Sivut kuvina

2. He dwells much more frequently and copiously on the subject of reprobation, and on the reprobate, than any of our authorized books do, and also far more than the holy scriptures do.

3. He sometimes speaks, or seems to speak, of reprobation, as being the absolute decree of God, independent of man's foreseen wickedness, and gratuitous even as the decree of election.

4. In resolving this into the absolute sovereignty of God, he does not, with any thing like sufficient explicitness, shew this sovereignty to be that of infinite wisdom, justice, truth, and love : and he often reasons as if whatever he supposes God decreed or did was right, because he decreed it, or did it: instead of maintaining that God can decree, or do nothing, on account of his absolutely perfect unchangeable holiness, which is not, in itself, perfectly just and holy. Of these sentiments, I see no trace in our authorized books.

[ocr errors]

The distinction between gratuitous mercy, without regard 'to human worth,' in respect of the elect; and the 'just and

irreprehensible, but incomprehensible judgment of God, in respect of the non-elect; marks a decided difference, in the writer's (Calvin's) mind, between the source of election and that of preterition. Yet I cannot but lament that it was not more directly said, because 'he foreknew, that they would justly deserve it.' This would have given a clear view of the subject, and also have precluded objections. Mercy, and the decree of mercy, are gratuitous : repentance, faith, and all things pertaining to salvation, being the effects of special grace, which God purposed to give to “ the vessels of mercy, whom he afore “ prepareth unto glory.” But condemnation, whether as decreed or denounced, is not gratuitous, but the just punishment of wickedness, either as foreseen, or as actually committed. (Remark, in the first edition, on a passage of Calvin quoted p. 538. J.S.]

5. To render his system consistent, as he supposes, he occasionally intrudes into things not revealed ; and speaks of God's decree concerning the fall of man, and other things connected with that awful event, as strongly, as if he could produce scriptural proof of every particular position. And consistently with this, he sometimes speaks, or seems to speak, of election and reprobation as relating to men as creatures and not as fallen creatures.

6. He on some occasions so labour's the argument about all good in man being from God's electing love, as to lose sight of the effects of that grace which God imparts, as the fruit of his electing love, by which his chosen people, through

grace obey his calling ;' and strive, and labour, and “ work out their salvation with fear and trem“bling;" and become diligent and “ fruitful in

every good work.” Not that Calvin was in the slightest degree tinctured with antinomianism, for he was a most practical divine. But, as many others do, in the earnestness of controversy, he lost sight of one part of Christianity in contending for another ; and put it in the power of his opponents to select detached passages from his works, which are capable of being misunderstood, misrepresented, or perverted to bad purposes. Now I see nothing of this kind in any of our authorized books : and just as far as they differ from Calvin, so far do I ; and, I am confident, so far do likewise niost of my brethren.-But that man who will take the pains to read Calvin's writings, or any considerable part of them, and not judge from a selection of the most exceptionable pas


sages, disjointed from their connexion, and from the argument insisted on, will form, even though a decided Anticalvinist, a far different judgment of him, as an able and a very practical theologian, than those who have not read him can do. For the impression made by the extracts which his Lordship has adduced of the most exceptionable passages collected together, and that made by reading his works, are widely different, as such passages, even when disapproved, seem to the reader of his works lost among other matter, in abundance, of a superior order of genuine excellency.

[The allusion to the case of“ a potter, and his “power over the clay, of the same lump to make

one vessel unto honour and another to dis

honour,” refers to the sovereign authority and right of God to manage the concerns of the world as he sees good; even as the potter disposes of his clay according to his 'pleasure. By skill and labour he forms elegant and beautiful vessels ; and be employs the rest of the same lump for such mean purposes as it is in itself fit for, without bestowing pains to prepare it for more honourable uses. But Calvin, Beza, and many others consider the “ one lump” as the human race, the creatures of God, independently of the fall of Adam : they consider the fall of Adam as positively decreed ; and this decree as inseparably connected with all the other decrees of God concerning individuals; and thus they seem to make both the destruction of the reprobate, and the salvation of the elect, alike gratuitous ; resolving the whole into the sovereign right (Erolar) of God to deal with his creatures as he sees good; nay, to create them in order to destroy them, without respect to their · foreseen wickedness.' It would be awfully presumptuous to deny the right of God to do whatever he pleases ; but he cannot act inconsistently with his infinite perfections of wisdom, justice, truth, and goodness; he has no where claimed a right to punish the innocent; it does not appear to be consistent with his perfections. He did not create men depraved and prone to sin, but “very good.” “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made

man upright but they have sought out many “ inventions." ] The fall of man is never ascribed to God, but the contrary. In respect of individuals, “ God cannot be tempted of evil, neither “tempteth he any man.” He no doubt foresaw, and determined to permit, the fall of Adam; but even concerning this the scripture is very reserved, if not totally silent: and God foresaw that fallen men would all deserve his wrath and damnation, and be “ vessels of wrath fitted for destruc“ tion :” he could foresee nothing good in any of them, except the effects of his own grace, which he determined to confer on some, and not on others. These are saved gratuitously, and their foreseen good works, are the effects, and not the cause of their election. The rest are left to the consequences of their sins ; their destruction is deserved, and their foreseen evil deeds the cause of their rejection. All the good in man is from God, and the glory belongs to him : all the evil is from ourselves, and “ to us belong shame and “ confusion of face before him.” In this particular, therefore I inust dissent from Calvin. It must be allowed, that he, and many others, have ventured on language, not to be found in scripture. Whether their sentiments can be vindicated or not, in this case their expressions cannot.]

1 Ec. vii. 29.

[' The perversity of the nature abandoned of 'God.' Many very plausible reasonings have been used, to prove, that the fall of men and angels arose, not from their forsaking God, in the first instance; but from his previously leaving or abandoning them, and that they then forsook him in consequence. But the scriptures give another view of the subject, and ascribe all wickedness to the wilful apostacy of rational creatures: and such reasonings, however ingenious, and difficult to answer, as much corrupt Christianity by metaphysics, as some of the ancient fathers corrupted it by heathen philosophy. The proportion, likewise, in which this part of the subject occupies the attention of the writer, is wholly unscriptural. Two or three of these quotations contain more than can be found in the whole scripture, concerning the manner in which sin entered ; and concerning the non-elect, except in respect of their depravity and actual crimes.]


As I have not in my scanty library any books from which I can collect a full, impartial, and satisfactory history of these Articles, I shall not republish any thing which the first edition contained about them : for the mistakes, into which I was led concerning the Articles of the Synod of Dort, (as I shall soon state to the reader,) are a

i Calvin.

« EdellinenJatka »