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to every creature;" if, instead of glad tidings and eternal life, it only announced hell fire and torments to the great majority of mankind ? When asked, “ are there few, that be saved,” how could he mock the inquirers by this answer; “ strive to enter in at the strait gate?” Or, how could he say to the person, who relied on the moral law, “this do, and thou shalt live,” in defiance of a divine decree; or promise, that we shall be forgiven, if we forgive our brethren?
He asserts his power of forgiving sins, and “ bestowing eternal life upon whom he will;” but, according to this doctrine, he could neither grant an effectual pardon, nor make any addition to the elect; nor save one individual from the multitude of the damned; for “they are particu. larly and personally designed, and the number is so definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.” To what purpose is “all judgment given to him in heaven and on earth,” if he can neither condemn any of those “predestinated to life; nor restore one pre-ordained to destruction and everlasting death?” He declares, that “he will reward all men according to their works;" yet, we are told, they are already rewarded out of mere free grace and love; or else consigned to punishment, without any foresight of good works. He proclaims, that “whoever believeth on him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life:” but here we learn, that the smaller numbe
have already been ordained to life, and the greater part to endless perdition, “ without
fore. sight of their faith or perseverance;" and that all mankind are included in these classes. To which class did those enemies belong, for whom he prayed at his crucifixion? were they of the elect? To what end did it 66 behove Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day," to command at his ascension, that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations?” Yet these were his parting words; for," while he was blessing them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”
It is evident, that if this doctrine were true, the preaching of the word, and all our offices of devotion; the intercession of Christ, and even the general resurrection and last judgment, would be solemn mockeries,
Nor do the most learned advocates for this doctrine shrink from these absurd and blasphemous consequences: for thus they write: “ The Lord sometimes orders a thing to be done by a man; and yet by his secret will does not wish, that it should be done by him:"* for God has a secret and a revealed will.t “ It does not follow, because he commands all men to believe in Christ, that he wills them to do so. But though we can
* Hier. Zanchius apud Acta Dordracena Remonstrantium.' Jao. Trigland. ibid.
not understand how God can be unwilling, that his commands should be executed, yet we ought not to deny it. Though God calls the wicked to repentance, he does not wish them to be saved. Though he declares, that he wishes the wicked for reprobate to believe, he does not actually wish it. God does not always mean what he says that he means; and yet is not guilty of hypocrisy." So that, according to these divines, God practises mental reservation, when he wills, that “all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” It is to be feared, that some mercenary or fanatical declaimers even labour to aggravate these horrible representations:
From all this, I trust, it appears, not only that this doctrine was not taught by our Lord, but also, that it stands in direct opposition to the tenor of his discourses; to his promises of grace, and his denunciations of Divine wrath; to the powers, which he claims, of giving eternal life to whom he will, and of judging the dead; to the efficacy of his death, and the influence of his intercession; and denies, that the Lord is “a God of truth.” Hence it follows, that it cannot be true; and that, if it seem to be countenanced by any other portions of Scripture, these must be misunderstood.
Notwithstanding this direct and irreconcileable opposition, there are men, who pervert the words of our Lord himself, to the support of this horrid doctrine. “ Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes:"* that is, I thank thee, O Father, because thou hast revealed to these poor, simple people, what was unknown to the heathen philosophers, and Jewish rabbis; and, through their own perverseness, to Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, whose unbelief he had just been reprobating and lamenting. Instead of this pious and affectionate thanksgiving, he is represented as thanking God, for wilfully withholding from wise and prudent men, those glad tidings, which he had specially commissioned his Son to bring to light; and which Jesus commanded his Apostles to preach “to every creature.” If this had even been the fact, it was surely a subject rather of sorrow than rejoicing, to our gracious and merciful Redeemer.
* Joh. Piscator apud Acta Dordracena Remonstratium.
The same perverse use has been made of those elegant and amiable allusions, where he describes himself as a shepherd, and his disciples as his sheep.t This is a passage so abhorrent from predestination, arbitrary election, irrespective reprobation, and the rest of this scholastic jargon, that it is astonishing, how they could be associated in any mind. He describes himself as a shepherd, leading his flock to pasture, defending them from
* Luke x. 21.
+ John x.
robbers and wolves, bringing them back in safety to his fold, and ready to sacrifice his life for his sheep; and them as hearing and knowing his voice, and following him; but he regrets, that some of his hearers could not be of his sheep, because they believed not; and consoles himself, that still there would be no deficiency, for “he had other sheep, not of this fold, who would hear his voice; so that there would be one fold and one shepherd;" alluding to the Samaritans and Gentiles, who should be converted by his Apostles, after his ascension; his personal ministry being confined to “the lost or stray sheep of the house of Israel.” His object is to throw the blame of their unbelief on the unbelievers themselves; and not to apologize for them, as subject to an inevitable and irreversible decree of the Almighty.
It will now be necessary to advert to some other texts, on which its advocates chiefly rely. But, that we may not be deceived by the same fallacious appearances, by which others have been misled, it will be necessary to premise some remarks on the mode of speaking, which prevails in the Epistles.
The Jews were a people, selected from the rest of mankind for the preservation of true religion; and the primitive Christians were a society collected from the world for a similar purpose. The Gospel was a continuation and extension of the Mosaical dispensation; and the Apostles, with