« PreviousContinue »
and if it is so in these cases, I farther conclude it may be so in the case in hand.
Two remarks shall conclude this part of the subject.
1. Whether P. will allow of some of the foregoing grounds as proper data, may be doubted. I could have been glad to have reasoned with him wholly upon his own principles; but where that cannot be, it is right and just to make the word of God our ground. If he can overthrow the doctrine supposed to be maintained in these scriptures, then it is allowed he will, in so doing, overthrow that which is built upon them, but not otherwise. In the two last arguments, however, I have the happiness to reason from principles which I suppose P. will allow.
2. Whether the foregoing reasoning will convince P. and those of his principles, or not, it may have some weight with considerate Calvinists. They must either give up the doctrine of predetermination, or on this account deny that men are obliged to act differently from what they do; that Pharaoh and Sihon, for instance, were obliged to comply with the messages of peace which were sent them; or else, if they will maintain both these, they must allow them to be consistent with each other; and if divine decrees and free agency are consistent in some instances, it becomes them to give some solid reason why they should not be so in others.
I AM not insensible that the cause I have been pleading is such as may grate with the feelings of some of
iny readers. It may seem as if I were disputing with PHILANTHROPY itself. To such readers I would recommend a few additional considerations.
1. The same objection would lie against me, if I had been opposing the notion of universal salvation; and yet it would not follow from thence that I must be in the wrong. The feelings of guilty creatures, in matters wherein they themselves are so deeply interested, are but poor criterions of truth and
2. There is no difference between us respecting the number or character of those that shall be finally saved. We agree that whoever returns to God by Jesus Christ shall certainly be saved—that in every nation, they that fear God and work righteousness, are accepted. What difference there is respects the efficacy of Christ's death, and the causes of salvation.
3. Even in point of provision, I see not wherein the scheme of P. has the advantage of that which he opposes. The provision made by the death of Christ is of two kinds.-(1.) A provision of pardon and acceptance for all believers. (2.) A provision of grace to enable a sinner to believe. The first affords a motive for returning to God in Christ's name; the
last excites to a compliance with that motive. Now in which of these has the scheme of P. any advantage of that which he opposes? Not in the first; we suppose the provisions of Christ's death altogether sufficient for the fulfilment of his promises, be they as extensive as they may—that full and free pardon is provided for all that believe in him--and that if all the inhabitants of the globe could be persuaded to return to God in Christ's name, they would undoubtedly be accepted of him. Does the scheme of P. proposc any more? no, it pretends to no such thing as a provision for unbelievers being forgiven and accepted. Thus far at least therefore, we stand upon equal ground.
But has not P. the advantage in the last particular? does not his scheme boast of an universal provision of grace, sufficient to enable every man to comply with the gospel? Yes, it does, but what it amounts to is difficult to say. Does it effectually produce in mankind in general any thing of a right spirit, any thing of a true desire to come to Christ for the salvation of their souls? no such thing that I know of is pretended. At most it only amounts to this, that God is ready to help them out of their condition, if they will but ask him; and to give them every assistance in the good work, if they will but be in earnest and set about it. Well, if this is the whole of which P. can boast, I see nothing superior in this neither, to the sentiment he opposes. We consider the least degree of a right spirit as plentifully encouraged in the word of God. If a person do but truly desire to come to
Christ, or desire the influence of the Holy Spirit to that end, we doubt not but grace is provided for his assistance. God will surely give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him.* Where then is the superiority of his system? It makes no effectual provision for begetting a right diposition in those who are so utterly destitute of it that they will not seek after it. It only encourages the well disposed; and as to these, if their well-disposedness is real, there is no want of encouragement for them in the system he opposes.
4. Whether the scheme of P. hath any advantage of that which he opposes, in one respect, or not, it certainly hath a disadvantage in another. By it the redemption and salvation of the whole human race is left to uncertainty; to such uncertainty as to depend upon the fickle, capricious, and perverse will of man. It supposes no effectual provision made for Christ to see of the travel of his soul, in the salvation of sinners. P. has a very great objection to a sinner's coming to Christ with a peradventure; (33.) but it seems he has no objection to his Lord and Saviour coming into the world, and laying down his life with no better security. Notwithstanding any provision made by his scheme, the head of the church might have been without a single member, the king of Zion without a subject, and the shepherd of Israel without any to constitute a fock. Satan might have triumphed for ever, an! the many mansions in glory
* Luke xi. 13.
have remained eternally unoccupied by the children of men!*
5. Do we maintain that Christ in his death designed the salvation of those, and only those who are finally saved? the same follows from our opponent's own principles. They will admit that Christ had a certain fore-knowledge of all those who would, and who would not believe in him: but did ever an intelligent being design that which he knew would never come to pass.
6. The Scheme of P. though it professedly maintains that Christ died to atone for the sins of all mankind; yet in reality it amounts to no such thing. The sin of mankind may be distinguished into two kinds--that which is committed simply against God as a law-giver, antecedent to all considerations of the
* P. observes on Heb ii. 9. that “it is undoubtedly a greater instance of the grace of God that Jesus Christ should die for all, than only for a part of mankind;" and this he thinks s an argument of no little force in favour of his sense of the passage." (80). It is true if Christ had made effectual provision for the salvation of all, it would have been a greater display of grace than making such a provision for only a part; but God has otier perfections to display as well as his grace; and the reader will perceive by what has been said, that to make provision for all in the sense in which P. contends for it, iş so far from magnifying the grace of God that it enervates, if not annihilates it. Where is the grace of taking mankind from a condition in which they would have been for ever blameless, and putting them into a situation in which at best their happiness was uncertain, their guilt certain, and their everlasting ruin very probable.