing for the want of them: can he be said to love those, to whom he has sent the means of salvation, and yet leaves them to perish in unbelief ? He knows, that they are perishing, for want of faith: he is able to give them faith, and to new create them to holiness : yet he does not put forth his power to save them. Apart from all decrees, this is fact. Is it the want of love; or is it, that love and grace must abound in all wisdom and understanding ? It may be said, that they wilfully reject the gospel, and deserve their doom : but will it also be said, that they, who have not the gospel, do not sin against the light which they have, and do not deserve their doom? A lighter doom, it is true ; but yet deserved, whether decreed, or inflicted without a decree. If God do not accompany the gospel with his special grace, to render it successful ; it is plain, whether he decreed it before, or purposed it at the moment; it would shew his

determination, that they should add to their guilt, and increase their condemnation.'

The gospel alone does not raise us from a death in sin to a life of righteousness; else all who hear it would be

« VorigeDoorgaan »